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Buying vs Renting in a Continuing Care Retirement Community

Are continuing care retirement communities and independent living communities the same thing? When planning for your retirement community, it’s important to understand the different options to determine whether it makes more financial sense to buy or rent your senior housing.
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Planning for your life post-retirement is one of the most important steps you’ll take towards securing a comfortable future. Retirement options range from Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) to independent living communities to rental retirement communities.

Is there any difference between these types of senior housing communities, and if so, is it better to buy or rent?

This guide will explain the difference between each community and help you decide if renting or buying is right for you or your loved ones.

CCRCs vs. Independent Living Communities

CCRCs and independent living communities are often confused with one another, for good reason. A continuing care retirement community and independent living community have a lot in common. They both tend to offer a variety of living services and amenities, including:

  • Fitness centers
  • Dining rooms
  • Community clubhouses
  • Wifi
  • Swimming pools
  • Transportation
  • Housekeeping
  • Maintenance

Some CCRCs provide more than others, though in general CCRCs tend to offer more amenities than independent living communities Other amenities that could be offered include:

  • Gourmet dining options
  • Personal trainers
  • Spas
  • Salons
  • Gardens
  • Theatres
  • Memberships to local clubs/events

Other amenities set CCRCs apart, like their housing options, which can range from larger living units with communal spaces to individual living units like cottages, villas, and traditional housing. In addition, CCRCs also offer healthcare services on site, which can be valuable for residents requiring high levels of care.

Another distinct difference between CCRCs and independent living communities is that CCRC housing is purchased, while independent living community housing is rented.

Benefits of Buying into a CCRC

CCRCs allow residents to buy a home in the community, receiving extra amenities and services in exchange. However, CCRCs also tend to offer assisted living services and higher levels of care to their residents, which many rental communities do not offer.

To purchase a home in a CCRC, you’ll have to pay a considerable entrance fee ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. In addition, residents will pay monthly fees ranging from $3,000 to $5,000.

Most residents afford this fee by selling their home and using the profit to pay their entrance fee and portions of the monthly fees. Many residents save money by living in CCRCs, because they do not have to worry about purchasing food or amenities like gym or pool memberships.

The entrance fee paid also can cover residents’ expenses if there’s a medical emergency or need for a high level of care during their stay.

There are also different contracts available for CCRCs including a life care contract (the most expensive), which runs for the duration of the resident’s life, a modified contract (less expensive entrance fee, higher monthly fees), which provides service and care for a set amount of time, or a fee-for-service contract (lower entrance fee, but higher cost for care), which charges the resident for the services used.

Benefits of Renting at an Independent Living Community

Residents without the money to afford an entrance fee to a CCRC can turn to rental communities, also known as independent living communities. These communities are almost always more affordable and can be an excellent option for seniors.

While independent living communities generally offer fewer services than CCRCs, their monthly costs are lower, and seniors will receive a similar sense of community and companionship in this type of living center.

On the downside, independent living communities rarely offer the same high levels of care to residents. So, if a senior requires high levels of care during their stay, they would likely need to be moved to a nursing home or care facility, where they’ll pay the going market rate for healthcare services.

When a high level of care is needed, a CCRC can be a better option, since there is no extra charge for residents enrolled in lifecare contract plans.

Choosing the Right Community

Finding the community that best fits you or your loved one’s needs is important, whether you’re buying or renting. If you have money to afford an entrance fee, a CCRC may be a better option, since you’ll always have peace of mind about the amenities, services, and healthcare that’s available.

If, however, you don’t have money for an enrollment fee and are in good health, you might save more by moving to an independent living community.

If you’re interested in looking for housing within a Continuing Care Retirement Community, a Clever Partner Agent can help you find the best fit. Clever works with top real estate agents across brands like RE/MAX and Century 21 to help you find your next home. Clever can connect you with a local agent who can walk you through every step of the retirement community buying process while helping you also sell your current home.


Reuven Shechter
Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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