Choosing a senior living community can be overwhelming – especially in Florida where there are more than 850 senior living options, according to seniorliving.org. Of course, most older adults search for senior living in a specific region, city or town. This is the first step in narrowing your options and making your decision easier.
Still, there’s a lot to learn and consider. The following guide will help you understand independent living options and determine what amenities, services and housing options fit your preferences.
Understanding independent living communities.
Independent senior living is generally a housing arrangement for those 55 or older, though certain communities are flexible with their age requirements.
Independent senior living communities differ from assisted living facilities because they’re designed for active adults who don’t need support with activities of daily living or require significant care. Instead, associates ease residents’ responsibilities and provide opportunities for personal growth.
Some independent living options are confined to a single building or two, with a central amenities area with, say, a dining room, fitness center and common areas for socializing. These options often require residents to find daily recreation and fulfillment off the property.
At the other end of the spectrum, the most attractive options are true communities. These can feel like a college campus or suburban neighborhood. You’ll see aesthetically pleasing architecture, landscaped green spaces, a wide range of housing options, and life-enriching amenities throughout the property. These are active places where residents enjoy planned activities and the camaraderie of neighbors.
Choosing your residence.
Living independently at a community will probably mean downsizing to a smaller, more manageable space, and options vary.
At one community, your choices may be limited to a couple floor plans. At The Village at Gainesville, on the other hand, you’ll find a wide range of apartment homes and free-standing cottages. The more floorplans to choose from, the more likely you’ll find the perfect fit for your retirement lifestyle.
Benefits of apartment living include:
- A more social experience, with neighbors close by
- A comfy and manageable rightsized space
- Being closer to centralized amenities, like dining and fitness centers
Benefits of cottage living include:
- More privacy while still having access to community life
- Attached parking
What are the fee structures?
There are two fundamental types of communities:
1. Rental Communities: In rental communities, there are no large entry fees and no long-term commitments. As the name implies, a rental community charges a monthly fee.
What the monthly fee covers varies by community. Often, the fee pays for your residence, with practically everything else available at a la carte charges.
In North Central Florida, many seniors prefer The Village at Gainesville’s all-inclusive rental structure. This covers the senior’s residence, community activities, and services and amenities, which include dining. In addition, the community handles complete maintenance of common areas, buildings, and grounds.
Although this article focuses on independent living, it’s important to note that many rental communities offer long-term care onsite. Under a rental agreement, you would only pay for care when you need it. Levels of care typically include assisted living, memory care, and, sometimes, skilled nursing.
2. Life Plan Communities (also called Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs): This type of community requires a significant entrance fee plus a monthly service fee. The entrance fee, which can range from $30,000 to more than $500,000, acts as a pre-payment for access to discounted senior care, which a resident may or may not ever need. Depending on the community contract, there might be limits on the amount of care provided at a discount.
How much does independent living cost?
It’s a common question. According to SeniorHomes.com, the average monthly cost of independent living in Florida is $2,545. However, independent senior living costs depend on several variables:
- Location: Coastal or high-income neighborhoods may be pricier than others.
- Residence Size: You’ll pay more for a two-bedroom villa than a one-bedroom apartment.
- Programming: You’ll want to make sure your community offers plenty of opportunities for life enrichment and overall wellness.
- Fee Structure: As noted above, rental communities require a simple monthly fee. CCRCs charge a monthly fee plus a sizable entry fee.
At The Village at Gainesville, an all-inclusive rental community, there’s no entrance fee. There is, however, a one-time community fee of $3,000 for independent living residents.
What’s a day in the life like at Independent Living Communities?
Most retirement communities promote themselves as “maintenance-free,” which means housekeeping, scheduled transportation, and yardwork are included in your monthly fee.
Inevitably, this creates an uptick in free time for residents to do what’s most enjoyable – around town or taking advantage of the many activities and events offered at the community.
At The Village at Gainesville, opportunities for planned and impromptu recreation and intellectual growth are practically endless. A few popular resident activities include:
- Group travel
- Educational presentations on various topics
- On-site fitness classes
- Themed parties and banquets
- Cultural outings and live performances
- Our Vitality Program to maintain your health and wellness
Residents also have their choice of multiple dining options. You can enjoy meals in a variety of inviting dining venues such as our elegant restaurant for fine dining, at our more casual bistro, at one of our recently added venues, Fresca Eatery and Citrus Bar and Marketplace, or even in our private dining room that is just right for special occasions. Then, in your free time, you can visit common areas like our library, wood shop, chapel or one of our swimming pools.
Find your fit at The Village at Gainesville.
Our mission is to provide seniors with a rich community lifestyle that’s personalized for each resident, a sense of security, and beautiful surroundings. Your monthly fee will provide you with complete maintenance of common areas, buildings and grounds, meals, all utilities except personal telephone, access to common spaces and community activities, and much more.
The Cypress offers three different floor plans, including a one-bedroom-with-den floor plan with a large kitchen, large closet, full-size washer and dryer, dining room, and den. These residences put you near community amenities to allow for activity and social connections.
Our Lake House residences offer five floor plan options. Mail centers, laundry rooms and community living room areas – perfect for spending time with family members and neighbors – are located in each wing.