What Is A Retirement Community?

Living in a retirement community is a popular choice among retirees. You might ask yourself, what is a retirement community? Let’s find out. 

A retirement community is a living complex designed for seniors. It includes many community services and amenities, like socializing, cooking, and maintenance. A retirement community is age-restricted, often 55+. People living in a retirement community thrive and have a strong community sense, which helps them find more happiness.

Are you planning to move to a retirement community and want to learn more about what to expect? I interviewed retirees living in retirement communities and looked at the common factors you’ll find in many retirement communities. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in! 

Benefits Of Living In A Retirement Community

My parents-in-law live in a retirement community for 10 years now, and they love it! When I asked them and their neighbors about what they like most, they all answered more or less the same. They all like that living in a retirement community means that you live with people of the same generation who have a similar view on life. 

It’s easier to get in contact with other people. Living in a retirement community helps them to stay active, socialize, and have more fun. The community members look out for each other. 

My parents-in-law are still youngsters compared to others living in their community. They’re halfway through their sixties and help the elderly do groceries, cooking, and other daily activities. The independent living retirement community where they live also offers assisted living services when needed.

They all do fun things together like going on day trips, playing fun activities like boules, sports, cooking, etcetera. Also, during holidays they make sure that no one is alone. If someone is not invited by their family, one of the other community members invites them over. It’s kind of the community life as it should be. 

Staying active at an older age is related to healthy aging. According to this article on Harvard Health Publishing, social interaction keeps older adults more active. A broader social interaction results in greater positive moods, higher physical activity, and less negative feelings. Living in a retirement community helps you stay active and socially engaged. It can avoid loneliness at an older age. 

Different Types Of Retirement Communities

When you plan to move to a retirement community, you first need to know more about the different types of retirement communities. There are many living complexes and residential areas that are known as retirement communities but offer different services and facilities. I lined up the most common retirement communities for you, so you can decide what kind of retirement community fits you the best. 

Independent Living Retirement Community

When you’re still fit and able to live independently, you probably are looking for a community where you can do everything yourself. An independent living retirement community is the one you’re looking for. 

The communities are living complexes or residential areas where retirees live independently. Still, they can rely on community services for things like socializing, sports, fun activities. There’s often also a form of maintenance included. For example, when your dishwasher is broken, you can contact the maintenance service. They will replace the dishwasher for you. Services and amenities vary per community. 

My parents-in-law live in an independent retirement community. They have a lovely apartment in a large building and have everything for themselves. However, there is a community center on the ground floor where they can join activities, go for lunch or dinner, and meet other retirees. 

Independent living retirement communities are often age-restricted, meaning that you need to be a minimum age to be eligible to live in the community. Also, these independent communities offer healthcare services when needed. These services vary in each community. 

Assisted Living Retirement Community

When you need a form of care but still can do things independently, you’re probably looking for an assisted living retirement community. 

Depending on the community, assisted living retirement communities offer different forms of daily care to their residents. You often rent or buy an apartment or condominium where you still have the amenities to do things independently. The available care varies per assisted living community and the form of care you need.

Often the different forms of care in assisted living communities focus on daily activities like preparing dinner, household activities, nursing, and wellness activities. 

Contuining Care Facilities

There are retirement communities that offer all sorts of care within the community. Depending on your needs, you can start living independently in the community and can use different forms of care if needed. 

Continuing care facilities are often large communities where seniors move in until the end of their lives. Continuing care communities combine independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes into one community. 

Services & Amenities In A Retirement Community

Of course, services and amenities can vary per community. However, there are many things that you’ll find in every retirement community. Sometimes you need to pay an extra fee for using services. This often occurs in independent living retirement communities. 

Many retirement communities offer services like; 

  • Housekeeping Service
    When you don’t want to or cannot do housekeeping tasks yourself, you can opt for housekeeping services in many retirement communities. Housekeeping services help you with keeping your house clean and organized.
  • Laundry Service
    Many retirees offer a laundry service where you can bring your laundry and have it cleaned.
  • Meal Services
    Meal services vary per community. Suppose you live in an independent living retirement community. In that case, you often need to pay a little extra when you want to use the meal service. For assisted living communities, meal services are often included. 

    Most residents can decide for themselves if they want to use the meal service. For example, in the retirement community where my parents-in-law live, you need to reserve a few days in advance to join the dinner service in the community center. 
  • Transportation Service
    You can use this service to go to an appointment and not able to drive yourself. 
  • Activity Calendar
    The activity calendar is what sets retirement communities apart from other communities. It’s one of the most important things in the communities because it helps residents socialize and connect. 
  • Common Areas For Residents
    Many activities take place in community centers, but there are also a lot of common areas in retirement communities. Often these areas are gardens to walk in or activity rooms to play games or watch television. 
  • Maintenance Service
    My father-in-law refers to this service as ‘ideal!’ He loves the fact that he doesn’t have to worry about fixing things like the dishwasher, shower, fridge, heating, etcetera. When something doesn’t work, they only need to schedule an appointment with maintenance, and they come and fix it for them. It’s a perfect service if you don’t want to or cannot do the maintenance yourself.

Many retirement communities offer housing with amenities like complete kitchens, bathrooms, Wi-Fi connection. Sometimes houses are completely furnished as well. Amenities vary per retirement community. It’s important to find out what kind of amenities a community offers before deciding to move in there. 

Why Should You Move To A Retirement Community?

If you move into a retirement community depends on many factors. The most important ones are what you want to do in your retired life and your current health condition. If you still in good health and have many retirement plans, you probably do not consider moving. But maybe you want to downsize your home or live among people of the same age. There are so many reasons to think about why and when you should move into a retirement community.

The best advice that I can give to you is to make a retirement plan. Consider future healthcare. Get on the same page with your spouse and family, and then decide if moving to a retirement community is something that suits you. 

I asked my parents-in-law why they decided to move into the retirement community ten years ago, and their most important reasons were; 

  • Downsizing their home,
  • Live With People Of The Same Generation,
  • Socialize With Fellow Residents, 
  • Close To Their Children, Grandchildren, and Family,
  • Possibility Of Healthcare If Needed.

Maybe you have different reasons to move into a retirement community. However, it’s important to know what you can find in a retirement community. When you consider moving, I recommend that you read my other article, What Should I Look For In A Retirement Community? | 15 Expert Tips

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 200+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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