Senior Living: 55 Years Old and Movin’ On Up

Senior living is all about community.
Senior living is all about community. Photo credit:

Many people planning to retire evaluate their present housing situation: is the home too big, are taxes too high, is it too time consuming and/or costly to maintain, or, is it just fine?

When it’s clear that it’s time for a change, choices including moving out of state are generally considered. But if you’ve made the decision to stay on Long Island, for at least part of the year to be near family members, then buying a smaller home, or moving to a condominium or co-op becomes a possibility.

While some people prefer to move to an open (non-age restricted) community, many people like the idea of 55 and better developments and the result is that they are becoming increasingly popular. Many of these communities have been around for several decades, while others have come along in the past ten years. Riverhead is one city that has seen significant growth but they’ve been popping up in other areas including eastern Long Island where taxes tend to be lower then they are further west.

Once the decision to choose a 55 or better community is made, the search begins. As with any move, most people are interested in the building’s soundness, floor plan, room size, kitchen, closet space, outside appearance and other features that are important to them including a water view, tennis court, pool and so on.

There are certainly many upsides to living in a community, beginning with being freed of the responsibly for lawn work and making repairs to the outside structure.

To some, the activities are important, and usually dances and games of every type, from bridge to poker are not uncommon. Craft clubs, book clubs, exercises classes and even taking trips are the norm. There’s even a club in a Florida 55 community called “Women Who Wine” where members test different wines at their meetings and take a four day cruise each year.

And to enjoy the activities, people need only walk or take a short drive to the clubhouse, to see a movie, attend a party or listen to a guest speaker.

Of course, the choice to participate in most, some or none of the activities is completely up to you.

Another generally appealing feature is people have a shared history. They remember when Kennedy and Johnson were in the White House and when going to the moon was just a dream.

There are also other benefits, such as a spirit of support when a neighbor has been ill or had to say good-bye to a loved one.

Some communities get involved in helping charitable causes, including collecting for food pantries and accepting donations of bedding, clothing and everything in between for local veteran’s organizations, etc.

And if you need to check where to buy this, or what physician to see for that, you’ll find that your neighbors are valuable resources.

While there are always a few downsides such as some developments that restrict the number of pets and even certain types of vehicles; this would appeal to some people too.

Then there are the house rules and maintenance fees.

No longer living autonomously, you become part of a group and must abide by the rules because they’re unlikely to change unless a significant number of people object. And if a nearby neighbor becomes difficult, let’s face it; that can happen if you live anywhere.

As to expenses, from the grounds to the roofs, to the administration of the operation, they pass to the residents, so it is essential to review the budget and determine what the reserve fund looks like.

A thorough look at the development to determine if it appears to be well maintained and the opportunity to chat with a resident can’t hurt either.

Long Island has many “55s” with a wide variety of amenities. Saddle Lake in Riverhead has an authentic movie theater and an indoor pool, while the marina, tennis courts and Happy Hour at the Waterways in Moriches are also great features.

Finding the right place begins by choosing a general area, asking friends and reading the newspapers. The Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, is an excellent resource too and when you’re ready, absolutely hire a licensed real estate salesperson to help you in this process.

Finally, don’t forget once you move in, when it snows, your staff will take care of that for you!

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