Surviving Spouse Corner: Is a 55-and-Older Community Right for You?

Surviving Spouse Corner: Is a 55-and-Older Community Right for You?
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What is a 55-and-older community? These residential communities are designed to be friendly to seniors with low-maintenance amenities such as pools and clubhouses and close proximity to shopping, restaurants, and attractions. There are more than 19,000 retirement community businesses in the U.S. as of 2023, an increase of 1.2% from 2022, according to


[RELATED: MOAA's Digital Retirement Guide]


Pros of living in one of these communities include:

  • Like-minded people. Because of the age requirements, many people living there are likely to be from your generation and share your interests. This will help making new friends easier.

  • Activities and events. Many of these communities have a clubhouse where you can find social events, games, movies, concerts, speakers, and more. These activities are usually open to the whole community, so you can participate in as many as you want.

  • Less maintenance. You’ll probably need to pay an HOA fee for maintenance and repairs, but you won’t need to worry about managing the outside of your property. The fee could also include services such as trash collection, cable, water, and security.

  • Various amenities. Many of these communities have a pool, a gym, tennis courts, golf, a game room, and more.

  • Transportation. Some communities offer shuttles to shopping centers or health appointments.

  • Quiet, kid-free environment. Besides holidays when grandchildren can come to visit, most of these communities are quiet.

  • Safety and security. Many of these communities are gated and have low crime rates. They also often have security staff, well-lit areas, updated fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other safety features.


Having lived in a gated 55-plus community since 2020, I find the only con is that I did not move here sooner. But for some, cons of these communities might include less privacy, higher costs, challenges selling, and younger family members potentially being restricted.


If you’re considering moving to a retirement community, before you buy, make a list of other questions and ask the homeowner association (HOA) for answers. Get a copy of the HOA rules (which are also called restrictive covenants) and fees, and make sure you understand them before you make your decision.


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About the Author

Nora Durham
Nora Durham

Nora Durham is a member of MOAA's Surviving Spouse Advisory Council.