What to Look For In A Retirement Community: 5 Considerations

Assisted Living,Independent Living,Skilled Nursing

Finding the right place to live is always tricky. Whether you’re trying to find an apartment or a house, there are a number of things you should be considering. Is the place near good restaurants, attractions, museums, or a park? What’s important to you, and how can you go about making sure that you’ll get your money’s worth out of your new place? Finding out you don’t like a place before committing to a move can save you an immense amount of headache down the line.

Finding a place to settle down after you retire is no different. Retirement communities can be a great option for those who want to live an active, engaging lifestyle in a supportive environment. Choosing the right community, however, can be a challenge. There are many different options, each of which offers different amenities, services and care.

Here, we’ll take you through some items you should consider when selecting a retirement community to give you a little extra help in deciding which one is the right one for you.

What To Look For In A Retirement Community

Retirement communities are made for people 55 and up, with special considerations taken for their needs. You’ll find that most communities are built like apartments, along with some that have freestanding homes for people living there.

Communities also have a variety of activities or events residents can participate in, should they be interested. Recreation centers, golf outings, and swimming are common offerings. To find the right community for your lifestyle, you should take into account both the living arrangements and the activities offered. We’ll go through some broader categories here and explore what you can and should be looking for when considering a move to a community. And, of course, always visit the place you want to move in advance if at all possible.

Living Arrangements and Quality of Care

Many retirement communities offer different living arrangements depending on the type of support you need. You can choose from:

  • Independent living, where most retirees move in as self-sufficient individuals with full apartments
  • Assisted living, where individuals are independent but also have access to support where needed, such as with dressing or keeping track of medications
  • Skilled nursing, where professional medical staff create individual care plans to support residents

No matter where you are on the spectrum of health, you’ll want to make sure the community you’re moving to will be able to help if and when you need it. Many communities offer a continuum of care, so you can move into independent living, then transition to higher levels of care as your needs change. Often known as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), these communities reduce the burden on retirees and their families, since they don’t need to move out of a community when their needs change.

Recreational Activities

Wherever you move, you want to be able to have fun, right? Lots of communities today have clubs, activities, pools, and other amenities that residents can regularly use and enjoy. When making your inspection visit, ask people who already live there what recreational activities they’re involved in and ask the staff what’s on the calendar.

On top of keeping you active, recreational activities on a regular schedule let you have something to look forward to every day that’ll get you up, out of the house and interacting with other people. Because you’ll be around others who share the same interests, a swim class or guided yoga might be an opportunity to make some new friends, as well. The community you’re looking at should have a spectrum of activities that people of different ages and levels of mobility can take part in.

Depending on the activity, the club or class might go to a different location offsite, so look for those activities if you’re someone that likes to get out and about. If you need a ride and don’t have a family member or friend to drive you, there are other ways to get yourself where you want to go, so you never have to miss out.

The Lifestyle

Apart from the activities regiment and support options, you’ll want to look into what living in that community is really like day to day and whether it fits you and your tastes. If you have a beloved pet you can’t bear to be without, make sure the community where you’re moving allows pets, and whether they charge an extra fee for having them.

If possible, spend a day or night in the community you’re considering. That way, you’ll be able to get a more honest look at how the place is every day. You’ll get a feel for the living spaces, common areas, and grounds that a shorter tour wouldn’t quite be able to provide. If you think a family member might want to visit from out of town, see if they can stay with you or make sure there are places nearby for them to stay.

Ask what each community allows residents to have in their living spaces. If you like to grill occasionally, make sure that’s not against the rules. You might be surprised at the provisions that could slip by you if you don’t ask and it’s important to know that you’ll be able to live the way you want to in your new community.

How Are Maintenance Issues Handled?

Just like in a conventional apartment complex, you’ll want to know everything in the place is in working order. It’s also great to know that should anything need to be repaired, the maintenance staff can quickly and efficiently fix it.

Many people choose to move to retirement communities because they don’t want to handle the maintenance of their property anymore and like having people available to handle trouble. A lot of the time, maintenance costs are covered in the monthly fee. If only certain costs are covered and others require an additional fee, make sure you know which is which so you can decide whether covering the repairs is worth the cost. If that doesn’t fit into your budget, you’ll probably want to go with a different community where all standard maintenance is included.


This may seem like a minor consideration, but it really isn’t. The day-to-day weather where you live can affect your life more than you realize. Most people prefer a sunny, calm climate when choosing their community. One of the benefits of retirement in California, for example, is the beautiful climate. Waking up to a beautiful day and sunny, mild winters can do a lot to brighten your day and elevate your mood. Some people may prefer the drier climate of the desert or the peaceful calm of the mountains. Be sure you research what the climate is like before locking in a move and that it fits your tastes.

Forest Hill

At Forest Hill, residents enjoy the beautiful California weather along with amenities, activities and a full continuum of care. Our floor plans provide a variety of living arrangements for you to choose from, including everything from studios to two-bedroom apartments. Contact us to learn more about our community and the amenities we offer.

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