Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are 55+ Communities measuring up to the hype?

By Bob Gregory

In a previous blog post, Are you 50+ and ready to start living the good life?, I listed the 10 most common advantages of a 55+ community for your consideration.  Since that post, I have had conversations with a lot of individuals who live in 55+ Communities and I have received some mixed reviews so I would like to do a little clarification and add some additional advice!  Florida, my state, is filled with retirement options but not all are created equal nor do they come with the same price tag.  I thought I would offer you some of the comments from individuals who seemed to be dissatisfied and then offer some ways to avoid finding yourself in the same situation.

Comments and Rebuttal:

  1. The community is full of us “old” folks and there are no young children running around playing or teens to keep us young and active.  Alright, it’s a retirement community and there is a reason they are advertised as 55+ Communities.  Yes, you will see the occasional grandchildren visiting but it’s not like a typical family community where you have every age.  Consider whether you are ready for that type of an environment.  Most people move to a 55+ Community to put that part of their lives behind them!  Further, make sure the community you choose is active enough for your taste. 
    Mature couple playing golf
    Mature couple playing golf
    (Photo credit: SalFalko)
  1. The activities are really tailored to those who want to sit around and play card games or watch reruns of movies—not much excitement.  I mentioned in my introduction that not all 55+ Communities are created equally and this is true.  You will find communities with every type of activity you can imagine from golf to horseback riding to boating.  You have to do your research and make sure the community you choose has the activities you like.  Also, keep in mind this is a capitalistic market so you get what you pay for!  If you visit enough of these communities, you will find some have parties almost every night of the week and offer more amenities than you can imagine.  You may have to be willing to relocate to find the community that has everything on your wish list so do your research.
  1. It seems like everyone holds an “office” at our community and the politics are unreal! Most planned communities have “resident boards” that help manage certain aspects of the communities and this is also true in 55+ Communities.  The resident boards generally oversee the maintenance of the residences to help protect property values and planned activities such as dances, cookouts etc. For most communities, these resident boards are helpful and provide a needed service but there may be one or two who take their “office” very seriously!  As in any community, avoid the politics and back
    Dancing all the time
    Dancing all the time (Photo credit: Julie70)
     biting as much as possible.  Be sure and inquire whether the community you are interested has a resident board, officers and their functions.   Also ask how the officers are elected and how long the current officers have held the position.  If the same people have been in office forever, it could be a warning sign. 
  1. As soon as I make good friends, they either move to a nursing home or pass on.  We are all on a journey through life and as we age, our “stops” become more discernible.  Yes, friends will become incapable of taking care of themselves and some will pass on but this is all part of life regardless of where you live.  The difference is in a community where most residents are within five to ten years of your age, this type of separation will be more apparent.
  1. I can’t believe how much it costs to live in a 55+ Community!  Earlier we discussed you get what you pay for and nothing can be more true when choosing a community with top of the line amenities.  If you want to live on a golf course, with beach access or even beach front homes, you can bet you are going to pay a lot.  In addition, the more services that are provided, the higher the cost.  If you 
    Chairs On The Beach
    Chairs On The Beach (Photo credit: kenteegardin)
    want concierge service, maid service, fine dining and open bars, your price is going to be much higher.  You need to shop around for the community that not only has the amenities you desire but also the price you can afford.  In Florida, you will find a 55+ Community that fits almost every price range with a variety of services.

Most people who gave me comments were very positive and reiterated most of the ten most common reasons to live in a 55+ Community that I had listed.  The majority said they would not leave their community and there were very few items they would even change.  I believe these people did their research and asked the right questions.  Make sure you speak with as many residents as possible and not just the “tour committee” handpicked to answer your questions.  Ask to attend a couple of social events and see the turnout compared to the resident count of the community—that will tell you a lot!  Finally, if you find a place that caters to your particular desires and needs, you’ll find there is no hype! 

If would like a list of 55+ Communities, an Assisted Living Facility, Nursing Home or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider
If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for themselves or their loved ones is what we care about. 

We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider 

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