When you are searching for planned retirement communities, there are a number of factors to consider to determine if the community will be a good fit for you and your lifestyle.
First, think about the year that the retirement community was built. Older communities will have established neighborhoods so you know exactly what you are getting. They may also have maintenance issues. Newer communities may not be fully constructed. You may not know exactly how the neighborhoods will form, and there may not be as many residents for social events.
Think about the size of the planned community. Smaller ones may be built all at once, with no plans for growth. Larger ones are often built in phases. Some communities will feel like one large neighborhood; others will feel like interconnected villages or subdivisions. Do you prefer a small community in a large city or a large community away from it all?
Consider the types of housing and/or real estate offered. Some communities only have single family homes. Others offer single family homes mixed with condos, town homes, apartments, etc. Decide if you’d like an eclectic neighborhood or a more homogeneous one. And, of course, consider housing prices, taxes and HOA fees.
Do you want city amenities, such as museums or shopping, close by, or are the stores, restaurants and golf course(s) on-site enough? How close are mountains, the ocean or lakes for recreation? Will there be activities for the grandkids? Does that matter? Do you want to live where activities are structured and planned for you?
Is the community designed for aging gracefully? Are homes built on a single-level; do they have lever door handles and 24-hour emergency signal systems? Do you want a community with assisted living facilities on site? Do you want one close to a major medical facility? Does the community offer any kind of transportation? For what maintenance will you be responsible?
Consider the age restrictions imposed by the community and if children are allowed. Do you want a younger feel in your new retirement spot? Or do you prefer an older, more sedate one? Most retirees prefer to live with residents of similar ages. Some communities cater to those age 45 to 60ish. Others to those 55 to 70ish and others target an older crowd.
Consider the geographic location of the community. Are there hurricanes, tornadoes or snow storms? How humid will it be? Is elevation an issue? How hot does it get in the summer or how cold in the winter?
Looking at all of these factors will help you choose a retirement community. Once you have selected a few that look as though they might be a good fit, the best thing to do is to visit them and ask a lot of questions. Many offer discount accommodations for just that purpose.