Is an adult lifestyle community right for you?

With October 1 being National Seniors Day, this is a good opportunity to discuss living in an adult lifestyle community. For those entering retirement age or who wish to downsize without giving up independence, an adult lifestyle community (or active adult community) could be an ideal option.

If you’re looking to explore hobbies and opportunities to socialize, adult lifestyle communities offer a range of amenities and conveniences to enjoy. These communities are typically available to residents 55 years of age and older (although many don’t have an age restriction), and allow a high degree of independence with added security. If you’re weighing the options about an adult lifestyle community, there’s much to think about, such as monthly costs and community guidelines.

Magda Zecevic, a Toronto-based REALTOR®, master accredited senior agent, and salesperson with Royal LePage Signature, tells us more about what you should know about adult lifestyle communities.

Why are they gaining popularity?

Adult lifestyle communities are not independent living facilities or retirement homes.

These properties are heavily focused on shared hobbies, active lifestyles, and opportunities to mingle. They’re places where residents can meet like-minded people within a similar age group while exploring their passions and common interests. For instance, an adult lifestyle community might have an emphasis on lakefront recreation or local golfing resorts. 

While these communities provide more independence over retirement or long-term care facilities, adult lifestyle properties tend to offer hassle-free living, providing maintenance and upkeep services.

Zecevic notes adult lifestyle communities have been growing in popularity. Those who are divorced, widowed, or want to expand on their friend group might be drawn to these communities for the extra security and social benefits.

“There’s such a variety out there,” said Zecevic. “It all depends on what you’re looking for, but [adult communities are] certainly one of the biggest trends going on right now because of the appeal.”

What is life like at an adult lifestyle community?

If you’re thinking of moving into an adult lifestyle community, there are a few things to keep in mind. As Zecevic points out, the most obvious restriction is age — with some communities requiring at least one person to be at least 55 years old.

You’ll find there are options to either purchase or lease a home and a variety of condo, townhome, or bungalow properties to pick from. In some cases, there may also be an option to purchase the house, but lease the land, Zecevic explains.

Maintenance costs and prices vary widely depending on the location of the community and other factors. While you might be able to find houses for less, Zecevic says newer adult lifestyle condos in Ontario can range from $600,000. If you’re not buying new, the prices can be lower but it all depends on where you’re looking. There are also options to lease, with prices again depending on where your search is located. Paperwork-wise, buying or leasing in an adult living property is similar to a regular real estate transaction and a REALTOR® can guide you through the process.

Most adult lifestyle communities are planned with access to amenities in mind. Typically, these homes are located close to pharmacies, stores and medical clinics. Zecevic points out it’s important to keep access to these facilities and other needs that you may have in mind as part of your search. Prospective residents downsizing from their existing property into a smaller unit may also have to weigh the pros and cons of paring down belongings.

“If you’re going from a 2,000 square foot house to a 700 [sq ft] condo, it’s a big change in what you’re going to take and the space you might need,” she said.

How do I find the right community for my needs?

If you’re looking at adult lifestyle communities, there are a few things to keep in mind. Zecevic says it’s crucial to examine what’s important to you as an individual or as a couple. Consider your day-to-day needs and interests, and whether your choice of community can fulfill them. Do you cook a lot, or do you want access to a dining hall? Do you drive, or do you need a facility with access to transit? A great starting point is with a REALTOR®, who can help you to identify your interests and goals, and source options for adult lifestyle communities.

Zecevic also points out some buildings may not be equipped to provide for residents who have certain mobility or medical needs. It’s important to look for these accessibility features, like the width of doorways and the height of countertops, prior to moving in.

“Not every condo building you purchase or rent from has taken into consideration mobility [needs]. Sometimes they have it where you can go through the main doors to get into the building, but the condo unit might not have the doors wide enough for a wheelchair to get in,” said Zecevic.

If you’re exploring the idea of moving to an adult lifestyle community, recruit the advice of a local REALTOR® for insights on available communities and which ones might be right for you.