Is there a Difference Between an Active Adult Community and an Independent Living Community?

May 03, 2019

If you are an older adult who is both independent and active, you may be wondering what the best choice is for you as you consider your housing options. Perhaps you want to downsize from a larger home. Perhaps you want to surround yourself with other older, yet active, adults. You may be wondering what the difference is between an active adult community and an independent living community. Read on to learn more.

What is an Active Adult Community?

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An active adult community is the perfect choice for someone who is active, can live independently and wants to live in a residential neighborhood that is quiet and peaceful. Living in an active adult community is like living in a typical neighborhood except that the homes and the community are designed for the needs of an older adult, plus it’s more peaceful and quieter than your average neighborhood. Active adult communities are sometimes referred to as retirement communities, 55+ retirement communities, age-qualified or age-restricted communities. An active adult community is often the premier choice for retired adults who are looking to downsize but want to continue to live in a home rather than an apartment.

Individuals who choose an active adult community may be looking for a neighborhood that caters to an older demographic than that of a traditional neighborhood. Most active adult communities don’t have formal age restrictions but, instead, they market to attract people over a certain age, generally 55.

Active adult communities can be age-restricted or age-qualified which means that the age of one of the occupants in the home must fall within certain parameters, often 55 and over. Generally, a younger spouse or significant other is allowed to live in the home, as well, as long as one of the two persons in the home meet the age restrictions. Age-restricted active adult communities generally restrict the home to exclude the younger generations — no grandchildren or adult children under the restricted age are allowed to live in the home. Because children are not permanent residents in the community, but do visit occasionally, the community is quieter and more peaceful than the typical residential community. Some age-restricted communities, by law, have to allow a small percentage of non-age restricted persons to live in the community. This means there may be a small percentage of families who have children in these communities.

Active adult communities are frequently gated and have security that patrols the neighborhood. The homes are generally located on smaller lots, usually with zero-lot-lines. Patio homes, garden homes, townhomes and rowhouses are frequently built on zero-lot-line plots. Active adult communities are often comprised of a mixture of home types, including single family homes, townhomes, condos and apartments. Some active adult communities are made up of entirely mobile homes. Many of the residences have large front porches, patios and/or decks to make outdoor entertaining easy and fun.

Amenities and benefits of living in an active adult community often include:

  • Gated community entrance
  • Security patrols
  • A wide range of recreational, social and educational opportunities which may include activities and amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness center, athletic courts and a clubhouse
  • Calm and peaceful environment
  • Neighbors with whom you are likely to have more in common
  • Homes built and designed with features that are beneficial to the older adult such as ramps, handrails in bathrooms and one-story layouts

Active adult communities focus on making it easy and enjoyable for older adults to live an active lifestyle. Towards that end, they may be located near or have activities and amenities that include:

  • Golf courses
  • Fitness center with fitness classes and exercise machines/equipment
  • Community center/clubhouse
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
  • Athletic courts (basketball, volleyball and tennis)
  • Activity- and hobby-based clubs
  • Walking trails
  • Parks
  • Lifelong learning classes
  • Demonstration kitchens
  • Billiards room

Activities and amenities can vary greatly from location to location.

Homes in an active adult community may be purchased, as well as rented or leased. These communities also may have Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs) which generally have strict rules governing what can and cannot be done within the community.

The monthly cost of living in an active adult community generally includes amenities, activities, HOA fees and home maintenance, as well as, the rental fee or house payment. The monthly fee, however, typically does not include utilities, meals, healthcare or transportation expenses. Some communities have income criteria that a homeowner must meet before they may purchase or rent a home in that specific community.

What is an Independent Living Community?

An independent living community is designed for the needs of an active older adult. It can be the perfect choice for someone who is still able to live on their own but wants the conveniences a senior living community can provide.

An independent living community allows a person to more fully enjoy their retirement by offering various services, benefits and amenities. Accommodations generally include an apartment-style residence that is typically equipped with a small kitchen or kitchenette. The residence can range in size from a studio apartment to a two-bedroom. Other services and amenities may include:

  • Chef-prepared meals served in communal dining areas; custom-designed meal packages are often available
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Household and grounds maintenance
  • Events calendar with daily activities, classes and social events

Since most utilities, services and amenities are included as part of the rent, someone living in an independent living community has fewer bills with which to be concerned.

Lots of social opportunities are planned, covering a wide range of interests, making it possible to stay active while cultivating new interests and making new friends.

With a focus on an active lifestyle, independent living communities strive to support each resident’s physical, mental and emotional well-being; therefore, many of the following benefits and amenities are often available:

  • Fitness center with fitness classes and exercise machines/equipment
  • Swimming pools and whirlpools
  • Community center/clubhouse
  • Basketball, volleyball and tennis courts
  • Scheduled transportation services
  • On-site 24-hour staff/security
  • Pavilions and picnic areas with barbecue grills
  • On-site laundry facility
  • On-site convenience store
  • On-site hair salon

Services and amenities will vary from location to location.

 

Is There a Difference Between an Active Adult Community and an Independent Living Community?

Now that we’ve looked at the two options, we can see that they can be very similar but with subtle differences. Let’s compare them a little more closely.

 

Active Adult
Community

Independent Living Community

Rent, own or lease

 

Rent or purchase. Typically rent, but own and lease may be available. An entrance fee may be required, which can be substantial.
Type of residence

 

Single-family homes, condos, townhomes, apartments and mobile homes. Many types of floor plans are generally available. Typically, apartment-style, although some communities have cottages for their independent living residents. Apartments generally range from studio to one- and two-bedrooms.

 

Cost of utilities Generally billed separately. Included in cost.

 

Home maintenance Some communities include maintenance in the overall cost, some do not. Common area grounds maintenance is included. Included in cost.

 

Meals Residents are responsible for their own meals. Often included in the cost. Meal plans may be available. Meals are served in common dining areas. Kitchens are often available in apartments where a resident can choose to prepare their own to entertain and dine privately.

 

Housekeeping and laundry Residents are responsible for their own housekeeping and laundry. May be included in the price or may require a separate purchase, but generally is available.

 

Neighborhood Typical residential neighborhood. Part of a senior community which may include a cluster of buildings and cottages or single-family homes. Other levels of care may be offered on the campus.

 

Age of people in the community The neighborhood may be age restricted. Only older adults are allowed to live in the community.

 

Transportation Residents are responsible for their own transportation. Some scheduled transportation is available — often routinely scheduled to go to stores and doctor’s/medical appointments.

 

Healthcare None available May be available as part of the larger senior community, especially if higher levels of care are provided.

 

Security measures Often gated with security patrols. Security cameras in common areas such as clubhouse or fitness center. 24-hour security on-site. Limited access with a keypad or manned entrance to the buildings. More common areas contain security cameras.

 

On-site staff None 24/7

 

Swimming pools Generally, yes Often

 

Athletic courts Generally, yes Sometimes

 

Clubhouse or community center Generally, yes Generally, have several areas within the community designated for socialization and rooms available for large private gatherings.

 

Fitness center Generally, yes Generally, yes

 

Golf course Sometimes Not usually

 

Planned activities Resident-led hobby- and interest-based groups. A staff member is on-site and responsible for planning and implementing activities. There may be various resident led hobby- and interest-based groups as well.

 

Walking trails Some communities will have trails. Some communities will have trails.

 

Outdoor areas Some communities have outdoor parks, pavilions and gardens. Gardens, courtyards, gazebos and outdoor sitting areas are often available.

 

HOA (Homeowner’s Association) Generally, yes Not required

 

On-site conveniences like beauty salon and convenience store May be located in the community. Are generally on-site or the services are provided regularly within the community.

 

Community gardens Maybe Maybe

 

Active adult communities are one of the newer senior living options on the market today. This means that they, as well as newer or recently remodeled independent living communities, are more likely to have amenities such as athletic courts and swimming pools. Once again, services and amenities will vary greatly from location to location for both active adult communities and independent living communities.

Active Adult Living in Oklahoma City

Grand Tapestry at Quail Springs is a comfortably priced luxury resort-style community where you can pursue your passions, enjoy your hobbies and explore new adventures. At Grand Tapestry, you’ll live the good life. From our outdoor kitchen equipped with grills, a fire pit and water feature to the theater with reclining lounge chairs to our raised bed garden, we have a social environment you can’t help but love. Grand Tapestry at Quail Springs is conveniently located near a variety of arts and cultural attractions, dining, shopping, recreational activities and entertainment options.

Grand Tapestry has everything you are looking for in an active 55+ community. Our features, amenities and services make us the premier destination for your luxury retirement lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more.

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