There are plenty of reasons that someone might want to move into a 55 and over retirement community.
For those thinking about buying in a retirement community, there are several things to consider before signing any contracts or moving in your furniture.
“Some people just know that’s what they want. But a certain percentage don’t know what they are getting into at a retirement community,” says Bill Gassett, realtor for nearly 30 years at a RE-MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton, Mass.
“Some people go from a house to condo in one of these communities. They get there, and it wasn’t exactly what they thought it would be. Some have disappointment when it comes to the community having a lot of control in their choices.”
Some places won’t even let you plant your own flowers, hang a flag or have a car in the driveway overnight.
But these communities can also be an amazing place for activities, comradery, like-minded people, amenities, quietness and safety (in gated communities), and maintenance included.
“When you visit, you should definitely talk with those who live there. Neighbors are very valuable at getting the truth out of, most of the time. They will either say they really love this place, or they aren’t so keen on this or that,” Gassett says.
Here are some other things to check into if considering such a retirement community:
Decide on a condo or a house
It might not seem like an important decision, but picking between a condo or a home is one of the first things you should consider.
“A lot of people don’t really know the difference sometimes until they do a lot of research and talk to people,” he adds.
At your house, you are still the king of the castle. But many condominium communities have rules or others are telling you how to do a lot of things.
Get a real estate attorney
You need to get a list of all the rules and regulations of a property before signing anything. Have a real estate attorney review them to truly understand what you are getting into, Gassett explains.
Find out exactly what you’ll be responsible for as an owner, what powers the condo association has, what shape the association’s finances are in and what the condo documents spell out about the place overall.
Find out minimum age and who can stay over
Most of these retirement communities require residents to be 55 or older, but Gassett adds that most of the time only one person in a couple has to be that age. Also, some places have a higher minimum age such as 59, 60 or even 62.
Plus, there may be rules about having adult children or grandchildren staying over, especially if one needs a place to stay for an extended period of time.
Look at several options
Be sure to look at multiple options, especially if you are moving to an area you aren’t familiar with. Also, visit it during offseasons to see what the community is like year-round.
Rent for a while
Instead of making a big investment before you know a lot about a place, try renting a condo or home in the community for a week or two. Really take in all of the available activities , utilize all the nearby towns’ amenities and talk with people that live in the vicinity.
Pay attention to details
If sidewalks are shoveled immediately after a snowfall, flowers are blooming heartily and all the condos look beautiful, then that’s a good sign that this community is managed well.
Understand the focus
Some retirement communities have certain focuses, such as golf community built on a golf course. Others might not be so obvious so it’s worth checking their activity calendar.
Look at all the amenities such as the gym, tennis courts and classes, as well as nighttime activities such as happy hours, and any lifestyle extras such as community theater, card clubs, art classes, planned vacations or special outings, and block parties.
Look at the surroundings
It may look great inside the community, but what about everything outside the neighborhood? Learn as much about the area as you can, even if you aren’t moving far from where you used to be. AFter all, it is an entirely new community. A retirement community can be a great place for people especially those designed to make your retirement healthier, happier and more enjoyable, Gassett says. You just have to weigh the pros and cons before signing any papers or handing over any money.