10 Tips for Finding the Best Retirement Communities for Your Needs

There are just about 15,000 assisted living facilities in the United States. But just because these places share a title, doesn’t mean they all offer the same benefits.

In nursing home care, there is no standard. What flies in one state may be barred in another. Some facilities will charge you for services like laundry, while others include everything in your price.

The key to choosing the best retirement communities is deciding what your needs are and setting a budget you can stick to. Read on for tips to get started.

1. Decide What Your Needs Are

When you choose to move into a community, you will need to decide what level of care you need. The options are independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing.


Independent living means you live in your own apartment-like space within a community where you can get help. You don’t have anyone in your home regularly and often make your own meals.

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are the next step up in care. Here you typically have your own apartment-like space, but go to a community room for meals and activities. Other variations include homes with several seniors living in them. Learn more here.

Skilled Nursing

In a skilled nursing facility, you have access to medical professionals who can treat you 24/7. This is the most expensive and restrictive form of care.

2. Consider a Continuing Care Retirement Community

While you may not need a lot of assistance at this point in your life, as you get older you will likely need more help.

One trend in that has recently taken root to address this problem is continuing care retirement communities. These facilities allow you to live independently for a time, before moving into assisted living when you need it, and given access to skilled nursing when you reach that point.

By living in a community like this, you will be able to really get to know your friends, neighbors, and caregivers and you will really feel like part of the neighborhood. This is great especially for those who have family members that live out of state.

3. Talk to Current Residents

While many retirement communities have lovely images on their websites of seniors living the dream, often these people are paid actors. If you want to be sure you’re getting a realistic image of the place, make sure you talk to a few residents.

Ask them what the food is like day to day and whether the staff treats the residents with care and courtesy. Get the truth about the safety and conditions in the facility before you sign anything.

4. Compare the Costs

When you are choosing a retirement home, you don’t necessarily want to pick the cheapest one, but the cost will certainly be a factor. Make sure that you make a chart of your must-haves for a facility.

Then, as you tour places, check the boxes that that facility meets while also listing the price of the place. Later, after you have toured everywhere, you can go back and see which place meets the majority of your needs for a price you can afford.

5. Take a Tour Multiple Times

If you were going to buy a house, you would definitely tour it more than once before making the purchase. You would want to get a feel for the neighborhood at different times of day, see if everything is really as great as you remember, and have an inspection done to ensure there aren’t any problems lurking below the surface.

When it comes to choosing a retirement home, you should be just as detailed. This will be your home for the foreseeable future, so take part in the selection process.

Make sure you visit the home on multiple days. You want to see all the different staff members you might come into contact with and be sure that they aren’t putting on a show for your tour.

6. Don’t Forget About the Details

When you sign a contract with an assisted living facility, they include certain services. Make sure you find out if laundry is included, whether food is billed separately, whether wifi and internet are included, and anything else that might cost you extra.

These details can make or break your budget.

7. Ask About Eventualities

At some point in your lifetime at a facility, you will likely fall ill or pass away. Find out how the facility handles those details. You don’t want your children to have to deal with a lot of final payment details and the arrangement of moving your things once you’re gone.

8. Check Out the Cafeteria

When you live in a retirement home, for most of your meals you will most likely be eating food from the cafeteria. When you go on your tour, make sure this is a stop.

Take a look at the monthly calendar and see if there is anything you like on the menu. While it may not seem like that big of a deal now, after you have been in the home for a while, if you don’t like the food, you will be really unhappy.

9. Don’t Wait for a Crisis

Some people wait until their loved one has a fall or is given a terminal diagnosis to find a care facility. But, in that circumstance, it’s too late to take your time and find the best place for your needs.

Instead, you will have to scramble to find anywhere with a bed open. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to chance, secure yourself a bed in a facility you trust today.

10. Read Before You Sign

Before you sign any contract, you should read it carefully. But this is doubly true when it comes to resident agreements. Assisted living facilities are not cheap and you will be accountable for the charges on your contract.

Find out what happens if you are unable to pay or if you have a problem with someone on the staff. Make sure you get a copy of everything and consider having a lawyer take a look at it.

The last thing you want is to move into a facility thinking it’s going to be great, agree to a six-month contract, and then hate the place and need to move out after two months.

How to Find The Best Retirement Communities

Now that you’ve read this article on selecting the best retirement communities, you’re ready to get out there and start touring places.

Check out our listings today.