As you get older you may find that maintaining your home is becoming more difficult. If you're interested in the possibility of downsizing, you may want to consider moving into a senior apartment complex. Not only will you be able to leave the building maintenance to someone else, but you'll also be surrounded by your peers, which can help you maintain close relationships as you age.
Qualifying for Residency
Seniors interested in choosing apartments specifically for seniors should be aware that different complexes have different requirements for residency. The most common requirement is an age restriction. Most senior apartments require that residents be at least 50 years old, though the minimum may be as high as 55 or 62 in areas where there is a greater demand for such apartments. Furthermore, most apartments have restrictions on the size, number and type of pets allowed. Some apartments may even restrict the age of all the residents living in a unit, meaning that grandparents may not be able to provide long-term care for their grandchildren if necessary. Contact individual apartment complexes in your region for specific residency requirements.
Many senior apartments are also designed to provide affordable housing to retired, low-income or disabled individuals. Some communities are partially funded by the government and have income restrictions in order to ensure that housing is truly being provided to low-income seniors.
Benefits of Senior Apartments
There are numerous benefits associated with living in a senior apartment community:
- Lower interior and exterior maintenance costs (and no time spent on maintenance)
- Greater security
- Lower cost of living compared to a mortgage plus cost of maintenance and taxes
- The ability to free up any equity you've built in your home, providing you with more financial freedom
- Camaraderie and active social environment
- Various amenities may be available in the building and on the grounds
In addition to the overall benefits of apartment living, most complexes include various amenities for residents and their guests. While the precise features vary for each individual complex, typical amenities include:
- Clubhouse facilities for group meetings
- Pools or whirlpools
- Fitness centers with various exercise machines
- Tennis, volleyball or basketball courts
- Outdoor areas for barbecues and picnics
- On-site laundry facilities
- Planned activities for residents, such as seasonal parties, book clubs and scheduled outings
Before choosing a specific apartment complex, potential residents should investigate these amenities to see if they meet their personal preferences and social habits. The more amenities a complex offers, the more expensive the rent will typically be; if you only will participate in one type of activity, look for a facility that doesn't offer a whole lot more than that one.
Drawbacks of Apartment Living
While senior apartments may seem like ideal living arrangement for aging adults, there are a few disadvantages to choosing this type of housing. Most apartments, even luxury rentals, are far smaller than houses. For most folks, it is necessary to cull your possessions and mementos in order to move into your new space. Furthermore, it may be sentimentally difficult to leave a home for an apartment, particularly if the house is filled with years of memories and happy occasions that make an apartment initially seem sterile and uninviting.
Seniors with health concerns also need to be aware that apartment complexes traditionally do not provide in-home health care like a nursing home does. If in-home health visits are necessary, you must arrange for them separately.
Finding Senior Apartments
It can be a challenge to find senior-oriented apartments that emphasize independence and activity, but a good place to start is by asking directors of retirement homes and senior care centers for positive recommendations. Because many senior apartment complexes are funded through Section 8, you should be able to find at least a few complexes in your area.
When investigating an apartment complex, consider the following:
- Is there ample parking available convenient to each housing unit? Is the parking handicap-accessible?
- What security features does each apartment and the complex as a whole offer?
- Is there ample closet space and other storage facilities?
- How accessible are individual housing units with regards to stairs, door widths, and bathroom facilities?
- Are there public transportation access points nearby?
- What city services (health centers, senior services, library, museums, etc.) are nearby?
- What controls are there on rent increases?
- Are the lease conditions acceptable?
- What maintenance will and will not be taken care of by the management?
- Are the buildings and grounds attractive and well maintained?
Always investigate an apartment complex thoroughly, and try to speak with current residents before signing a lease.
Alternative Senior Housing
If an apartment is not quite the best housing option for you, seniors should be prepared to consider other alternatives. Common senior housing options include remaining in the family home with a reverse mortgage, opting for retirement homes or retirement communities, or seeking housing with more intensive care if necessary or anticipated.
Senior apartments are attractive housing options for seniors who want to keep their independence, but wish to be part of a like-minded community without the hassle of maintenance and other household concerns.