As you approach retirement, or as you begin to think about your next steps as you reduce your workload and enjoy more downtime in your day, you have plenty of decisions to make about what lies on the horizon. As you think about what your preferences and expectations are for your daily life, you might find yourself being more curious about active independent living communities.
If you’ve been thinking about independent living for a few years or if you are just starting your research, you can benefit from our list of considerations that many of our residents have kept in mind before they made a move.
What Is Independent Living?
Before you can start to research independent living as an option for you, it’s helpful to take time to make sure you understand what exactly independent living is. Many adults aren’t quite familiar with what independent living is today, and some even hold onto old stereotypes about what communities were a few decades ago.
Essentially, independent living communities offer older adults the opportunity to live independently, in their own homes, while taking advantage of services and amenities that make life more convenient and help them meet their personal wellness goals. Today’s independent living communities are full of active, vibrant adults ranging in age from 60 to 100 who typically do not need assistance with any activities of daily living. Instead, they benefit from living among their peers, forming meaningful connections and friendships while enjoying amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, yoga studios, and spas, right on campus.
Consideration No. 1: Your Lifestyle Preferences
Independent living communities offer services and amenities that can make for a low-maintenance lifestyle. This means that residents enjoy regular housekeeping visits and don’t have to worry about lawn maintenance or other household repairs. Interested residents can still certainly seek out their favorite tasks, like gardening or organizing their space, but the larger responsibilities of homeownership dissipate when you choose independent living.
Think about your current lifestyle and which regular tasks might be your least favorite to complete or coordinate. Then, think about what you would like to do with your extra time if you didn’t have to do those chores. If you are relieved thinking of the opportunity to gain that free time, independent living could be a great choice.
Consideration No. 2: Your Home
Many adults come to independent living after leaving the home they lived in for decades, raising their families. However, such a large space isn’t always the best when the kids move out and you have more time to travel or explore other hobbies. An independent living home tends to be the perfect size without compromising your space, style, or budget.
Consider if your current home is simply too large for your tastes right now. Perhaps many rooms go unused throughout the week or you are spending too much time on upkeep and cleaning. Rightsizing your home and possessions in order to move into a stylish, more manageable home in an independent living community can leave you feeling freer, more energetic, and even more creative.
Consideration No. 3: Your Health
The typical independent living resident is active and healthy, focused on preventative actions that will increase their wellness and quality of life. At an independent living community, residents can enjoy swimming laps in the pool before breakfast, catching up with a friend over a healthy meal at one of the community’s dining venues, and taking in a wellness lecture from a local physician before dinner. Wellness opportunities are around every corner.
Consider if your current home and neighborhood support your wellness goals and health. For example, is it difficult to go for a daily walk because you don’t have easy access to safe walking paths? Or do you wish you had more opportunities for recreation that aren’t a long drive away? Independent living can support your health and wellness journey.
Consideration No. 4: Your Social Circle
More and more research is pointing to the importance of connection as we age. As we get older and move into retirement, our social circles naturally shrink. Without forming new connections with neighbors and friends, older adults can be at an increased risk for a list of health problems ranging from more rapid cognitive decline to increased anxiety to premature death. A major benefit of independent living is the social opportunities available; residents can connect with neighbors in a group fitness class, during an excursion to a local favorite spot, or while sharing a meal.
Consider your current social opportunities. Do you find that your social calendar is lacking a bit lately, or do you wish that you had more time to connect with neighbors throughout your day? Independent living could be the solution.
Consideration No. 5: Your Budget
Adults approaching retirement are sure to keep their financial bottom line in check as they make major life decisions. Independent living communities typically are within most budgets and even offer a more predictable expense schedule, which can result in a simplified budgeting process.
Think about your current monthly expenses living at home. Include your mortgage, homeowners insurance, food costs, transportation expenses, and other fees you pay regularly. Keep that number in mind as you begin exploring independent living communities. Most communities charge a monthly fee that includes everything, and your current expenses are likely comparable to a more inclusive fee.
Consideration No. 6: Your Starting Point
If independent living seems interesting, it is best to experience the lifestyle in action. Schedule tours of communities near you, and take your time as you research their amenities, services, and costs. As you narrow down your list to include a few top contenders, find times to enjoy a meal or event at the community so you can meet other residents and see if you can picture yourself there.
Ready to learn more? Our guide “Everything You Need to Know About Independent Living” dives into more details, which can help you out during your research process.