55+ communities are established communities where the majority of homes have at least one resident who is 55 years of age or older. Many communities feature collections of smaller homes, apartments, and condos with shared community spaces like golf courses, clubhouses, fitness centers, walking paths, and dining areas. All home features and amenities are designed with the 55+ retirement age group in mind. For many older adults, 55+ communities offer a sense of belonging, plenty to do, and peace and quiet as they enjoy their retirement years.
Below, we’ll explore 55+ communities more in-depth, including age restrictions and pros and cons to consider.
Who Can Live in a 55+ Community?
Every 55+ community has its own age restrictions and rules. At the very least, 80 percent of homes in a 55+ community must have at least one person who is 55 or older. This is a federal regulation that all 55+ communities must abide by.
Some communities require that every household has an individual who is 55 or older. Many institute minimum age restrictions, such as no one under the age of 18 can live in the community. Now, this doesn’t mean your grandchildren can never visit you; it simply means they cannot live at your home as permanent residents.
As you compare different 55+ communities, familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations regarding age restrictions, visitors, and overnight guests. Make sure that the community guidelines fit your household and your lifestyle.
Types of 55+ Communities
You have a lot of choices when it comes to the type of 55+ community that you’d like to live in. While some are more general with a modest number of amenities, others cater to specific groups of people.
- Golf & Resort Communities: Residents enjoy access to resort-level amenities such as on-site golf courses, clubhouses, restaurants, and spas. Living here may feel just like a vacation, but you will likely be subject to membership fees.
- Luxury Communities: Some 55+ communities cater to affluent seniors by offering larger homes with luxurious amenities and features. Expect significantly higher HOA fees.
- University Retirement Community: Some 55+ communities are connected with a local university or college. Residents can take advantage of on-campus resources such as libraries, classes, and other learning opportunities.
- Active Adult Communities: As the name implies, these communities encourage residents to maintain an active lifestyle by offering recreational amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, walking paths, and bike trails.
- Single Retirement Communities: Singles communities cater to unmarried older adults who want to live amongst other singles.
- Gated Communities: Gated communities offer more security and more privacy than other 55+ communities. There’s more control over who enters the property, limiting unwanted solicitors and visitors.
Pros of 55+ Communities
55+ communities typically handle all lawn, landscaping, and pest control needs. You won’t need to spend time mowing the lawn or raking leaves. If you move to a snowy climate, you won’t need to worry about snow or ice removal either.
Many communities offer resort-like amenities that keep the community members entertained and engaged. Amenities might include:
- Fitness centers
- Golf courses
- Dining areas
- Classes and clubs
- Social events
- Art and music facilities
- Walking paths and bike trails
- Dog parks
- Sports courts
- Planned trips and outings
With no kids around, 55+ communities offer plenty of peace and quiet. Sure, grandkids can visit, but you won’t have noisy families living next door or kids running around in the streets.
Safe & Secure
Resident safety and property security is a priority for many communities. They may offer gated neighborhoods, on-site security teams, or security systems. Crime rates also tend to be lower in these neighborhoods.
Low Property Taxes
Large 55+ communities, such as Sun City in Arizona, have low property tax rates because there aren’t any local schools to support with taxpayer dollars. Tax rates vary depending on exactly where you move to, but it’s still a perk you may encounter. In addition to that, some states like Florida cap how much your property assessment can increase every year.
Cons of 55+ Communities
HOAs & Associated Fees
Living in a 55+ community costs more than living in any residential neighborhood. Along with purchasing your home or condo, you’ll also need to join the Homeowner’s Association and pay monthly HOA fees. An HOA is a governing body made up of elected community members that maintain community-specific covenants, conditions, and restrictions, called CC&R.
Duties include maintaining and enforcing:
- General repairs and maintenance
- Pest control
- Pet regulations
- Homeowner property maintenance
- Noise restrictions
- Upkeep of amenities
Your realtor will share information about the HOA and any associated HOA fees with you as part of the homebuying process. Make sure that you’re okay with the HOA’s rules, regulations, and fees prior to purchasing a home in the 55+ community.
Homes and condos in 55+ communities tend to be on the smaller side. This makes sense considering many older adults choose to downsize during retirement. However, if you’re hoping to purchase a larger home to spend your retirement years in, you may have a harder time finding one within a 55+ community. In South Florida the newer 55+ communities do feature large homes, for example, check out Valencia Grand.
No Age Diversity
The majority of residents living in a 55+ community are over the age of 55. For adults who prefer mingling with different age groups or families, a 55+ community may not be the best fit. A regular neighborhood might make more sense.
What Rules Must 55+ Communities Follow?
In 1968, the Fair Hair Housing Act was passed, which banned housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. This law also included a family status exemption called the Housing for Older Persons exemption. It granted 55+ communities, and other senior communities, the legal grounds to restrict residency based on age as long as they followed a few requirements:
- At least 80 percent of homes must be occupied by a person who is 55 years old or older
- The community must publish and adhere to policies demonstrating its intent to operate 55 or older housing
- The community must verify the ages of residents in compliance with HUD’s regulatory requirements
55+ Communities in Florida
Florida is home to more 55+ communities than any other state, offering seniors 840 different active adult communities to choose from. Communities here offer impressive amenities and keep facilities upgraded to stand out from the competition. If you’re hoping to call one of these communities home, reach out to one of the realtors here at SquareFootHomes by calling 561-421-3211. We provide the highest level of service in South Florida.