You might be under the impression that senior living communities are everywhere. Take a stroll through any suburban neighborhood, and you’ll likely pass at least one example of a senior living community. These normally look rather appealing too: gated communities that are free from litter and other blemishes. Usually they’re well kept with lots of nice greenery, and the houses are often modern and clean from the exterior.
But then the time comes when you’re actually eligible to live in one of these communities, is it really a good idea?
The short answer is yes: these are safe, well-kept, and attractive homes, that provide a sense of community and privacy. While you may be perfectly healthy and mobile, these properties are futureproof, helping you to prepare for your older years, while giving peace of mind to your loved ones.
But are they a financially sound decision? In this post, we’ll take a look at some recent developments that you should keep in mind and whether or not this is really a good choice for your living arrangements.
Why Now is the Time to Move Into a Senior Living Community
If you’re wondering why there are so many senior living communities right now, it’s because there are so many seniors. In short, the population is getting older as life-expectancy increases, and developers/governments have overcompensated for this booming population. And this makes sense, seeing as that population is only going to grow. In fact, it is thought that the population of people over 65 is going to have doubled by the time we reach 2060.
In other words, this development has aimed to anticipate an even higher number of seniors in coming years, but that means there are too many spaces available for the population as it stands right now.
That, and there has likely been a little bit of genuine overshooting as well.
This becomes very apparent when we look at the numbers. After all, there are actually around 28,900 assisted living communities in the US right now, which is huge when you consider that each one will have a lot of accommodation1.
What this means is that there are thousands of spaces in senior living communities that have yet to be filled. And what that means, is that thanks to the law of supply and demand, there are more spaces available at a low rate than ever before.
The thing to recognize is that all of those spaces are costing the companies and agencies that run them money. They need to keep them heated and cleaned, and they need to make payments on the land. In other words, if no one is living in them, then they are a cash sink. It’s better for an organization to therefore lower prices and get someone in at a low rate, than it is to keep prices high and have no one living there at all.
This makes now the perfect time to move into a senior living community. As the aging population grows, these spaces are going to fill up rapidly. That means that the cost will go up, and it means that you’ll end up paying more for the same quality of life.
As ever, the key to smart money management when you are over 65, is to think not about what you need right now, but what you will need in 10, 20, or 30 years. Would you rather move into a senior living community right now, pay less, and have your health to make the transition that much smoother… or wait until you are disabled and the cost has gone up drastically?
Move now while it is a choice, not something that has been forced on you.
Making the Right Choice for You
When choosing the right living community, there are a few different steps and things to consider.
As with picking any kind of property, you need to think about the property itself with regards to the location, the size, the number of bathrooms, and parking. Is this somewhere you could see yourself living? Does it cater to all you’re the requirements of your current lifestyle?
Keep in mind the different types of senior living community too. These include:
- Age restricted communities – generally 55+ and over, with no additional health care services
- Independent living – Designed for older individuals who want to maintain active lifestyles while being around others of a similar age
- Continuing care retirement communities – Communities that offer seniors a range of lifestyle and health care options
- Assisted living – Communities that specifically aim to offer health care services around the clock
- Nursing homes – For the disabled and infirm primarily, who require full-time support and care and potentially specialist equipment
When it comes to budgeting, you need to consider the cost of living right now, and the cost of moving. Do you want to live somewhere that is more affordable with no health care or organized activities, or do you want to live somewhere that you can stay for the next 20 years and thereby avoid the cost of moving?
If you’re unsure of the right answer for you, consider the “middle ground” options, and investigate the cost of a full time carer. Combining a carer with an age restricted community for example, might be more affordable than assisted living. You can also consider getting a medical assessment for a better idea of your long term health.
When examining costs, think as well about what is and isn’t included. If food is provided for instance, then this could off-set a higher initial cost.
You also need to check credentials, to make sure that the staff and the property meet certain standards. Do a search online, and contact local organizations if you have any questions. Using Guidestar3 can be helpful.
Look as well into any potential subsidiaries, tax breaks, or grants that can help you to afford the accommodation that would be your first choice.