Active adult communities have been around for the past 40 years; however, with the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age, these communities have been increasing in popularity. Many are located in warm areas such as Florida, Arizona, and California, but they can now be seen in other states such as Missouri, Michigan, and Delaware.

What are Active Adult Communities?

Active adult communities are communities that are designed for older adults age 55 and older who want an active, low-maintenance lifestyle. It is important to understand that this is not an assisted-living facility and is instead suited for older adults who are capable of independent living.

There are two types of active adult communities: age-targeted and age-restricted. With age-targeted, the community is marketed to those 55 years of age or older but does not have an age restriction. An age-restricted community does have certain criteria that need to be met. Rules established by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development state that at least 80% of the households located within the community need to have at least 1 family member be age 55 or older and no one under the age of 19 is permitted to be a permanent resident.

Each community is different and may emphasize different lifestyles. For example, one community may have an emphasis on a resort-like lifestyle and will have amenities that cater to that particular feeling. Another community may emphasize a social atmosphere and include a lot of social activities and get-togethers. Each active adult community truly is unique.

Older couple standing on a tennis court with racquets in hand

What are the Housing Options Within An Active Adult Community?

There are many different housing options for those living in active adult communities. The home can be a condominium, a townhouse, a single-family house, or custom-built. Commonly, the home will consist of a single story, open floor layout and located on smaller lots. If the house is a 2-story build, the master bedroom and laundry room are typically located on the 1st floor. House sizes tend to be smaller and average 1,500 – 2,000 square feet. Unique to home options within the community is they are built specifically for older adults. Examples of this include having relatively few or no steps inside or outside of the home, wider doorways, and showers and baths with seats.

What Amenities may be Included?

Residents are provided with a wealth of amenities; however, what may be offered by an individual community is unique to that community. Often times, the community is located with easy access to local attractions, medical facilities, and shopping centers. There also may be an on-site golf course, club house, fitness center, and spa. Trails and pathways throughout the area allow for walking, jogging, and biking, while a community pool provides an opportunity to swim.

Other popular amenities include activities for mental and social wellbeing. Classes and lectures are offered within the community or provided for by a local college or university. Classes can include art, history, a foreign language, and philosophy. Social activities are also scheduled for residents and may include a movie night, afternoon tea, picnics, and holiday get-together. Clubs are also prolific and can include theater, photography, card and board games, and gardening.

Senior citizen couple in the swimming pool at an active adult community

How do You Choose Which Active Adult Community Is Right For You?

First, it is important to know what you truly want and need in the community. Is close proximity to shopping and cultural activities important to you? Or is it more important to be closer to nature? What type of lifestyle are you looking for? It is also good to know where you would like to live. Is year-round warm weather important or do you like the snow? Would you like to live near a beach or by a forest?

There are so many activities at these types of residential areas and here is a good sampling of what you might expect:

Example of Active Adult Activities

Example Activities That Most Communities Have
Bocce Ball Games
Bowling Leagues
Horseshoe Tournaments
Poker Games (Friendly Ones of Course)
Reading Clubs
Exercise Classes
Arts and Crafts
Clay Modeling
Ceramics and Painting
Dance Classes

Your budget is also an essential consideration. Some communities have houses that are priced in the mid $100,000s, while others can cost more than $600,000. Find out if there is a monthly association fee or amenity fee and know how much you are willing to spend each month.

Finally, visit and tour the community. Take a look at the homes and amenities and see if they fit your needs. Talk to those in the community and see if the people there are also a good match for you. Many places offer a trial visit of 1 or 2 day in which you can do this.

Active adult communities are a growing trend and provide independent living for older adults. Each community offers an assortment of activates that are centered on a particular lifestyle. By knowing what you are looking for, it is possible to find a community that is perfect for you.