boomers have lived and worked a good portion of their pre-retirement
lives in major cities, yet a majority of 55+ communities
are in suburban or rural locations. Until the 1990s, it
was difficult to find licensed city living housing for seniors
in large cities. In the past few decades, though, there
has been an “urban renaissance,” attracting
developers to build metropolitan retirement communities
in response to an expanding market of seniors who want to
stay active and involved in urban lifestyles. They may look
like apartment buildings or condominium projects, but these
55+ city housing communities are regulated as insurance
or health care products, depending on the state they are
in, just as their suburban counterparts are.
Some retirees have no desire to live in
an isolated place where they spend their time on bridge
and macramé. They want to be connected to the energy
of the city. City living housing is usually just a few blocks
from thriving markets, central shopping and entertainment
districts, and a variety of cultural attractions, and increasing
numbers of retirees are choosing them for the retirement
lifestyle, convenience, and amenities available there.
City housing options for boomers and seniors
integrate the standards required for age-restricted communities
into an urban residential model. They may be high-rise apartment
towers, mid-rise apartment buildings, retirement condominium
communities, studio/efficiency apartments, lofts, or more
suburban townhomes or small patio-style homes. For official
age-restricted senior living communities, design requirements
include shortened travel distances to elevators and ease
of access to services and facilities on different floors.
Although there is a range of pricing among
these urban 55+ communities, many of them are aimed at affluent
professional retirees, and charge both hefty entry fees
and high monthly maintenance charges. These high-end housing
options for boomers and seniors feature resort hotel-like
amenities and services and special recreational facilities,
such as saline swimming pools, state-of-the-art fitness
centers, multiple attached restaurants, business centers,
art studios, and even theaters.
Here we have provided descriptions of different
types of city housing available for seniors in today’s
metropolitan areas. Following each description, we’ve
offered our own comments as to the conveniences, downsides,
and/or types of expenses involved for boomers considering
that particular option.
· Apartments: Aside
from the benefits of living in a high-energy urban environment,
living in an apartment community has a number of practical
advantages. Residents obviously are not responsible for
any exterior residence maintenance, nor is there any landscaping
or yard maintenance required. Also, during inclement weather,
access to community facilities is immediate and does not
require that you venture outside. Senior apartment communities
may be located in buildings or compounds with many designs
and layouts. The location, building style, size and type
of individual residences – and amenities offered by
the 55+ community – all affect the pricing and availability
of apartments. Retirement Living comment: Apartments in
general and senior apartments in particular are a great
choice for retirement living. It is often possible in these
apartment communities to rent before buying.
- High-rise apartment towers:
These are apartment residences (multi-dwelling units)
in urban areas that are over seven storeys in height.
High-rise apartment complexes are popular in urban areas
because buildable land is at a premium; it is a more efficient
use of available property to stack many residential units
one on top of another, instead of one single-family home.
Generally speaking, Hi-rise residential buildings in most
major cities are some of the priciest real estate available,
primarily due to their ideal location. Retirement Living
Comment: Hi-rises are a great choice for retirement living
since they are generally located in densely populated
areas, with most major services concentrated within walking
distance. Luxury Hi-rises commonly have a version of a
hotel concierge where someone can help you with errands
and anything else you might need.
- Mid-rise apartment buildings:
Mid-Rise apartment buildings – with four to seven
storeys each – are making a comeback in urban areas.
Often, mid-rise apartment communities spring up when businesses
move in to redevelop neighborhoods. Improvements in construction
techniques and materials make them easier to build, and
new zoning laws help to control the density of neighborhoods.
- Low-rise apartment communities:
Low-Rise Buildings are basically buildings that are fewer
than four storeys tall. While not commonly found in densely
populated areas due to their inefficient use of expensive
real estate, low-rise buildings comprise the main format
of apartment living in suburban areas. Retirement Living
Comment: Since they're usually designed to accommodate
fewer residents, city living housing in low rise buildings
appeal to seniors seeking a calmer pace of life.
- Cooperatives: Cooperatives
are apartment buildings owned by residents as shares of
a “company” – or co-op – that
owns the building. The co-op issues shares (stock) to
each owner based on their unit size and amenities. This
means that you do not actually own your apartment, but
rather have stock in the co-op that owns your building.
- Studio or Efficiency apartments:
Found in all building styles, these are simple one
room apartments designed for the senior who doesn't
want a lot of space, and only needs a private space
for eating, sleeping, bathing, and so on. These are
usually cheaper than most city housing alternatives
and are great for seniors who don't want to spend
the money on space they'll never use.
- Loft apartments:
Lofts are big open-air apartments that are often converted
office space. Today, due to the popularity of this
apartment style, loft-style apartments are being built
new, rather than waiting for property conversions.
With high ceilings, big windows, and wide open spaces,
lofts are great housing options for boomers and seniors
who want to throw parties, gatherings, or just need
a lot of space.
- Condominium communities:
Condominiums are simply a living space that is bought
within a building, with the purchaser owning an individual
unit as well as access to the common spaces. Also referred
to as condos. Many retirement condominium communities
are higher-end city living options for more affluent retirees,
with costly entry fees and monthly maintenance charges.
Retirement Living Comment: condos are usually purchased
from a developer or previous owner. They can also be leased.
There are a lot of companies whose sole business is finding
the right condo for the right person at the right time.
- Town Homes: These are
two story, owner-occupied housing unit that share a wall
with one or more neighboring units. Also called townhouses
or row houses, town homes are common city housing options
in cities like Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia,
and San Francisco. Despite the narrow lots, many row houses
offer spacious living areas, with some as large as 2,000
square feet or more. Retirement Living Comment: town homes
can be a good housing option for boomers and seniors as
long as a person is comfortable navigating stairs. Town
homes are generally located in good neighborhoods, and
are conveniently located near local services such as grocery
stores, dry cleaners, and shopping malls.
- Patio-style single family homes:
Single family detached homes are the “Leave It To
Beaver” style houses usually found in suburban subdivisions,
and are designed to be shared by only one family unit.
Also located in the same communities are duplexes, built
similar to a single family home, but with two residences
sharing one wall. Retirement Living Comment: It is quite
common for retirees who want to remain in a house to downsize
to smaller patio-style homes. Smaller homes save on utilities,
and housekeeping is easier to manage. It is possible to
own or rent single-family homes in many suburban 55+ communities.