Housing options and the associated costs are among the top priorities for many seniors. Today, the housing market is unpredictable, while many seniors currently living independently may also have concerns about continuing their lifestyles. Moving to an independent living facility may be the best choice to accomplish your financial goals and maintain your way of life.

What Is an Independent Living Facility?

An independent living facility is a housing arrangement that caters to older people, usually aged 55 and older. These facilities offer a community. Residents can live with people who share common interests while having fun and staying active. Some people may refer to these facilities as 55-and-over communities, active adult communities, or retirement communities.

These environments are different from other long-term care facilities. For example, in nursing homes patients are not likely to live in a private apartment or arrangement. They are usually dependent on medical caregivers. Residents of assisted living facilities, meanwhile, may not require medical care 24-7, but do need assistance with activities of daily living such as toileting, bathing, dressing, and feeding oneself.

In contrast, older adults who live in independent living facilities continue to maintain their independent lifestyles but gain the support of trained staff.

Who Is the Best Fit for Independent Living?

Independent living facilities best serve seniors who do not require constant medical care. If you or your spouse require round-the-clock medical attention, you should consider another living arrangement. However, there are usually 24-hour staff in these types of facilities to respond in case of an emergency.

While independent living facilities are best for more active seniors, they are also beneficial for older adults who do not have the ability or resources to maintain their homes anymore. Independent living facilities remove the need for older people to do household chores and yardwork, which can make their lives that much easier.

Types of Independent Living Facilities

Living arrangements in these facilities can vary. Here are some of the types of housing options an older adult can expect from an independent living facility:

Senior Apartments

A senior can choose to live in an apartment complex that is age-restricted, where most residents are at least 55 years old. Some facilities include recreational programs, community meals, transportation services, and community services in the rent.

Low-Income Housing

If you are a low-income senior, you may be able to find housing complexes that are subsidized by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Learn more about HUD’s Supportive Housing Program.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

At a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), seniors who can care for themselves but have declining health may be a good fit. CCRCs allow a spectrum of arrangements, so when a resident’s health starts to wane, they can easily move from one part of the facility to another that offers more extensive care while remaining in the same complex.

What Should I Look for in an Independent Living Facility?

You should take some time to consider what you want in your living arrangements before making a final decision about where you will spend your time in your older years.

You may want to consider location as a major factor in your decision. Will you be close enough to stay in contact with your network of family and friends, if that is your preference? Or would you like to make a move to a different state or a warmer climate to connect with new people?

What services are you set on having? For example, will you have your own vehicle and, if not, does the facility offer transportation options?

You may want to live in a facility that offers certain amenities. Perhaps you would like to use a gym, take part in classes or workshops, or enjoy other hobbies. Some facilities offer access to more than one on-site dining option. Others may have a movie theater, nail salon, walking trails, or organized trips to nearby museums, concert halls, or casinos.

Of course, cost is more often than not also part of the equation. Compare the costs of several different independent living communities if possible. Confirm whether the cost of the facility includes the services and amenities in which you are interested.

Pricing will also vary greatly across states and cities. For instance, in Connecticut, the average monthly cost for an independent living facility is nearly $3,500. In Mississippi, the average may be less than $2,000 a month.

Also, think about the following before choosing a community:

Your Health and Your Spouse’s Health

The level of care you and your spouse require is one of the biggest questions that you must answer before choosing the best living arrangements. Independent living facilities are not the best option for people who need a great deal of medical care.

Your Mobility

It may be time to make new living arrangements if your mobility has decreased as you have gotten older.

Can You Maintain Your Home?

Moving to an independent living facility can be a good decision for seniors who are looking to downsize from their home.