How to Find the Best Independent LivingSkip to content

Key Things to Look for Independent Living

Published: Dec 29, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 5, 2023.

The decision to downsize one's living situation is not one to be taken lightly. It can be a daunting process, fraught with difficult choices and tough compromises. But for many adults facing retirement or other age-related changes in their lives, it may be the best option. And when it comes time to make that move, knowing what factors to consider can make all the difference.

What should you look for in an independent living community?


The location of an independent living community can be a major factor when it comes to deciding which one to choose. Consider access to transportation, proximity to amenities such as shopping, entertainment, and dining, and the overall atmosphere of the area.

If you have family or friends nearby, it may be important to consider how close the independent living community will be to them. You’ll want to make sure that you can still maintain relationships and visit easily. Also, consider the climate of the area and how you may be affected by it. For instance, if you plan on remaining active, a community located in an area with colder winters may be less suitable for you than one located in a more temperate climate

Type of Community

With an array of different types of senior living communities, it can be tricky to understand the implications each type might have on your healthcare needs and costs. It is crucial when opting for an independent living community that you are aware of all the distinct options available.

55+ communities

If you're looking to lead a social and active life after retirement, moving into this type of community may be the right decision for you. These types of residential communities have little to no required maintenance, but lack amenities like assisted living or nursing care.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

A community where you can live independently, but with the knowledge that assisted living and nursing home care are available if or when you need them.

Retirement Homes

If you're an independent retiree who wants to stay active and be around other people your age, consider moving to one of these neighborhoods.

Senior Apartments

Senior-living apartments are usually part of a continuing care community.

Subsidized and Low-Income Housing

Senior apartments with rent that costs below the average market value, which is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Care Needs

When selecting an independent living community, you should consider your current and future care needs. The types of services available vary from one community to another, so it’s important to find out what is offered in the communities that interest you. Many communities offer additional services such as housekeeping and meal delivery, but there are also options for those who require more specialized care. Look for a community that offers on-site healthcare professionals or access to nearby hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Services and Amenities

If an active, engaged lifestyle sounds appealing to you, an independent senior living community might be perfect for you. With a wide variety of services and amenities available, finding the right community for your needs will be simple. Here are 7 unique services and amenities that this community can offer you:

1. Dining Options

Not only do nutritious meals improve your physical health, but they also enhance mood and make life more enjoyable. Although preparing healthy meals is great for us, it can be time-consuming and expensive. Even if you're a fantastic cook, there are probably not enough hours in the day or energy left to cook from scratch every single day.

At an independent living community, you'll have delicious gourmet meals available to you whenever you want them. You'll also have access to beautiful kitchens that you can use whenever you feel like cooking something up yourself. With this setup, there's no need to go out and drive somewhere every time you want to eat out – instead, you get all the benefits of dining out without the expensive price tag.

2. Learning Opportunities

One great thing about living in an independent senior living community is that you'll have access to a variety of learning opportunities. From classes on art, music, and culture to lectures from guest speakers, there's always something new and interesting to learn. It's a great way to stay mentally stimulated while having fun at the same time.

3. Housekeeping and Maintenance

Although living independently is a great way to stay connected and engaged in life, there are still those pesky chores that come along with it. With an independent senior living community, you don't have to worry about doing all the cleaning and maintenance yourself – they'll take care of it for you. That means you get to enjoy your days without having to worry about mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters etc.

4. Transportation Services

If your mobility is limited, getting around can be a challenge. Fortunately, most independent senior living communities offer transportation services to make it easier for you to get to places like doctor's appointments, grocery stores, and social outings. That way, you don't have to rely on public transportation or family members to get around.

5. Fitness and Wellness Programs

Staying active and healthy is important for seniors, and many independent senior living communities offer fitness programs tailored to the needs of their residents. From yoga classes to group walks, you'll have plenty of ways to stay in shape while having fun with others.

6. Social Opportunities

Staying connected to the outside world is important, and you don't have to feel isolated in an independent senior living community. Many of these communities offer a variety of activities and events that will help you make new friends and stay involved with the community at large. From movie nights to game nights, there are plenty of ways to stay connected and have fun.

7. Security

When you live in an independent senior living community, you'll have the added benefit of knowing that your safety is taken seriously. From 24-hour security guards to advanced alarm systems and regular wellness checks, you can rest easy knowing that you're safe and secure at all times.

Activities and Wellness

Independent senior living communities provide many activities and wellness programs that are specifically designed for seniors. By participating in these activities, not only do you get to stay physically active, but you also have the opportunity to build relationships with others and stay connected. These tailored events help keep residents both mentally and physically engaged, while also providing a great way to have fun.

Here are the common activities you will find in an independent senior living community:

  • Exercise classes
  • Arts and crafts
  • Group outings
  • Movie nights
  • Social events like game nights, book clubs, and special lectures

Security Measures

Independent senior living communities take security seriously. From 24-hour security guards to advanced alarm systems and regular wellness checks, senior residents can rest easy knowing that they are safe and secure at all times. Strict policies and procedures are in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the community.

One of the benefits of living independently is that you don't have to worry about common household tasks. This not only saves you time but also decreases your risk of injury while performing things such as gardening or cleaning the gutters. Also, by having easy access to things like classes and physical fitness groups, you're more likely to live a healthier life which in turn gives you a better chance at living longer. Maintaining an active lifestyle is key to enjoying your life independently.

Payment Options

The average monthly cost for an independent living facility is a few thousand dollars. This might seem like a lot, but it's important to remember that the price usually includes more than just rent. Most places bundle together utilities, rent, and access to amenities like laundry or housekeeping service. In some cases you might have to pay extra for these things, but at other facilities, they may be included in the price.

Active adult communities are not eligible to accept payment sources that commonly fund nursing home care and assisted living, like Medicare or Medicaid. To cover the costs of retirement housing, individuals and their families typically:

  • Use Social Security and pension payments
  • Withdraw from a savings account or collect annuity payments.
  • Withdraw money from investment retirement accounts
  • Get a loan or get a line of credit.

Does Medicare/Medicaid Cover Independent Living?

Medicare and Medicaid do not cover the cost of independent living. Independent living is designed for individuals who are capable of managing their own care, and Medicare and Medicaid generally only cover more intensive levels of care such as short-term stays in a skilled nursing facility under specific circumstances.

Although these companies generally don't cover independent or assisted living expenses, they may pay for some related costs like medical supplies or services.

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About the Author

Ericka Nicolas

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Ericka Nicolas began her career in the banking industry where she learned the importance of being detail-oriented and well-organized, both of which she applies to her current work as a writer and proofreader. With her vast experience in writing, Ericka is able to produce well-researched and engaging content that appeals to Elderguide's target audience. She was able to provide readers with valuable insights on a variety of topics and ensures that all the information she provides is accurate and up-to-date. She takes the time to carefully study each topic given to her, which allows her to produce truly informative articles. Ericka's passion for writing and her dedication to producing quality content gave way to her goal of helping our readers navigate the complex world of senior living and make informed decisions about their future. Aside from her work at Elderguide, Ericka enjoys spending time with her newly-married husband and their dog, Yari. She loves cooking, traveling, and exploring new restaurants in her spare time.