Tag Archives: retirement communities

Taking the Longview

Patio homes at Longview

Patio homes at Longview

Common Sense for Seniors staff have been taking a look at Longview, over in Ithaca, just as an example of the kind of place we might think about moving to in our more senior years.

Longview is a popular spot. At the moment, there are no vacancies in the twenty-two patio homes, where seniors live independently, and very little available among the 100 independent-living apartments. This isn’t surprising in view of everything Longview has to offer, including a pool, walking paths, the opportunity to take courses at Ithaca College (just across the street), and a full range of activities every day.

But is it affordable? We often have seniors tell us they could never afford to live in such a place, so let’s take a look at the financial side.

One of the great things about Longview is that there is no big upfront enrollment fee. The patio homes and apartments are simple rentals. A two bedroom apartment for two people goes for $4,850 per month, but a studio for a single person can be had for just $1,918. When you think of all that’s included, such as a full slate of activities, rides to shopping, and one meal a day — plus all the bills that no longer have to be paid for things like property taxes, heat, electricity, and snow removal — rents at Longview are a pretty good deal.

If the time comes when we’ll need assisted living, that’s also available at Longview at $3,387 for a standard single; but someone on Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) would pay just $1,225. (Enhanced Assisted Living is also available and provides just about everything you might expect at a nursing home, except for re-hab.)

The reality is that if we put our minds to it, many of us seniors could come up with a financial package that would enable us to live at Longview or a comparable facility. If we take into account our Social Security, pension, retirement savings, and whatever nest egg we might have from the sale of the house, there could well be more available than we think.

Someone whose income is too limited for a place like Longview could look around for a HUD-backed senior living facility, such as Penn Yan’s marvelous St. Mark’s Terrace. St. Mark’s offers many of the benefits to be found at Longview for rents starting a less than $400 per month.

An independent financial planner or elder attorney can help folks who are uncertain about what they can afford or about what sort of aid is available. For example, the Elder Law and Medicaid Planning service at the firm of Lacey Katzen in Rochester offers to develop a care plan intended to assist seniors in maintaining their quality of life and protecting as much of their assets as the law allows, while accessing appropriate public benefits.

Aging in place until they come to carry us out has its appeal. No one likes a change,  But mounting health and mobility problems as we age can make aging in place increasingly unrealistic. It can also be a burden on those who love us. The New York Times recently ran an article on adult children who are sacrificing their careers to tend to their parents.  Longview shows that options are available.

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Is 55+ Living For You?

Thinking of leaving the old home town?

Thinking of leaving the old home town?

I’ve been reading Leisureville: Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias, by Andrew Blechman, with great interest. It’s fascinating as a sociological study of The Villages in Florida, and it includes much information on other age-restricted, 55+ communities as well, particularly Sun City in Arizona. The book came out in 2008, but in 2014, BuzzFeed published an in-depth update on The Villages (with great photos) by Alex French.

Life at The Villages doesn’t much appeal to me. I don’t do well in hot weather. I don’t play golf. The geographical isolation and lack of diversity would depress me. But that’s just my opinion. One-hundred thousand people disagree and have moved there. The development now covers an area larger than Manhattan.

As Blechman writes, “Behind all the gated age-restricted leisure, ersatz architectural nostalgia, and nightly hanky-panky, what I saw in The Villages is a concerted effort by a segment of older Americans to find community …. Many Villagers simply don’t care if they live in an autocratic fantasyland founded on a policy of [age] segregation; they just want a place to call home, a geritopia where they can be comfortable among their peers.”

More interesting are the smaller, 55+ “active adult communities” now springing up around the country — many closer to major cities and cultural attractions. You can browse these communities, as well as the mega retirement communities, at 55Places.com.

At one of the new, smaller communities, seniors would likely find all the latest in interior design features — the granite countertops and upscaled cabinets — and, with any luck, aging in place adaptations, such as hallways wide enough for wheel chairs and shower grips. All the exterior maintenance, from mowing to staining the deck, will be taken care of. Most communities will have a clean, neat appearance due to all the restrictions in the deed covenants. There might be a pool, walking trails, and a clubhouse.  Nor would a large entrance fee be charged, as is often the case at continuing care communities.

Still, most of these places are located on the edges of metropolitan areas, often surrounded by major highways. Some communities offer bus rides for shopping and other outings, but by and large residents remain dependent on their cars. And there’s still the matter of age segregation. What’s the point of it, anyway? I like having kids in the community.

Nonetheless, there may be some gems out there. This one in Richmond looks appealing.

Blechman’s book warns that buyers need to beware when making their purchase decision. Don’t buy after a day or two of being wined and dined by the developer! Take a careful look at the covenants. Can you live with them? What would your financial responsibilities be with respect to the community “amenities,” such as the clubhouse and the rec center? How is the community governed? Do you want to get involved with serving on the board, and endure all the stress that can entail? If not, are you willing to accept the board’s decisions on everything from roof repair to tree-cutting?

Perhaps a little condo or a rental apartment–  back home or near the kids –would be a better idea.