The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home in a Retirement Community

Elderly couple looking at laptop

By Jim Cook, Sr. Mortgage Loan Officer

Perhaps you have successfully raised your family and are now watching your children establish their own homes, or maybe you’re beginning to think about downsizing and reducing the demands of home maintenance as you finish your working years. If any of these situations sound familiar, you may be considering purchasing your next home in a retirement community (sometimes called age-restricted, 55-plus, independent living, or active-adult community). But is this type of purchase for you?

As the nation’s population ages, the options for downsized property have steadily grown. The U.S. Census Bureau expects 1 in 5 Americans to be over 65 years of age by 2030, and the housing market is responding to the changing expectations of older adults. Because this group of homeowners may not be ready to sit and watch the world go by just yet, these communities are now offering a wide variety of amenities beyond pools and golf courses. These communities focus on active lifestyles with amenities for walking, hiking and biking, arts, culture and social activities. In addition to these “lifestyle” amenities, most of these communities also provide access to landscape and exterior home maintenance, which are paid for through a home owner’s association fee.

If you are beginning to think about your next home in one of these communities, consider some of the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Reduced time spent maintaining your home One of the most appealing aspects is being able to pursue your interests rather than mowing, shoveling, raking or painting. Smaller interior spaces also mean less time spent cleaning.
  • Being surrounded by like-minded people – You may enjoy the opportunity to befriend and socialize with people with whom you share similar interests and a similar phase of life.
  • Quiet surroundings – Generally these communities are quiet, child-free environments. Children and grandchildren are typically welcome to visit but are not a constant presence.
  • Amenities geared to adults – In addition to pools, tennis courts and fitness centers, residents frequently plan group activities and establish clubs around shared interests.

Cons:

  • Little age-group diversity – This doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you like to interact with younger adults and children this may give you pause.
  • Limited use by family Your younger adult family members may not be permitted to use the property when you are not present.
  • Longer marketing times Properties in these communities represent only a fraction of the total housing market, so your time spent either searching for a home to purchase or offering a home for sale can be longer in some cases.

As you try to imagine the way your life will look in this next phase, ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes you happy?
  • What do want to do with your free time?
  • Who do you want to be around?

Once you’ve considered your answers, research and solicit opinions from friends and peers who have been through this process already. Whatever you choose, enjoy the next adventure and rely on the experts at Michigan First Mortgage to guide you in your next home purchase.