The Skinny on Independent Living Communities

I write a lot about CCRCs, and, although I think that most communities offer a pretty good value, there are other products in the market.  One that I often overlook is independent living.  Here are some of the main reasons that people choose these communities:

  • Low up-front cost. Although a decent portion of independent living communities have an up-front community fee of between $1,000 and $5,000, it’s rare to find an independent living community that requires an entrance fee anywhere near the one required by a CCRC.
  • Rental contracts.  CCRC contracts are long-term, large-investment contracts.  You generally sell your home to pay for the entrance fee, and the CCRC agreement is meant to be for the rest of your life.  An independent living community generally only requires a one-year agreement.  If you want more price stability, you can opt for a longer term.  But, if you move in an decide that you hate it, then you can move out at the end of your lease.  It’s nearly impossible to do the same thing at a CCRC.
  • Increasing amenities.  The differentiating factor between CCRCs and independent living has traditionally been on-site amenities.  CCRCs are known for multiple dining options, high-tech fitness studios, and elaborate activity rooms.  Nowadays, that distinction is blurring.  There are independent living communities that are competitively priced and offer similar amenities.
  • Assistance in your apartment. In recent years, the industry trend has been to help seniors delay moving to higher levels of care.  Independent living communities are no exception.  If you are independent now, but hope to remain in your apartment as long as possible, look for a community that allows you to receive home health or other assistance in your independent living apartment.

(Note: While some independent living communities offer assistance in your apartment, not all have access to nursing or dementia care.  If these things are important to you, you’ll need to look for a community that offers these levels of care on site or has a nearby partner that offers these services.)

Today’s retirees have more options than ever regarding their senior housing choices.  Independent living can be the right choice for seniors who don’t want to make a large investment in a community and who like the flexibility that comes with renting but don’t want to skip on amenities or services.

This post was made possible by Churchill Estates, a luxury independent living community located in Dallas, Texas.