How to Choose 55 and Over Senior Apartments

Senior Apartments for 55 and Over

Finding a new place to live can be daunting, especially as we age. There are a lot of factors and important questions to take into consideration, like whether to buy or rent a space, but the two most important ones are about the location and layout of your new home. When it comes to location you want to think about it holistically and look at the proximity of services and businesses to your new apartment, the age demographics of your building or community, the services your building or community provides, as well as what amenities are offered to create a sense of community and belonging. With layout, that is slightly easier to think about in terms of where rooms are situated and how accessible they all are as well as what safety features may be in place. Taking tours of different locations is crucial so you find the best fit for your current and desired future lifestyle. However, it is first important to understand the different types of senior housing that are available to you personally or for your loved ones and remember to not shy away from asking the residents at different communities how they like living there.

Different Types of Senior Housing

One type of housing are senior apartments which are age restricted to people over the age of 55 and they tend to be rental apartments rather than ones that are for sale. Senior apartments usually are pretty sparse when it comes to amenities and they tend to not offer meals to the residents. This is truly like any other apartment building you may have once lived in, with the exception of having an age restriction.

Another type of senior housing are called active adult communities. These communities encourage their residents to lead a healthy and active lifestyle as they age, both physically and mentally. Some of the activities that they encourage and offer include, but are not limited to, playing golf, cooking classes, fitness centers, painting lessons, and more. However, many active adult communities do not offer on site medical services like other retirement communities do. If this is something that you would want in your community, it is important to keep that in mind before moving to an active adult community. The housing in active adult communities consists of homes and sometimes townhouses rather than apartments, giving the residents a neighborhood like feel and making it easier to meet other people in a more organic way.

Independent living facilities, more commonly known as retirement homes, essentially offer all services to their residents like meals, housekeeping, and a wide variety of amenities to keep them physically and mentally active. The key difference between independent living communities and assisted living communities is that the former has residents who do not need assistance with day to day tasks such as getting dressed, while the latter aids their residents with that and more. Assisted living communities offer more medical care like memory care when independent living communities do not need to do that for their residents.

In addition, depending on your religious beliefs it might be important to you to find a community with similar religious values as yourself or at least a community that is diverse and accepting of other religions.

Proximity of Services and Businesses

In general, people want to be as close as possible to necessities like grocery stores and clinics, but it becomes more important as we age to live near these resources. It is important to look for an apartment that is near grocery stores, pharmacies, and hospitals so you do not have to worry about driving as far, especially in case of an emergency. Living near your doctor is ideal as well so you do not have to worry about the drive being too long there and back! Finding an apartment near restaurants is also always great to have so you and your partner or friends can eat out, but still be close to home when the meal ends. Maintaining your social life is crucial to your mental health and releasing endorphins as you age. Looking at the walkability score for your new home is not something to skim past as it can give you very relevant information on your area.

If you are looking for an apartment that does not require a car to get around, then looking into a place in your downtown area might be the best option. Downtowns have a multitude of services, restaurants, and businesses, as well as public transportation and more sidewalks if you have the desire to walk or bike more than drive. However, when it comes to living in a downtown area it is important to keep in mind that it might be noisier than living in a more residential part of your city and there tend to be fewer full fledged senior living communities.

In addition to looking for a new home near essential services, it would be nice to also try and live near any family members or friends that you may have. It helps to have family and friends nearby in case of an emergency, but also to maintain the social aspect of life for your mental health.

Age Demographic

Looking at the age demographic of your building or community is another important factor to consider before moving into a new apartment. Younger residents can bring in a lot of unwanted noise, especially on the weekends. Families with young children might also bring unwanted noise, so it is a good idea to look at the average age or maybe solely search in an age restricted community or building. Living in an age restricted community means surrounding yourself with people closer in age to yourself and with more similar life experiences, making it easier to make new friends and engage in similar community activities.

Both types of living situations come with perks, such as living in an age restricted community might have specific building structures meant for senior citizens and definitely less noise. Living in a building with people of all ages could mean a younger resident helps you carry in groceries or can assist with some heavy lifting that you or your partner may not be able to do.

Though it is not directly correlated with age, many younger individuals tend to have house pets like cats and dogs. If you are not a fan of having animals in your building, you should also keep that in mind while searching or stay away from non pet friendly buildings if do want animals around.

Building or Community Services

It gets harder to perform manual labor tasks that used to be a breeze when you were younger, so when you are looking for a new apartment it can be helpful to find a place that provides you with certain services. For example, some zero-property line communities plow the streets and driveways when it snows to take the labor off of their residents. Shoveling snow is not only more difficult when you are older, but also more dangerous in case you step on ice and slip. So, if you are looking for an apartment in a snow-prone state it might be a good idea to make sure your building or community will take care of plowing and salting the streets and sidewalks. It is also helpful to have a trash chute on your floor, so you do not have to haul a bag of trash too far or worry about it getting picked up. In addition to all of this, living in an apartment has the appeal of the landlord taking care of building maintenance instead of you having to do that work and that also means that there is no yard work that needs to be done by you.


Depending on what you desire, you might want to look for an apartment with a pool, gym, tennis courts, outdoor spaces with grills or fire pits, golf courses, etc. Physical health is an important aspect of yourself to maintain as you age, so having tennis courts or a gym or both might be a key factor in your search. But also keep in mind that you should have some way to socialize with others to help your mental health. Some communities have special events and social activities every so often for the whole building, which is a great way to meet new people and socialize. Continuing to lead a social life is crucial to one’s mental health, and living in apartment complexes or retirement communities can aid in meeting new people.

Many senior living communities offer even more service-wise such as art studios to keep yourself mentally active, salons and spas so you do not have to travel to get a haircut, and many have wellness clinics on site to manage blood pressure and offer different kinds of physical therapies. Assisted living communities and senior apartment communities also have dining services so you do not have to worry about going to the store or leaving for meals. Of course the more amenities a community has the more expensive it is to live there, so always keep in mind what your budget is when searching for a new place to call home.

Apartment Layout

Climbing stairs can get a lot harder when you age, so making sure you have a street level entrance for your apartment building is really important for easy access, especially if you or your partner are wheelchair bound. In addition, you will obviously want a building with an elevator but make sure you choose an apartment that is not too high up in the event of a fire when the elevators will be out of service. Having natural light is great for your mental health, so look for a space with enough windows so you do not feel like you live in darkness.

It is also important to think about how many bedrooms and rooms, in general, you will need such as a studio, one-bedroom, or more. If you live in a building that does not offer housekeeping services, it might be better to opt for a smaller apartment-style so you have less to clean on your own. Furthermore, if you live in a regular apartment building it would be helpful to have certain appliances within your home like a dishwasher and a laundry machine so you do not have to hand wash dishes or worry about taking your clothes to a laundromat. Some senior housing only has one type of apartment while others have multiple. You also have to think about if you will need a full service assisted living community or if you need something a little less hands-on and want an assisted living community or a simple retirement community so you are surrounded by other retired individuals who are able to do daily tasks on their own more or less.

When looking at apartments you might find it useful to search for ones that have benches in the showers or grab bars scattered around to protect yourself from potentially falling. These built-in features may not be found in any standard apartment, but they are bound to be in housing specifically designed for people over the age of 55.

At the end of the day, it is crucial to find the type of senior housing that will fit your requirements for now and the future so that it will end up being the right choice for you overall. You need to find a pl


ace that will keep you physically and mentally stimulated through different daily activities and you need to make sure you will be near different essential businesses and medical services. There is no need to rush into finding a new home, so take your time when you start your search to really find what will be best for you as you start a new chapter in your life.