NerdWallet: The pros, the cons, and the challenges of buying into a 55+ retirement community

by | Dec 14, 2022 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.  Few people can say that an episode of “Wheel of Fortune” changed the course of their life.

Susan and Mike Pappas were in the midst of planning their retirement, with plans to soon move out of Santa Cruz, California. Settling in to watch “Wheel of Fortune” one night, the couple saw Jimmy Buffett advertising his Latitude Margaritaville retirement communities. Susan was intrigued by how fun it all looked, and how it reminded her of their days traveling around to listen to live music. “Oh my God,” she said to her husband, “doesn’t that look like our lives?” Susan and Mike brought up the Margaritaville-inspired communities with friends, who flew out to the Hilton Head, South Carolina location and fell in love with the island vibe. Their friends purchased a lot that same weekend. They warned Susan and Mike that lots were “selling like hotcakes,” and to decide right away if they were interested. So in May 2021, without having ever visited the state of South Carolina, the Pappases called the office and reserved their spot. “We spent an hour and a half on the phone and changed our lives,” Susan says.What are 55+ communities? “Independent living,” “55+,” “active senior living” — this type of housing goes by many different names, and the list of attractions for seniors like the Pappases is just as long. These communities differentiate themselves from assisted living and other medically focused facilities. Unlike assisted living, residents of over-55 communities may own their homes. They can also join a community of peers at a similar stage of life and, often, enjoy shared amenities like pools, dining and even theaters, as well as clubs or activity groups. Physically demanding responsibilities like yardwork and upkeep of these amenities, meanwhile, are shifted toward homeowners associations. This can be an exciting proposition if you’re considering …

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