Making the decision to move to a retirement community can be a little daunting. You may ask yourself, will joining a retirement community take away my independence? Will it change the lifestyle I’ve built for myself?
The real, honest answer is this: It’s whatever you make of it. If you choose the right community for your needs and interests, you’ll find it’s very easy to live your retirement however you want.
So how do you go about finding the right community? Well, if independence is what you’re looking for, it’s a great idea to start by looking at cooperative living communities.
Live Independently at a Senior Cooperative Living Community
Co-ops are organizations owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. In a senior co-op living community, the residents are part owners of the retirement community.
They differ from continuing care retirement communities in that they’re more focused on independent living and less on assisted living or skilled nursing facilities. Co-ops are great for retirees interested in independent living options.
Why is that? Well, there’s a whole host of reasons, but we’ll keep it to these three for now:
- you have a strong voice in the community
- you get to live independently for as long as possible
- you have plenty of ways to socialize and enjoy your retirement
Take Charge of Your Retirement Life at a Co-op Community
The thing that sets a co-op apart is that the residents are shareholders of the organization that runs the co-op. That means they get to guide the community they’re a part of.
A good way of thinking about it is to picture the co-op as its own little village. And just like you do in your current town or city, you have a voice in community decisions in a co-op.
In a city or town, you get to vote for council members and weigh in on levies. At a co-op, members are elected to a governing board, and because residents are shareholders, they get to make decisions about community priorities and costs. It’s like a town on a smaller scale.
This set-up fosters an active, involved community. Co-op residents tend to take more pride in their community because they play an active role in it. It’s the reason co-ops tend to attract more active seniors.
How does that differ from other communities? Well, in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), for example, the organization is run by a corporation. Often a parent company makes the decisions about what services to offer and how much to charge for monthly fees. The residents of a CCRC usually don’t get a vote in those decisions, unlike co-op residents.
And don’t worry. You don’t have to take charge of the board or make decisions about the daily running of a co-op--that’s what the executive staff is for. It’s just that you have the freedom to be as active as you want in the shaping of the community. You get to shape your lifestyle.
Co-op Senior Living: Your Retirement, Your Lifestyle
Co-op housing for seniors is designed to let you live the lifestyle you’re accustomed to without all the hassle of homeownership.
To accomplish this, they’re set up with a lot of services to make your life easier. But they also have a lot of opportunities for you to try new things and meet new people.
Sugar Hill offers activities and trips to residents both on and off the campus to suit all types of preferences. There are social hours, presentations, and social club meetings each month for residents to participate in as they see fit.
When you’re choosing a retirement community, it’s a good idea to take a peek at their calendar of events. You can judge by the events whether or not it would be a good fit for your interests.
You should also look into the types of amenities and services a retirement community offers. And remember, it’s not just the amount; it’s whether or not those amenities suit your lifestyle.
Benefits of a Co-op: Amenities and Services
One of the things residents love best about co-ops is the freedom to live as they choose without worrying about maintenance and upkeep. At Sugar Hill, grounds maintenance (including snow and ice removal) is included so you don’t have to worry about lawn care.
There’s also trash removal, in-home repair, and bill paying. Additionally, a co-op is a very safe place to live, partly due to the fact that there are plenty of neighbors to keep an eye out and partly thanks to the 24-hour security.
Co-ops offer a lot of great amenities as part of community living. As an example, here’s a sampling of Sugar Hill’s amenities:
- On-campus entertainment, seminars, crafts, and hair salon
- World-class nutritious cuisine prepared by professional chefs
- Numerous common areas
- Walking paths
- Community garden
With all that included in the monthly fee, it’s easy to see why in a survey on senior happiness at co-ops, 77% of respondents said they preferred their current residence to their previous home and 81% said co-op living had a positive effect on their ability to live independently.
Of course, there are also financial benefits to moving into a co-op. For example, you get the tax benefits of being a homeowner—without the work of taking care of the home! Get four more financial benefits here.