Different strokes for different folks. While 55-plus retirement communities might appeal to some, they aren’t for me. Despite well-oiled sales pitches and attractive adverts with beautiful stock photos of sunshine, palm trees, and smiling people, the idea of living in a gated community with others my age sounds like the first step to a nursing home.
Plus, I don’t want to live in a community of older people who love rules.
In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of 55+ communities and go deeper into why I wouldn’t move into one.
What is a 55+ retirement community?
Often called an active-adult community, a 55+ retirement community is a want-driven community for active retirees.
The idea is that if you are at least 55, you move to a community of like-minded individuals where you can make friends and participate in activities where you share common interests.
It’s the opposite of a need-driven assisted living retirement village where elderly folks receive health assistance and nursing care.
Pros of living in a 55+ retirement community
Understandably, there are some pros to living in a 55+ retirement community. For starters, someone else mows the lawn, and you have the opportunity to make friends and socialize.
- Activities – swimming, golfing, pickleball, and art and crafts
- Like-minded people – 55+ retirement communities offer the opportunity to socialize with like-minded people
- Low maintenance – 55+ retirement communities offer homes with easy maintenance. Cutting grass and trimming shrubs is no longer a chore you have to do.
- Making friends – It’s often easier for retirees to make friends when living in a community with people the same age.
- Convenience – Many retirement communities are conveniently located near shopping, theaters, and restaurants.
Cons of living in a 55+ community
Independent people who don’t like a lot of rules will want to know about the following downsides.
- Lack of age diversity – You must be 55 and over to live in one of these communities. Sure your kids and grandkids can visit, but there is often a limitation on how long they can stay.
- HOA fees and red tape – You are required to pay homeowner’s association fees (that’s how your lawn gets mowed) and you have to follow the rules.
- Fitting in – If you are independent, you may be in for a surprise. People in 55+ communities are searching for compatibility and sameness.
- Bullying and snobbishness. If you are not the “right” kind of person, you may not make friends easily.
- No pets. You own the home, but cannot share it with a beloved companion because it’s against the rules
Other disadvantages of retirement communities.
The following complaints arose as I gathered the information for this article:
- Restricted visits of youngsters – Extended stays for longer than 2 weeks are discouraged.
- Lawn decor must meet the rules – Forget personalization. A homogenous culture exists.
Others have complained about the lack of diversity. Apparently, some 55+ communities specify religion or sexual orientation requirements.
Nevertheless, many boomers seem to love living in them.
Therefore, I’ve included this link to a Quora thread that gives some real-life pros and cons of living in a 55+ community.
Why I wouldn’t move to a 55+ retirement community.
Sunnyvale Rest, a dying place for ancient people, who have forgotten the fragile magic of youth. A dying place for those who have forgotten that childhood, maturity, and old age are curiously intertwined and not separate. A dying place for those who have grown too stiff in their thinking. – Quote from The Twilight Zone
Rebel Retiree and I are self-reliant and independent and value the freedom of living in a community at large.
Having lived in a neighborhood with an active Home Owners Association, we understand the drawbacks. People tend to be nosey and like to tell residents what to do.
While I like a well-kept home and lawn, I don’t appreciate busybody HOA representatives telling me what to do with my own property – much less paying dues of $250.00 a month so they can tell me what time I can put my garbage out.
Instead of HOA fees, I would prefer to spend my money on a road trip to Alaska to see the northern lights.
I enjoy being around people of all ages. It’s what keeps me youthful in mind and spirit. The sound of children playing and making noise doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think it’s one of the joys of being alive.
It’s the same principle as adopting a puppy to liven up an old dog.
And although I personally do not want a dozen plastic pink flamingos plastered all over my lawn, I want my neighbor to have the freedom to decorate as they want.
Should you move to a 55+ community? In brief, only you can answer that. Of course, seriously consider the pros and cons of 55+ communities before moving into an active adult community.
On the positive side, many are conveniently located and offer a wide array of activities to be enjoyed with people your own age. Lawn maintenance is no longer a chore.
Although, HOA fees must be paid. And you may have to be a certain religion. Additionally, your pets may be unwelcome.
Family, friends, and grandchildren under 55 have limited stay conditions.
My recommendation? Before you make a mistake that you regret, do your research before you commit to a 55+ community.
Attribution: Pink Flamingo photo by Cory Coyle. Obtained through Wikimedia Commons where you can find further details.
Last update: 05/25/23
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