Renting in a Retirement Community

More and more seniors are enjoying the ease and amenities of renting a home.

Retirement age for some may start at 55, but as the Baby Boom generation ages, communities designed for 55-plus renters are offering activities and amenities that prove older residents are staying active longer in life.

These communities, which cater to middle- and upper-income residents, are meant for those whose children have left home and who are tired of maintaining a house. While the age requirement may vary, the communities draw adults who are still working, as well as those who are officially retired.

Perks and Prices

In Fort Worth, Texas, MirAvanti at Ridgmar is a 62-plus adult community that offers 100 rental units and social activities that bring residents with common interests together. The complex offers a swimming pool, a putting green, walking trails and an indoor fitness center.

"Most of our people are tired of mowing lawns and taking care of things," says Debbie Bryant, a marketing and sales associate at MirAvanti. "Coming here is part of downsizing. We have a guest suite that residents can use at no charge, so you don't have to spend that extra money for a two-bedroom place for the occasional guest.

"We have a professional chef who comes in to prepare meals on Tuesdays, and people may order meals and have them delivered on other days if they don't want to cook."

Debbie says rents in the adult community range from $1,700 to $3,900 a month, depending on the size of the unit. Floor plans vary from a one-bedroom with office/den up to three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments.

Each month, MirAvanti offers a wine and cheese reception, and schedules activities like tours of the Dallas Arboretum.

"People are moving into independent living and assisted living communities at a much later age than our residents," notes Gina Manire, another sales and marketing associate at MirAvanti. "The average senior who moves into an independent living community with amenities is 80-plus. Our average-age residents are 68 to 71, most without health challenges. Here, they can lock up and go."

Upscale Options

For 55-plus renters who want luxury living, adult communities like The Evergreens at Columbia Town Center in Columbia, Md., offer everything from yoga classes in an on-site fitness center to a greenhouse for residents with green thumbs. The community is located across the street from Nordstrom at Columbia Town Center, a shopping mall, and features a heated outdoor pool and whirlpool spa, business center/library and clubroom with large-screen TV and catering kitchen.

Twenty-four floor plans range from a one-bedroom apartment at $1,350 a month to a two-bedroom with family room, large foyer and balcony for $2,300 a month. Proof of income that is three times the monthly rent is required.

"It's very upscale here," says Linda Ament, leasing manager for the community. "Our residents have sold their homes and planned well for retirement -- or are still working as doctors, lawyers and professionals.

"We throw parties for the residents, like International Night with wine, beer and foods from different countries, or ice cream socials at the pool that we pay for. But the residents put together most of the activities, like organizing the Billiards Club or movie night. People come in at 55-plus and just blend well."

Word-of-Mouth Communities

Not all apartments that cater to older residents call themselves 55-plus communities. In the Los Angeles area, for example, many apartment buildings that have older residents are found by word of mouth.

"I've shown buildings where the minimum age is 70, but they don't advertise it," says Clay Hinrichs, a Realtor with Prudential in Studio City, Calif. "Residents tell friends about them, trying to persuade them to move in when they're ready to downsize. I was showing one woman in her 80s around, and people in her temple were giving her recommendations of buildings."

What Seniors Should Look for in a Rental Home

Clay advises older renters to make sure their apartments are near an elevator and have minimal stairs to climb. Parking should be easily accessible, and it's a plus if a manager is on site to help when needed.

He notes that older renters should determine transportation options before moving in if they don't drive anymore, particularly in terms of getting to grocery stores, social outlets and hospitals.

"Older renters go through the same rental application process as anyone else, but oftentimes the family will help as much as possible," Clay says. "I handled a duplex rental where the son put everything in his name and rented the unit for his mother. The owner lived in one half of the duplex, and his mother lived in the other half. She was 94 when she moved out to assisted living."

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