Is Buying a Home in a 55+ Community Right for You? 11 Important Things to Consider

INVESTING - REAL ESTATE INVESTING
You’ll want to make a list of the pros and cons of a 55+ community before you decide to pack up and move.
Updated Feb. 21, 2024
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Looking to move to a 55+ community? Consider the pros and cons before you start packing your boxes.

A 55+ community could be a good option for you, but you don’t want to regret the move if it ends up not being the right place for you.

So before you start looking for a new place, here are some factors to take into consideration to avoid wasting money on a move you’ll regret.

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Living with people your age

Vane Nunes/Adobe multi-ethnic seniors doing yoga in park

As you get older, you may want to live closer to people who are also in your age bracket. Perhaps you like living close to people you can socialize with or be within walking distance to see people. 

You also may prefer to not have kids or families who may be loud or cause disruption to your daily routine with traffic or buses for schools.

Low-maintenance housing

Andy Dean/Adobe senior couple sitting at front house after retirement

Some communities may ease home-ownership frustrations by taking care of some everyday maintenance for you.

A 55+ community might offer services like lawn maintenance and snow removal from sidewalks and driveways that you don’t want to worry about as you get older. 

It may also maintain parks or walking trails so you won’t feel like you’re giving up much when you downsize your personal outdoor space.

Monthly home association fees

Andrey Popov/Adobe house model near HOA rules and regulations

While you don’t have to arrange for yard maintenance or snow shoveling, someone has to pay for it. In a 55+ community, you will probably have a monthly homeowners’ fee.

Factor in maintenance costs and other fees when you’re creating a budget for a possible move to a 55+ community. 

When you’re shopping for a community, be sure to ask about the monthly fee, and what it covers, such as a clubhouse, gym, and lawn maintenance.

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Lower property taxes

mojo_cp/Adobe A picture of coins by little houses

Do some research on how much it may cost in property taxes if you buy a home in an active adult community.

One of the biggest recipients of property-tax money is public schools, which are an important part of a community. But 55+ communities don’t have kids and schools to support, which could be reflected in lower property taxes.

Smaller homes

Ivan Kmit/Adobe money piled in front of tiny house sculpture showing concept of saving money for buying new house

Homes in 55+ communities cater to couples who don’t have children living with them, which means they may be smaller than a family home since only one or two people will be living there.

This could be both a pro or a con depending on your needs. You may like a smaller home because it’s easier to clean and maintain, but it also may not be big enough for extra space you might need or to accommodate a large number of guests.

Recreational activities

rh2010/Adobe Senior couple hiking

As you learn about potential monthly homeowners’ fees, it’s a good idea to look further into what those fees cover.

A 55+ community may use those fees for recreational and social activities that you can participate in to stay active in the community. Activities could include concerts, exercise classes, book clubs, or other events that may appeal to you.

Location of community

littlewolf1989/Adobe senior people in retirement holding golf clubs

Some 55+ communities are newer communities located in recently developed areas that aren’t close to a city center or other central location.

This could be good if you enjoy having extra public spaces like parks, golf courses, and other conveniences. But you may want to reconsider a 55+ community if you like being near a city or urban center.

Availability in your area

Fractal Pictures/Adobe cool old couple smiling talking about travel destinations

Want to live in a 55+ community but not move far away? That might not be so easy.

There are plenty of 55+ communities in traditional retirement areas like Arizona or Florida, but you may not be able to find one close to where you currently live. 

Relocating to another state may be an exciting adventure for you, but it also might not be what you want to do just to get a 55+ community life.

Safety and security

Miljan Živković/Adobe senior man holding home security surveillance camera

One of the things your monthly fee may cover could be extra security in your community. For example, the community may provide additional private security for patrols in addition to the local police department.

You also may have to register guests while they are staying with you, making it easier to track who comes in and out of the community. And some 55+ communities may even be gated with a security guard checking guests in when they arrive.

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Rules and regulations

Wolfilser/Adobe Rules and regulations

As with any HOA community, your homeowners' fees may go toward the enforcement of residential rules and regulations that have to be followed to live in the community.

These rules could relate to maintaining land in your area by pulling weeds or caring for exterior issues like paint on your home. 

But you might also feel that the rules are too restrictive when it comes to where you can park or what color you can paint your front door.

No on-site medical care

Prostock-studio/Adobe patient talking to doctor during appointment

A 55+ community usually caters to active seniors and retirees who are still independent and can care for themselves without medical assistance.

This isn’t an issue if you live an active life, but it may be something to consider as you get older. Unlike continuing care retirement communities with on-site care, a 55+ community may be good until you need more assistance. In that case, you may have to sell your home and move again.

Bottom line

Flamingo Images/Adobe old couple working on a laptop

A 55+ community is a great option if you want to live in an area that caters to your particular age group.

Make sure you create a budget if you plan to move into a community like this to take into account moving expenses, monthly fees, and other costs associated with your new neighborhood. 

And consider ways to make extra money if you find the budget is a little tighter than you expected.

FinanceBuzz is not an investment advisor. This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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