Retirement Community Costs: How Much?

Written by: John Milford. Posted: September 24, 2013. 


At the outset, the greatest barrier to moving into a retirement community can be the cost.

Therefore, most homeowners and renters find it attractive to age in place at home in the community where friends and services are nearby. However, the cost of remaining at home can become very high in the later stages compared to some of the alternatives.

This article quantifies typical costs of different retirement community types. Costs are for the San Francisco Bay Area in the USA in 2013-2014.


Senior Rentals

Upscale rentals may offer social amenities such as shopping trips or trips to cultural venues courtesy of a scheduled transportation service. Residents can join friends for lunch in the dining room, or relax in the privacy of their apartment. Weekly housekeeping and maintenance services are usually included.

Newer buildings for adults ‘50+’ are fairly expensive at market rates, and many of the more attractive services and amenities are charged on an ‘a la carte’ basis or arranged through a concierge 

  • Price: $4k-$6k+/mo., plus amenities.
  • Plus $3k - $8k+ 'Community Fee’ may apply at entry            


 Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

               CCRCs are especially attractive to seniors making decisions for their long-term care future. They allow seniors to convert home equity or other assets into housing and to receive daily living services and health care in a way that keeps monthly expenditures more stable.

CCRCs offer consumers a variety of service packages and entrance-fee options including a combination of independent living apartments and/or cottages and nursing care, assisted living, memory support care, and other long term care arrangements.

Economic benefits of CCRCs include the following:  

  • Payment plans may utilize home equity to help keep monthly expenses at a lower level and may offer repayment of a portion of the entrance fees.
  • Possible income-tax deductions in the form of a medical expense deduction for certain fees paid to the CCRC; and, most importantly,
  • Protection against the loss of accommodations and services if the resident exhausts his or her funds.

            In response to the changing financial preferences of seniors, residents have their choice of several entrance-fee alternatives—from the traditional entrance-fee refund, which usually fully amortizes in 4 to 6 years, to refundable option plans ranging from 50% to 100%.

Refunds may be conditioned upon re-occupancy of the resident’s vacated apartment or may be repaid within a fixed period of time after the resident vacates the apartment.

  • Entry Price: $120k - $3M+ Non-refundable after 60 month amortization, or partially repayable (50% - 100% upon re occupancy of unit or other specified time.
  • Monthly Fees: $3.5k to $10k+


Staying at Home – Beware Home Health Expenses

After paying the usual costs of owning and living in a home, expenses can be managed by joining a local Village organization. But covering the cost of long-term home - and then institutional care after leaving home - will be the chief challenge to those who chose to age in place.

  • Property Taxes and Insurance ($5k - $15k per year)
  • Home Maintenance and Cleaning (Homeowner Association Fees) ($6k – $10k+)
  • Utilities ($2400+ per year)
  • Meals, Transportation and Other Daily Needs – As Usual

NOTE: Home Health Care & Caregiver Costs   $0. – $216k+ per year


Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing

Long term care outside the home may entail a move to an Assisted Living center (help with daily activities), to a dedicated memory care center, or to a nursing center for long-term custodial care with nursing care on a daily basis.         


  • Assisted Living (increasing charges on ‘care points system’) $4k – $7k monthly
  • Memory Care in a secure, dedicated facility $7k+ monthly
  • Custodial Nursing Facility $8k – $12k monthly


My advice?

If you are aiming to age in place at home, start early by enrolling in a long term care insurance policy. Or look into a lump sum premium life insurance product which will grow in value and can be converted to pay for long-term care if needed later in life.   







Reader Comments: "Retirement Community Costs: How Much?"


from earlgpowell (member) at October 22, 2013

While long term care insurance is a good option for some, this option is available to only a very small subset of baby boomers.  My wife and I have long term care insurance that we pay $6,200 a year for.  We live in Silicon Valley, California and are fortunate enough to have this option for the moment. Most baby boomers won't have this option.  Their median household income is only $33,118 a year. In addition 41% are still carrying a mortgage. Many still have car payments.  For most, aging in place will be a struggle in place.  Can technology assist them in their struggle.


Sources: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, 2012, and U.S.. Census Bureau Current Population Survey, 2011.




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Key words: 
Retirement, Cost, Aging in place, Assisted Living, home health, Nursing home, Senior Rental, CCRC

Last Updated: May 13, 2020.

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