Hey boomers: Considering buying a home in a retirement community?

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on March 12, 2019

If you’ve never thought about buying a home in a retirement community, now might be the time to consider one. Now, before you turn your nose up at the topic, we aren’t talking about senior living communities – those group homes where they take a van to Walmart once a week and someone else does all the cooking.

We’re talking about retirement communities for boomers who are active and independent and want to downsize. People who want to be around people their age. They’re sometimes called “55+ communities.”

This is the one case that a community can legally discriminate by saying “no youngsters allowed.” At least to live there.

Recent studies show that many boomers prefer to retire near urban centers, where they can be around a diverse age group, walk where they need to go and take advantage of both cultural and dining experiences that downtowns have to offer.

There’s still a large chunk of retirees who choose retirement communities so they can hang out with folks who share a common historic and cultural perspective. People closer in age.

Whether it’s a resort retirement community like the Village at Deaton Creek in Hoschton GA, a golf course or lake community like Cresswinds on Lanier or a typical neighborhood-type community designated for “seniors,” there’s a lot to consider when buying a home in which to spend the rest of your life.

Will you relocate?

Spending an occasional holiday in a certain region of the country and settling in for year-round living are entirely two different things. Even in the hottest cities, there are changes in the weather and climate that you may not be familiar with.

While there are seasonal or event-dependent considerations, they are considerations, nonetheless. Learn all you can about the climate, weather and other events that may impact you, especially if you have an ongoing respiratory illness.

Then, spend some time in your choice of retirement cities during the off-season. For instance, spend an August in Georgia to ensure you can tolerate the humidity, visit in early spring as well if you’re an allergy sufferer to see if pollen levels are prohibitive for your outdoor lifestyle.

Who else lives there?

Tour the area during the times when the social activities you’re interested in participating in take place. In a typical neighborhood type arrangement, drive or walk through the neighborhood at different times of day and do stop and chat with any residents who are outside. See if these are people with whom you have a lot in common and with whom you’d like to spend more time.

Most of the homes in these types of retirement communities are single-family homes and frequently come without fences between neighbors.

Do you need nearby medical facilities?

This seems to be a no-brainer when choosing where to retire, but you’d be surprised how many people fall in love with a community that isn’t convenient to needed medical care. In northeast Metro Atlanta, The Village at Deaton Creek and the new Del Webb at Chateau Elan both are located near new hospitals and medical facilities.  Not sure which came first, “the chicken or the egg,” but in our area we see both readily accessible to each other.

Financial considerations

If there’s one thing that can greatly impact your income during retirement it’s taxes. To estimate your monthly obligations, including your new mortgage payment, requires careful consideration of taxes.

Also, buying even the least expensive home in a retirement community may not be worth it if that community is located in a state that taxes Social Security benefits, pensions and retirement plan distributions.

Since you’re buying a home, first look into property taxes. These can add greatly to your monthly mortgage payment.

Kiplinger.com offers a list of 10 Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees and USAToday.com compares Average Property Taxes for all 50 States and D.C.

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