Downside of 55 and Older Communities
Usually, when you begin researching 55+ communities, you get long sales pitches listing all of the wonderful positive aspects of living in one. And indeed, there are plenty of pluses to moving into a community designed entirely for people in your own current phase of life. What you do not hear much of, though, is an honest assessment of some of the negatives of such a move. So, what might be some of the negatives of living in an age-restricted or a 55+ community? We did some research and surveyed some residents and ex-residents of 55+ communities to get an idea of issues you might experience.
Some Negatives of Over 55 Communities
The homes are too small. Yes, many seniors like the idea of less house to care for, as well as single-story residences (to avoid traversing those pesky staircases). However, if you often have visiting grandchildren, a small living space can seem oppressive with those bundles of energy bouncing off the walls. In addition, if you are less mobile than you used to be, or if you like to stay indoors during colder weather that compact home may feel restrictive after extended periods inside.
Being surrounded by opinions. We all know that our beliefs and thought processes are more ingrained as we get older. In regular neighborhoods or communities, there may be a few irascible characters who you find ways to avoid so that you don't have to hear again that opinion with which you disagree. In a 55+ community, the number of strong opinions and the time to discuss them is higher. If you are one of those people whose blood pressure goes up when you have to listen to someone spout a political view or religious belief that does not coincide with yours, be sure to choose your community carefully.
Being too isolated. Because many retirees are looking for some peace and quiet and pleasant grounds, most 55+ communities are on the outer edges of metropolitan areas. If you enjoy being in the thick of things, seek an active adult community that is specifically aimed at seniors looking for the city life, or one that has a very active calendar of events that take place in nearby metropolitan areas, preferably with provided transportation.
No young people. You would think this is a given, but many people we asked about negatives of 55+ communities told us how surprised they were to miss all the liveliness and activity and background noise provided by neighbors with kids, teens, and active social lives. Even if you don't want to live with young people, some really enjoy living near them. Of course, kids and grandkids do visit, so that may be enough for you.
The dreaded HOA. We have all heard the horror stories of moving into a community with a dictatorial Homeowners Association. However, not always a problem, some homeowners associations can be very restrictive, and some may even be invasive. Community rules and regulations may tell you what kinds of plants or decorations can be in your yard, what color you can paint your home, and so on. It is advisable to read all of the community rules and regulations carefully, and ask questions if they seem vague. If you cannot live with the rules, do not buy into the community.
Other possible negatives that came up in our research included social cliques, paying for amenities you never use, and losing new friends who grow to need more assisted living. If these possible negatives of 55+ plus communities concern you, you might consider a 6-month rental in a 55 and older community you are considering. You may find that the positives far outweigh any negatives that worried you.