You've worked since you weren't much more than a kid and now you are finally nearing the day that you have waited for since you cashed that first paycheck. You are about to retire. No more alarm clocks, no more work--congratulations! Some retirees choose to stay put while others would rather move into retirement communities. If you are considering the latter, here are a few tips for finding a retirement community:
- Define your needs. The term "retirement community" can mean different things to different people. Some envision a vibrant, active neighborhood with plenty of activities, while others prefer a quiet, laid-back, stress-free zone where they can relax and unwind. In order to find the right place for you, you'll need to decide how you picture your everyday life. How would you spend an ideal day? What do you like to do for fun? By making a list of your needs and desires, you will be able to select an ideal environment for your retirement years.
- Talk to your friends. If you have friends or relatives who are living in retirement communities, ask for referrals. Be sure to inquire about what they love about their communities as well as what improvements they would like to see implemented.
- Be a joiner. Sign up for senior activity and social groups in your current neighborhood--some organizations offer opportunities for current socialization as well as having "sister" organizations in other areas. If you decide to make a move, you can use the club's resources to help locate housing and entertainment opportunities elsewhere.
- Go online. Once you have a few ideas about where you would like to live and what things you would like to do, you can do an online search to help find communities that meet your criteria. Simply go to your favorite search engine and type in "retirement community" along with the geographical location, preferred amenities, or both. You can then browse the websites at your leisure to determine which communities best suit your needs.
- Attend fairs and seminars. Many metropolitan areas (and even some small towns) host senior fairs and seminars. Plan to attend as many of these as are available in your area since they often provide a wealth of information regarding issues important to retirees. Typically, representatives from several retirement communities will be in attendance and ready to answer your questions. Ask to tour the facilities that interest you.
- Take a trip. If you are looking to relocate out of your current area, it is wise to schedule a short trip to visit a few of your top choices. While you can get a general feel for an area by browsing brochures and websites, it is better to see for yourself if an unfamiliar retirement community will feel like home to you.
- Plan for the future. Some retirement communities are designed only for healthy, fully independent people, while others are able to accommodate the needs of ailing residents. Try to anticipate your needs, both short and long term, and choose a location that will work for you for a number of years.