Retirement Communities for Active Seniors

In today’s fast-changing world, retirement is no longer about slowing down but embracing new adventures, social connections, and an active lifestyle. This comprehensive article covers the evolving landscape of active adult communities designed for the 55+ age group who are looking for more than just a quiet place to live. I cover the costs involved and offer insights from experts in the field. Additionally, I list some of the best communities across the U.S. that offer a vibrant, fulfilling life for seniors. Whether you’re considering downsizing, seeking a lively social environment, or prioritizing amenities like fitness centers and walking trails, this guide helps you navigate the myriad options available for an enriching retirement experience.

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Many retirees nowadays are eschewing traditional ideas of quiet days and subdued pursuits. These baby boomers want an active lifestyle and lively social involvement instead. Retirement communities are changing from traditional retirement settings to havens resembling upmarket resorts to satisfy their needs for a lively, fashionable, and carefree lifestyle.

Retirement is a time to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor while removing oneself from the routine. It also represents a chance for active adults to start new hobbies and adventures. Senior living communities have grown more alluring as seniors look for locations that suit their active and gregarious natures.

This article will look at the best active retirement communities for active persons and offer insights into key factors.

What Constitutes an Active Adult Community?

Active adult communities are residential enclaves designed for individuals aged 55 and above who maintain their independence and vitality. Among the housing options in these areas are condominiums, townhomes, single-family homes, and apartments. Residents can either rent or buy property based on the community’s stipulations.

Who Should Contemplate Active Adult Living?

Elderly people who want to downsize their family homes, reduce their daily chores, and mingle with like-minded peers can consider active adult living. It appeals equally to people looking for a community that supports their vibrant, social lifestyle.

Sustaining social connections during early retirement and as one age plays a pivotal role in combating social isolation and cognitive decline. According to Dr. Lisa Gibbs, a clinical professor at UCI School of Medicine, joining an active adult community is a means to cultivate community and connections. These retirement communities, which mostly serve people over 55, frequently offer a calm, private setting.

Cost Considerations within Active Adult Communities

The expense associated with active adult communities spans a wide spectrum contingent on location, amenities, and services offered. While some necessitate a recurring monthly entrance fee, others are available for outright purchase. Before committing, comprehending these costs proves pivotal.

Dr. Lisa Grod, a California-based gerontologist, elucidates that entrance fees for active adult communities range from $50,000 to $400,000. Variables like location, demand, housing dimensions, desirability, and required care levels fuel this variance.

For instance, New York’s continuing care retirement communities might demand an entry fee starting around $115,000, coupled with monthly charges of $2,100 for a singular living unit.

Additionally, select active adult communities might mandate supplementary monthly payments for services encompassing medical care and fitness facility access.

Selecting the Right Active Adult Community: Vital Aspects to Evaluate

A fulfilling aging experience revolves around fostering personal growth and authenticity. Delve into the ensuing factors to streamline your quest for the perfect active adult community:

Community Rules & Regulations

Grasp the active adult retirement community’s unique regulations by engaging with current residents, and comprehending their enforcement. Pet owners must ascertain if their companions are welcome, as some locales might not be pet-inclusive.


Prioritize proximity to family, friends, healthcare facilities, and essential services. Opt for active senior communities near your present locale, while ensuring access to transportation, hospitals, pharmacies, and stores.


Dr. Grod advises examining neighborhood facilities that suit your hobbies and lifestyle requirements. Visit these communities repeatedly, interact with the locals, and obtain first-hand knowledge. The ideal neighborhood should promote health, vigor, and independence, improving your quality of life.

Emerging Trends in Active Adult Retirement Communities

As outlined by PR Newswire, insights from the BBG seniors housing investor survey reveal significant market trends in 2023:

Steady or Expanding Cap Rates: Respondents foresee capitalization rates for senior housing care levels to remain unchanged or increase this year. Active adult and independent living communities are expected to exhibit the least cap rate movement, with active adult care levels showcasing the lowest among surveyed categories. Conversely, skilled nursing and CCRC/LPC are projected to exhibit the highest cap rates. Nearly two-thirds of respondents predict assisted living and memory care properties to expand by at least 25 basis points (bps) this year. Independent living garners the most predictions of decreased cap rates.

Anticipated Rental Rate Growth: Around 90% of surveyed individuals predict a rise in rental prices, with a fairly even distribution of 1 to 5% increases across property categories. Assisted living and memory care show the most significant anticipated growth, ranging from 5 to 10%. Additionally, 15% expect rent to surge by 10% or more this year.

Increasing Operating Expenses and Margin Pressure: Most respondents project seniors’ housing operating expenses to grow by 3% to 5% this year compared to the previous year. The survey highlights that 77% of respondents expect stagnant or reduced margins this year, attributing this trend to higher staffing costs, current inflation, and increased property insurance expenses in prominent senior housing states.

Stabilized Occupancy Leadership: Active adult communities are predicted to lead in stabilized occupancy rates for 2023, while skilled nursing is anticipated to have the lowest rate. CCRC/LPC care levels are projected to exhibit notable variation in stabilized occupancy compared to other care levels.

Demographic Characteristics of Active Adult Communities

As highlighted in another Forbes article, those seeking a tranquil living environment often find 55-plus communities enticing due to their absence of noisy children. Rande Friedman, a senior real estate professional in Tampa, Florida, argues that the deliberate exclusion of children makes these communities unique.

Many communities impose time limits on stays for visitors under 55, a detail noted by Andrew Carle, an adjunct professor of senior living administration at Georgetown University.

Conversely, those favoring diverse surroundings witness the emergence of retirement communities near or on university campuses. Such environments encourage intergenerational connection, a behavior that, according to a study, has significant health advantages for senior citizens. Andrew Carle singles out Mirabella at Arizona State University as a prime illustration. These locations, which frequently have linkages to educational institutions, allow locals to play football, take classes, and socialize with younger people, all of which support neighborhood redevelopment.

Advancements and Digital Solutions in Retirement Communities for Active Adults

In retirement communities for active adults, technology and innovation are becoming increasingly important. Modern home electronics, online exercise plans, and healthcare services are included in this.

Active adult retirement communities can benefit from the resources and know-how of well-known health and wellness organizations like Elevance Health, Inc. (NYSE: ELV), Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC), and AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE: ABC).

As reported by Fierce Healthcare, Elevance Health (NYSE: ELV) engaged the Harris Poll to survey 5,000 adults, gauging their perspectives on virtual primary care. Among those who had utilized virtual primary care previously, a substantial 94% expressed contentment. In addition, the study by Elevance Health (NYSE: ELV) found that 79% of respondents thought virtual primary care was crucial to their better health management.

AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE: ABC), which has launched a $150 million venture fund to help up-and-coming healthcare businesses, is embracing innovation.

Prominent entities like Elevance Health, Inc. (NYSE: ELV), Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC), and AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE: ABC) stand poised to advance technology and innovation in active adult retirement communities, thus contributing to the enrichment of seniors’ lives within these communities.

Distinguishing Retirement Communities from Independent Living Communities

Retirement communities and independent living communities share a target demographic—vibrant seniors aiming to age in their own homes. While neither typically offers on-site medical care, both may extend access to third-party home health services. The crucial distinction lies in the array of lifestyle choices each provides.

Best Retirement Communities

Sun City Lincoln Hills

Expansive Living Amid Nature Encompassing 2,992 acres, Sun City Lincoln Hills stands as a celebrated community with a vast landscape. The main attraction is the Orchard Creek Lodge recreation complex, which has several features resort-style amenities like indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a contemporary fitness center, activity rooms, and a ballroom with entertainment options. The neighborhood offers 27 miles of fitness paths that wind through rolling hills, wetlands, creeks, and open spaces for individuals who value an active lifestyle.

Sun City Shadow Hills

Vibrant Oasis in Coachella Valley Nestled in Coachella Valley, California, Sun City Shadow Hills offers an active living experience, merely 30 minutes away from Palm Springs. The gated community boasts diverse amenities, catering to entertainment needs and securing a prominent spot in active community rankings.

A plethora of shopping and cultural venues thrive in the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Area. Among its offerings are golf, tennis, pickleball, bocce, fitness centers, pools, and a library.

Tellico Village

Premier Retirement Haven in the Tennessee Foothills Nestled in the Tennessee Foothills by Tellico Lake, Tellico Village is a distinguished senior planned retirement community sprawled over 4,800 acres.

Since its establishment in 1987, it has graced residents with a mild four-season climate, natural allure, and world-class recreational facilities encompassing boating, fishing, and swimming. You can find private championship golf courses here. There are also state-of-the-art medical facilities, and vibrant shopping areas in the area.

Northern California

Northern California, which is close to Napa, Tahoe, and the Bay Area, stands out as an ideal retirement refuge. With its clubhouse, spa-equipped pool, fitness center, yoga deck, and recreational courts, this area provides an enriching way of life. A spectrum of low-maintenance single-family homes caters to diverse needs.

The community’s outdoor amenities and walking paths further improve the experience. For seniors looking for leisure, adventure, and a lively community, Northern California’s combination of natural beauty and contemporary conveniences provides the perfect setting. This location perfectly captures the concept of fulfilling retirement living by embracing both leisure and action.

Huntley, Sun City

Sun City Huntley is a massive 2,200-acre active retirement community located in Huntley, Illinois. More suitable for retirees on a tight budget, the area contains roughly 5,500 homes with prices ranging from the mid-$100,000s to the high-$500,000s.

Another nice benefit is that Chicago is close by. A 94,000-square-foot clubhouse with 80 clubs and numerous amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, dog parks, recreation centers, shopping centers, and more are also present in the community.

Lake Providence: Gateway to Gated

Living near Nashville Nestled in proximity to Nashville, TN, Lake Providence unveils a gated community boasting 1,000+ homes spanning prices from mid-$200,000s to high-$500,000s. The heart of the community resides in its centrally positioned clubhouse, affording captivating vistas of the 15-acre lake.

A dedicated in-house lifestyle director curates an array of community and personal events, fostering social connectivity among residents. Beyond community amenities, a wealth of local historic attractions beckons, enticing residents to explore beyond the community’s boundaries.

Woods Village in Aguna

For retirees looking to live the SoCal lifestyle, Laguna Woods Village in Orange County is a top choice. This tranquil neighborhood, home to nearly 18,500 people, is close to the seaside.

Over 80 distinct floor plans with a price range from the mid-$100,000s to over $1 million are available. In addition to being a gated community, Laguna Woods Village provides its members with a private transportation service, 36 holes of championship golf, and amenities for social gatherings, swimming, gaming, and more.

Hilton Head’s Sun City

The largest active retirement community for seniors in the Lowcountry is Sun City Hilton Head, which is a member of the Del Webb collection. It has more than 8,200 homes priced between the mid-$100,000s and over $1 million, has over 16,000 residents, and has won numerous honors for being the greatest active living community.

The community’s amenities complex contains places to eat, swim, play sports, and socialize in addition to 7.5 miles of walking trails that offer views of the nearby wetlands. Three fitness centers are also located in the neighborhood.

Summerlin’s Sun City

Just under 7,800 homes are available at Sun City Summerlin in Las Vegas, with prices ranging from the reasonably priced mid-$200,000s to more than $1 million for bespoke options.

The focus of Sun City Summerlin’s popularity, which has four clubhouses, is the neighborhood. To suit the tastes of the residents, upscale amenities and a range of activities, including resort-style dining, swimming pools, and gaming areas, are provided.

The Villages

The Villages, a huge age-restricted retirement community in central Florida that serves seniors 55 and over, is one of the largest in the country

With over 60,000 units and over 115,000 inhabitants, it’s renowned as Florida’s friendliest active adult community and creates a town-like environment just for retirees. The sizes and layouts of the available properties vary, and they range in price from around $160,000 to over $1 million.

Choosing the Perfect Active Adult Community: Key Considerations

With retirement communities and independent living options gaining popularity nationwide, the choices for active adult living are expanding. As many seniors plan to reside in these communities for extended periods, it’s essential to contemplate these factors when selecting the right fit for you or a loved one. Today most communities today have more than one active senior living community.

Prioritize Essential Amenities: Identify what makes you flourish. For green thumbs, seek spaces with ample yards for gardening. Golf enthusiasts should explore communities with courses or connections to local clubs. The possibilities are diverse and abundant!

Evaluate Healthcare Proximity: Given that medical services aren’t typically provided on-site, assess nearby healthcare providers, specialists, doctors, and home care services. Ensuring accessible healthcare options guarantees peace of mind for potential future needs.

Envision Your Ideal Future: Retirement marks a chapter for exploration. Picture your aging journey: residing in a beachfront haven, a meticulously groomed suburb, or a vibrant urban hub? With the wide range of community offerings nationwide, envisioning your perfect senior living scenario is within reach.

Final Thoughts

The best retirement communities essentially provide seniors looking for an enriching post-retirement life with the ideal balance of comfort, care, and community. To ensure a comfortable lifestyle, these communities offer first-rate amenities, medical care, and exciting activities. In the end, the best retirement communities establish havens where people may enjoy their golden years with joy, dignity, and a strong sense of community.