What is a retirement community? Well, imagine a place where you can fulfill your every dream and finally enjoy your life without the stressful responsibilities, where you are surrounded by friendly and happy people who understand you. In this place, you can reconsider your perception of retirement itself. Does it seem like a fantasy to you?
Luckily, this paradise on earth is real! The retirement community is basically a housing complex designed and built specially for older adults. Moreover, practically every state has at least one such housing complex. This is the future of retirement, and honestly speaking, it’s much brighter than we thought it would be.
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Why are retirement communities such a great idea?
The first small communities appeared back in the 1930s, and the trend was developing mainly in warm climates. Today, however, with almost a hundred years behind, it feels like senior living housing complexes have reached the pick. The main factors that make the communities arguably the best option are the following:
- great specialized health care;
- opportunity to make new friends;
- super low crime rates;
- lots of wonderful activities for everyone;
- different types of care and amenities to satisfy your needs the most.
What makes it even better about retirement communities is a residential system that provides additional healthcare when you need it, meaning you can age and not worry about what if you need 24-hour care. It’s called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) and includes three different options:
- Independent living. This means you do not need special care. Basically, you just live on your own in the community.
- Assisted living. This option provides help with your everyday tasks, which you find difficult to deal with, like bathing, dressing, etc.
- 24-hour healthcare. The last option is basically similar to a nursing home-style.
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Top 10 retirement communities in the US
Let’s mention one thing right away. The financial side of retirement communities varies greatly. You can find super luxurious places to retire and live like a noble person up to your very last day, or you can settle in a cheap, affordable complex but surely, have some inconveniences there. The price indeed matters.
Most CCRC communities have an entrance fee, a so-called upfront cost (typically starts from $100,000 and can exceed $2 million), in addition to the monthly service fee (around $1,000 to $5,000). That’s why, after analyzing tons of reviews, price lists, and even photos, we’ve made our own rating of the best retirement communities in every category: from the most prestigious ones to the most affordable.
10. Rio Verde Community, Rio Verde, Arizona
If you absolutely love golf and have lots of money to spend, Rio Verde is the right community for you. Although being known as the best-rated retirement community in the USA for golf and other activities, it is located right near Tonto National Forest and minutes from Scottsdale, which opens up a lot of opportunities for those who strive for adventures. Approximately 1,000 of individually designed houses can surprise even the most esthetic person. The upfront fee ranges from $350,000 to $1 million. The amenities include a library, 6 tennis courts, fitness centers, art and dance studios, a newly renovated swimming pool. The community promotes an active lifestyle and offers a gateway to biking, hiking, and even horseback riding
9. The Clare, Chicago, Illinois
The Clare would definitely suit everyone who truly loves the life in a big city. As luxurious as Rio Verde, this community-based in Chi-Town is basically a surprising exception. Not all retirement complexes nest on the outskirts and wilderness. The Clare offers “extravagant comforts” such as a flexible choice dining, transportation services, and even valet parking. You wouldn’t regret living your best part of life in this community’s senior apartment. Of course, if you can afford it. The prices start at $300,000 and can exceed more than $1 million.
8. Del Webb at Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Georgia
A waterfront paradise that makes you feel like living on a resort certainly is not cheap, yet maybe indeed worthy of your money. The planned community promotes all sorts of high-quality services and offers everything you need for active retirement. Absolutely stunning views and nicely planned houses are the trademarks of the community. Moreover, it is great for people who don’t like driving cars, as you can get anywhere you want on a golf cart or a bicycle. The upfront tag starts from $230,000.
7. Sun City Hilton Head, Bluffton, South Carolina
More than 8,000 houses, 100 active clubs and groups, great healthcare and thousands of acres of mesmerizing woodlands and lagoons can describe Sun City Hilton Head better than any words. The retirement homes are well-planned, which also contributes to the fact that Sun City Hilton Head is considered one of the best active retirement communities in the USA. The upfront fee starts at $200,000.
6. Sun City Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sun City Summerlin was the very first Del Webb’s community for retirees, built in 1999. Now, almost 8,000 homes and 14,000 residents occupy the 2,400-acre territory. The community’s center is absolutely stunning. There you can find four clubhouses that provide great activities and amenities (fitness, swimming pool, gaming area, etc.). The area surrounding Sun City Summerlin has significantly grown since the completion of the community. There are many banks, stores, two hospitals, libraries, etc. The prices range from $150,000 to $800,000.
5. Sun City Festival, Buckeye, Arizona
The third Sun City on this list probably deserves to be the first one in terms of quality of life and diversity of activities offered by the community. Del Webb surely knows how to be beautiful, practical and meaningful places. Sun City Festival has around 7,000 homes and an age restriction of 45+. Most residents love how quiet Sun City Festival is (no pun intended) and away from the craziness of the big city. Golf courses, great restaurants, assisted living facilities, and dozens of activities – Sun City Festival is indeed great value for money. The prices start at $150,000.
4. Solivita, Kissimmee, Florida
The master-planned active retirement community, Solivita, is no less than a gem that can make anyone fall in love with its beauty. In addition to exceptionally stunning parks, the largest amenities of the community are the Rivera Spa and a huge fitness center. Solivita welcomes golf fans with its Stonegate Golf Club that includes two championship 18-hole golf courses. For those who prefer experimenting, there are dozens of different awesome classes to try out: from oil painting and tai chi to pottery and ballroom dancing! The prices start at $130,000 to the highest $500,000.
3. On Top of the World, Ocala, Florida
One of the best retirement communities in the country, On Top of The World, has such name for good reason. The finely-planned 10,000 retirement homes make the residence one of the largest in the state, and world-class amenities and services only add to the community’s attractiveness. On Top of The World has everything to please everyone’s taste: three golf courses, fitness centers, tennis courts, restaurants, etc. There are more than 175 organized clubs and groups that will make sure you are staying active and enjoying your life! The upfront cost starts from $100,000 to $400,000.
2. The Villages, Florida
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The Villages, also known as the Disneyland for older adults, is nothing to be compared with. This is basically another world, and if we may say it is oh-so-better! The Villages has it all and even more. The largest age-restricted community in the country (more than 56,000 homes!) offers access to various amenities, including golf courses, recreation centers, dance and art classes, fitness centers. You can even find hundreds of special interest groups for things like scuba diving, photography, genealogy, etc. Probably the only reason why this community is not the best in our rating is the price. The upfront cost starts from around $100,000 but can go way higher than $1 million.
1. Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Arguably, the best retirement community in the US, Hot Spring Village, is a 40.7 square miles absolutely stunning recreational resort in Arkansas’ Ouachita Mountains. It attracts senior people from all 50 states. Today the population of the community is around 13,000 residents. Hot Springs Village offers 9 golf courses, 16 tennis courts, swimming pools, 2 country trails, and what’s even more important – life in a nature-friendly quiet environment. And the best thing about this paradise is the prices that suit anyone: from $80,000 to $600,000. Be careful though: like in every other community, there aren’t many realtors who are willing to work with you unless you’re aiming at some “big deals.”
To sum up the information about these best retirement communities, you can check out this convenient table down below.
|#||Senior living community||Affordability||Population|
|10||Rio Verde Community, Rio Verde, Arizona||$350,000 and higher||~ 1,500|
|9||The Clare, Chicago, Illinois||$300,000 and higher||~ 500|
|8||Del Webb at Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Georgia||$250,000 and higher||~ 1,000|
|7||Sun City Hilton Head, Bluffton, South Carolina||$200,000 and higher||~ 13,000|
|6||Sun City Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada||$150,000 and higher||~ 14,000|
|5||Sun City Festival, Buckeye, Arizona||$150,000 and higher||~ 12,500|
|4||Solivita, Kissimmee, Florida||$130,000 and higher||~ 7,000|
|3||On Top of the World, Ocala, Florida||$100,000 and higher||~ 20,000|
|2||The Villages, Florida||$100,000 and higher||~ 125,000|
|1||Hot Springs Village, Arkansas||$80,000 and higher||~ 13,000|
Overall, according to the American Association of Homes and Services, approximately 750,000 senior Americans live in CCRCs. Of course, it’s up to you to decide whether to give it a try or not. Retirement is a new page in your life, so why don't you make some positive and exciting changes?
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Although the segregation might look like a big step back, who would refuse to live in one of these retirement communities, where everything was designed and built specifically for your needs? Moreover, isn’t it great to live in a town with so many people who share the same preferences? Every senior living community from our rankings knows that “movement is life,” hence offers lots of great amenities to stay both socially and physically active: from golf courses to swimming pools and fitness centers. Depending on the prestige of the retirement place, it might be even cheaper to live there than staying at your home on your own. You can always try, and if something goes wrong, you will have your money back!