Exploring Independent Living Communities in Retirement

You may have seen the commercials for independent retirement communities. They offer a look at stress-free living so you can enjoy your golden years. There is more to it than that, and planning is always essential.

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Exploring Independent Living Communities in Retirement
4 Min Read March 27th, 2021

For older adults, independent living communities provide the benefits of home with community life conveniences without the home maintenance burdens. Some are near or connected with assisted living facilities.

If you are looking for independent living options for yourself or a parent, there are many different things you should look for as you research possible independent living communities.

One of the most important decisions a family will make involves the selection of a retirement community. You should consider a wide array of options before making a selection, including a close look at the features that can make one community stand apart from the others. 

There are several things to look for in a retirement community before making a selection and moving. Here are some of the things to ponder while looking at the available options.

Type of Community

There are three different types of retirement communities to consider based on an individual's level of independence. Many communities are age-restricted to prevent young adults and families from moving in. These are designed for those who are fairly independent and have few needs. 

There are also many options available that address specific needs like memory care and assisted living.


Unfortunately, not all retirement communities are on the up and up. Before signing your name on the dotted line, research the owner's reputation. You will get insight into the community's policies and hiring practices since you or your loved one will interact with them daily.


Just like when you move into any other home, look at the amenities offered. Take a tour of an actual unit to get an idea of the bathroom, kitchen, and other rooms' safety features. 

You can also investigate the events calendar to learn about the activities offered to residents. Staying active and involved helps stave off the effects of aging.

There are multiple services and amenities available, depending on the community. They include, but are not limited to:

  • 24/7 security
  • Clubs and groups based on your interests. These can include book groups, cooking clubs, gardening, religious activities, card clubs, and more.
  • Dining options
  • Fitness classes, gym equipment with on-site trainers, and outdoor space and activities
  • Game and movie nights
  • Housekeeping
  • Home maintenance services
  • Laundry and linen service
  • Lectures and seminars
  • Movie nights, games nights, and Bingo

Access to Medical Care

As we age, it becomes even more important to emphasize health. This focus must include access to quick health care in the event of a medical emergency. Medical care also involves any additional requirements you have, including assistance with memory loss, mobility problems, vision, and hearing problems.

Anyone who needs basic help with daily activities may receive in-home care while still living in independent living. However, unlike assisted living, any long-term health care is generally going to be your responsibility. Those costs will be your responsibility through income and savings or Long-Term Care Insurance.  


The last thing to look for in a retirement community is the cost. Money can become an issue for some older adults, especially those currently on or who will soon begin receiving a fixed income. It is best to speak with your family and the community representatives to ensure you can meet the financial obligations.

If another home is being sold, the sale proceeds can be used to pay for the rent or applied to a purchase within a retirement community. 

There are various independent living communities nationwide, and they all offer different services and activities for elders. If you or your parent loves to golf, for example, you can consider one that has a golf course and golf carts right on the property. Some communities are close to a city or larger town that makes it easily accessible for outside dining, sports events, and other activities. If country life is preferable, you can find a retirement community that fits that lifestyle. You and your family have a choice.

These communities are designed for you to enjoy a carefree and relaxing lifestyle once you retire. Like anything else, when you plan ahead, you have more choices and more control.

Independent Living is Not Long-Term Care

Independent living is not an answer for long-term health care, although some communities have attached or connected assisted living or memory care facilities. 

The cost of long-term health care, no matter where it is delivered, is expensive. Long-Term Care Insurance will give you guaranteed tax-free resources to pay for your choice of quality care in the setting you desire.

The time to prepare is before retirement, ideally in your 40s and 50s. A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will help you navigate the available options based on your age, health, family history, and other factors. Premiums and underwriting vary dramatically between insurance companies.

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About the Author

Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.

LTC News Contributor Mallory Knee

Mallory Knee

Contributor since September 25th, 2020

Editor's Note

Look for your state on the LTC NEWS cost of care calculator. You can find the current and future cost of long-term care services in your area.  

If you think you will move after you retire, be sure you review the costs of care anywhere in the country. You will also find available tax incentives and the availability of Long-Term Care Partnership policies that provide additional dollar-for-dollar asset protection. 

Seek professional help when shopping for the best policy. Find a trusted and experienced Long-Term Care specialist

Don't wait. It is your good health today that allows you to plan. Premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same benefits. However, underwriting criteria is different with every company. This is where a specialist can help match you with the best coverage at the best value. 

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