Have you ever thought about retiring and moving to a 55 + community?
If you’ve ever looked at one of their websites, they make quite a convincing argument for why you should.
The stock photos they post are beautiful – sunshine, palm trees, lovely smiling people.
They make living in a gated community sound ideal. Someone else mows the lawn, everything is picture-perfect, and you have lots of friends to socialize with.
Conceivably the idea of staying active with other baby boomers who enjoy swimming, golfing, pickleball, and art and crafts would be fun.
Certainly, moving into a 55+ retirement community with like-minded people sounds inviting.
However, I don’t get it!
Moving to a 55+ community sounds like the first step to a nursing home.
First, you play beach volleyball with other active seniors. Then, eventually, you’ll be shipped off to a nursing home where you’ll play balloon volleyball with less than active seniors.
I think most baby boomers are afraid of getting old, want to remain independent, and plan to avoid nursing homes.
And the way to avoid a nursing home is not only through maintaining health and activity, but it’s also having a youthful mindset.
A mindset that is discouraged by voluntarily choosing to live in a community of oldsters who love rules.
Later in this article, I’ll give additional reasons why I wouldn’t move to a 55+ community.
But first, let me define what a 55+ retirement community is.
What is a 55+ retirement community?
Oftentimes 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.
This is opposed to a need-driven assisted living retirement village where elderly folks receive health assistance and nursing care.
Pros of living in a 55+ retirement community
- 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
- 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 more independent than your neighbors, you may be in for a surprise. People in 55+ communities are searching for compatibility and sameness.
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 therefore, value the freedom of living in a community at large.
Also, we’ve lived in a neighborhood with an active Home Owners Association. Therefore, I understand how HOAs stick their noses into other people’s business. I don’t like it.
While I like a well-kept home and lawn, I do not appreciate busy body 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.
As a rebel retiree, my money could be put to better use. I would prefer spending it 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 please.
Opinions from around the web.
While doing research for this article, I’ve read complaints such as:
- No pets. You own the home, but cannot share it with a beloved companion because it’s against the rules.
- Youngsters not allowed to visit for longer than 2 weeks at a time. Extended stays for fun or otherwise are discouraged.
- You can’t decorate your lawn as you see fit. Forget the holiday decorations. Only appropriate ones are allowed.
- Bullying and snobbishness. If you are not the “right” kind of person, you may not make friends easily.
Others have complained about the lack of diversity.
Apparently, in order to be admitted, some 55+ communities require that you be of a particular religion or sexual orientation.
However, 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.
The Wrap Up
As a rebel retiree, the thought of moving to a homogenous 55+ community is unappealing. However, 55+ communities are popular.
Many are conveniently located and offer a wide array of activities to be enjoyed with people your own age. And you no longer need to concern yourself with home maintenance.
While the positive amenities of a 55+ community sound attractive, there are drawbacks.
Many 55+ communities require that you sign a contract and pay home owner’s association fees.
You may have to be a certain religion.
Your favorite pooch or kitty may be unwelcome.
Family, friends, and grandchildren under 55 have limited stay conditions.
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.
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