Before Mark Moore’s retirement several years ago, he and his wife Renee debated whether to remain in their 30-year-old house outside San Jose, California or relocate to a continuing care retirement community.
Mark Moore, now 75 years old, explains we could have stayed in the Bay Area, but our taxes would have gone up. We considered CCRCs but determined that we were not quite old enough. Instead, they investigated 55-plus communities around 150 miles from their house.
He states, we wanted to remain near the Bay Area, where two of our three adult children reside, and the other is a Colorado resident.
In truth, the Moores had a wish list before selling their house and relocating: A residence on a single floor, not too distant from an airport, close enough to their healthcare plan’s services, and with minimal seismic risk. 73-year-old Renee Moore adds, there are several factors for folks to consider. It’s not crystal clear. Make a list of what’s important because people care about various things.
The options for retirees and those nearing retirement have broadened. To relocate or remain in place? Those contemplating or currently in retirement may pose this question. Despite 89% of retirees indicating that staying at home is extremely or fairly important to them, Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies estimates that over four out of ten retirees migrate.
While moving is not for everyone, for those who have moved before, understanding their goals and preferences helps them determine if a retirement community is suited for them, which type would fulfill their needs, and how to select a place where they will enjoy living.
According to Beth Mace, chief economist and head of research and analytics at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, “the sector is maturing now.” Much like hotels, there are Motel 6 and Ritz accommodations. As the sector evolves, its pricing and offerings diversify.
Many retirement communities include active adult communities, lifestyle communities, continuing care retirement communities, and life plan communities. Some communities provide independent living, while others include independent living, assisted living, and memory care.
Others provide for-sale single-family houses and condominiums in addition to rental apartments and condos.
The Moores benefited from moving to a 55-plus or active adult neighborhood due to the cheaper cost of living, convenience of activities, and contemporaries as neighbors. They exchanged their two-story residence for a one-story residence with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and an office for him. Mark Moore states the new house was far less expensive than the one we sold and cost less than half as much.
The neighborhood takes care of the front landscaping of their property in the active adult community, which is one of the about $200 monthly items covered by their homeowner’s association charge.
In addition, the social amenities are varied. Mark is the hiking club leader and participates in photography and a coffee group; Renee belongs to a quilting group. Those who have relocated to active adult communities report that the ability to make new acquaintances is a major lure. Some inhabitants are still employed, although this may change over time. Renee explains, other individuals also relocate to these towns, so everyone is seeking a friend.
Renee is particularly dissatisfied with the longer-than-anticipated travel to visit their children in the Bay Area. She states that what used to be an hour to 90-minute journey now takes two hours. She remarks things don’t always come out perfectly. Renee longed for the Bay Area more than Mark. Moving out of your neighborhood, away from loved ones and close friends is a significant choice. Consider how it may be a loss, even if you find new friends,” she advises.
Others choose a neighborhood without age restrictions or one with certain age-restricted portions. Mark and Shawna Zoltay, for instance, purchased a property at Wickenburg Ranch, a Trilogy resort development in Wickenburg, Arizona, an hour’s drive north-northwest of Phoenix, to play golf and meet new people. They elected not to reside in one of the 55-plus communities. After retiring, they sold their Colorado home in the Denver suburbs in November 2021.
As 57-year-old Mark, who retired from institutional investment consulting five years ago, explains, part of the allure was in a town with a lot to do. He explains that when they lived in Colorado, they would flee to Arizona for the holidays. They always enjoyed Arizona in the winter. In addition, they purchased a home in Arizona, where the property tax is cheaper, with the profits from selling their Colorado home.
Four years ago, Shawna, age 55, retired as an elementary school teacher. Golf played by her three to four times per week, whereas he plays five to six times per week. She explains that they didn’t want to reproduce their lives in Colorado here.
Before moving to a new community, thoroughly consider your preferred pastimes. How would you prefer to spend your time if you weren’t working as much? “Check out the activities,” Shawna Zoltay adds. If you enjoy shopping and dining out, make sure it’s nearby. Check whether the things you enjoy, such as sports, games, crafts, or art courses, are available or may be introduced to your community. Mark Zoltay advises, make certain there are the facilities you desire. The homeowner’s association fee ($136 per month at Wickenburg Ranch) usually covers certain amenities and services. The monthly charge for golf membership at Wickenburg Ranch is $186 plus tax. Determine precisely what is included to ensure that the HOA charge covers your preferences. Some active adult, resort, and master-planned communities provide on-site restaurants or multiple eating options, and some are available to the public. However, most communities for active adults do not provide meals. If meals and eating alternatives are essential to you, investigate your possibilities.
Consider your present state of health and your anticipated future requirements. If you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare, investigate neighboring medical facilities to determine if they accept Medicare and any gap or supplement plans you may have. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, find out if your plan would cover you in the proposed sites. If you pick a distant area, you should inquire which hospitals are nearby and how far you would have to go for more extensive medical care.
Determine whether the demographics and atmosphere of a neighborhood are suitable for you. Numerous communities for active adults offer two- or three-night programs where you may visit the community for a predetermined fee, test out the facilities, and meet people. Inquire about these prospects and arrange a visit. Ask residents about any pertinent information that marketing employees may be unwilling or unable to provide.
Hal Looney, area president of Trilogy Shea Homes, Arizona and Nevada, notes that in typical Trilogy communities, one-third of the residents work full-time, one-third work part-time, and one-third are retired.
Inquire about the fiscal health of the town. Has there ever been an assessment of the HOA fees? Typically, annual fee increases occur, and if so, by what amount? Request to meet with a financial representative as opposed to a marketer. Would you prefer a neighborhood where you may rent month-to-month, or would you rather establish roots by purchasing a home?
Consider the surroundings that you prefer. Are you more comfortable in an urban, suburban, or rural setting? Would you like to live in a university-affiliated neighborhood where you could take classes?
Evaluate if renting or purchasing is preferable. Mark Moore advises that if you find that you could not like it after relocating. An alternative to selling your long-term residence would be to rent it out, at least initially, and the Moores was sold. People sometimes select independent living or a combination of independent living, assisted living, and memory care to fulfill the needs of spouses or partners with varying health requirements, where they can rent monthly.
According to Patricia Will, founder and chief executive officer of Houston-based Belmont Village Senior Living, which operates 33 communities in Texas, California, and South Florida, if you enjoy it, you will remain, and you are under no contractual duty to remain in the community if you do not.
Consider transportation costs. According to Renee Moore, “Will you be driving?” is a crucial question. If not, does the potential community provide transportation to medical appointments and food shopping?
Create your own choice. Will of Belmont Village asserts. People do not wait until something gravely wrong occurs before taking action. Rather than their adult children conducting the research and making the decision for them, they do it themselves. She states that retirees want the availability of underlying care as a safety net.