Retirement Community vs “At Home”

Five years ago, when I started research on staying in our large home vs. a retirement community, I lost my appetite quickly about my wife & I staying in our home. I lost interest because:

1. I found local programs to take us to doctors & get nursing help at home as needed, but none of them would take care of our property (plumber, A/C & heat, painter, roofer, landscaping, trash pick up, grocery delivery, pest control, etc.). If I was not capable of finding good help to maintain our property, who would help my wife?

2. Our home was not handicap compliant and it was going to take a lot of money to make it good for the long haul – stair lift, ramps, grab bars, pull cords, etc.

3. My wife & I were getting essentially isolated in the neighborhood. We were not out & about as usual & our younger neighbors were all at work or taking their children somewhere. We had no local community to keep us active. All the neighbors were much younger than us.

4. To get proper exercise we needed expensive trainers to come to our house to privately train us on our exercise equipment at home. Not fun like a group.

Since staying at home made no sense for us, my next research was on retirement communities. I found two kinds. 

One was very much like a rental program. No money down just move in and rent. The rent covered some food, all utilities, unit maintenance, etc. When it was time for a nursing home, we would move out to any nursing home we could find (not easy or fun). So we would have community, exercise, independent living care (like Senior Helpers and others) but there was a strong possibility of another move for one or both of us. If my wife needed the nursing home, how could I visit her every day and pay for the rental plus her nursing home? We both only wanted one more move and then no more. We wanted to have full care at the retirement community we chose and none of the rental places had full care. Some had a form of assisted living but not full spectrum care. Having the nursing home in the community is a big deal – state inspections, doctors, 24 hour care, etc. If one of us needed a nursing home, all we wanted to do was walk down the hall to have it in easy reach. Did not exist here.

The second retirement community option was to put down a big chunk of money (called a transfer fee) and then medically qualify to get into the place. We did that. In our community, after we both vacate our apartment then 90% of our transfer fee is refunded to us or our beneficiaries. Our monthly fee does not change if either one of us or both of us moves into the assisted living section here or the nursing home. We can be in the nursing home for a condition like a broken hip and then just move back into our apartment when we are fit to be in an independent status once again. No moving or trying to find a nursing home somewhere else in town. It is all here in the nursing home (if we needed it) & we could eat together, visit every day without dressing to go outside, etc. We love where we are with a chef, more activities than we can do (we had a blast today at a drumming circle). We have a banker come 4 days a week, a salon, a pool, Tai Chi, Yoga, Wi bowling, a physical therapy department, X-Rays in our apartment, nurse to draw blood, a clinic with a PA, art, full time IT support for all of our electronic devices, and more than I can list here. All this and on many days I never wander outside.

So we are done. This is home till the end of the road for us. The two years we have been here have been terrific. They have managed to keep Corona under control or out of here and we were the first 300+ people to get our vaccinations. Next month they will give all of us who want it a regular flu shot. No need to go anywhere to get it. We are surrounded by people our age with interests like ours and the residents all have a rich life history to share. Certainly would not all be the case if we were still in our big empty house with no community.


Pete K.


1 thought on “Retirement Community vs “At Home””

  1. I too think retirement
    I too think retirement communities are the way to go. They sound expensive but when property tax, food, maintenance, entertainment etc is factored in it is not so bad. You have a wonderful set up but not all facilities are the same : read the fine print and visit as many as you can before putting your money, signature and life on the line.