The Best Senior Living Communities in the US

For the elderly, senior living communities can be a great place to promote independent living and encourage an active lifestyle. Typically, care retirement communities provide seniors with key features that improve their quality of life. This includes health and security measures, a range of amenities, and a supportive community of older individuals.

Due to the large number of senior living options in the United States, it can be difficult to choose a retirement community to live in. This guide will help you choose the best retirement community for you, based on your location, age, budget, interests, lifestyle, and abilities.

What Is a Senior Living Community?

Not every retirement community is made equal. They can be either large or small, and feature studio apartments, single-family homes, shared bedrooms, or even cottages depending on your preference. However, one thing that they have in common is that the living facilities tend to be catered to those nearing retirement age, usually aged 55 or 65 and above.

One common type of senior living is age-restricted communities, which often require adults to be aged 55 and above. Other independent living communities for seniors don't require people to be a certain age but often promote educational and social activities for adults living in those areas.

In contrast, assisted living facilities tend to provide more specialized health care services such as memory care for residents who need additional assistance. They combine residential housing with greater supervision for those who are unable to live independently when it comes to bathing, eating, or taking medication.

What Are the Benefits of These Senior Living Communities?

Although the cost of independent living can be substantial for many individuals, there are many benefits of choosing a retirement community for your loved one. Some perks include:

  • Variety of housing types to choose from
  • Plenty of fitness amenities, like tennis courts, gyms, and more
  • Opportunities for socialization with neighbors
  • Planned activities for residents
  • Senior-friendly features like walk-in showers
  • Improved security services like alarm systems, security guards, and medical alert systems
  • Proximity to shopping centers, restaurants, and more
  • Transportation to promote ease of mobility
  • Maintenance and housekeeping to take care of yard work
  • Increased freedom and independence

What Are The Types of Care Provided to the Residents?

Depending on the retirement community you choose, the level of medical services can vary. Often, seniors will have limited access when it comes to comprehensive health care services. Because of this, independent senior living options are better suited for those in generally robust health and who don't need access to nursing facilities.

Common types of care to be found in many retirement communities include:

  • Aid with the management of medication and prescriptions
  • Life enrichment activities to cater to the specific health needs of seniors
  • Helpful amenities in terms of regular laundry, transportation, housekeeping, and groundskeeping maintenance
  • Specially designed housing features and floor plans with handrails, single-story layouts, and grab bars
  • A varied selection of meal options, including restaurants, fully stocked kitchens, dining halls, room service, and snack machines

What Is the Difference Between Senior Living and a Nursing Home?

Compared to a nursing facility, a senior living community is better suited for older adults who don't need an extensive range of care services. Nursing homes tend to be better for seniors who need around-the-clock support and monitoring. They may have health conditions that require direct nursing care, or access to a specialized therapist to assist them with recovery.

On the other hand, retirement communities tend to house seniors in their own apartment or room, while those in a nursing facility tend to share a room with someone else.

Are Retirement Communities a Good Investment?

Due to the relatively high cost of many senior living options like retirement apartments or communities, some families may wonder if they're a good investment. Those that provide access to more advanced health care services or larger apartment complexes and luxury amenities tend to come with a higher price tag.

However, they can be a great investment for older adults seeking independent living options with enhanced stimulation and the benefits of senior communities. Because of this, the benefits can be well worth the cost when it comes to both peace of mind and safety.

How Much Do These Senior Housing Communities Cost?

The average cost of independent living communities can vary depending on your state, living type, facilities, and services. Often, they charge two major fees. This includes the sum of money to pay for the housing within the retirement community, which is usually between $100,000 to $500,00 for more affordable options. However, luxury retirement communities can charge much more.

In addition to this, most care retirement communities also charge a monthly fee that pays for amenities and activities. Before signing your contract, check whether food, housekeeping, and lifestyle services are included in the cost. For those with low incomes, seeking low-income senior housing options via the US Department of Housing and Urban Development might be a better option.

To help you pay for the cost of retirement communities, you can use funds from various sources. This can include retirement accounts, personal savings, financial investment, and social security benefits. Some types of senior living options offer flexible payment plans depending on your income.

How Do You Pick the Right Senior Retirement Community?

Since choosing between different retirement communities can be challenging, you should write a list of your priorities in terms of independent living. This can include factors like location, budget, level of care, and optional features that would be nice to have.

To help you narrow it down, you can choose between specialized retirement of communities to suit your needs, such as those geared towards active individuals, luxury-style homes, or continuing care retirement communities.

Once you have a shortlist, contact the different communities to schedule an in-person tour. Talking to current residents in the area can give you a better idea of what their lives and lifestyles are like.

8 of The Best Senior Retirement Communities in the U.S.

If you're unsure of where to start looking, we've compiled this list of the top ten retirement communities in the United States to help you on your journey. Across a variety of states, these independent living facilities feature the best services, value for money, and amenities specially geared towards seniors.

Best for Senior Golf Players: The Villages

  • Homes start at $160,000 to up to $600,000
  • Located between two stunning coastlines
  • Charges a monthly amenity fee of $164

One of the largest age-restricted senior living communities in Florida, The Villages is a perfect choice for active senior living for those aged 55 and over. It is great value for money since the monthly fee allows access to a variety of lifestyle options including free membership to their range of Country Clubs.

In addition, both beginner and expert golf players will be able to play golf for life on any of their Executive Golf Courses. Even if you're not a golf player, you'll be able to choose from a wide variety of shopping and dining options, family fun events, health and wellness facilities, and even theme parks located near the area.

However, it may not be the best option for those looking for a more intimate senior living experience, since it has over 60,000 residences.

Best for Active Seniors: Sun City Hilton Head

  • The cost of senior housing ranges from $180,000 to over $1 million
  • Has three state-of-the-art fitness centers
  • Won numerous awards for the best-selling retirement community

A fantastic age-restricted adult community in South Carolina Lowcountry is Sun City Hilton Head. Among the retirement communities in the area, it is the largest one and is home to over 16,000 senior residents. Three different dining options are accessible by golf cart, including Jameson’s Charhouse at Hidden Cypress, The Clubhouse at Okatie Creek Golf Course, and Argent Lake's Pub & Pizzeria.

In terms of independent living, the campus has all the features anyone can dream of. This includes six swimming pools (two located indoors and four located outdoors), a performing arts center for drama enthusiasts, a crafts center, a woodshop, a sports park, and softball field, tennis courts, and more. They're also one of the best options for golfers, with three different championship golf courses.

Best for Continued Education for Seniors: Laguna Woods Village

  • The cost of apartments and single-family units range from $150,000 to over $1 million
  • Largest 55+ active adult community on the West Coast
  • Located only 10 minutes from the beach

In Laguna Woods, California, Laguna Woods Village is one of the best retirement communities out there for laid-back living. It's a stone's throw away from the ocean, and there are 80 different floor plans and apartments that residents can choose from. In addition, it has an astounding seven clubhouses, an equestrian center, and more than 250 clubs and organizations.

Retirement doesn't mean that you shouldn't give up on learning new things. Laguna Woods Village has over 100 different classes at Saddleback College Emeritus, including language and culinary classes. In addition to this, they have many different arts and crafts classes geared towards older adults, including ceramics, sewing, jewelry making, and acting groups.

Best for Private Senior Living Options: Village at Deaton Creek

  • Homes range in price from $280,000 to $550,000
  • Nearby attractions include Lake Lanier and the Mall of Georgia
  • Offers miles of scenic walking and biking trails

The Village at Deaton Creek is located in Hoschton, Georgia. For those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city living, they offer a private and intimate gated community with only 1,144 homes. With plenty of trees and gently sloping hills, retirement in this age-restricted community is sure to be peaceful and rewarding.

Like many retirement communities, this community offers plenty of activities to keep you busy. There's even a playground where you can take your grandkids or play a game of softball. In addition, they have a dance studio, a grand ballroom, an indoor lap pool with a spa, an extensive library for your reading pleasure, and various hobby and craft studios.

Best Affordable Senior Living Retirement Community: Solivita

  • Home prices range from $150,000 to $550,000
  • Offers attached and single-family types of homes
  • Provides access to outdoor recreation as well as downtown Orlando

One of the best communities near Kissimmee, Florida is Solivita. It is one of the best sunshine-filled options for seniors on a budget, as they offer numerous housing types and living options that are suitable at both lower and higher price points. Homeowners will also have access to an exclusive fitness program, designed to get 55+ residents up and moving.

With over 150,000 square feet of amenities, residents can access a wide range of water sports and relaxing activities. These include a splash and lap heated pool, not one but two heated whirlpool spas, a stunning sun deck, and spa-like bathrooms in their own homes. You'll also be glad to know that it is one of the newer senior communities that offer an open pet policy, so you can take your pets with you.

Best for Luxury Living: Venetian Falls

  • Prices range between $250,000 to $350,000 for homes
  • Located near downtown Venice and Sarasota
  • Has a 16,000 square-foot resort-style clubhouse

For those seeking a peaceful retirement option, Venetian Falls in Venice, Florida is one of the best luxurious options for adults who have the extra funds to spare on a gated community. A trip to the beach will only take you 10 minutes, which is great if you need a quick getaway from life.

Some standout features include the 9-hole putting green and four bocce ball courts that can encourage you get out and about. If you're a fan of the water, they also have a whirlpool spa, a swimming pool, and a resistance pool to help you exercise. Lastly, the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is only 25 miles away if you're looking to travel.

Best for Resort Style Living: Hawai'i K ai Retirement Community

  • Average monthly fees start at $3,844 per month
  • Offers assisted living and independent living options
  • Residents have access to GreatCall emergency response devices

Who wouldn't want to retire in beautiful Hawaii? Hawaii Kai is one of the best retirement communities on the island if you're thinking bout living in paradise. With chef-prepared meals and a combination of independent and assisted living facilities, every day will feel like you're on vacation. They offer plenty of activities and local cultural events, with regularly scheduled transportation options.

There are also plenty of health care services provided by the 24/7 staff, and the housekeeping and linen services are there to cater to your every need. Pets are also welcome and are freely walked around their 23-acre campus. In addition, downtown Honolulu is only a 20 minutes drive away.

Best for Outdoor Activities: Pickwick Pines Resort

  • Affordably priced at below $100,000 to $250,000
  • Offers a 14,000 square-foot activities center
  • 400 homes for a more intimate style of senior living

In Luka, Mississippi, Pickwick Pines Resort caters to adults looking to enjoy the benefits of outdoor living. It is a fantastic option for those who want to live life to the fullest, taking part in hunting, boating, fishing, and other adventurous types of activities. It is on the more affordable end of the spectrum, making it perfect for low-maintenance individuals.

Floor plans range between 600 to 3,000 square feet of living space with energy-efficient technology, and custom-designed kitchens and cabinets. For those looking for more space to roam, Tishomingo County Game Refuge, Pickwick Landing State Park, and Shiloh National Military Park are under 30 minutes away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you negotiate assisted living costs?

Negotiating with multiple communities at the same time can help to put a family in a stronger negotiating position. When considering an assisted living facility, it is important for families to be aware of the different fees that each community charges and what they are likely willing to compromise on.

Is home care cheaper than a nursing home?

Home care is more affordable than many realize, as 49% overestimated the cost by a whopping $6 an hour. On the other hand, average yearly costs for nursing facility care are 75% higher at $70,000—nearly three times what some might expect to spend on in-home help.

Is assisted living cheaper than a nursing facility?

Nursing homes can be way more expensive than assisted living. On average, a nursing facility costs $6,844 to $7,700 per month; on the other hand, an assisted living facility is about half that price at around $3,628 per month.

What happens when a senior runs out of money?

Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) are all programs for low-income seniors to help with housing. Alternatively, you may need a roommate or move into shared housing if you cannot find affordable housing costs that include utilities like gas bills.

What state has the best healthcare for seniors?

Virginia is an excellent state in the country when it comes to healthcare for seniors. It has many nationally-ranked hospitals and access to quality doctors that are Medicare registered, as well as a great variety of senior living options and home healthcare services.

Can your pension run out?

Theoretically speaking, your pension can indeed run out. But if it doesn't have enough funds to pay you what is owed, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) could step in and provide up to a legally defined limit and help with monthly annuity payments.

With all the types of senior living communities out there, choosing between the various care and living options for your loved one can be overwhelming at times. Understanding the differences between them will help you make the right choice in terms of their medical needs and ideal lifestyle.

Assisted living communities, nursing care homes, and age-restricted senior communities all come with their own unique pros and cons that should be carefully considered. If you're still unsure of which type of living option to choose, learn more about the different types of senior living with Senior Strong.

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