When shopping for an assisted
living community for your loved one, sticker shock is a common
A Place for Mom's Senior Living Advisors frequently hear the
refrain "That's so much more expensive than just living at home."
In some situations, assisted living does cost more than
living at home, but in most cases, total assisted living costs are
significantly less than in-home care costs.
Assisted Living Costs & Geography
Just like any market for real estate or goods and services,
price depends heavilty on local supply and demand. In particularly
remote areas, assisted living costs may be higher than average due
to low availablity of accomodations. On the other side of the coin,
costs may be higher than average in densely populated areas due to
the high costs of real estate and staff salaries.
The U.S. states with the most expensive median
monthly assisted living costs are:
- Alaska - $6,000
- New Jersey - $5,994
- Delaware - $5,533
- Connecticut - $5,000
- Massachusetts - $4,950
The U.S. states with the least expensive median
monthly assisted living costs are:
- Missouri - $2,288
- Alabama - $2,600
- Georgia - $2,703
- Kentucky - $2,720
- Michigan - $2,850
Other Factors in Assisted Living Costs
While location is an important factor in assisted living costs,
there are several other considerations that can play a big role in
the bottom line:
- Apartment Size: A 400-square-foot studio
apartment will obviously cost less than a 1,200-square-foot
two-bedroom in the same community.
- Level of Care Required: Not all assisted
living residents require the same level of care. Those who need
help with fewer aspects of daily life will often pay less than
those who need extensive services.
- Additional Fees: Assisted living communities
typically charge a non-refundable administrative fee upon move-in.
This fee covers everything from getting the new resident enrolled
in services to renovating his or her apartment, and typically
ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.
Most Living Expenses Included
When comparing assisted living to home care, it's important to
remember how many expenses are included in the price. Assisted
living fees replace typical expenses associated with living at
- Mortgage or rent: Current homeowners will
additionally eliminate property tax and insurance expenses by
moving to assisted living.
- Utilities: Assisted living fees generally
cover all utilities outside of phone and cable, including
garbage/water/sewer, heat and air-conditioning, and
- Maintenance: Not only will you not be on the
hook for emergency repairs, you'll no longer have to hire out yard
work or housekeeping services. Many assisted living facilities even
offer linen service and help with laundry.
- Meals: Food is a major-line item in most
people's budgets, accounting for up to a third of total monthly
expenditures. Two or three hot meals per day are included in most
assisted living plans.
- Household assistance or personal care: At
$10-25+ per hour, hiring this type of help can add up quickly.
At-home medical care can cost even more.
Assisted Living Boosts Quality of Life
"Not only is assisted living financially equal to living at home
in many cases, it's a dramatically different way of life," says Pam
Talon, A Place for Mom's Market Development Coach for the
U.S.Northeast region. "Quality of life is a key difference."
Living in a vibrant, engaging community with numerous daily
opportunities for social interaction and entertainment is a welcome
change of pace for most seniors. In fact, many seniors living at
home cut back on entertainment as a way to save money.
"With a senior living at home, the monthly budget usually has a
blank space next to social and entertainment," Talon says. Regular
social activities not only help keep seniors fit and sharp, they
often equal the difference between surviving and thriving.
Talon says sons and daughters need to take a hard look at their
parents' current lifestyle: "Do both people get to retire in this
house? How did mom's life change when Dad retired? Did it get
better or did it get worse? We're still dealing with an age group
where moms didn't get to retire, so we're dealing with quality of
*All costs calculated in U.S. dollars.
1 Be sure to ask each facility what is included in
the basic rate and for a list of any extra fees
2 2010 U.S. Dept. of Labor Consumer Expenditure
Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
3 2014 Genworth "Cost of Care" Research. The survey
included feedback from more than 25,000 providers in order to
complete more than 9,000 surveys of nursing homes, assisted living
facilities, and home care providers in the United States
4 2011 National Association of Home Builders
Residential Real Estate Tax Rates in the American Community
5 These fees vary widely and may not be applicable.
Actual costs will increase if they are included
6 A Place for Mom, Inc. "best guess" estimates