After retiring, many seniors view their home as more of a burden then an asset: big, empty and costly. Increasingly, retirees are trading their houses for apartment complexes designed exclusively for seniors. However, these aren't like the retirement homes or nursing homes most people imagine. These are sleek, modern complexes filled with amenities that cater to active seniors who value low-cost living, freedom and flexibility.
Downsizing to an apartment can be a great way to make retirement more affordable. With a much lower cost of living, seniors can pay rent instead of a mortgage, property taxes and maintenance costs. Utility bills are often far lower as well, and sometimes those bills are included in the rent. Additionally, seniors can help fund their retirement by cashing in on years of home equity. However, some senior apartment complexes can be very small, and the downsizing might be more extreme than originally envisioned.
Nevertheless, by moving into an apartment building, seniors have more freedom to both relocate and travel. Senior apartment complexes can be found nationwide, and retirees can move to a new city -- maybe one they've always wanted to live in or one near a new grandchild. Moreover, apartment residents can simply lock up their unit and go on vacation. They can rely on building management to take care of all the little things a homeowner would need to plan for prior to going on vacation, such as picking up the mail, mowing the lawn and watering the plants.
But perhaps the best reason to move into a senior apartment complex is the wide variety of amenities. Most senior apartment complexes will include some form of clubhouse, meeting room or party room. Many will also feature pools, fitness centers and on-site laundry facilities. Some complexes will also plan and organize outings to visit nearby activities or tourist destinations. Many seniors find these amenities particularly exciting because they will share these amenities exclusively with their peers, instead of residents of all ages like in a typical apartment complex.
High-end senior apartment complexes will offer more luxurious amenities, but they will also charge higher rent or fees in return. These deluxe amenities can include tennis, volleyball or basketball courts, as well as libraries and outdoor barbecue and picnic areas. Some of the top-of-the-line senior apartment complexes will feel more like country clubs than apartment buildings, offering access to restaurants, golf courses, trails, lakes and ponds and even marinas. Senior apartment complexes are quite common, but far from identical. Interested seniors should take the time to locate the complex that is the right blend of costs and benefits for them.
But the search shouldn't stop there. Retirees should look at a number of factors when choosing the right senior apartment complex for them. Examine the location of the building. Does it offer public transportation options? What dining, shopping and other services are nearby? Is there plenty of parking?
Next, look at the building itself. Are the grounds looked after? Is the building secure? Do residents have access to storage spaces? Does it offer the necessary accessibility, both at building entrances and in the units themselves? For example, does the building have a lot of stairs? Do the showers include grab bars and benches? Are staff and residents friendly?
Finally, check out the fine print. Does the building have specific age restrictions for residents, or could grandchildren visit for a few days? What rules or regulations must residents abide? What maintenance does your rent cover? Does the building's budget have a reserve fund for unplanned repairs and improvements? Are the financials of the management company in good order? What is the projection for future rent increases?
Senior apartment complexes are a great option for easy, low-cost retirement. But retirees do have other options, including high-rise condominiums, manufactured homes, RV parks, golf and resort communities or planned residential communities offering small homes to older buyers. Like retirement itself, choosing a place to spend your golden years is something that shouldn't be rushed. Take the time to plan the transition and choose the right complex -- the one that offers the right blend of costs, perks, size and freedom.