Is It Time To Downsize To An Adult Community?

Is it time to downsize? 

Have you been thinking that it might be time to downsize and move to an adult community, either a 55+ or 62+ neighborhood? Do you have these thoughts and feelings on your mind?  If so, you just may be ready to make that move!

- You no longer want to take care of your yard and the outside of your home. In most adult communities, most or all yard maintenance and street care such as snow shoveling are included in your monthly fee.

- You’re starting to feel the strain of going up and down stairs. Homes in 55+ communities are often single story. Multistory homes may have elevators or at the least, a first floor master bedroom and laundry area.

- You prefer to be around people your own age virtually all the time. Like the name says, adult communities are, with some exceptions, restricted to people 55 or older.  One common exception is that at least one, but not all residents/owners must be 55 or older and no children under 18 may permanently live in the residence.

- Your children have left the nest and show few signs of returning. That’s important to consider, because in some adult communities, underage guests are limited in how many days they can stay.  If you think an adult child may want to live with you (and you are okay with that, of course!) be sure to check the community rules and regulations.

- You feel strongly it’s time for a change in the direction of retirement.  You want to sell your current house and move on to an entirely new way of living.

What are some of the things you should consider before making a move to an adult community?

- What amenities does it have, and do those amenities meet my needs and interests? If the community boasts tennis courts and everyone plays in the weekly league but you don’t even own a racquet, it may not be right for you. Look for amenities that mesh with your hobbies such as an indoor or outdoor swimming pool, fitness center or fitness classes, walking paths or clubhouse. Often times, these amenities - and more - are included as part of your monthly association fee.

- Does it make sense for me financially? It makes financial sense to pay for what you will use, so if you’ll take advantage of the pool and fitness center and won't need to pay for a gym membership, you'll get your money's worth. But if you have no interest in golf and your community boasts sprawling greens, it may not be right for you (unless you like a pretty view or you’re interested in the golf course to boost your home’s resale value). Keep your financial goals in mind, too. If your mortgage will be so high that you can’t take a vacation or go out to eat, then you may need to look at a more affordable community.

- How are the community’s finances? Make sure the community is in good financial health.  You don't want to invest in a community that has a lot of homeowners in arrears, or is battling a lawsuit. Fing out if there have been any recent special assessments for items that weren't budgeted for, or for emergencies. The reserve fund should be healthy with a good financial plan in place.  Look at the grounds and buildings to see if see if any major renovations, such as a new roof for a clubhouse, have been put off.  Ask for a copy of financial statements, budgets, condo or Home Owners Association documents and the minutes from at least the past 3 homeowner meetings.

- Are there any age restrictions? Maybe you have young grandchildren who spend summer weekends with you. But if they can’t use the pool, you will have some sad faces. Or what if your daughter wants to move in with you after college graduation so she can save for her own apartment.  Each community will likely have its own rules, regulations and restrictions.  Don't be so excited to buy that you forget what the future might hold!

- What rules will you need follow?  Every community has its own rules, and some communities may more strictly enforce them.  Don't get off on the wrong foot by doing something wrong, or get frustrated when someone calls you out on your error.  It's imperative that you read carefully through all documents before signing on the dotted line!  You may have to paint your home’s exterior a certain color or landscape a certain way. Maybe you can’t have pets or are restricted on the number of pets you can have or how much the pet weighs. You may have to park in the garage and not leave a car in the driveway overnight.

Research and consider these things first, or you can make an expensive mistake!

Is a 55+ Active Adult Community the Right Fit for You?

Is moving to a 55+ community on your radar?  

There are a number of 55+ communities springing up here in the Merrimack Valley, and indeed, around the country.  If you're thinking of downsizing and moving to an Active Adult community, there are a number of things to consider. What is most important to you? Each community is different, some offer a couple amenities, some offer a whole laundry list!  Amond the top reasons people move to an Active Adult community:

1. Fun Social Activities

Most adult communities offer a wide range of activities from book clubs to golf leagues to yoga classes and more. You can go to all of them, some of them or none of them. You don't need to convince your spouse to do things you like but he/she doesn't enjoy. And you don't need to plan activities yourself unless you want to take on the role for the association.  

2. Amenities And Affiliations

Some adult communities are built around amenities like golf courses, tennis courts, fitness centers or marinas. Choose one that features the amenity you most enjoy and you’ll be surrounded by neighbors who share your passion.  That will make finding a golf partner or a bocce lover easy for you!

3. Security

The most secure 55+ communities are gated and have visitors check in with a guard, or require a key or code to get through a gated entry.  Plus, there's almost always someone up and about to keep an eye out for strange goings-on!

4. Maintenance Free Living

Tired of cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, shoveling? Most 55+ communities have a homeowners association that takes care of maintenance for you. In such a community, your exterior maintenance is likely included in your monthly fee. With someone else doing those outdoor chores, you have more time for all those activities you love that you haven't been able to enjoy.

5. The Right Home for Today's Living

As we age, our chances of having a disability increase. Adult communities feature floor plans designed to help you age in place. With all those fitness classes, you might not need a single-story floor plan or a doorway wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, but it’s nice to know you won’t have to move if you do need those features as you age.  Single family homes and garden style units feature everything you need on one level.  No need to climb stairs to get to your bedroom or haul down to the basement.

There are some things to consider before choosing your new community:

1. Climate -- If you are considering moving south or southwest for the next chapter of your life, take into consideration the weather. The not-so-good thing about living in the sun-drenched south is it gets hot and humid in the summer. Make sure you and your body are prepared for the summer months. And be prepared for family and friends looking to stay with you in the winter months!

2. Home size -- This might be a good time to downsize and eliminate some clutter or furnishings you don't really need anymore. Along with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, take into consideration how your utility costs might change, and how property and income taxes will be affected in your new area. Research property and income tax laws to get an understanding of how your new home size will be taxed, along with your retirement benefits. Don't forget to take into account any condo or community service fees.

3. Lifestyle -- Your new lifestyle is on the way. But how does your personality fit into this new life scenario? With age-restricted communities, you can make instant connections with your new neighbors. That can be good, or not-so-good depending on your luck of the draw. For the community itself, scope out the activities list to see what appeals to you. You can't control your neighbors, but you can whittle down your choices based on what the community offers. "Birds of a feather" and all that.

The Final Decision

In the end, it can be hard to let go of the home where you raised your family, or where you've lived for decades and formed strong friendships and community ties.  Whether you decide to downsize or not, it is worth at least considering. You don't have to move to a new city or state to find a nice condo or a smaller home that provides you with simpler living. And you don't have to move far away from family, grandkids and friends to downsize to the perfect community.