How to Find the Perfect Retirement Community

For most people, the golden years of retirement come after decades of hard work. In some cases, this means settling down in a community designed for easy living — where you can kick your feet up and have most of your living essentials taken care of. But the days of simple amenities like generic fitness centers and community conference rooms are over — an increasing number of senior living communities promote a more active lifestyle that includes social engagement, travel, and recreational activities.

Back in the day, communities may have used the “one-size fits all” model for the world of senior care, but as the amenities have evolved so have the standards of living — modern senior living providers now understand the importance of providing personalized care and a well-rounded lifestyle.

With hundreds of options nationwide, it can be tough to narrow down the right community for you or your loved one. From the most basic to the most luxurious 55+ Active Adult communities, you won’t find a shortage of areas to pick from.

Luckily, we’ve laid out a complete guide to help you pick your perfect retirement community.

Consider Your Type of Community

When you’re searching for a place to live in retirement, it’s important to keep in mind there are various types of retirement communities.

Some common community types include:

Each living community model aims to offer a safe, welcoming environment for seniors with different needs and preferences.

Location, Location, Location

The best way to think about the location is by asking what the weather is like there and what’s nearby. Visit the area you want to move to before you decide. You should enjoy the weather all year round if you’re making a permanent move. Consider the type of weather you want to live in. If you are interested in moving to another state to retire, you should take some time to research the weather. Visit the area you want to move to before you decide on a retirement community.

While you may love warm winters in Florida, you may not like the hot, humid summers. If this is a permanent, year-round move, you must be sure that the weather is comfortable for you.

Outside of the weather, consider what there is to do in the area. One of the biggest reasons that folks retire to places like Charlotte, NC, is the abundance of activities from music to restaurants, and a relaxing environment to enjoy retirement.


Recreation is vital whether you’re a serial hobbyist or not. It gives you something to look forward to as well as new activities to try. Not only are social activities fun, but community life is also a great chance to make new friends.

We’d recommend you speak with residents and learn more about the activity schedule. Also, look at what recreational amenities are available at the community such as a woodshop, fitness center, library, and craft areas.

Consider Your Type of Lifestyle

You want to live somewhere that lets you live your best life. Ensure your retirement community is close to nearby activities, beauty salons, libraries, shopping, continuing education opportunities, entertainment, cultural events, and more. Look for a community that allows you to live as you choose. For example, if there are restrictions against pets, you'll want to know that ahead of time. Each retirement community has a set of rules that all residents must follow.

You will need to find out if you can have pets, or if you can have a family member move in with you long term. You may be surprised to discover that you can't have an outdoor grill at some retirement communities, or you aren't allowed to plant a small garden. Learn what the rules are of any retirement community you are considering before you make your final decision.

What Level of Care Do You Need?

Some senior living communities offer different services and levels of care as residents’ needs change, others may only offer one level of living. Communities offering multiple levels of care are often referred to as life plan communities or continuing care retirement communities. Independent residential living offers apartments and cottages for like-aged individuals.

Personal care facilities give you or your loved ones additional services and levels of care to if you need more help with activities of daily living like meals, showering and reminders. Memory care is designed to assist you if you are challenged by memory loss. Healthcare Centers offer skilled nursing for short-term rehabilitation or long-term care. You or your loved one may not need additional levels of care right now but it’s always good to know it’s available.

When looking at the levels of care offered, make sure to ask if that community accepts Medicare, Medicaid, supplemental Medicare plans, and long-term care insurance.

What is Your Price Point?

An essential aspect of finding a retirement community is cost. You and your family should sit down with a trusted professional to discuss your finances, notably your long-term savings. Make sure to review your monthly bills are compare them to the retirement community cost. What services are included in the retirement community? Every community could potentially have different fees and services.

Funding the Purchase

Funding the purchase of your next home in the way that’s best for you can make all the difference for you and your retirement. While paying all cash and taking out a traditional mortgage are both options, you should also consider a powerful, little-known home financing option just for homebuyers 62 and older. It’s called a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (H4P) loan. It can give those planning for retirement more purchasing power and help you to retain a large portion of your life savings.

That’s because you can buy your ideal home in the community of your choice with a down payment of about half the purchase price* — the H4P loan finances the rest. And you never have to make a monthly mortgage payment, so long as you live in the home and pay the property charges, like taxes, insurance, and HOA dues. So, it feels a lot like you purchased the home in all cash, except you get to keep more cash to use as you wish in retirement.

It Matters Where You Live

You want to be sure the place you choose is a good fit for you or your loved one throughout the aging process. After all, where you live influences your family life, hobbies, safety, cash flow, overall happiness, and so much more. To get a good sense of what the retirement community is truly like, you should ask questions and go for a visit.

If you're interested in exploring funding options for your next home purchase, we can help.

*The required down payment on your new home is determined on a number of factors, including your age (or eligible non-borrowing spouse’s age, if applicable); current interest rates; and the lesser of the home’s appraised value or purchase price

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