Uncertainty can be scary. You’ve never been a senior before, and you might not think of yourself as one even now. Perhaps that’s why so many people express anxiety about aging. You don’t know what the future holds, but you should feel comfortable knowing that several studies suggest life actually gets better with age. People report greater wisdom, happiness, and fulfillment after the age of 50. So make the most of your increasing joy with a living arrangement that keeps you active and healthy.
Senior living can help you make the most of your golden years. And although many families worry about price, senior living is actually more affordable than you might think.
The Cost of Independent Living: Value vs. Price
Most people considering independent living are concerned about finances. Many seniors worry about the costs of long-term care, and most report that they won’t be able to afford it. This concern makes it easy to look only at the price tag without considering what you’ll get — or what you’ll save.
When you look at price alone, sticker shock is inevitable. But think about how high the cost of a car or home can seem to someone who doesn’t understand the value of investing in these purchases. Independent living is similar.
Unlike assisted living, independent living doesn’t offer continuous or nursing care. Instead, you’re paying for your apartment and other amenities — including the amenity of peace of mind.
Every independent living community offers something a bit different, so ask lots of questions before taking the plunge. Here’s what you can expect from most independent living communities:
An Engaged and Active Lifestyle
Everything you need is right there, including transportation and plenty of social opportunities. No longer will you have to worry about driving long distances, scheduling activities, or asking a loved one to drive you.
A Chance to Grow and Learn New Things
Independent living communities offer a wide range of classes and activities. Most also offer access to local events and opportunities to ensure your horizons remain broad and your mind stays active.
An Amenity-Rich, Worry-Free Life
You’ve lived well and worked hard. You shouldn’t have to spend your golden years dealing with leaky roofs, dirty dishes, and endless piles of laundry. Staff members at independent living communities take care of most tasks for you. Most communities also offer on-site assistance with tasks such as cooking, nutritional planning, and self-care.
A Chance to Give Back
Quality independent living communities offer a range of volunteer opportunities tailored to people of various ages, interests, and ability levels.
Forget about juggling utility and other bills. In an independent living community, your fees cover most expenses.
If you love cooking, then continue enjoying the fruits of your labor in independent living. But if you’ve had enough, independent living communities offer a range of food options. At Arbor, our expert chefs craft healthy and delicious meals every day.
Peace of Mind
Should you experience a health issue, independent living communities can seamlessly provide you with greater assistance. And if you’re worried about what you would do in an emergency, an independent living community could be your best option. You’ll be living near peers, with people invested in your well-being standing by when you need them. This means you don’t have to worry about lying alone in your house if you fall or have a health crisis.
Calculating Costs of Independent Living: Could You Save Money?
It may be possible to worry less and live more richly for less than your current cost of living. To calculate the true costs of an independent living community, consider your current cost of living. Take into account the following factors:
- Utility bills such as power and gas. The average cost varies from region to region and provider to provider, but utilities can cost several hundred dollars per month.
- The cost of groceries or a meal prep service. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that two seniors living together will spend between $500-$750 per month on groceries.
- The cost of home maintenance. Be sure to account for recurring costs (e.g., landscaping, lawn service) as well as one-time expenses you might have to save for (e.g., a leaky roof or a burst pipe).
- Transportation costs, including car insurance and gasoline. Owning and driving a car can cost 55-83 cents per mile you drive. If you no longer drive, consider the time and financial toll of relying on loved ones or a service for transportation.
- Entertainment costs. When you live in your own home, and especially if you live alone, it can be expensive to remain active. Meals at restaurants, movies, performances, continuing education classes, and other expenses can quickly add up. The average household spends nearly $2,500 per year on entertainment. As you age, you’ll likely spend more time at home and less time at a job, which can mean a higher entertainment budget.
- In-home care. Some seniors pay for regular assistance with housework, meal planning, and other tasks that can become challenging with age and health issues. With a chef providing meals, laundry service readily available, and most other basic needs taken care of, most healthy seniors won’t need additional help. That means more money and greater independence.
If these costs exceed the cost of an independent living community, moving could mean you get more by spending less. Even if you have to spend a bit more for independent living, some costs are difficult to quantify. Your time and security matter, too. Independent living means:
- Easy access to an active, social lifestyle
- Neighbors and friendly staff to keep you from feeling isolated in your home
- More free time to do what you want
- Less stress for children and other loved ones who worry about your current living arrangement
- A healthier lifestyle that includes great food, lots of activity, and meaningful connection
Choosing Independent Living You Can Afford
The transition to a senior living community should feel like turning a page to a bright new chapter of your life. Take time to do your research, so you can feel confident that you’ll enjoy this next step.
Asking the right questions can help you ensure the independent living community you’re considering is affordable. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What is included in the base price?
- How much are additional amenities?
- Does pricing change based on what I use or do? For example, can I save money by cooking my own food?
- Are there other fees, such as a down payment or community membership fee?
- How are payments structured? Do I pay monthly? Make a one-time payment? Pay for services as I use them?
- Do I need to pay a deposit?
- What if I need assisted living? Does this community offer assisted living in the unit I’m considering? What is the price difference?
- Can I see the unit I’ll get for the advertised price?
The Arbor Company is the nation’s expert in exceptional senior living. We have served seniors for three decades, and we know no two retirements are alike. We offer great value, a community you're proud to call home, and a continuum of care that can serve you at all stages of retirement, so you don’t have to worry about moving again.
To learn more about your options or for help choosing the right senior living community for your needs, download our free guide, Everything You Need to Know About Independent Living.