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Your Complete Guide to Senior Apartments

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What are senior apartments?

Senior apartments are similar to other apartment complexes, but they typically have an age minimum and cater to senior residents through building design and social activities. Senior apartments are sometimes referred to as “55 and older communities” or “active adult communities.” They provide a child-free environment for older adults who can live independently and foster a sense of community through social events.

What makes senior apartments different from other apartments?

Senior apartments are designed with senior residents in mind, with accessibility features that make it easier for seniors to enjoy the community. You may see some of the following features in senior apartments:

  • Elevators
  • Wheelchair ramps in addition to stairs
  • Grab bars in bathrooms
  • Low-floor thresholds and showers
  • Wide walkways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
  • Accessible parking lots

Is there an age requirement for senior apartments?

Yes, generally senior apartments have a minimum age requirement of 55 or 62. Depending on the apartment complex’s rules, at least one resident per unit needs to meet the age requirement. Some communities may be more flexible than others. For instance, if one member of a senior couple is 55 while the other is 50, they may both be able to live in a 55+ community. However, other senior apartments may be stricter and require all tenants of an apartment to meet the age minimum.

Senior apartments are one of the exemptions of the Fair Housing Act, meaning they can have age restrictions. And, as such, senior apartments need to meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Apartments with a minimum age requirement of 55 must have at least 80% of its units housing one tenant who meets this age minimum.
  • Apartments with a minimum age requirement of 62 must be solely occupied by residents who meet the age requirement.
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Senior apartment services and amenities

Senior apartments offer convenience and low-maintenance for residents. Grounds keeping is covered and common areas are kept clean by the apartment complex. Home maintenance is also covered, making it easy for residents to get unit maintenance or repairs taken care of quickly without extra fees. In-unit housekeeping and linen services may also be an on-site service option. Depending on the community, there may be several additional service options, like dining options.

On-site amenities will vary from one apartment community to the next, but you’ll find the following offered by many senior apartments:

  • Pool
  • Business center
  • Game room
  • Library
  • Movie theater
  • Fitness center
  • Community garden
  • Walking path
  • Beauty and barber shop
  • Outdoor common areas, like BBQ areas
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What are the benefits of senior apartment living?

One of the biggest benefits of living in a senior apartment is the community environment. It can be easier for seniors to make new friends when they’re in a community of their peers, especially when there are planned activities and social events. Many communities plan get-togethers and activities for residents, and having a common age group may make these activities more enjoyable for everyone.

Another big benefit is being able to focus on hobbies and activities that bring you joy rather than spending time maintaining a home.

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What’s the difference between senior apartments and other types of senior living?

Before you decide on a senior apartment, it’s best to compare all senior living options to make sure you’re choosing a community that can meet your needs and preferences.

Senior apartments vs. independent living

While senior apartments and independent living communities are similar in that they both offer senior-friendly housing, senior apartments tend to offer fewer amenities and services.

Independent living communities may provide housekeeping, laundry, transportation, some meal services, and other convenient services. They’re also likely to have a full social calendar and luxury, resort-style amenities.

Senior apartments, on the other hand, are more budget friendly. They’re a great option for seniors who want to downsize and avoid the stress associated with home maintenance. The amenities and services at a senior apartment community will vary, with some communities offering many options while others may be geared towards low-income seniors.

Senior apartments vs. assisted living

Senior apartments are geared towards independent seniors. If you or your loved one need some assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing or toileting, you may want to consider an assisted living community. These communities offer round-the-clock support, with caregivers who offer respectful assistance with a resident’s daily tasks.

Senior apartments don’t offer a caregiving staff or 24-hour oversight. These communities still have many senior-friendly features, such as elevators and accessibility features in the apartments. And you can always hire an in-home caregiver at your senior apartment residence to fill any caregiving gaps.

Senior apartments vs. memory care

Memory care communities are assisted living facilities that provide specialized care to seniors with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. In addition to ADL assistance and other baseline assisted living services, memory care communities have extra security features as well as specialized staff to help residents stay safe and comfortable. Caregivers in a memory care community receive advanced memory care training to understand how to properly care for seniors experiencing cognitive decline.

Senior apartments are geared towards active, independent seniors who aren’t experiencing memory loss. These communities wouldn’t be a good option for seniors who need specialized dementia care. Instead, you may wish to look at assisted living communities that offer on-site memory care.

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Is a senior apartment right for me?

Senior apartments are a wonderful option for active older adults who are healthy and don’t need assistance with day-to-day tasks. If this sounds like you, then a senior apartment might be a good choice.

Ask yourself the following questions to see if a senior apartment would be a good fit:

  • Are you able to take care of yourself without assistance?
  • Would you enjoy having home maintenance taken off your hands?
  • Are you interested in downsizing and simplifying your life?
  • Does living in a community of your peers sound exciting?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then a senior apartment may be a good fit for you.

What if my care needs change?

Whether or not you think your care needs may change over the next few years, it’s still important to consider what might happen if you suddenly need more assistance with personal care or household tasks. One viable option to consider is hiring an in-home caregiver for a few hours a week. For example, if your senior apartment community doesn’t offer housekeeping services, a home caregiver can help with things like:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Laundry
  • Grocery shopping

Or, they can help you with activities of daily living, such as:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Toileting
  • Running errands
  • Transportation

As long as you don’t require round-the-clock nursing care, a home care caregiver can visit you part-time in your senior apartment to help you stay safe at home and age in place. If more advanced nursing care becomes needed, a move to an assisted living residence may be needed.

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How much does it cost to rent a senior apartment?

The nationwide median cost of a one-bedroom senior apartment rental is $1,178 per month, according to A Place for Mom’s proprietary data. This reflects the information gathered from our partnered communities across the country. Senior apartments vary in cost, with many factors affecting how much you might end up paying. Across the country, seniors may find apartments for rent ranging between $600 and $2,650 per month.

H3: What’s included in the cost?

Many senior apartments are no-frills, meaning that your monthly fee typically covers the cost of rent and any additional fees for other available on-site services or conveniences. So, though you will typically pay one simple monthly fee, with everything rolled into one cost, that fee may increase or decrease considering the following:

  • Parking or transportation costs
  • Pet fee or monthly pet rent
  • Community fee for activities or annual community costs
  • Utilities, such as electricity, water, gas, and internet
  • Housekeeping or linen services if available
  • Meal plans

As you research and tour senior apartments, you should ask about any other fees and costs that may not be immediately apparent. It’s not uncommon for some apartment complexes to require renters insurance or a security deposit in case of damage.

H3: What questions should I ask about cost while touring?

It’s important to ask about what your monthly rent covers and what may be extra. For example, if you have a community fee to pay upon moving in, find out what that goes toward.

Other questions you should consider asking include:

  • What are the cost differences between the available apartment layouts?
  • How often is rent increased and by what percent?
  • How long is the lease? Does the length of the lease affect my monthly rent?

Ideally, you should receive an itemized list of every fee included in the monthly rent and what that includes prior to move in.

H3: What are the pricing models?

Like other apartment complexes, senior apartments may either require first and last month’s rent or a security deposit on top of first month’s rent to be paid up front. When the complex follows the security deposit pricing model, that deposit may be returned after you move out, with deductions made related to the condition you left the apartment. When the apartment follows the first and last month’s rent model, you should not be held accountable for rent on your final month before moving out.

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Low-income senior apartments

If you’re specifically looking for low-income senior apartments, the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides housing options for low-income seniors through their Housing Choice Voucher programs.

Housing Choice Vouchers

The Housing Choice Vouchers program, formerly Section 8 Housing, offers assistance to low-income seniors by helping them pay rent. The vouchers are administered by local public housing agencies (PHAs) and funds are sent directly to the landlord.

In order to participate in the program, you’ll need to meet the eligibility requirements and apply through your local PHA. Eligibility is typically based on the median income in your area. Even if you meet the requirements, you may be put on a waiting list before being able to receive a voucher.

Once you qualify for the voucher program, you’ll still need to find a landlord or senior apartment complex that participates in the program and accepts the vouchers. Depending on your area, there may be limited options.

In order to find low-income housing in your area, use the HUD resource locator. When using the locator, select the option “Find Elderly and Special Needs Housing.” You can also contact property managers directly to see if they accept Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.

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How can I pay for a senior apartment?

Most seniors use private pay methods to pay for their senior apartments. These typically include savings and retirement accounts, but could also include the following:

  • Selling or converting part of a life insurance policy
  • Selling a home
  • Renting out a home and using that income for a senior apartment

It’s important to note that Medicare and Medicaid only pay for medically necessary aspects of care in an assisted living setting, and therefore do not help to cover the cost of a senior apartment.

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How should I choose a senior apartment?

It’s important to select an apartment community where you feel safe and comfortable. Depending on your lifestyle and budget, you’ll also want to consider how the following factors may affect your choice.

Location

Apartments close to desirable shopping and dining locales, or those in a larger city, typically tend to be more expensive. Is it more important to you to be near a larger hub of activity, or are you okay with a longer drive to get to events and activities that interest you?

Amenities

While senior apartments don’t always have all the resort-style amenities that a more expensive independent living community has, some complexes have more amenities than others. So it’s important to consider all your local options.

Is it important to you to have an on-site fitness center or pool? If you’re still working, will you want a business center? Decide which amenities you absolutely must have and which you can live without, then see if you can find a complex that has what you’re looking for.

Safety features

If you’re interested in a senior apartment because you know they cater to older adults, safety is probably important to you. You may want to consider all the available on-site safety features and whether they meet your current and future needs.

Is the apartment easy to navigate, with grab bars and accessible storage? If the apartment doesn’t have all the accessibility features you’d like, would you be allowed to add them? Also, is there a security guard on the premises? Do you feel safe navigating outside the community as well as inside?

Social activities

Do the residents in the community seem like people you’d get along with? Do they have regularly scheduled activities, or do the residents tend to keep to themselves? If activities are important to you, consider asking the manager if you could see an activities calendar before move in, if possible. You can also ask to meet residents and participate in activities before committing to a community.

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How can I make moving to a senior apartment easier?

If you’re moving from a home to a senior apartment, you’ll probably need to downsize and scale back your belongings. This can take time and energy and have an emotional impact as well. You may wish to hire a senior move manager, who can help you prioritize your belongings and help them fit into your new home.

If you have family members nearby, they may be able to help you sort through and prioritize your things. When you’re choosing what to bring, consider the following:

  • Will this fit the dimensions of my new space, or is this item too large?
  • Can I gift or donate furniture to someone in my family or an organization that has meaning to me?
  • Do I have any duplicate items?
  • Will I need this tool or item in my new home? Is it going to suit my future lifestyle?

Although it can be hard to part with certain items, the ones you choose to bring with you will feel more significant in the long run. Consider taking pictures of any meaningful pieces that can’t come with you, so you can at least catalogue and remember it.

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How can I find an apartment for seniors near me?

With many senior apartments available, with different features and at different price points, it can be difficult to know where to begin looking. Thankfully, the Senior Living Advisors at A Place for Mom can help you find local options, all at no cost to you. They’ll listen to what’s most important for you to find in a senior apartment, and work with you to find a community that fits your lifestyle and budget.

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Senior Apartments

Senior apartments offer accessible, no-frills living for seniors who are generally active, healthy, and able to live on their own.

Top states for Senior Apartments

6.3
Georgia (GA)
140 facilities
7.6
Texas (TX)
138 facilities
6.7
Illinois (IL)
180 facilities
5.6
Florida (FL)
98 facilities
5.0
Michigan (MI)
282 facilities
5.5
Missouri (MO)
177 facilities
0.0
Vermont (VT)
18 facilities
6.3
Wisconsin (WI)
287 facilities
5.5
California (CA)
376 facilities
6.0
Massachusetts (MA)
34 facilities
6.4
Minnesota (MN)
232 facilities
6.6
Ohio (OH)
227 facilities
5.6
Washington (WA)
118 facilities
6.6
New York (NY)
164 facilities
5.4
Maryland (MD)
177 facilities
6.8
Colorado (CO)
92 facilities
5.8
North Dakota (ND)
8 facilities
7.4
North Carolina (NC)
63 facilities
8.5
New Mexico (NM)
3 facilities
7.1
Utah (UT)
23 facilities
7.0
Indiana (IN)
81 facilities
6.0
Kansas (KS)
76 facilities
7.1
Arkansas (AR)
39 facilities
5.3
Kentucky (KY)
73 facilities
7.8
South Carolina (SC)
35 facilities
6.0
Pennsylvania (PA)
205 facilities
0.0
West Virginia (WV)
3 facilities
8.5
Montana (MT)
6 facilities
5.3
New Jersey (NJ)
83 facilities
8.5
Alabama (AL)
31 facilities
5.1
Iowa (IA)
116 facilities
8.5
Connecticut (CT)
64 facilities
4.8
Virginia (VA)
100 facilities
5.7
Idaho (ID)
23 facilities
7.4
Tennessee (TN)
103 facilities
0.0
South Dakota (SD)
13 facilities
8.5
Nebraska (NE)
35 facilities
4.5
Louisiana (LA)
28 facilities
8.3
Arizona (AZ)
45 facilities
5.9
Nevada (NV)
26 facilities
0.0
Alaska (AK)
1 facilities
4.8
Oregon (OR)
50 facilities
8.3
Oklahoma (OK)
37 facilities
0.0
Delaware (DE)
15 facilities
0.0
New Hampshire (NH)
12 facilities
0.0
Mississippi (MS)
10 facilities
0.0
Rhode Island (RI)
5 facilities
0.0
Wyoming (WY)
1 facilities
0.0
Maine (ME)
4 facilities
0.0
Hawaii (HI)
1 facilities

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