senior couple sitting on a couch of their senior apartment with their arms wrapped around one another

Why Live in a Senior Living Community vs. an All-Ages Apartment

What’s the best residence for independent living?

Today, older adults who no longer need a large suburban home, or the maintenance and expense that come with it, find they have plenty of choices for comfortable independent living. These choices include the purchase of a smaller townhome or condominium; leasing an apartment in a rental complex; renting in an active adult, 55-plus community or an age-restricted senior apartment community; or buying into an equity or ownership-style senior community. Let’s look at the pros and cons of these options and compare them to the advantages of choosing an independent living senior apartment in a Life Plan Community (also known as a continuing care retirement community).

Leaving that house behind

Rightsizing to a smaller apartment or condo could be an older adult’s first step in breaking free from the burdens of homeownership, but at best, it’s only a partial step toward long-term comfort and security. A townhome or condominium will still require dues, fees, taxes, maintenance and replacement expenses, and of course, financing for the initial purchase price. If you choose an all-age apartment rental complex, you may find yourself surrounded by young families or single older people, which is fine if you prefer to interact with people of all ages. But neither condos nor all-age communities typically include services offered in age-restricted senior communities, such as complete maintenance and housekeeping. And they certainly will not offer the progressive levels of care you’ll find in Life Plan Communities. You’ll either have to arrange and pay for in-home care if the time comes when you need it, which can be quite expensive on top of rent, or you’ll have to move again as your health needs demand.

Age-restricted senior apartments

Some apartments are specifically designed for older adults and are age restricted for 55-plus or 62-plus, for example. These senior apartments give you the opportunity to live among others in your age group, so you’re less likely to encounter loud children or late-night parties or any activities that might be associated with a younger rental population. These communities usually serve residents with varying degrees of senior-friendly features, amenities, activities and fitness options. Medical and personal care are not typically included, though in some cases housekeeping, meals and other services may be purchased at additional cost.

Rental senior living communities

Communities specifically for older adults offering services, amenities and care services via a rental agreement are quite popular. Usually, you’ll sign a lease and pay some type of security deposit or community fee. This community fee may or may not be refundable. Rental senior communities offer independent living that includes meals, housekeeping, maintenance and activities, and may also offer some form of assisted living services or higher levels of care, such as memory care and skilled nursing care, at an extra cost. But there’s no contractual obligation for the community to provide this care, so it may be necessary for a renter to move out if their needs exceed what the community can provide. If for any reason you’re no longer able to pay your monthly rent, you’ll be asked to leave. 

Equity or ownership-style senior communities

This type of community is based on a fee-simple arrangement in which a resident purchases their apartment and enjoys full ownership privileges. As in a traditional real estate deal, pricing is usually negotiated with the previous owner. There are pros and cons to owning real estate, but this type of community is most attractive to seniors who want ownership of property and hope to enjoy some level of equity appreciation upon resale.

Residents pay a monthly maintenance fee as well as association dues and are responsible for covering real estate taxes and assessments as well. Renovations to individual units are typically paid by the owner. If you should need higher levels of care, assisted living may be available for an additional daily cost, but a need for memory care or around-the-clock skilled nursing care would likely require you to sell your residence and move out. And despite your leaving, or even after death, the monthly fees on this residence must still be paid until the residence is resold, which can pose financial challenges for sellers and surviving family members.

CCRC/Life Plan Communities

As the name implies, a continuing care retirement community offers a full “continuum of care,” including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care, all on the same campus or within the same building. You can find a senior apartment in each of these living options. These types of communities require an entrance fee as well as an ongoing monthly fee. Understand though, you will not have ownership. The entrance fee entitles you to use your senior apartment for as long as the agreement remains in force. There’s no equity and no appreciation of this initial investment upon moving out. Usually, some portion of the entrance fee is refundable to you or your estate if and when you do leave.

senior couple sitting on a couch in their senior apartment at a life plan community enjoying a cup of coffee

Why choose a senior apartment at a Life Plan Community?

If you’re able to find a CCRC/Life Plan Community in the right location, with amenities you like and that offers a care plan agreement that suits you, it could be the last move you ever have to make. You’ll not only be certain you’ll receive care for life if you need it, but you may also spend some of the most rewarding years of your retirement here in your independent living senior apartment.

The CCRC lifestyle caters to the needs and interests of older adults, and the overall environment is safe and senior-friendly. Community amenities make it easy to meet people and spend time productively, and you can pursue new interests, keep fit, and enjoy social events and entertainment right where you live. You’ll never have to cook if you don’t want to, and your diet will likely become healthier than it is now. Your personal safety will be enhanced, and there’ll always be someone to lend a hand or help provide answers if you need them. Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing a senior apartment  in a Life Plan Community:

A full calendar of activities. Many activities are conceived and organized by residents themselves. Special interest groups, garden clubs, music, guest speakers and entertainers are all scheduled regularly.

Social connection and support. It’s easier to stay healthy and mentally fit when you’re part of a vibrant neighborhood of peers who really know you and care about you.

A balanced diet of healthy nutrition. Few seniors enjoy shopping and cooking for one or eating alone, but dining at a Life Plan Community is an event everyone looks forward to. Chef-prepared meals, stimulating conversation and no cleanup afterward can, indeed, be habit forming.

Easy access to planned fitness programs. No need to join or travel to a gym or health club when it’s all right here waiting for you. From chair yoga to tai chi and strength training to aqua fitness, everyday health and wellness programs are included with residency at a CCRC. This aspect of independent living literally helps keep you independent longer.

Opportunities to volunteer. One reason independent living at a CCRC is so vibrant is because it’s easy to engage and spend your time wisely. You can create and lead your own resident clubs and committees based on your interests, and there are always lots of opportunities to volunteer on and off campus.

A home for life. Most not-for-profit CCRCs have provisions or benevolent funds that ensure you won’t be asked to leave if you should ever deplete your retirement funds through no fault of your own.

group of seniors laughing while enjoying the outdoors at their retirement community

Independent senior living at Aberdeen Ridge

Community life at Aberdeen Ridge will be designed to help you craft your day to your liking you’ll have lots of opportunities to do so, right at your fingertips. From planned social activities and casual get-togethers to classes, trips, discussion groups and more, Aberdeen Ridge will be a new type of community in Colorado Springs that makes it easy for you to stay as active as you like. Be part of it all by reserving a new senior apartment at Aberdeen Ridge. We can help with resources that help you plan now and prepare for your transition to rewarding independent senior living. Just call 719-286-3014 or contact us online.