May 22, 2016
Steps for Identifying the Right Active Retirement Community for You
Investing in a retirement community is a significant decision. As with all major life decisions, it is important to break the big decision down into smaller decision points. Here are some key items to consider.
For retirees who can afford to pull up stakes and move to any destination, the sheer breadth of possibilities is a challenge: if you can live anywhere, how do you choose?
First, what is most important to you? For many people, a warmer climate is the goal—which makes Florida and Arizona very popular retirement destinations. Keep in mind the differences between warm climates, as Tucson’s highest summertime humidity is about the same as Orlando’s lowest. Of course, some retirees dislike the heat and love winter, while others want something with regular seasons.
A great resource is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Maps of the United States. Several downloadable maps show climate factors such as temperature, rainfall, snow, wind, and many others. They should help you identify which parts of the country feature the climates that you would prefer.
Climate is just one factor in assessing location. Every destination has unique demographic, economic, and cultural characteristics. How important is it to maintain close links to family and friends? Do you want to live near them, or would you be happy to travel to them? If you are traveling, then you need a community that is close to good transportation facilities. Do you have special medical needs? If yes, then you should look at communities in close proximity to excellent medical centers.
With its close proximity to some of our country’s most exciting cities, as well as to beautiful waterways, Delaware is a top retirement destination for many active retirees.
Location and lifestyle are closely related. No community can offer everything, but you should be close to what you want. Do you crave good hiking and skiing? Or do you want to attend music performances and visit museums? While a preference for one or two activities does not have to exclude access to others, you probably need to prioritize and make some decisions about what you want nearby.
Retirement communities also vary in their amenities. Many have golf courses (or offer access to nearby links), as well as tennis courts, fitness clubs, and swimming pools. Some communities offer little in the way of amenities, but cost less.
Their character will also vary, depending on their residents’ collective beliefs and desires. While a community may look great on paper, you want to be sure that you feel comfortable and can make friends.
Location and lifestyle will certainly affect the cost of retirement communities, as will popularity. But there are other factors to consider too, like local and state taxes, local cost of living, health care, and entertainment and recreation costs. Also keep in mind that each retirement community has its own particular cost, in addition to a mortgage or monthly rent.
Prioritize and Visit
When you have narrowed down your choices, try ranking them in order of importance (you probably will need several different rankings). Every place will be great, but also require some compromise.
Unless there is a reason to hurry, take your time and visit your top choices at least once or twice. There is no other way to get to know the area and the people who will become your neighbors and friends. As part of your exploration, you might visit our 55 and over communities in Delaware .
Many retirement communities have visitor programs or offer short-term rentals, which are also excellent strategies for acquiring first-hand familiarity.