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The Money Prof
Thursday, February 28 2013
Retirement and 55+ CommunitiesYou have worked all your life and now it's your time! Your vision is to relax, enjoy and be free from stress. Over the years you have heard about retirement communities where at least one of the spouses must be 55 years or older. A place where there are no kids, no noise, retirees just like you that want to meet other people and take advantage of all the amenities that the community has to offer (clubhouses with swimming pools, card rooms, billiard tables, numerous clubs to join, special events, shows, movies and so on.) Is it as good as it all sounds?
Of course, the answer depends on one's attitude and selecting the right community. To begin with, the number 55 is somewhat of a misnomer. The majority of the public does not retire at age 55. Most people today retire in the 60s (full Social Security occurs at age 66). There are exceptions, especially in the newer higher- priced 55+ communities, where higher income earners may have retired at an earlier age. The two major costs of living in these communities (let's assume most people moving into these communities pay cash with no mortgage payments) are property taxes and homeowners association fees (HOAs). The higher priced homes will carry higher taxes and communities with more amenities will carry higher HOAs (for example, big clubhouses and golf courses.) Another consideration is the type of unit that is purchased. Some opt for condominium units (where roofs are covered and insurance may be lower) while others purchase stand- alone houses where these costs will be beared directly by the homeowner. Suffice it to say, make sure you can afford what you are buying. Most 55+ residents will tell you, it's not so much about the dwelling, but the relationships you make that will determine your level of satisfaction. I believe this is true. The larger the community, the better the chance you have of meeting people. One common observation made by the "younger" group that move in to these communities, is that there are many "older" people. If you purchase into a development that was built for example, in 1996 (17 years old), then a large percentage of people will be approaching their mid 80s. There tends be a turnover as these older folk leave the community (voluntary or involuntary) and are replaced with "younger" residents. This all depends on supply and demand for housing in the area. Certain communities attract new residents easier than others.
Retirement communities can be wonderful places if you are looking for that type of living. It's like summer camp all over again.
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