Ask These Questions Before You Sign a Retirement Community Contract

Retirement communities are popular options for those who want to spend their golden years in a neighborhood full of peers, activities and even luxurious amenities. In many cases, a retirement community will offer unique services for each phase of your retirement. You may transition over time from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care.

Joining a retirement community can be a wise decision for a number of reasons. One is that it lets you lead an enjoyable and independent retirement but also have the security of nearby support and medical providers if needed. You also may enjoy having a nearby network of like-minded retirees. Socialization can be an effective way to minimize the risk of health issues and cognitive disorders.

However, it’s important to do your due diligence and find the right community for your needs and budget. Every community will put its best face forward during the sales process. Not all communities are the same, though. Below are a few questions to ask so you can make the most informed decision:

How is the community’s financial stability?

Many retirement communities require a hefty upfront deposit and an ongoing commitment for sizable monthly payments. These costs may make sense given the level of support, amenities and activities included with the community.

However, the value of a retirement community depends on it being around for the duration of your retirement. Remember, you could live in the community for several decades. To fully realize the benefits of your contract, you’ll want to stay in the community for the long haul.

Don’t hesitate to ask about the community’s financial stability. What’s its occupancy rate? If there’s a high level of vacancies, will that change in the future? Can you see the community’s balance sheet? What happens to your deposit and monthly payments if the community can’t stay solvent? These questions and others are valid and justified, so ask as many as you need to feel confident about your decision.

Are there any features or amenities that cost extra? Or is everything included in the base cost?

Most retirement communities offer flashy brochures that feature a wide range of fun activities and outings. However, don’t assume that something is included in the normal fee just because it’s featured in marketing materials. Many retirement communities offer a standard level of service and then additional amenities for an extra cost.

For example, it’s possible that some group outings cost extra. The community may have an association with a nearby golf or tennis club that may be available at additional cost. There could be different levels of dining options. Also, it’s possible that your costs may change if you transition to assisted living or skilled nursing care. Ask plenty of questions to see how the costs will add up now and in the future.

Will your long-term care insurer help pay for some of the costs?

If you’re healthy and moving into the independent living section of the community, long-term care may not be top of mind. However, it’s possible that you may need to move to assisted living or skilled nursing in the future. If so, you’ll likely want to take advantage of your long-term care insurance.

Check with your insurer to make sure that this community and its various levels of care are in fact covered by your policy. If they’re not, find out why and whether it’s possible to gain coverage. It would be unfortunate to pay a large deposit for a community and then find out after-the-fact that it’s not covered under your insurance.

Ready to develop your retirement strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Peak Financial. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.


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