According to AARP.org, one-third of homebuyers are baby boomers and the youngest of them are over 60. To target this well-to-do demographic, builders and developers are increasing the number of homes being built in over-55 communities, where age discrimination is legal in order to protect the special needs, safety and interests of senior citizens.
While age restrictions vary, households must include at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of homes in the community, according to HUD.gov, and no one under the age of 19 can be a permanent resident. A married or unmarried couple can qualify even if one partner is under the age of 55.
Age-restricted communities are planned with specific amenities and types of housing that accommodate seniors, from single-story bungalows with universal design and aging in place features to resort-style homes in gated or security patrolled communities with clubhouses, 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, fine dining, and entertainment. They’re typically gated, run by homeowner’s associations, and have strict building rules and covenants. Adult children, grandchildren, and guests have limited sleepover visitations of no more than a week or two.
What’s the appeal of a peer group community? Seniorliving.org posits that living “close to hospitals, shopping, dining, and local attractions” appeals to many, along with few maintenance responsibilities. For most, the communities’ focus on themselves over the priorities of much younger families is the draw. Others enjoy the wide array of activities such as craft clubs, bridge clubs, billiards, bocce courts, library and media centers. Some communities are built on lakes or near the ocean for fishing or boating with an emphasis on natural beauty. For those who need it, some offer on-site medical facilities and assisted living options.
Luxury 55-plus communities offer larger well-appointed homes and more expensive amenities such as swimming pools, walking trails and golf courses, and an array of concierge services that increase monthly fees as well as the costs of the homes. Covenants and restrictions prevent investors from buying homes and renting them out. This ensures that all members of the community are affluent homeowners, which protects their property values, personal safety, and privacy.
That said, there are other lifestyles that seniors embrace such as faith-based communities that offer worship, age-restricted RV parks with reciprocal memberships to other similar parks, and active adult communities that offer more strenuous sports such as hiking, biking and swimming.
Is an age-restricted community right for you? TheBalancesMB.com recommends that you consider where you want to live, including the climate and the cultural opportunities and amenities of the town or city, the cost of housing and monthly and annual fees. Make sure the community you choose offers the social opportunities and amenities you want. Many planned residential developments offer similar benefits without the age restrictions, so if you want more freedom to enjoy your younger family members, make sure to shop around.