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Experiencing the Community: Tips on What to Prepare, Questions to Ask, Things to Look For

Two older people touring 55+ community

Now that you are ready to execute your plan to rightsize, it’s time to get serious about finding the perfect active adult community. Brochures, websites and phone calls, though informative, can only take you so far in your decision-making process. Once you have nailed down your geographical preference, the next important step is setting up tours of your favorite properties. To make the most of the experience, be sure to pack enthusiasm, a positive attitude and a well thought out list of questions.

Questions to Ask on a Senior Community Tour

Dollars and Sense

Make sure you are totally clear about the price of living in the community. You don’t want any hidden, unexpected costs to rear their ugly heads later. What is included in your rent, and what is available for an extra fee?

Is there an extra charge for fitness club classes and other community sponsored activities? Is your deposit refundable? And if so, under what conditions? It is important that you and your new lifestyle are financially compatible.

55+…What Does it Really Mean?

Ask your tour guide to explain the parameters of 55+ restrictions. Are there any rules for overnight visitors, like grandkids, who are clearly under 55? What if you are 55+ but your spouse is not? As you tour the community, make sure their age-related policies are the right fit for your household.

Four Legged Friends?

Will your dogs, and cats be welcome in your new digs? And if so, will there be any special accommodations for them, like doggy parks or events with other pet owners? If the plan is for your furry best friend to be part of your new adventure, make sure your chosen community is pet forward and friendly.

Community Spaces

Your living space includes the entire community, not just your apartment. You might want to find out the last time areas like the fitness center, card room, theater or community kitchen were updated. Do they look pristine and well maintained? How often do those spaces undergo renovations? Are there dedicated public rooms available for private gatherings? At what cost? You are looking for a well-cared for environment that you would be proud to both live in and show off to others.

Home Sweet Home…For How Long?

It would be helpful to study a leasing agreement before the tour to be prepared with any rental questions. Are there options for different lengths of occupancy? Are there any conditions under which you will have to move? If you start off as a single occupant and meet a significant other, can you stay in your apartment? Will the rent increase?  

Activities and Opportunities

Every active adult community features different schedules of activities and educational opportunities. Does this community have a dedicated theater? A kitchen for cooking classes and chef demonstrations? How often do class schedules change? Is there access to your favorite sport, fitness regimen, or area of interest? Will there be special events to welcome newcomers and facilitate your social adjustment? A manicured, well-kept community is important, but you also want one that makes the social, physical and mental wellbeing of its members a top priority.

Those Intangibles

Once you’ve toured the premises, there will be questions to ask yourself. Did the style and personality of the community feel like a good fit? Did you see happy, smiling people who seem to be enjoying their surroundings? Most importantly, did you envision yourself becoming one of them? Or a better question: Do you wish you already lived there?


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