For baby boomers thinking of their next act, moving to an active-adult community may be the perfect choice post-downsizing. Some are located in urban environments, others are in suburban settings, while still others are gated communities in resort-like settings located several miles from the nearest town. Some consist primarily of single-family detached homes, but others can be in multi-family mid-rise condominiums. Most have amenities such as swimming pools, workout facilities, golf courses, tennis courts, wine clubs, garden clubs, and city-centers where residents can buy dine at restaurants, buy groceries and have their prescriptions filled. It’s no-worry living in a community designed for socializing, staying fit and, often, aging in place.
Sun City, Arizona, just outside Phoenix, was the first community to offer an active lifestyle for people 55+. Built more than 50 years ago, the community now consists of 27,000 single-family homes, garden apartments, condos, and patio homes. Each home must have at least one person aged 55 or older.
Thousands of 55+ Communities in the U.S., Dozens More in Development
Today, there are similar communities in every state in the U.S. with many more planned, to help accommodate the huge number of baby boomers who are downsizing and looking for an active “next act.” One of the largest active-adult communities in the U.S. is The Villages in central Florida (about 60 miles northwest of Orlando). About 157,000 people live in one- to four-bedroom single-family homes, cottages, and villas. The Villages; it’s so large, the U.S. Census Department has given it its own metropolitan
An article on Realtor.com written by Christine Romero (March 29, 2017) described the rising popularity of these age-restricted communities:
“Many of today’s super-active boomers would rather be out playing power tennis than bingo, and would prefer to have their neighbors over for cocktails – or even hit up the newest bar – instead of puttering around in the garden. And why not? Plenty have the cash to buy into these pricey communities, and quite a few of them are still working, with the concept of retirement barely a glimmer in their eyes.”
While the majority of these developments are in warmer climates (Florida is home to more than 300 age-restricted communities), many others are cropping up in colder areas, as well (New Jersey has about 230). States with higher-than-average numbers of communities are Arizona, Oregon, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Utah, according to Ms. Romero’s Realtor.com article.
For detailed information on communities throughout the U.S., check out 55Places.com.The site has floor plans, prices, amenities, and many other details on hundreds of active-adult communities. Or check out award-winning communities. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has an annual competition to find the “best” 55+ communities. See the NAHB’s 2017 award-winning “Active Adult Communities” for the best of the best in “active adult” living.
Not all communities for the 55+ set are in elaborate, spa-like environments. Many are more aptly described as 55+ condominium buildings, patio communities and retirement villages, with starting prices at less than $100,000. While they provide simpler living in a community of people 55 and older, they don’t provide a lot of extras in the way of workout facilities, pools and spas.
What all 55+ communities and their residents have in common is a simpler life. “Buyers are looking to downsize and simplify their lives. The houses are smaller than the ones they are moving out of. They tend to be designed for a simpler life,” according to Steven Dubb of the Beechwood Organization, a developer of age-restricted communities on Long Island (Realtor.com, March 29, 2017).