Why Move into an Independent Living Facility?

by Adam Wilson

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It's time to leave the rat race and daily grind behind. You're retiring, and looking forward to the well-deserved golden years ahead. But retirement asks some questions you've never had to answer in the past. Chief among them: 'What do I do now?'

The first Monday without a commute may be even better than you hoped. But by Wednesday you're sick of Law & Order reruns, and you're already wondering what's happening at work. You probably need to dig a little deeper on that first question, and figure out some things about who and where you are, and what you really want from your new-found freedom.

Making the Move to an Independent Living Facility

If a self-assessment leads to the realization that you'd rather not spend the next 30 years on housekeeping and home repairs, moving to a retirement community or independent living facility is worth considering. The house you raised your family in may hold a thousand memories, but if the extra rooms and upkeep are a hassle, downsizing might be liberating.

Maintaining a large home also means higher utility bills and property taxes based on square footage you no longer want or need. Factor in repairs and replacements of windows, the roof, appliances and furniture and you might be looking at $10,000 a year. Staying in your house for another 25 years means you'll spend a quarter million dollars just to keep the lights on, the leaks out and the taxman away.

Saving that money, and banking the profits from the sale of your home could secure your financial footing and allow you to downsize in style.

Why Independent Living Facilities & Communities?

You're healthy, active, energetic and outgoing, mentally sharp, physically able. And OK, 'prime' might be pushing it a bit, but you're ticking along pretty well, and don't see slowing down for a while. The second best reason to research a senior independent living facility is that the entire industry was built to cater to people exactly like you.

If anything with 'retirement housing' in the description still conjures up images of people who lost track of their tennis racquets years ago but do know the balls are on the bottom of their walkers, you should to go to Google and get some real pictures instead. Search for any of the following: senior independent living, retirement community, independent living facility, retirement complex, homes for independent living, independent living communities.

Skip all the photos of tan seniors posed in small groups all grinning at each other. These are models. They won't be your new friends, and no one will have teeth that white. Start instead on any images with buildings in them. You'll almost always end up at the websites of actual facilities, and you'll get a good sense in half an hour of what these communities look like, what they can offer, and who they actually serve.

Benefits of an Independent Living Facility

If you've surfed around a bit, you'll have figured out that most any independent living facility is oriented toward an active lifestyle, and most align themselves with specific sports, or recreational opportunities, or pursuits of the mind. You'll find ski-lodge developments in the Rockies, golf complexes all over the South, facilities for artists and musicians, and condo in the Caribbean for seniors who love to scuba dive.

The third best reason to choose an independent living facility is that you can find one that caters to exactly those things you want to do. Include here any secret ambitions you've always harbored but kept putting off until you had more time. That time is now. As with a college search, find the institutions with the opportunities you want, and figure out which ones you can get into. Thankfully, your SAT scores are no longer a factor. Unfortunately, the size of your savings account still is. So shop some costs on line, and figure out while you're at it whether you want to be on a large campus with 50 extracurricular options, or in a smaller setting with more intimacy and shared camaraderie.

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The fourth best thing about adult independent living is that you're finally all adults. Regardless of setting or size, most communities have lots of social events, special interest clubs and shared recreational activities like group rides for road cyclists or open-mic nights for musicians and fiction writers. The cliques and insecurities of those sorority years don't seem so important anymore. Most residents are comfortable in their own skin, throw fraternity bashes only on theme night, and have 40 extra years of alcohol experience. They are much more fun and much less likely to throw up on you.