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I moved into a Section 42 Apartment ( Tax subsidy for builder/development) for age 55+ or disabled. In looking I found many complexes didn't enforce No Smoking Policy, or "grandfathered in" many residents even though the law has not allowed that for over a decade.
For Apartments, this developer has 4 buildings. In the older two buildings underground parking is extra. Dell Webb properties are very nice, but at a higher price point. I found that most places that list on sites like, APlaceForMom, often have up front fees, especially if the offer Continuum of Care options, and are much more expensive. Many developers or property management companies use the same stock photos for different complexes. What you see is designer upgrades and underside furniture. I toured a lot of units with cut little nightstands, but no dressers in the bedroom, or shallow ones...the kind you assemble yourself.

Many Section 42 or 442 Complexes advertise up to 60% off market rates, for qualified incomes. This can be up to the median income of the county. The catch is that only 1 or 2 apartments are at that price point. Also their Market Rate is often inflated. The Market Rate here, I Dubuque, Iowa is the same as my son's apartment in a very nice complex in Naperville, IL area. He doesn't have an elevator.... surprisingly many 2 story complexes don't! He did have a pool and costs here are much lower than Chicago Area.
Now my unit is nice sized, about the size of a 1950s starter ranch. Many complexes I looked into were 365 sq ft for a 1 BR! Even those had wait lists, or would not even take names for wait lists.

Be aware, especially if you buy a home or condo in a 55+ complex, know the rules about residents under the age limit! How long can someone stay and be considered a visitor?
Del Webb in Huntley, IL forced a couple to move out when a family situation caused them to take in their grandchildren. If you have family from far away who visit for a month, or more, they may be considered unapproved Tennants! Many places limit visits to 10-14 days!
Find out what people complain about! My building has free heat, a plus for budgeting, but you see a lot of open windows in the winter, because it was not installed properly, so even with my thermostat off, it was 75-80 inside. Oh, and my thermostat, it has ✳️ 1 2 3 4 5 & 6!!! There is not even a mark for off!
Look at street noise, especially for townhome or apartments. It might be quiet mid-day, but what about other times. My apartment opens to the back, green space and single family homes. 1/3 of the units open to the street, 1/3 face the first building but still get street noise.
Look at the driveway and parking! How easy is it for a firetruck and ambulance to get in and out. What about UPS. Is there a curb cut at the front entrance...for other residents being picked up or dropped off? Is there room for a large SUV or Fed Ex truck to pull up without blocking people in.

Realize that a larger portion of your neighbors may be low vision or have mobility issues, so they get picked up by a van for church, or take ADA Mini-bus to appointments or shopping. One illness or accident can make you glad IF those services are available!
If you ask specifically, many developers/management companies will allow you to used the same deposit, and apply it to several of their properties, especially if they have wait lists, or you are still selling your home. Heritage and Horizon both did this, if memory serves.

Designate a small file cabinet or some plastic file boxes for your research.
Have one box or large vinyl envelope or accordian file for all the paperwork you need for applications! Remember to update bank and investment statements as they come in! Collect a few reservation request forms, and full applications now, so you will know what they frequently need.
Finally, don't mention any ADA accommodation you may need, especially Service Animals! These are not pets, so No Pet Policy does not apply.
Helpful Answer (8)

A lot of this depends on YOU.
How active are you
How social are you
Would you go on trips
Would you get involved in groups
Would you use facilities like a pool, gym, theater, etc?.
If you are not the type to get involved why look at any place that would offer amenities that you will not use? Each costs and your living expenses pay for them.
What type of charges do they have. what is the scale as you require more care? Do you pay more all along and maybe face no individual increases or do you pay less now with incremental increases as you need more services?
These are the questions that should be answered before you look into each facility so you can eliminate some right away. And if you are not the type to exercise now do not fool yourself by telling yourself that will change when you move. If you are not a joiner now you will not magically be one when you move.

Are you planning on moving near where you are now or are you from a colder winter climate and you are going to want to move where you do not have to pull that winter coat out ever again? Are you going to be leaving friends and family behind? A move can be traumatic, leaving friends, family and a support network can also be traumatic adding both together can compound feelings of depression.

Answer these questions before you start looking so you can narrow down your search.
Also when you find one ask if you can stay a few days or a week, I am sure it will be at a cost but think of it as a vacation and I am sure the cost would be less than a hotel. Then talk to people. Ask how they like it, what problems they have had.
If there is a senior center where you are ask if there are any seminars or conferences scheduled where senior organizations showcase their products. Where I am a company called Elderwerks has programs and senior housing facilities always have representatives and you can talk to them about the facilities. But keep in mind these people are Salespersons. They want to sell you on their facility.
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In the CCRC where we've made a deposit, one couple mentioned that they moved in too soon. Usually, you hear folks say they should have moved in sooner. The concern for the couple who moved in "too soon" was that monthly rates had increased faster than they had expected; and now, even though they are guaranteed long-term care if they run out of money, they don't have enough money left after paying their monthly fee to do all the things they still want to do.
Just another factor to consider.
Helpful Answer (3)

Couple of things from my CCRC experience:
- I was Executor for an “Aunt” who bought a low mid6 figure “ garden home” at a CCRC. She died suddenly within couple of months. Selling it was fraught with issues. Control on property & any sale is totally held by CCRC. CCRC determines whether or not anyone can stay there; who can be “buyer”; & meanwhile all monthly fees still charged to Estate, including total repainting & relandscaping of unit (yeah this lil nugget was in the multi page contract). Took yr 2 of probate before sold & only after probate atty had real estate atty he works with file a flurry of letters. She did not return to it - died in hospital. But had she, the CCRC had a list of rules on outside care providers & as to having overnight visitors for more than a set # of continuous days. There was no Rehab facility on site, so had she needed that, it would have been at a true rehab facility outside of CCRC. The vibe I got was “higher” level of care really was average ADL elderly stuff.... medication management, meals, bathing, laundry, housekeeping, transitioning from bed to wheelchair. Stuff that low wage “aides” do. Really READ THE FINE PRINT especially if there is a “cap”. If you all may need lots of care in the near future due to your health, the costs may go over the cap placed.

- also regarding “vibe”, what my antenna picked up for both my Aunts CCRC and the couple of places my mom told me about after she went with her friends to look at was.... ahem..... demographics. Residents were overwhelmingly Anglo, the males usually college educated, 2nd or 3rd wives or well off widows (my Aunt was widow X3, each one better but made it beyond a hot mess of an estate), so basically very well off retirees that plunking down the CCRC buy in $$$ did not affect their expendable income. Lots of activities offsite for additional costs. As Executor for my Aunt, I got her monthly mailing from the CCRC, stuff like University alumni game day trips. All extra $.

Really take a hard look at this place to see if you & hubs are likely to fit for how this place pays for care & if you can afford to do activities or socialize like most do.
Helpful Answer (3)
GAinPA Sep 10, 2018
Good advice. Did the CCRC not have on campus activities? Reimbursement percentages are determined by the amount of buy in.
Hire a lawyer to review the contract. Depending on the community, you may be able to negotiate certain items in the contract. Hire an accountant to examine the financial health of the community. Pay special attention to any language about increases in the monthly maintenance. (Some places raise the 'rent' every year by 3 to 5%. You can end up paying way more than market rate for your unit if that is the case.) Pay attention to the quality of the nursing home you will be offered in the CCRC. What will happen if there is no space there for you? And, as with any contract, understand completely what the terms are regarding exiting should you choose to end the contract early.
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GAinPA Sep 10, 2018
Good advice. My motto is tour the Memory unit and check the rating, and the number of beds of the SKN unit instead of the club house, mineral salt meditation room and (would you believe) rock climbing wall.
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What kind of pointers? Need a little more info please.
Helpful Answer (2)

Hi, there are various types of these retirement communities based on where you live. In some they are just condos where people mind their own business for the most part and some people still work, in others such as Del Webb communities, they have many activities such as cooking classes, golf, etc. Some communities have a pool and clubhouse and may offer exercise classes and some other activities. People don't have to participate but it is nice to have the option for meeting other people in the community. These communities often are one floor ranches and include all outdoor maintenance such as landscaping and snow removal, trash, exterior building maintenance, etc. for a monthly or yearly fee. Most allow you to plant non invasive plants and flowers if you wish. I would check with the community you are interested in, see what they offer, and check out their by-laws handbook, or your realtor can do this for you. Best of luck and enjoy your new home!
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I live in a freestanding house/condo in a very small community with a clubhouse for the past 10 years. We are responsible for the full repiaiairs and maintenence to the house either by ourselves or by hiring someone. The outside is all maintained. The drawback is the clubhouse is rarely used but we are all responsible for paying for its maintainence. I wish we had a Del Web community which is large but has a lifestyle building. The other downside is that there are homeowners who are health impaired and now do not participate in activites nor do they come to condo meetings. Some should already be in assisted living and they are relying on their neighbors. Imagine a community that only 10% appears to vote and the other units send in proxies to a small group of individuals or to the board so the board gets their way.

you wonder if health provisions are provided....usually not unless you hire your own caregivers or have some prescription services through health insurance. This is labeled as active living
Ask yourself health wise where you think you will be in 10 years. If you are not healthy, will you need to move on within a few years rather than this being your last home? Do not rely on neighbors to help you and frankly I do not always want to be burdoned by a neighbor. Do ask for condo rules and bylaws before purchase to see if there any conflicts such as pets.

Consider a home that you can age in such as ranch vs stairs.
community homes are close together so if you are used to having land, forget it. Do look for walking trails if you need the open space. Avoid hilly areas that would hinder your walking as you age. How close are the food and drug stores. How close are your doctors when you can no longer drive.

Consider the size and downsize. Be very proactive in purging your belongings since most likely the kids won'e want your stuff. Remember if you hoard, your kids will be resentful in having to purge for you. Also is a child living close by or are you thousands of miles away. I there is quite a distance you might want 2 or 3 bedrooms for guests but do check condo rules concerning children and behavior. Kids outside of the home may get reported by other neighbors unless the homeowner is with them at all times.
55 plus is an easier lifestyle if you enter while you are still active and you consider your surroundings. If you fall in love with one ensure that you also look at the Association Rules. Do not expect to make extensive changes to those rules
Helpful Answer (2)

Many of these communities are away from the "city". You should check to find out how far it is to a health care center or hospital. Also check to see what the rankings are for the health care facilities that are available. Do you really want to be 45 minutes away from a doctor or have to be airlifted in case of an emergency?

The availability of good health care should be a # 1 priority when looking at moving to a new area.
Helpful Answer (1)

Many times renting is better than buying. I know people say renting is throwing money away, but it is just a cost of living like any other expense. Unless you know you are going to be in a place for at least 8 - 10 years, buying will end up costing you more than renting when you include maintenance and/or HOA fees, real estate commissions, etc. Renting gives you much more flexibility should your circumstances change.
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