By Matt Starkey

After you retire, you might decide to stay in your current home, move to a smaller place, or relocate to be closer to your children. Many opt for a warmer climate—or for someplace colder. You may settle in another state, or even another country. There are so many possibilities it can seem overwhelming to sort through the choices.

Your first consideration, of course, is what will be best for you and your spouse.  What can you afford?  Are you in good health?  If your mortgage is paid off, staying put could be the most economical option. But downsizing could put spending money in your pocket or pad your retirement account. Maybe you need to provide financial help to your children, grandchildren, or even your parents. Other considerations include state income taxes and proximity to family members.

Whatever your situation, retirement is a momentous occasion, and the more you think about how you want it to play out—and the earlier you start planning—the more likely you’ll have a satisfying life after your career.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average 65-year-old in 2009 could expect to live another 19 years. Active retirements have become the rule, not the exception, and many people continue to work after retirement.

Spurred by these trends, retirement communities have sprung up all across the country.  A retirement community can consist of just one kind of housing—condominiums or single-family homes, for instance—or you may be able to choose from among many different options.  These days, such places frequently call themselves active adult communities to emphasize the physically active nature of today’s senior lifestyles.

Life at a retirement community can be very active indeed, with recreational choices that may include golf courses, tennis courts, bocce courts, Olympic-size swimming pools, spas, and boats and canoes. There could be walking trails, bike trails, community newspapers, stage shows (with seniors doing the acting), seminars on health and other topics, billiard tables, ceramics classes, photography clubs, computer clubs, and state clubs. You may get a place to store your boat or your recreational vehicle, and just about every retirement community has a clubhouse, complete with card rooms, craft rooms, bingo halls, dance halls, libraries, TV rooms, and, of course, an office staff ready to assist you. And because most communities have a minimum age requirement of 55 or so, you’ll be living with people mostly from your own generation.

State clubs are popular in retirement communities. It seems that many people prefer mixing socially with others from their home states rather than with people from other parts of the country.

All retirement communities have homeowner associations—and homeowner association fees that can range in cost from low to moderate to very expensive, depending on the types and numbers of amenities and services offered. Before choosing a place, be sure to consider not just the initial cost of buying a house or a condo but also all of the fees and other recurring expenses. You might rent a place first to try it out.

While you may be reluctant to pay a hefty monthly homeowner association fee, it’s likely to cover a host of convenient services ranging from basic cable TV and garbage collection to lawn maintenance, pest control, exterior painting, roof repair and other maintenance. And if you’ve ever cut grass on a hot summer day, you might agree that lawn maintenance alone makes retirement community living worth the price!

For help with your own retirement readiness, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Matt Starkey –, or call (913) 345-1881.

Photo credit: Ed Yourdon / / CC BY-SA