To say that all retirement communities are not the same is an understatement. Now more than ever, builders are offering options to meet Baby Boomers’ and the Silent Generation’s unique needs. With so many options, it can be hard to know where to start when you’re figuring out how to choose a retirement community. There are communities that offer amenities that rival five-star hotels, ones that are based around specific hobbies, and communities that offer medical care, such as access to physical therapists. Follow these steps to choose a retirement community that you’ll love for years to come.

1. Research Your Options

First, do your research. Ask friends, family members and (former) coworkers for recommendations. Go online and check out the new retirement communities that are being developed. Don’t be afraid to look at active adult communities that are out of state, too. Read the reviews and see what homeowners are saying about these communities. Are the homeowners pleased with their homes/condos? How are the maintenance workers and staff members?

2. Make a List

Before you can choose the perfect retirement community, evaluate what you’re looking for and make a list of your “must haves.” This will help you stay organized throughout your search. After you’ve collected your recommendations and read community reviews, it’s time to make a list of all the neighborhoods that piqued your interest. Weigh the pros and cons of each retirement community, at least what you know about them so far. Then, pare down the list again. While you’re considering your options, it’s important to keep these six factors in mind.

Ages and Needs

The majority of retirement communities have strict age limits on who can live there. Although, there are some exceptions to the age requirements. That being said, homeowners in retirement communities can range in age from their 50’s all the way to their 90’s. Does the age of your neighbors matter? Do you prefer a “younger” neighborhood where most of the residents are in their 50’s and 60’s? Or do you prefer one that has a variety of ages?

Amenities

Now that you’re retired, you have a lot more free time on your hands. How do you want to spend this newfound time? Make sure the community amenities align with your lifestyle. Many communities offer resort-style amenities like:

  • Tennis and pickle ball courts
  • Swimming pools
  • Fully-equipped gyms
  • Aerobics and exercise classes
  • Golf courses
  • Lifestyle centers
  • Social activities (e.g. card games, art classes, volunteer groups)

Maintenance and On-Site Services

Don’t forget to ask about the on-site services and maintenance options when you are visiting the communities. This will help you determine how far your money goes.

Does the retirement community take care of landscaping and exterior maintenance? Now that you are retired, you may never want to shovel another driveway or cut the lawn. Find out what’s included in your HOA dues. Internet and utilities are often included in the dues at some communities as well. Do you hate cooking? Inquire about dining options. Some retirement communities have restaurants on the property or offer some sort of meal service.

Proximity to Medical Facilities

Medical care is an important factor when choosing a retirement community. Even if you are in excellent health, you need to have access to primary care physicians. Are you diabetic or have another health condition? Check to see if there are medical specialists nearby your prospective community.

How close is the nearest hospital? Accidents can arise from time to time. If you sustain a broken bone, where would you receive medical treatment?

Transportation

Are you looking at condominiums? Ask the community about parking spaces. How many spaces does each unit get? Are there enough visitor spaces for all of the units? Keep in mind that family and friends are likely to visit, too.

If you are no longer driving, does the city or town have public transportation? If so, is your community near a bus stop? Some communities also have shuttles that take residents to grocery stores and entertainment venues.

Pets

Animal lovers, before choosing an active adult community, make sure to find out about their pet policies. Here are some questions to ask the sales associates at the community:

  • Is there a limit to how many pets you can have?
  • Are certain types of pets banned?
  • Is there a weight limit for dogs?

3. Tour the Communities

Did you buy the first home that you ever looked at? The answer is probably no. Well, you probably wouldn’t move to the first retirement community that you look at either. While virtual tours are nice, there is nothing like visiting the community in person. Once you’ve finished your research, visit your favorite communities to see firsthand what it’s like to live there.

Choosing a retirement community is not an easy task. But the amazing benefits of active adult communities will make your home search well worth it. Following these steps and keeping these factors in mind will help you find a neighborhood that you’ll love throughout your golden years.