What Is an Active Adult Community?

When you think about life after retirement, what do you picture? Perhaps you’d like nothing better than to stay in the same home you’ve had for years, but maybe you’re thinking about a change. Many seniors prefer small, low-maintenance homes. Some just want to get out of the area where they’ve been living now that there’s no longer any need to commute. Whatever the reason, many retirees move, and active adult communities are a popular option.

The first active adult communities sprang up in Arizona in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were planned bedroom communities, similar to the car suburbs that were then being built all across the country, but with a twist: Every household had to have at least one resident who was 55 years old or older. These days, there are active adult communities all across the country, but not all of them are age restricted. Some are merely “age targeted,” meaning they advertise to the over-55 crowd but have no minimum age requirements. Many of them are also located in urban apartment buildings rather than in the suburbs. Some communities become de facto retirement spots called NORCs, or naturally occurring retirement communities. These can include apartment buildings.

Designed for Residents

Active adult communities have remained popular for a few reasons. One is that they’re built with the needs of seniors in mind. Houses in these communities are always wheelchair-accessible and low-maintenance, and usually come with home and garden care services. Communities also usually make sure that most of their homes are the perfect size for a single person or for a couple. All planned communities have different amenities, but they are usually ones that are targeted to seniors.

The most obvious plus, however, is that residents know their neighbors will be mostly seniors. Community residents will be a self-selecting group of people who are at the same stage of life and have more in common than members of the average community. While this is the main source of their appeal to residents, it’s also the single biggest reason why some would never consider living in one. For some people, half the point of having neighbors is to get to know people who are dissimilar to you. If you’re considering an active adult community, ask yourself what your ideal neighborhood would look like.

If an active adult community is for you, check out a few in your area. You may find that they’re a diverse bunch. Different communities will have different amenities, from laundry services to golf courses. You will need to make sure that the homes they offer are big enough to hold your effects. Consider whether you’re interested in a quiet development well outside the nearest city, or one that’s in an urban center and convenient to public transportation and health care.

Active adult communities are an ideal choice for many older Americans. If you think they might be right for you, start searching for active adult communities in your area.

older couple standing in front of house