Select the Right Retirement Community

Perhaps you’ve seen ads for a new “over 55″ luxury condominium development in your town. Or another winter of shoveling has finally convinced you that it’s time to move to a warmer climate. If you’re looking forward to life in a retirement community, it’s important to take the right steps in choosing which one best suits you.

Beginning the search

The first step is to think about where you want to live, how you want to spend your retirement years and what you can afford. All retirement communities are designed with the needs of older adults in mind, but they provide different living arrangements, activities and services.

One option is the “active adult” community, Usually centered around a fitness facility, a clubhouse, or a golf course, this type of community offers many social and recreational opportunities, including clubs, meals and walking trails.

Other retirement complexes are geared toward individuals who want flexible living arrangements and services. These complexes may contain a variety of housing types, including independent-living, assisted-living and long-term care facilities.

Continuing care retirement communities and fee-for-service continuing care retirement communities are increasingly popular options for those 62 or older who meet financial and health thresholds. These communities offer, an independent living unit, residential amenities and access to a continuum of long-term care services under one contract.

The cost of convenience

The convenience of retirement living usually comes at a price. That price includes not only rental or mortgage payments, utilities and insurance, but also any up-front or ongoing fees. A retirement community may charge a fee for “buying in” to the community. You may also need to factor in a homeowner’s association fee that could add hundreds or thousands of dollars to your monthly costs. Taxes are also important to consider. Make sure to research property, sales and “hidden” taxes on luxury goods or investments in the area you are considering. A financial professional or tax advisor can help you determine the impact these taxes will have on your finances.

Try before you buy

Popular communities often have waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to do your homework in advance. Start with a visit. If you’re traveling from out of town, find out if the community you’re visiting offers a special travel package for potential residents — many do. If you’re searching locally, visit each prospective community at least two or three times.

Below is a checklist of important factors to consider and questions to ask when researching retirement communities:

  • Is the property well maintained?
  • Is the atmosphere casual or formal?
  • What social, recreational and educational activities are available?
  • Is public transportation nearby, or is a van service available?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Are guests restricted?
  • Is medical care provided?
  • Which serves are included and which are available at an additional cost?
  • Has the facility been accredited?

Most importantly, talk to residents and staff about their experiences — this will give you a much more realistic picture of life in a retirement community than you can glean from a brochure.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.

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