Disclaimer: Links and mentions of retirement communities in this post do not constitute an endorsement. Price ranges, services, and amenities can change — please visit a community’s website for the most up-to-date information. HomeLight always recommends doing your own research to determine which community destination is best for your situation.
Retirement is an intimately personal matter. It’s often fantasized about and can mean vastly different things to different people.
For some, that fantasy entails settling down in a retirement community where many of life’s responsibilities are made easier. A community where like-minded people can enjoy their favorite activities in a safe and comforting environment.
Many such communities exist throughout the U.S. No two are exactly alike, however, because each one provides a specific set of housing, services, and amenities related to its location, climate, and advertised lifestyle.
In an effort to help your retirement dreams come true, we’ve researched to identify our picks for some of the best retirement communities in the country.
To compile this list, we looked at:
- Location of each community
- Desirable climate (weather)
- Access to quality healthcare
- Availability of amenities and services
- Established and enforced age restrictions (such as 55+ or other)
- Type of retirement community (active adult, independent living)
- Ratings and reviews
- Homebuyer interest
- Recommendations from qualified organizations
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What is a retirement community?
A retirement community is typically a residential housing neighborhood, subdivision, or complex designed for older adults who are active, independent, or — for the most part — able to care for themselves. Many planned retirement communities give mature residents a sense of belonging and offer a way of life. Some communities offer recreational, social, and educational activities and events.
A retirement community is not necessarily exclusively for retired individuals. The stigma that may be perceived by the term “retirement community” does not do justice to what can be available and the lifestyle and benefits of an age-restricted community. Retirement communities with designations such as “55+” are a popular choice for Americans making a move to retire, downsizing as they prepare for retirement, or just to simplify their lives.
These communities typically do not provide care services but may be conveniently located near healthcare facilities and other desirable amenities. Some may even have an on-site hospital.
What are the most popular retirement states in the US?
According to the popular personal finance website WalletHub, the 10 best states to retire in are the following:
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
There are many reasons why these states are appealing destinations for retirees. Some of the most notable include:
- Affordability (or favorable cost of living)
- Low taxes (to help stretch Social Security, pensions, IRAs, etc.)
- Number of adults aged 55 and older
- Mild winters or other desirable climate benefits
- Outdoor activities to stay active (beaches, parks, walking/hiking, etc.)
- Cultural or entertainment opportunities, attractions, festivals, or other events
- Availability of quality healthcare
- Access to public transportation
- Low crime rates
Our picks for some of the best retirement communities in the US
There are many outstanding retirement communities in the U.S. Based on the parameters we listed above, here are some we feel are worth some extra consideration:
The Villages in Florida
Phone number: 352-753-6655
Location: 1000 Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages, FL 32162
Price range: $200,000 – over $1,000,000, plus monthly fee of $800 – $1,300
About: Often regarded as one of the best retirement communities in the country, The Villages in Central Florida is the largest of its kind. The age-restricted development opened in 1978 and now spans more than 20,000 acres. It offers a huge selection of services and amenities specifically designed for an active and robust 55+ lifestyle, including dozens of recreation centers, golf courses, parks, and shopping centers. There are also hundreds of on-campus clubs, groups, and classes to get involved with. It has six different types of homes and villas to choose from, as well as various levels of care, such as assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and rehabilitation.
Desirable nearby amenities or attractions: Each neighborhood in The Villages offers most of what residents need on a daily basis, but residents can easily hop around the greater community using its shuttle system. Nearby cities include Sandford, Orlando, and Tampa. Some of the state’s best beaches, including Clearwater and Daytona, are about two hours away.
Other notable 55+ communities in Florida
Bridgewater Retirement Community in Virginia
Phone number: 540-828-2550
Location: 302 N 2nd Street, Bridgewater, VA 22812
Price range: Call for details
About: Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Bridgewater Retirement Community’s 90-acre campus offers four levels of living: independent living, assisted living, memory support, and nursing households for both long-term care and rehab. The community first opened in 1965 and has been growing ever since. There are now 269 homes of various styles and sizes for independent living, 69 assisted living apartments, 29 rooms for memory support, and six nursing households able to accommodate 127 residents in total.
Desirable nearby amenities or attractions: Among the on-campus amenities are a state-of-the-art wellness center, art studio, woodworking center, billiards room, putting green, croquet court, styling salon, and full-service bank. A highlight on the grounds is The Oasis, an open-air pavilion with a fire pit, walking trail, fountain, and butterfly garden. The community is also within walking distance of Bridgewater’s town center. The college town is small but homey. Some of its attractions are a par-3 golf course, a miniature golf course, indoor tennis courts, a public library, an ice skating rink, and the Sipe Center Movie Theater and Performing Arts Center.
Other notable 55+ communities in Virginia
- First Colonial Inn in Virginia Beach
- Commonwealth Senior Living in Williamsburg
- Cadence at Lansdowne in Lansdowne
MacKenzie Place – Fort Collins in Colorado
Phone number: 970-207-1939
Location: 750 Pleasant Oak Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525
Price range: Leasing is $4,500 – $8,400 per month, cottages are $400,000 – $500,000
About: MacKenzie Place – Fort Collins is a resort-like senior living community that offers a continuum of care with independent living, assisted living, and memory care services. The community has 373 apartments or units. Its parent company is Leisure Care, which was founded in 1976.
Desirable nearby amenities or attractions: Located minutes from downtown Fort Collins, MacKenzie Place provides convenient access to big city amenities like shopping, dining out and a wide array of live entertainment. For those looking to get in touch with nature, there are several nearby lakes, as well as the Rocky Mountain foothills. But if you’d rather stay home, the on-campus amenities include a gym, spa, salon, indoor swimming pool, library, billiards room, movie theater, and multiple dining options.
Other notable 55+ communities in Colorado
Heritage Shores in Delaware
About: Heritage Shores is a 55+ active retirement community featuring an Arthur Hills championship golf course, a 28,000-square-foot clubhouse, three restaurants, swimming pools, tennis courts, and more. Residents can either buy or lease. Construction of the community began in 2004 and continues to grow. Upon completion, it will have nearly 2,000 single-family and attached homes.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Given its central location in the state, Heritage Shores is reasonably close to many of the attractions Delaware has to offer. In the more immediate vicinity, residents have easy access to shopping and dining along Sussex Highway, as well as arts and leisure in Bridgeville, such as Zwaanendael Museum, Bethany Beach Boardwalk, and Bridgeville Historical Society. Popular shorelines are also within reach, with Rehoboth Beach only half an hour away, and Chesapeake Bay about 90 minutes away.
Other notable 55+ communities in Delaware
Zvago at Glen Lake in Minnesota
Phone number: 952-452-8875
Location: 14301 Stewart Lane, Minnetonka, MN 55345
Price range: Down payment ranges from $35,000 to $468,000. The more someone puts down, the less the monthly payment is. With the average down payment of $120,000, the monthly payment is $2,100. When someone sells their unit, they get the down payment back plus 2% per year.
About: Zvago at Glen Lake is a cooperative community with 54 units for active seniors ages 62 and up. Zvago manages several similar communities throughout Minnesota. Unlike a condo, which is privately owned on shared property, a co-op is collectively owned and managed by its residents. Each resident owns shares in the nonprofit corporation and pays a monthly amount to cover operating costs. Zvago at Glen Lake is a secluded lakeshore community with amenities including a fitness center, business center, community room, tool room, and several areas to enjoy food and libations.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Within about a five-mile radius you will find many recreational opportunities, including athletic fields, walking, and biking trails, skating rinks, and pickleball courts.
Other notable 55+ communities in Minnesota
Touchmark at Harwood Groves in North Dakota
Phone number: 701-404-5862
Location: 1200 Harwood Dr. S, Fargo, ND 58104
Price range: $2,670 – $8,765 per month
About: Set on 14 acres, Touchmark at Harwood Groves is one of two Touchmark communities in North Dakota. It offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Its on-campus services include a life enrichment and wellness program, a health and fitness club, and quality dining options.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: The surrounding area is home to attractions such as the Fargo Air Museum, Red River Zoo, Plains Art Museum, and the Fargo Country Club.
Other notable 55+ communities in North Dakota
The Knolls at Hillcrest in Montana
About: The Knolls at Hillcrest is a 55+ community that offers bungalows, creative one-story layouts, and some homes with lofts. It’s the first residential community developed within the Highlands, a 500-acre master-planned community designed to meet a wide range of community needs, including diverse housing, neighborhood service centers, and access to regional commercial services, as well as trails and parkland systems. Footpaths lead community members from their homes to healthcare facilities, shopping, dining, social activities, and an extensive selection of hiking and biking trails.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: On-campus amenities include a fitness center, spa, and a hospitality house equipped with televisions, games, a kitchen, and a business center. Adjacent to the community is both Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and the Highland Health Park. Just minutes away is Downtown Bozeman, home to more than 150 businesses, as well as Montana State University. Parks abound throughout the city, as do opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and playing sports.
Other notable 55+ communities in Montana
- Touchmark on Saddle Drive in Helena
- Highgate Senior Living in Bozeman
- Kootenai Creek Village in Stevensville
Sagewood at Daybreak in Utah
Phone number: 801-624-6785
Location: 11289 Oakmond Rd, South Jordan, UT 84009
Price range: $3,800 – $5,000 per month
About: Sagewood at Daybreak is a 6-acre, 235,000-square-foot campus located in the southeastern portion of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. It offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care. On-campus amenities include garden courtyards with walking paths, an indoor pool, and a salon with therapeutic massage. While Sagewood at Daybreak doesn’t offer actual home sales, we’ve included it in our list because it represents another retirement community option that might fit your needs.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Surrounding the campus are shops, restaurants, walking paths, a light rail station, and the University of Utah Medical Center complex. Go a step further and you’ll find 22 miles of walking trails, over 250 acres of parks and open space, and a 65-acre man-made lake.
Other notable 55+ communities in Utah
Sun City West in Arizona
About: Sun City West is a 55+ active adult retirement community owned by the Del Webb Corporation. The community has 16,900 homes, with 140 different home models to choose from. The single-family homes range in size from 800 to over 4,600 square feet. Its $125 million worth of amenities include four recreation centers, nine golf courses, a bowling center, a private library, and nine restaurants. Its nearly 30,000 owner-members have also created over 100 chartered clubs and interest groups from auto restoration to zymurgy.
Ratings and reviews: A cumulative 4.6-star rating from reviews on 55places.com.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Within nine miles of the community are attractions such as the Arrowhead Mall, Challenger Space Center, West Valley Art Museum, Wildlife World Zoo, and Lake Pleasant. Travel a little further and you’ll reach downtown Phoenix, as well as sporting venues hosting teams such as the Cardinals (NFL), Coyotes (NHL), and several Major League Baseball spring training camps.
Other notable 55+ communities in Arizona
RiverWoods Manchester in New Hampshire
Phone number: 603-836-2302
Location: 200 Alliance Way, Manchester, NH 03102
Price range: $213,000 – $624,000, plus monthly fee of $3,144 – $5,596. Note: 70% of the entrance fee is refundable should the resident move out or pass away.
About: RiverWoods Manchester is one of RiverWoods Group’s three continuing care retirement communities. The not-for-profit organization sits on 29 wooded acres and offers independent living, assisted living, memory support, and nursing care. On-campus amenities and services include comprehensive home maintenance, a health care center, complimentary transportation, flexible dining options, and speedy snow removal. Much of the community is also resident-driven, with a resident council made up of residents voted in by their peers that communicates the needs of the community to the staff and leadership. There are many resident-run activities and committees as well.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: If the wildlife in and around the community isn’t enough, a half-mile down the road sits the Nature Conservancy’s 642-acre Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve. The community is also minutes from downtown Manchester, providing quick and easy access to cultural and dining opportunities. These include the Courier Museum of Art, Palace Theatre, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House, the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium (home of the baseball team the Fisher Cats ), and the Manchester Historic Association Millyard Museum. Drive 20 minutes north and you’ll also reach Concord, New Hampshire’s capital.
Other notable 55+ communities in New Hampshire
- Brookdale Spruce Wood in Durham
- Holiday Birch Heights in Derry
- Connect55+ Londonderry in Londonderry
Note: Our picks are not necessarily the largest retirement communities in the country, because size does not always translate to the best lifestyle, affordability, or location.
How can I find a retirement community near me?
One way to see your options in your desired state is to search the internet with phrases such as, “retirement communities near me” or “55 and older communities near me.” Check ratings, reviews, and comments posted on the Better Business Bureau site, Google Reviews, and industry websites.
Another way to find a quality retirement community near you is to consult a top real estate agent in your area. An experienced agent who knows your market can provide you with valuable insights into community characteristics such as crime rates, affordability, home construction quality, and the reputation of the governing association.
10 questions to ask before you buy a home in a retirement community
Here are 10 important questions to ask before you commit to purchasing a home in a retirement community.
1. Will I own the home or is this a lease community?
This may seem like it would be obvious, but when it comes to retirement communities, you might be surprised to learn that in some age-restricted communities you don’t actually own the property. In some cases, the community itself may own the land. In other cases, it might be the developer or other investors.
2. What are the community rules?
Most active adult communities have a set of rules that must be followed. These might include:
- Children and grandchildren restrictions
- Pets (limits on how many, allowable breeds and sizes)
- Parking (number of cars, where, RVs, boats)
- Guests or visitors (numbers, length of time, etc.)
- Exterior paint colors
- Dress codes in public areas
- Lawn maintenance enforcement
- Renting (limitations or restrictions)
- Renovation/improvement restrictions
- Noise (daytime and nighttime decibel allowances)
3. What are your new neighbors like?
Having good neighbors plays a huge role in your quality of life, especially when you retire. Learn about what life is like in the neighborhood. If possible, attend some of the community events and get to know some of the people living there.
4. What plans are there for the adjacent property?
This is an especially important question for newly constructed retirement communities. You don’t want to be surprised when a sewage treatment facility is erected down the street from your peaceful abode.
5. What type of assessments have been made?
Assessments can be common for any community development, but for seniors living on a fixed income, it can cause some unexpected financial hardship. Pay especially close attention to the age and condition of the community if this is a concern for you.
6. Is the community financially sound?
You will want to know if the developer and association are on solid financial ground before you make a commitment. That way you won’t be caught in limbo if the development stalls.
7. Is the community able to keep up with future growth?
Is there sufficient infrastructure in place, wise planning, and expandable space? These are all relevant questions to explore to ensure you’re buying into something promising and sustainable.
8. Is there a reserve fund for maintenance?
Also known as a sinking fund, this is a financial safety net for both inevitable and unforeseen upkeep. Well-managed communities will have an appropriate reserve available, as well as a system in place to keep it funded.
9. What other projects belong to this developer?
Research the builder and ask for references. This will give you a sense of the developer’s track record. Information should be readily available online, especially for larger companies. Expect to find some negative reviews — there will always be some unhappy buyers. Compare the number and severity of the complaints with the number and quality of positive reviews. Also, look at how the company tried to resolve issues with disgruntled customers.
10. Is the governing association easy to work with?
You will want a community board with a proven track record of working together and finding solutions. If you discover a dysfunctional board led by power-hungry or inept individuals, it may prove to be the cause of great angst and can harm the unity of the entire community. Ask a number of different residents. Check with your real estate agent. Find out if the board and its members are competent, effective, and civil. One free resource to research your association or HOA is communityassociations.net.
What's Your Home Worth Now?
If you are considering selling your home to retire or downsize, find out what your property might be worth. Enter a few details about your house and we’ll provide you with a preliminary estimate of home value in less than two minutes. It can be a helpful starting point as you plan your next move.
Check out the community around the community
Vetting the retirement community with the 10 questions above will help you uncover crucial insights into what life might be like within the boundaries of those neighborhoods, but you will want to look beyond the front gates.
To truly identify the best retirement community for you, you should also research the history, reputation, culture, and amenities available in the surrounding host city or town. Find out what the area has to offer that can improve or enhance your retirement years.
- How far away are the nearest hospitals and other medical facilities?
- What are the safety and crime rates of the surrounding city or town?
- How easy is it to access major highways and commuting routes?
- Is it located directly on a busy, noisy highway?
- Is there a variety of conveniences nearby such as restaurants, banks, or grocery stores?
- Is there a dog park or groomer nearby?
- Is there a bus route or commuter rail that serves the area?
- Are there nearby churches or places of worship that fit your beliefs?
- Are there undesirable businesses or manufacturing facilities nearby?
- Is it near enough to an airport for convenience, or too close with excessive noise?
- Are there connecting bike paths or walking/hiking trails?
Q&A: More tips and insights about retirement communities
What is the average cost to live in a retirement community?
According to A Place for Mom’s National Senior Living Cost Index, the median monthly cost was $2,552 in 2018, the most recent year for which numbers were available. Assisted living was about $1,400 more per month on average at the time of the study.
What state has the most age 65 or older Americans?
In 2020, there were more than 55 million Americans 65 years of age or older, according to the Census Bureau. A quarter of that population lived in one of three states: California, Florida, and Texas. However, the states with the highest percentage of its population being older Americans at the time were Maine (21.8%) and Florida (21.3%).
When should I visit a prospective retirement community?
To get the clearest picture of how you might connect with a retirement community, it’s best to visit at different times of the year. You may love an area you visited on vacation in the fall, but that does not mean you will like it in the winter. Remember, you are making long-term retirement plans, so multiple visits are worth the time and investment. It’s also valuable to consider several different retirement locations and compare the benefits and drawbacks.
Are there real estate agents that specialize in helping seniors?
Yes. There is a specialty certification that agents can receive from The National Association of Realtors to become a Seniors Real Estate Specialist or SRES. An SRES agent will be well-versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, and more. To learn more, see our post: Should You Hire an Agent Who Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Don’t stress about your decision
Retirement is what you make it.
Though we’ve provided you with 10 great communities to consider, there is no definitive right choice on how you spend your golden years.
The best advice we can offer is simply to do your research and ask a lot of questions before you fully commit to your new living arrangement. Your research should include spending time in the area and getting to know the community. The more you know going into a retirement community, the lower the chances of you being caught off guard by something not so desirable.
There’s also nothing wrong with seeking assistance when making a decision of this magnitude.
Header Image Source: (Ninno JackJr / Unsplash)