Independent living, sometimes called active adult communities or retirement homes, typically refers to communities for active seniors age 55 and older. These retirement communities offer a spectrum of activities, and vary in style, services, and — you guessed it — cost.
Although senior living prices differ quite drastically around the U.S., independent living typically costs less than assisted living.
Learn about the average cost of independent living in the U.S., typical charges, and the most important cost-related questions to ask when touring.
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The annual monthly median cost of senior independent living in the U.S. is $2,552 according to A Place for Mom’s 2018 Annual Senior Living Cost Index.
“Senior living costs will fluctuate based on the basic principles of economics: supply and demand,” says Kendra Stevens, vice president of sales at Holiday Retirement, a senior living provider with more than 260 independent living communities nationwide.
For the first time in U.S. history, older adults are projected to outnumber children under the age of 18 by 2034, according to the United States Census Bureau. With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, the need for senior living is expected to rise, and its cost may too.
Below are examples of monthly median costs for independent living in major U.S. cities in 2018:
Independent living communities offer a range of services and pricing options, says Stevens. “The majority of communities are bundled or have an all-in inclusive rate. Amenities are generally included in the base rent, but some communities have variations, which include paying for meals or housekeeping separately.”
In continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care are all offered on one campus. CCRCs typically have a large entrance fee, which is sometimes partially refundable.
The cost of independent living also depends on factors like:
Since medical care isn’t an emphasis in senior independent living, it’s not a major pricing component. However, if seniors need medical services, physical therapy, or more daily assistance, some communities may coordinate with outside providers or offer these services at an additional cost.
Many all-inclusive communities include the following in their price:
Depending on the community and your preferences, there may be additional costs for:
Asking the right questions can provide families with an accurate idea of independent living costs and potential ways to save. Many communities offer move-in incentives, depending on supply and demand.
When discussing cost in independent living, ask the following:
“Cost is a large factor for most families, but always keep in mind the environment, staff engagement, and how earnest the staff is to find a solution that works for your family,” says Stevens.
Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.