More Retirees Seek Affordable Senior Neighborhoods in the Heart of Town
Cerretha Rose and her colleague Heather Kight, senior real estate specialists in Austin, say that downsizing to a smaller conventional house often requires interior and yard renovations to make it comfortable and requires low maintenance. Senior homes don’t require those types of renovations. A conventional condo may be cheaper, but it usually means hundreds of dollars a month in homeowners fees.
You can also move into a senior planned community with on-site facilities, including restaurants, spas, pools, fitness centers, gardens and movie theaters. But prices tend to be steep and homeowners rules fairly strict.
Oakmont senior living communities in California, for instance, charge monthly fees starting at $3,400 for a couple, plus a partially refundable entrance fee starting at about $200,000. On the low side, in Ocala, Fla., the Oak Run gated senior community charges homeowners fees of about $200 a month.
All the on-site amenities in the world — no matter what they cost — would not attract marketing consultant Mike Flores, 60. This year he began researching housing options for his semi-retirement.
“Easy access to the mainstream community, where everybody in town congregates is crucial. Age restricted activities are a big turn-off,” he insists. At the same time, “we are looking for the convenience and affordability” of senior neighborhoods, he says.
It can be tough to locate such neighborhoods. Pros advise that you to drive around towns and communities you like, then ask local real estate brokers, senior centers and chambers of commerce if there are any 55-plus areas in or near the town center.
Spamer also suggests searching the Internet for “active adult living,” “55+ communities,” and “affordable 55+ homes.” When you get the results, look for phrases such as “near downtown” or “main street nearby.” Avoid places that brag about being “gated” or focus on “amenities.”
The good news is as more baby boomers gravitate to in-town senior neighborhoods and tell their friends about it, town planners and real estate developers will notice. The result could be a new category of housing with a dedicated directory to promote it.