What Is A Retirement Community

As I was helping my parents research Retirement Communities to move into, I quickly found out it was confusing. There are so many different terms for what I was looking for. So it was time to get the answer to the questions we had about a retirement community.

What is a Retirement Community? A Retirement Community is where seniors 55 and older, live in a dwelling that have special amenities. Dwellings can be in the form of a house, townhouse, apartment, condo or a facility. Amenities can range from a landscaping service all the way to a 24 hour nursing staff.

I found that there are many different retirement communities and each one has it’s special service. There are so many options for each community and locations close to home or thousands of miles away. Now I had to find which one fits my parents situation.

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Different Kinds Of Retirement Communities

  • Active Adult / Independent Living Retirement Community
  • Independent Living Retirement Community With Services
  • Age Restricted Retirement Community
  • Lifestyle Retirement Community
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
  • Assisted Living Retirement Community

The future is BOOMING with people entering the retirement age. They are gaining in popularity with the growth of the U.S. aging population. Every retirement community has unique amenities, services and locations. These will only get bigger as people live longer and want to enjoy their life with the services and amenities they want.

Demographic Trends.

“The number of people 65 and older in the United States has increased steadily since the 1960s, but is projected to more than double from 46 million today to more than 98 million by 2060. Between 2020 and 2030 alone, the number of older persons is projected to increase by almost 18 million as the last of the large baby boom cohorts reaches age 65. Although much smaller in total size, the number of people ages 85 and older is projected to more than triple from 6 million today to nearly 20 million by 2060”.

 (From Mark Mather, Linda A. Jacobsen, and Kelvin M. Pollard, “Aging in the United States,” Population Bulletin 70, no. 2 (2015).)

Website for Population Bulletin

Terminology Breakdown

We have to distinguish the many different kinds of Retirement Community there are and the confusing terminology that comes with it.

Think of Senior Living as the most general term and everything else are just sub categories of Senior Living.

For the most part all of these terms listed below can be used interchangeably and mean basically the same thing.

Active Adult / Independent Living Community

Active Adult Community is for seniors who are active, healthy and can live on there own with no assistance. Usually they are down sizing. looking for a community of there peers and little maintenance.

Dwellings may be rented or owned. They can be a house, townhouse, condo, apartment. Depending on how it is set up in the community your ownership will vary.

Amenities may include a clubhouse, pool or tennis court.

Most often there is a HomeOwners Association Fee (HOA). The HOA fee my parents pay is $110 / month and includes everything in the list below except trash removal and pool upkeep.

Some services that may be included in your HOA

  • yard and landscaping maintenance
  • Pool, clubhouse etc. up keep
  • Trash removal in some places
  • Snow removal
  • Driveway repair

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Large active adult communities

When I looked into the Villages retirement community in Florida, I was shocked how large it is and everything that was included. The Villages is a 55+ active adult community that welcomes children and grandchildren. There is a max stay of 30 consecutive days for visitors under the age of 18. They even have a camp for kids that visit.

The Villages community is located approximately one hour north of Orlando. It is an active adult community with over 60,000 homes. It covers 32 square miles and has over 115,000 residents. Thats huge, it’s like it’s own town.

Places to shop at the Villages.

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Pier 1Imports
  • Custom Apparel and Gifts
  • Village Cycles
  • Brownwood Jewelers

Places to eat.

  • Olive Garden
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Gar Vino’s
  • Fenney Grill
  • Tierra Del Sol
  • Haagen – Dazs
  • Edna’s On The Green
  • Wolfgang Puck Restaurant


  • Bank of America
  • Citizens First Bank
  • Edward Jones
  • Towne Place Suites Marriott
  • Salon Jaylee
  • Waterfront Park
  • Brownwood Hotel and Spa
  • Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood

The monthly amenities fee is $159. This includes many different types of activities.

  • Free golf on a variety of courses
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Pickleball
  • Bocce
  • Sport pools
  • Fishing lakes
  • Fitness trails
  • 24 hour community watch
  • Over 2000 organized activities

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Pool activities in retirement communities

Sun City, Arizona (the original) retirement community is also very big. It is an age-restricted community, residents must be 19 years of age or older and at least one member of the household must be 55 years of age or older. They also have additional services in the community.

  • Active Adult / Independent living
  • Assisted living
  • Continuing Care (CCRC)
  • Memory Care
  • Skilled nursing and rehabilitative care
  • Gourmet dining
  • Life-enriching activities

Located in Sun City, Arizona which is north west of Phoenix, Arizona. it is 22.3 miles away and about a 26 minute drive. They have 27,500 homes and 38,000 members.

Recreation Center And Activities

  • Over 130 Clubs
  • State-Of-The-Art Fitness Center
  • Leisure Pool
  • Racquetball
  • Lap Pool
  • Social Halls
  • Walk Track
  • Tennis
  • Horseshoes
  • Pickleball Courts
  • Outdoor Spa
  • Half Court Basketball
  • Handicap Excisable Exercise Pool
  • Amphitheater

The Recreation Centers of Sun City, Inc. (RCSC) is a private, non-profit corporation which owns and operates the recreational and social facilities. For residents of Sun City the fees for the RCSC is $496 yearly. This includes the following.

  • 7 Recreation Centers
  • 8 Golf Courses
  • 5 Snack Shops On The Golf Course
  • 2 Bowling Centers
  • 2 Cafe’s Located In The Bowling Centers
  • Sun Bowl (open-air amphitheater)
  • Viewpoint Lake
  • Duffeeland (off-leash dog park)

Independent Living Community With Services

Independent Living (Facility With Services) is also known as Congregate Living.

Congregate Living is where seniors need little to no assistance. They have their own living quarters. Housekeeping, laundry, meals, utilities etc are included. There is a common social and eating area. Sometimes a game room or a small gym (yoga area) are part of this facility.

Age Restricted

Some communities may be 55+, 62+, 65+. These Communities are usually regulated and tax incentives. They have to have at least 80% of the community the age (example 62).


Lifestyle Communities are similar to Active Adult Communities but have a target demographic. For example Golf, Gay And Lesbian, Luxury Housing.

Fountaingrove Lodge is a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) active adult community. In home care and memory care are also available in this community.

Located in Santa Rosa, California. It is 58.3 miles north of San Francisco, about a 1 hour 15 minute drive.


  • Formal Dining Room
  • Lanai Dining
  • Bistro
  • Library
  • Private Dining Room
  • Tavern
  • Movie Theater
  • Wine Cave
  • Great Hall
  • Fitness Center
  • Card Room
  • Art Studio
  • Activity Room
  • Bocce Court
  • Salon and Day Spa
  • Computers & Business Center
  • Bank
  • Guest Suite
  • Wellness Center
  • Underground Parking
  • Resident Gardens, Walking Paths and Orchard
  • Heated Outdoor Swimming Pool
  • BBQ Area
  • Pet Parks and a Chicken Hutch


  • Yoga and Walking Club
  • Cooking Classes
  • Bocce Ball
  • Aqua Aerobics
  • Chi Gong
  • Happy Hour
  • Musical Performances
  • Fine Jewelry Courses
  • Excursions to Restaurants, Museums and Theaters
  • Book Club, Poetry Classes and Variety of Art Classes
  • Community Involvement and Volunteering Opportunities
  • Themed Parties.

Included Services

  • Weekly Housekeeping
  • Annual Deep Housecleaning
  • Concierge Service
  • Maintenance Of Grounds
  • Safety and Security Systems
  • 24 Hours staff
  • All Utilities Except Telephone and Cable
  • Community-Sponsored Activities
  • Scheduled Chauffeured Transportation within Ten Miles
  • Continental Breakfast and 21 Flexible Meals
  • Educational, Social and Recreational Programs
  • 24-hour Emergency Call System
  • Valet Service

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) is an all in one community. They provide you the service you need now and in the future as your needs increase. You may move in as an Active Adult and as the years pass your needs for service increases and then they can relocate you to Assisted Living all within the same community.

Your Active Adult needs may change and the assistance of cooking and cleaning is needed. Within the same community you could relocate down the street and be in Congregate Living.

You may need an Assisted Living or hospice and this another place within the community you can relocate.

When you move into a Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) all your future needs are reserved for you so that you don’t have to relocate to a new community every time your needs change.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living Community is where you need help doing daily activities.

Care can be in the form of a every other day aide to an around the clock nursing staff.

  • Aide On A Recurring Bases
  • Nursing Homes
  • Memory Care

All About The Care You Need

It comes down to all about the care you need. That is your first step in finding your Retirement Community. The steps below will give you a general guide of what to do next.

  • Find out what Retirement Community you fit in based on your needs.
  • Decide on the type of dwelling you want based on your needs (house, apartment, condo. nursing home)
  • Decide on the location of your Retirement Community (local, out of state, different country)
  • Start looking at Retirement Communities that you are interested in and in your price range. Keep in mind they need to offer the dwelling you want within that community
  • When you have a couple that look good you must set up a visit and talk to representative of the Retirement Community.
  • After doing all your homework and visiting the Retirement Communities, you should have a good feeling on a place. If so you should be confident in moving to your new place.
  • If you don’t have that confident feeling then do more homework and keep looking. There are so many Retirement Communities, you just have to find the one that fits you.

Steven Abbey

Steven Abbey is a author for Senior Living Headquarters and owns a home in a retirement community. His wife owns a successful family business that has served tens of thousands of people. He also has a electrical technician degree.

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