What is an Active Adult Community?

What is active living community?

An active adult community is a real estate development offering residents 55 years old and over independent and lower-cost or maintenance-free living. Individuals 55 and over are considered active adults because they continue to work; hence, the terms “active adult community,” “active adult retirement community,” and “active 55-plus living”.

Active adult communities fall into one of two categories:

  • Age-restricted community: This active adult community follows the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) of 1995, which requires 80% of homeowners to be 55 years old and above.
  • Age-targeted community: This active adult community features amenities that attract people ages 55+. Although they are marketed to the 55+ demographic, age-targeted communities don’t have any age requirements for its residents.

Active adult communities vary greatly in terms of the type of real estate properties offered. They can range from single-family homes and townhouses to apartment complexes and condos to mobile homes, so you have plenty of options to choose from. Plus, residency in these properties is also flexible, as they can be either owned or rented.

How Much Does Living in an Active Adult Community Cost?

Expenses, such as utilities, maintenance and services fees, are all included in the homeowners association (HOA) dues. Homeowners or rental residents will be able to budget a fixed amount each month.

Active adult communities with more services and amenities, of course, charge more HOA than those who offer fewer services and amenities. HOA fees can range from $100 to $500, and rental rates can range from $1,200 to $4,000. In addition to offering different services and amenities, HOA of active adult communities can also be affected by land value. If the community is in a good location, you’ll pay more.

What are the Benefits of Living in an Active Adult Community?

Active adult communities are an alternative to traditional retirement communities, where modern living that is amenity-rich and lower-cost or maintenance-free is the norm. Residents live with like-minded neighbors in a close-knit community, where the emphasis is living an active, healthy, happy and highly engaged lifestyle.

  • No children. Because these communities are marketed to the 55 and above demographic, they mostly attract residents with no children. This is actually a main draw of this type of living arrangement as it results in a peaceful and quiet neighborhood, thanks to having no children around and the problems associated with them. Of course, adult children and grandchildren are free to visit. 
  • Independent living. Residents bond over the fact that they’re at the same stage of life: They generally don’t receive assistance with daily living, such as meals and housekeeping, or other services provided in traditional senior living, but rather continue to live independently. 
  • Low-maintenance lifestyle. While daily upkeep and maintaining the house interiors are the homeowner’s responsibility,  the homeowners’ association (HOA) fees of active adult communities often take care of yard and garden maintenance, landscaping and snow removal. Low-maintenance or maintenance-free exteriors means residents don’t need to worry about dealing with keeping the grass cut or doing some exterior repairs, etc.
  • Active and engaging lifestyle. Since individuals 55 and above share leisure time and interests, real estate developers plan active communities to provide features that this particular demographic finds appealing: exercise facilities or fitness centers, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, decks and patios, clubhouses, golf courses, tennis courts and more. Residents also often find ways to stay active and involved by organizing volunteer groups, social events and other activities.
  • Senior-friendly design. Real estate developers build these communities with the needs of seniors in mind. So, homes and on-site amenities will always be wheelchair-accessible, for instance. Houses will also be just the right size for one or two persons and with everything they need within a single floor, and while amenities might differ from community to community, they are all targeted to seniors 55 and up.
  • Ideal location. Active adult communities are mostly likely to be located near wellness and medical facilities, shopping venues, restaurants and local attractions.  

What are the Disadvantages of Living in an Active Adult Community?

While living in an active adult community has many advantages, it does have some disadvantages prospective residents should take note of. 

  •  Heterogenous neighborhood. With a minimum age requirement of 55 years old in place, residents will most likely meet people in various stages of retirement. Although this might be a good selling point for those who are drawn to this type of community, the lack of diversity might keep away others who want to engage with people outside of retirement age.
  • Exclusion of care services. As active adult communities are designed for seniors who value independent living, you won’t find any on-site care facilities in the neighborhood. However, residents can arrange for in-home care services, if necessary, or take advantage of existing home care service agreements between some communities and providers.
  • Limited services and amenities. Amenities and services offered, such as laundry, housekeeping and transportation, vary from community to community, so you’ll have to check exactly what services are offered and what amenities are included for each active adult community you have your eye on. It’s also typical for most active adult community residents to be responsible for their own meals, so take that into consideration as well.
  • Inflexible to changes in living setup. Most active adult communities don’t entirely prohibit grandchildren from living with their grandparents, but they allow this setup for only a short time, often 90 days. So, if family situations arise that need grandparents to take care of or be responsible for grandchildren for an extended period, this active adult policy will hinder them from doing so.
  • Real estate investment younger family members can’t take advantage of. Active adult communities don’t allow people below 55 years to reside in the community unless there’s a senior present with them during their stay. Those who have younger family members or seniors who are “part-time residents” who only live in the community for a portion of the year must take this into consideration.

Who Should Consider Living in Active Adult Communities?

Seniors who expect to continue living independently, i.e., without the need for daily living assistance, and enjoy an active, healthy and engaged lifestyle are likely to be fit in this type of senior living. Active adult communities will also appeal to seniors who are looking for alternatives to traditional retirement communities that offer many amenities and a lower-cost or maintenance-free lifestyle. Seniors who want to be with same-age or like-minded neighbors and live in a close-knit neighborhood will also like living in an active adult community.

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