Senior Apartments: 55 & Up Independent Living Communities

Key Takeaways

  • Senior apartments cater to those aged 55+, offering a blend of independence and community living.
  • Many senior apartments have age restrictions, ensuring a quieter and age-appropriate environment.
  • Location is crucial; proximity to healthcare facilities, shopping centers, and public transportation can be beneficial.
  • Common amenities include housekeeping, fitness centers, and on-site dining.
  • Benefits encompass maintenance-free living, tailored safety features, and social opportunities.
  • Monthly costs average between $2,500 to $3,000, with payment options like private funds, Medicaid, and Medicare
  • It’s essential to inquire about additional fees, such as utilities or parking, to understand the total cost.

For seniors who are looking to maintain an independent lifestyle within a safe and secure environment that puts their needs first, a senior apartment can be a smart choice.

This type of senior housing can be a great option for seniors who are looking to stay active and social in their senior years, surrounded by other seniors to share in social activities.

Senior apartments also come in a range of affordable options, with available apartments ranging from low-income communities to luxurious resort-style condos.

What Are Senior Apartments?

Senior apartments are a type of senior housing that have been designed and laid out with the unique needs of seniors in mind.

They are similar to independent living communities, but within senior apartments residents live in apartments or condo-style homes as opposed to small houses.

These types of communities may also feature less amenities than independent living communities, because the property is smaller in general and may have less outdoor space.

Senior Apartment FAQs

The price of low-income senior apartments will range in each state, but can be as low as $500 to $1,000 for some seniors.

How much a low-income senior ends up paying for their apartment depends on what kind of assistance they are approved for, and for what amounts, based on their income.

The cheapest senior apartments can be found in Florida, where there is a low cost of living and high number of retirees at all times. Other states with affordable housing are Alabama and Tennessee.

Florida is a state with no state income tax, which can save seniors a lot of money in both the short term and long term.

On the other hand, New York is the state with the most expensive senior living options.

Every senior apartment will have its own individual pet policy in place, but most of them recognize how important pets can be to seniors and are pet friendly to an extent.

For instance, a senior apartment may be pet friendly but have a limit on the number of pets, type of animal and breed, or size of the pets.

Yes, there are LGBTQ friendly apartments for older adults around the United States, with more of them opening up for renters all the time.

These types of senior apartments are often also targeted toward low-income seniors, but there are also LGBTQ friendly senior apartments that are considered luxury and market rate as well.

The type of security offered will vary at each senior apartment, but it is possible to find senior apartments with camera systems and additional security in common areas.

This is a service that you are more likely to find in luxury senior apartments as opposed to low-income senior apartments.

Who Lives in Senior Apartments?

Senior apartments are typically home to at least one individual over the age of 55, but this does not mean that seniors must live alone in their apartments.

It is not uncommon for married senior couples to occupy senior apartments together, or for an adult child of a senior to live with them and act as their aide or caregiver.

Seniors & Senior Spouses

In some cases, the spouses or children of a senior may live with them in their senior apartment, even if they do not meet the minimum age requirements themselves.

In the event that a senior has their spouse or adult child living with them in their apartment, at least one person in the residence must meet the minimum age requirement for the community.

However, this is rare. Most senior apartment communities have regulations in place that require all occupants to be ages 55 and above.

Visitation Rules for Family

Senior apartments may have visitation rules in place for family members, especially since seniors were hit particularly hard during the Covid-19 pandemic. Visitation policies may vary from one apartment community to the next.

Examples of senior apartment visitation rules include:

  • Limiting the number of loved ones who can visit at one time
  • Following any mask policies in place
  • Being required to call ahead before visiting
  • Potentially limiting visitation from children

How Do You Qualify for Senior Apartments?

In order to qualify for most senior apartment communities, you have to be at least 55 years of age or older. For some communities, you must be at least 62 years of age.

You will also need to be able to prove that you have the funds available to pay for your senior apartment, whether this means copies of your banking information or proof of income sources.

Some senior apartment property managers or landlords may be more strict than others, especially when it comes to minimum age requirements.

Types of Senior Living Apartments

There are multiple types of senior apartments available, no matter your income level or financial situation.

Further, senior apartments typically come in both one-bedroom and two-bedroom options. The second bedroom can be occupied by a caregiver, adult child, or another senior.

Low-Income Senior Apartments

Low-income senior apartments are meant to be affordable and may have more limited options on amenities and extras.

These apartments are offered to seniors at rates that are below the market rate, but seniors must be within a certain income threshold in order to be eligible for these special rates.

You can also expect low-income apartments to be on the smaller side, and they may only come in one-bedroom or studio apartment options.

Market Rate Senior Apartments

Market rate senior apartments are not income-restricted, with apartment rent based on local markets and various other factors.

The average monthly rate for a senior apartment in the United States is between $2,500 and $3,000 currently, but is expected to rise steadily in the coming years.

Luxury Senior Apartments

Luxury senior apartments offer an abundance of amenities in resort-style locations, and can often cost upwards of $10,000 a month.

The apartments themselves in these communities are usually also quite a bit larger in size, reaching over 2,000 sq.ft in some instances.

What Amenities Are Offered in Senior Apartments?

Amenities in senior apartments can range from basic necessities like housekeeping and laundry services, to more exotic luxuries like spas and salons.

The amount and type of amenities offered can be a reflection of the pricing of the community, as more extraordinary amenities tend to come in luxury senior apartments.

Amenities offered in senior apartments can include:

  • Housekeeping services
  • Laundry services
  • Community pool
  • Fitness center
  • Fitness classes
  • Salons or spas
  • Community clubhouse for events and parties
  • On-site dining options or restaurants
  • Transportation services
  • On-site pharmacy or convenience store

Top 7 Benefits of Senior Apartments

There are many benefits to senior apartments housing. A few of the largest benefits of senior apartments are highlighted below.

1. No Home Repairs or Maintenance

A senior apartment usually has no yard to maintain or home repairs to worry about.

Any public outdoor areas will be maintained by the property company, and they are also responsible for any repairs and upkeep the apartment needs as well.

2. Senior Safety Focus

Senior apartments are focused on senior safety, so you will find a variety of safety features and home modifications designed to give seniors peace of mind.

Senior safety features can include single-floor apartments, elevators in buildings, ramps at entrances, grab bars in bathrooms, and walk-in bathtubs.

3. Senior Apartments are Often Low Cost

Senior apartments are considered to be one of the more affordable options for senior housing, while still providing numerous amenities and conveniences.

These communities are able to keep their pricing low by keeping properties small and manageable and offering fewer extras as well as no medical services.

4. Access to On-Site Dining Options

It is common for senior apartments to offer on-site dining options, in addition to each apartment having its own basic kitchen.

Seniors then have the option to either cook for themselves or head out for food close by where they can also socialize and gather with neighbors.

5. Social Activities

One of the greatest benefits of senior apartments is that you are always around other seniors, many of whom share your interests and lifestyle.

Senior communities frequently host events to get seniors up and out of the house, and you can spend as little or as much time socializing as you want.

6. Senior Neighbors & Community

Senior apartments usually have a minimum age requirement, which is usually either 55 or 62 depending on the location and facility.

This means that you will never have to worry about loud children, teenagers, or big families in your neighborhood.

7. Secure Living Option

Senior apartments provide a secure living option for potentially many years to come, including for the distant future and end-of-life planning.

Seniors are required to be healthy and of sound mind when entering a senior apartment, which gives them control over decisions like selling their home, securing their will and finances, and where they will end up when they require more care.

Senior Apartments vs. Other Types of Senior Living

Senior apartments are a great option for elders who are healthy and want to maintain some autonomy, but certain seniors may be more comfortable in other types of senior living.

Senior apartments also tend to be a more affordable housing option for seniors, because most seniors in this type of housing don’t need assistive or medical care.

Senior Living Apartments vs. Assisted Living

The main difference between senior apartments and assisted living facilities is in the level of care that is provided.

At senior apartments, residents are expected to be somewhat independent and not need any medical services or personal care services. Residents who do need these services must get them in-home as a personal cost.

Assisted living facilities, on the other hand, usually do not offer medical services or only very basic medical services, but do offer personal care and assistance with activities of daily living (ADL).

Senior Apartments vs. Nursing Homes

In contrast to senior apartments, skilled nursing facilities offer highly skilled medical and nursing care for seniors with chronic medical conditions. They also provide assistive services for seniors who can no longer perform ADLs.

Cost of Senior Apartments

Senior one-bedroom apartments can be as low as $400 a month to as high as $10,000 a month, with an average cost around $2,500 to $3,000 per month.

This can be a lot of money to a senior, no matter where you lie in that range, as seniors often have limited means of income or no income.

Ways to Pay for Senior Apartments

Fortunately, senior apartments can be paid for in a variety of ways, with many people utilizing multiple payment options at once.

Ways to pay for senior apartments include:

  • Private funds — the majority of senior apartment costs is typically paid for through private funds and personal savings.
  • Medicaid and Medicare — state-funded health care insurance cannot cover room and board costs, but can help pay for in-home care during a stay in senior apartments.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – available for people with disabilities who also have limited or no incomes, or to people over 65 with no disabilities but who meet certain eligibility requirements.
  • Pensions — regular payments from a person’s retirement investment accounts can be used towards senior living expenses.
  • Life Insurance — life insurance can either be sold to help fund senior living or some policies allow elders to use up to 50% of their life insurance funds while still alive.
  • Home Equity — seniors who are homeowners can use their home’s equity to take out a loan to help pay for senior living costs.
  • Veteran’s Benefits — seniors who are veterans may be eligible to use health care or disability benefits for in-home care.

Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cover Senior Apartments?

No, long-term care insurance does not cover senior apartments, as these are considered rent or mortgage payments, not expenses that are medically necessary.

People can, however, use long-term care insurance and other types of insurance to cover the costs of any in-home care or nursing that they have while living in a senior apartment.

Resources for Affordable Senior Apartment Options

Numerous organizations around the United States help bring affordable housing options to seniors and others in need.

Resources for affordable senior apartment options include:

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — provides a variety of housing resources for seniors with low incomes, including Housing Choice Vouchers and reverse mortgages for seniors.
  • Good Samaritan Society — offers independent living facilities, as well as assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, that are rent-controlled. Also offers other types of financial assistance.
  • HumanGood — a nonprofit organization that operates over 100 senior living communities across the United States, and works with people of all income levels.
  • Mercy Housing — works with seniors over the age of 65, people with disabilities, and people who were formerly homeless to find affordable housing.
  • Volunteers of America — provides affordable housing to seniors in the low- to moderate income levels in over 42 states.

Renting vs. Buying Senior Apartments

When considering a senior apartment, people have a choice between renting or buying, though the majority of seniors do rent their homes.

Renting Through Apartment Management Companies

With some senior apartments, you can rent directly through an apartment management company or landlord.

In addition, many senior apartment companies will consolidate rent with certain utilities to make monthly finances a bit more simple for busy seniors.

Buying From Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are great options for seniors who are currently independent, but who are planning ahead for when they may not be.

Seniors must be healthy in order to buy in one of these communities, but once a member, they will be able to advance through all levels of care as needed up until skilled nursing care.

What to Look for in Senior Apartments

Choosing the right senior apartment can make all the difference in your long-term happiness and comfort.

Here are some qualities you should look for in senior apartments.

Listing Through an SRES

SRES stands for Seniors Real Estate Specialist, a special type of realtor who specializes in issues faced by seniors, including retirement and selling family homes.

Any apartment, townhome, or home listed under an SRES is guaranteed to have a certain level of quality and also possess qualities geared toward seniors.

Positive Reviews

Always carefully read and consider the reviews and testimonials for any senior apartment that you are thinking about, and talk to any current residents in person if you can.

Additionally, ask any friends or family members who have stayed in senior apartments if they have any facilities they would recommend.

Security Systems & Safety Features

Safety and security are of the utmost importance to any senior as they begin a new stage of life, especially in an unfamiliar place.

Look for a senior apartment that has a floor plan that makes sense to you and your lifestyle or any disabilities or mobility issues you have. You may be independent but you still want to avoid accidents at all costs.

Also, try to find a community that has security features in place, whether this means a gated entrance, cameras in public areas, or a 24/7 emergency helpline.

Tips for Choosing a Senior Apartment

Choosing a senior apartment is an important decision, especially if you expect it to be your home for several years and through various stages of life.

Tips for choosing a senior apartment include:

  • Consider the location: Is it close to loved ones or family members? Is it close to your doctor or other places you visit frequently?
  • Examine the pricing: Does the location offer everything you need or will you end up spending more to get services outside of the complex?
  • Keep safety top of mind: Is the apartment laid out to be accessible and to prevent slips and falls and other types of accidents?
  • Consider the amenities: Do the amenities offered give you added convenience or save you either time or money?
  • Weigh the potential: Is the community a place you can see yourself spending many years of your life? Do the activities provided and other residents give you a sense of community?

Questions to Ask When Considering Senior Apartments

Visit all senior apartments that you are interested in and meet with as many staff members as possible from different levels.

Prepare a list of questions to ask in advance so you don’t forget anything during your tour or meeting.

Questions to ask senior apartment facilities include:

  • What is included in my monthly rental fee?
  • Can I bring my pets with me to my apartment?
  • Can I use in-home personal care or medical care if I need to?
  • What shops are located within the community and nearby?
  • Do you charge an entrance fee?
  • How long is my lease in the community?
  • What can I do in the case of an emergency?

How to Prepare for Moving to a Senior Apartment

Moving to a new apartment can be an intimidating task, especially if you need to sell a lot of your possessions or have limited mobility.

By taking a few simple steps you can ensure that the process of moving goes smoothly and efficiently.

Here is a step-by-step process for moving to a senior apartment community:

  1. Start early. As soon as you know you are moving you can start preparing.
  2. Downsize your belongings in advance so you aren’t rushing to do so right before you move.
  3. Pack deliberately so you know where everything is and where everything goes.
  4. Understand what is expected of you on move-in day, so you are ready and not surprised by any hidden costs or paperwork.
  5. Ask friends or family members to help you move, or hire professional help to make the process even smoother.
  6. Prepare emotionally for your move, especially if you are selling your former home or have a lot of memories there.
  7. Meet your neighbors as soon as possible after you move in, as you will likely be seeing them a lot and even spending time with them.
  8. Enjoy yourself — remember, you are moving to a senior apartment to enjoy your independence and be social with other seniors.

Can You Leave a Senior Apartment if Your Health Declines?

Yes, you can leave a senior apartment if you are no longer as independent as you once were and need additional care or medical services.

Depending on whether you have a lease, and how dire your need for medical care is, you may have to break your contract early.

If you have purchased a home within a retirement community, you may have to wait for the sale of your home before you have the funds to enter an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

You always have the option to access in-home care as well, if your health declines while in your apartment but you do not feel ready to move to a more intensive facility.

Find Senior Apartments Near You

If you are thinking about moving yourself or a loved one to senior apartments or another type of independent living arrangement, you have a lot to consider.

Reach out to us if you have questions about senior living homes and to learn how to find one in your area for yourself or a loved one. In the meantime, you can browse our directory of senior living facilities.

You deserve to enjoy these years to the fullest around like-minded seniors. Explore your options for the perfect senior housing apartment today.

Written by: Aging with Care Editorial Staff

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