Many people getting ready to retire are wondering what affordable retirement communities options are available. Today it is becoming common to see homes in new residential 55+ communities starting over $300's. A community with a starting price of $299,990 may quickly become $325,990, especially since the lower priced homes get sold the fastest.
If you can't afford today's higher prices, you can lower your expectations by choosing a smaller home. For example, maybe you wanted a 1600 SF home but now can only afford a 1200 SF home. Consider that as you age the smaller home may be preferred and not such a bad choice after all.
This is not a discussion of low income retirement communities or affordable housing. You can find those listings on our Senior Low Income Housing page. This is about affordability. What you can or cannot afford.
We would like to point out that many large first-class communities by major builders have many price range options and floor plan sizes within the same community.
If you can go with a smaller square footage single-family home, villa, co-op or condominium in a large retirement community, while the other homes are more expensive, you can greatly decrease your costs and also have access to the same amenities as larger and more expensive homes within the community.
Further Options within the community to decrease your costs:
There are areas of the country that are more affordable areas than others. Consider states like Texas, Florida, Arizona, the Carolina's, Tennessee and many states in the Midwest. Check with Realtor.org to see the affordability index of an area.
Check the area you are interested in on this website for more site-built homes in communities with affordable pricing.
Del Webb's Sun City Communities are an economical choice with luxury amenities. Here are some other Del Webb lower-priced communities:
1. Texas: Del Webb Sweetgrass - Houston area - See local Realtors for resales - 2-bedroom, 2-bath homes in a large community with clubhouse, pools, spa, lakes, tennis and more.
2. Georgia: Sun City Peachtree - One of the better choices since prices start in the mid-$200's for a small square footage plan (around 1200+ SF) and the community has an excellent array of amenities and social activities. In Griffin about 40 miles south of Atlanta.
3. Florida: Del Webb Stone Creek - Located in Central Florida in Ocala, a city known for being horse country. Prices start in upper $200's for a 2-bedroom, 2 bath ranch home in this gated 55+ community. Outstanding amenities include golf, tennis, pools, clubhouse, social activities, recreation and more.
4. Indiana: Vandalia - New community in Plainfield - small square footage plans start in upper $200's.
Note: Many people are looking for affordable retirement communities with a smaller home size so they can downsize. The demand is high for these homes and supply has decreased in recent years.
(Please keep in mind that larger sq. footage homes are also available at these communities but at higher prices.) Verify prices as they can change.
In a co-op arrangement, you own a share in a corporation that owns the buildings and the corporation pays for many items such as electric, heating, appliances, etc.
In my co-op for instance, if the refrigerator breaks down, it is repaired or replaced without charge. This is a great cost savings to you. Check with the individual community to see what items are covered. Items are included in homeowners fee. See our article on co-ops for more information.
Leisure World communities are a good example; most have a huge co-op section comprised of co-op apartments, town homes and duplex homes. You can find studios and one-bedroom apartments. We recently found 1-bedroom resale co-ops in the Leisure World Maryland community priced in the $100,000 range (see local Realtors for pricing).
Manufactured homes are becoming very popular especially as prices for site-built homes continue to increase. They are more affordable retirement communities. There is a cost savings from 20 to 50% over site-built homes.
You can find communities where you purchase just the home and the land is leased. These are called land-leased communities.
is an advantage to land-lease because you don't have to pay for the
lot. However, there is a monthly lease fee on the land. Seek advice
from local Realtors.
Manufactured homes dealers in an area know what affordable retirement communities are available in their area.
Many manufactured communities go from the $40's up to $190's. It becomes even more affordable for you when you lease your lot.
You don't have the large layout of money for the land. You can find
resale homes as low as $20,000 and then add the monthly lot lease to
that. Be sure to inspect the lower priced homes thoroughly.
RV park model communities (under 400 SF) are becoming very popular for snowbirds or permanent living. They are now referred to as "tiny homes." Most people pay all cash for the home since older homes may not be able to be mortgaged and then they only have the monthly lot lease fee (there may be other fees). This is a very affordable way to go.
Modular homes are more affordable than site-built but more expensive than manufactured, generally. If you want a very large home, building a modular home may be a good choice because adding rooms on to the basic home can be done for little more cost.
Older mobiles can be very affordable but if they are in vulnerable areas with earthquakes or hurricanes make sure they are up to current code.
When you combine a low-cost area with a manufactured homes community, you have a real winner especially see manufactured communities in Florida or central Florida. Also see mobile home communities.
Mobile home communities for adults over 55 are often neat and quiet and many in prime locations established when land was cheaper than today. Some of these are leased land where you pay monthly rent and some are resident-owned parks where you own your land.
Mobile Homes is a term for older mobiles built before 1976. The newer ones are now called manufactured homes. See our mobile homes section to find a community in your selected area. Most communities are a mix of mobile and manufactured homes.
(Be aware lot leased communities can be sold out and you would be required to move at sometimes great expense, therefore, ask the owners about this when you select a community.)
55+ rental communities are numerous in number and in many price ranges depending on area and amenities. Some can be very affordable. These are designated senior low income housing, as opposed to market rate, and you need to meet certain income requirements.
Pricing is determined by the median price of homes in the area. The more expensive the area, the higher the income limit.
The rent can be priced under market for low-cost housing, also known as affordable housing. There are usually wait lists for these communities. Seek help from your county's Office on Aging to find them and ask for lists for seniors.
Other rentals are at market rent rates and priced at what the market will bear. You have no mortgage, taxes, etc. or large outlay of cash. Some states or areas have better market rates than others.
See if there is a month-to-month lease so that if your income drops and you can't afford the rent, you can easily move.
Apartments are nice because you can move around and see more in retirement. Rents can be raised annually.
See also numerous Christian retirement communities--some of these are very focused on the individual and affordable and open to all persons. There are other numerous religious-based communities such as Jewish and other religions that give excellent care, are affordable and open to all persons. Most are month-to-month rental communities, may be non-profit, and many include some assistance available.
If you have an RV you can purchase a space which makes an investment for you as well as giving you a permanent home and using your RV.
You can also rent spaces in RV parks on an annual basis giving a less transient feeling.
Of course, RV spaces can be rented by day, week or month as well so that you can use them as an affordable "second home" to get away from winter weather.
You may tire of this type of life but living in an RV will allow you to explore many areas for a permanent home.
Find RV Communities
In the current market condominiums are selling well and often at premium prices. However, you still may be able to find a resale at an affordable price. Check with Realtors and By Owners.
Re: Foreclosures and short sales: Please check with your Realtor for requirements to purchase them. They are not all listed on the MLS. Check with local lenders. They are often purchased by investors. Be aware that condition can be poor.
Update: The number of foreclosures available has declined substantially in the current sellers market.
There are many wonderful affordable options at retirement communities available. Combine this with low interest rates and you should be able to find a good value. Many seniors want to find properties where they can pay all cash and these affordably-priced properties are the ones to look for.
have listed many on this website. We hope this guide will help you in
your search. Seek local Realtors for advice.
Update: Home prices have increased in recent years. If you find you do not qualify for the higher-priced new homes in a community, look for resale homes and motivated sellers. You can find these with a local Realtor. Older homes may not have as many newer "gadgets" but may have a lower price. Check it out.
Gaining in popularity as more states are allowing Accessible Dwelling Units (ADU) to be built. This is due to shortage of housing especially for seniors. For more explanation, see our article "ADU for seniors."
Low Income Housing (income limits apply)
Article: Affordable Housing Questions Answered