Benefits of Renting for Seniors Explained
Having your own home has been long touted as a life goal, but the tide is now changing. Renting apartments is becoming a commonplace and a preferred option, even for seniors. There are several reasons behind this shift. Even though it is a tough decision, it can significantly impact your quality of life. Let’s explore some of the reasons why renting may be more beneficial for seniors instead of owning a home.
Advantages of renting
Selling your home and moving to a rental opens up a plethora of options for you. If you are an empty-nester, want to downsize, or explore new cities in your retirement years, renting opens up a world of possibilities for you. You can move to a city/town with a more amenable climate or live closer to your family in your old age. Factoring in your health, or that of a loved one, can help make this decision easier for you.
According to certain studies, renting may be cheaper than owning a house in certain parts of the country. Make your decision based on where you live, and where you are considering moving to. You can look for places with long-term leases to keep your rent low for a longer period.
Homeowners spend a sizable portion of their money on maintaining their homes. Renting helps you get rid of these extra costs and frees up your mind from having to worry about the structural integrity and maintenance of your home. As you grow older, your ability to carry out minor home repairs also tends to reduce. Finding a decent rental lease can help you get rid of these tasks and ensure that the responsibility for the same rests with your landlord.
Selling your home makes a large portion of your income liquid and allows you to invest it as you like. Investments tend to grow faster than real estate prices, providing you with greater spending power in your golden years. If you are considering selling your home, you must consider the capital gains tax. It allows a capital gains exclusion of up to $250,000 for single tax filers and $500,000 for married couples filing together. In addition to this, you can also deduct expenses such as realtor commissions or capital home improvements conducted over the years. For more clarification on the topic, refer to a qualified tax expert.
Senior apartment types: What’s the difference?
There are several types of community-living options for seniors, depending on the level of care and involvement they need. These include:
Rental senior living community
A rental senior living community is where you are expected to pay monthly rent or fees for your independent residence in a gated community of other senior folks. Depending on the community and area you are in, they may or may not offer senior care, which may come at an additional cost.
Life plan community
A life plan senior community is a form of a buy-in home that requires the payment of an initial entrance fee, and then a monthly service fee. Although they may be slightly more expensive, these living arrangements offer a good mix of independent living and senior care, along with financial advantages over time. You also get access to more organized activities, amenities, and services within the community. These are sometimes called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC).
Life care is a term used to refer to a type of buy-in community that has several financial advantages. Although there is an entrance fee, these can be advantageous as they provide all-inclusive care and services, especially for seniors with limited mobility or chronic diseases.
Continuum of care
This is also a buy-in service that allows seniors to age while receiving the care they need. It includes assisted living, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation services. There are various levels of continuum of care available in different communities, and residents can choose one based on their needs.
Senior living rental communities and apartments
To make renting easier for you, several communities are curated specifically considering senior living requirements. These are designed as low-maintenance households to offer accessibility and are meant to create a community of people over 55. In these apartments, you may find features like single-floor living, wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, walk-in showers, grab bars or handrails in the bathroom, and no or limited stairs. Some benefits of renting in such apartments include:
As a home-owner, there are several maintenance tasks, such as mowing the lawn, scrubbing the bathroom, or cleaning the drains, that need to be performed regularly. Living in a senior community can help you outsource these tasks to the managers. In a senior community, you get access to indoor and outdoor maintenance such as:
- Broken faucets
- Clogged tub or toilet
- Repairs on major appliances
- Changing bulbs or lights
- Shoveling snow off the sidewalk or driveways
- Pulling weeds from the lawn
- Mowing and fertilizing the lawn
- Leaf removal
- Exterior building maintenance, etc.
Ensured safety and security
Senior communities often have extra security measures such as cameras, emergency alert systems, security-patrolled grounds, and additional security at the entryway. This feeling of living in a protected gated community can help you feel safe in your surroundings, and impart a sense of confidence, as opposed to living by yourself in a different neighborhood. These services are generally made available to you at a price lower than that of a stand-alone security system you may need to set up at your home.
According to a study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, one-third of people over 45 tend to feel lonely. Living in a senior-only community can help you overcome this problem by helping you create new bonds and friendships with your neighbors. You can meet new or old friends, go for walks, watch movies, or head to events together to stay fresh and engaged and fight away any negative feelings of loneliness. Building new bonds may also encourage you to pick up new hobbies and interests along the way, which can be stimulating for the brain.
Certain living communities can be fairly restrictive in terms of where seniors are allowed to go. However, there is no need to feel constrained by these rules if your health is sound. You can enjoy your freedom and privacy at senior rental living communities, where your schedule runs according to your own rules! These apartments offer you a comfortable setup to spend your time as you like without worrying about accessibility.
It is difficult to gain as much access to living amenities in a standalone home, as compared to a senior living community. Most communities are equipped with gyms, spas, salons, barbecue areas, walking trails, clubhouse facilities, pools or whirlpools, tennis courts, basketball, or volleyball, on-site laundry facilities, and more. These communities also offer planned activities for residents, such as seasonal parties, book club gatherings, regular outings, game sessions, etc., which help build a sense of community, and keep the residents engaged.
One of the primary reasons that most seniors choose to move into apartments is that it takes the onus of responsibility off their shoulders. With various services offered, you do not need to worry about general maintenance and upkeep of your home. You can instead engage in activities that matter to you – whether it’s exploring a new hobby, meeting up with your friends, or just taking some time to yourself.
How to find a senior apartment as a renter
Once you have decided to move out of your home, it is time to look for a suitable apartment rental. Most senior rental units are located in walkable neighborhoods with plenty of stores, restaurants, services, and other amenities nearby.
With some help from the internet, it is easy to find rental apartments for you, as there are many local market listings, along with advice, commentaries, and reviews for each. On apartment search websites, you can:
- View all the rental listings in any city or neighborhood of your choice
- Filter the listings based on your budget, location, or preferred amenities
- View detailed tours, pictures, or videos of the living space
- Check out reviews posted by other residents for honest opinions
- Sign up for email alerts, in case the apartments are sold out and you would like to be notified when one becomes available
- Get in touch with several apartment communities, and schedule tours with them
- Schedule a background check online or meet with the landlord/community manager
- Seal the deal online, or in person
Tips for moving into a senior rental community
Looking for amenities
When browsing through listings, you may wonder which amenities to prioritize and what features to look for while getting the best price. The following suggestions may help you in your search as a senior apartment renter:
It is best to look for apartments with modern-finish and easy-to-clean surfaces, along with efficient appliances. This can make daily tasks easier for you. A home equipped with smart appliances, such as security cameras, smart doorbells, smart lights, and others, can also make things easier and safer for you. Look for senior-friendly features around the apartment, such as grab-bars in the bathroom, anti-slip floors and showers, in-closet and under-cabinet lighting, lever-door handles, and more, to improve your accessibility around the apartment.
Additionally, look for an apartment equipped with an adjustable thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature in your living quarters.
Building and community
If your apartment is not on the ground floor, it is best to find a building with a functional elevator to facilitate ease of movement for you. Look for a building or community that also has secured access, such as controlled entry or a security guard, to ensure comfortable living. Apart from these features, you can also look for activities/amenities you are interested in, such as a swimming pool, tennis or basketball courts, fitness centers, cafes, and more.
Asking important questions
Once you have found an apartment of your choice, be sure to ask your landlord the following questions:
- How much security deposit do you need to pay? Is it refundable?
- What does ‘normal wear and tear’ around the apartment include?
- Are utilities included? If yes, which ones?
- How are maintenance requests submitted and handled?
- What is the penalty for breaking the lease early?
- Is the rent a fixed rate?
- Do you need to pay for renter’s insurance?
- Are there any additional fees to be aware of?
Transparent responses to the above questions will help you feel more confident about your choice of community and set the tone for future interactions with your landlord.
Pets and service animals
If you have a pet or a service animal, you may also want to check the community guidelines for their accommodation. Most communities now allow pets to move in with their owners, but it is best to double-check with your landlord before finalizing your lease. You may also need to check for breed restrictions and additional fees and considerations for the same. These restrictions, however, do not apply to service animals.
Negotiating the payment date
Consider renegotiating your rent payment date to around the time when your Social Security checks come through. This will help you maintain a healthy payment schedule. You can also speak to your landlord to negotiate or pre-approve a maximum fixed rate for the duration of your lease to avoid making any additional payments on rent throughout the year.
Consulting local and state laws for rent increases
Some seniors may also qualify for local and state exemptions, such as the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption, which protects low-income residents from unexpected rent increases. Check your local and state laws beforehand to check if you qualify for any such exemptions, and how to redeem them when moving into a rental property.
Cities that offer affordable apartment rentals for seniors
Even though rental rates are increasing countrywide, certain locations offer pocket-friendly rents for senior apartments. Here are some of the best places to move to, after your retirement:
Hickory’s moderate climate makes it a welcoming spot for many seniors. The median rent for housing in this area rests at a comfortable $692 per month, which is ideal for those looking to live a modest life after retirement. The city is located near the Blue Ridge Mountains, and offers residents vast views of the hill ranges, making them an attractive spot for nature lovers. Moreover, the state has considerably low tax rates, which will allow you to stretch your savings for a longer period. Other cities in NC, like Lumberton, Wesley Chapel, Kinston, Eden, Wadesboro, James City, Reidsville, and Hamlet are also popular among retirees.
Ocala, in the state of Florida, is a great option for seniors who would like to move to the state, but want to avoid paying the high rates of rent applicable in metropolitan areas. The median rate in Ocala is $896 per month (as opposed to $1000 in the metro regions), making it more affordable. Although the city is further away from the coastline, there’s plenty to do here, especially if you love horses. Additionally, Florida has no state income tax, which keeps your living costs low. So if you are looking for low-income senior-friendly communities, you must check out Westminster Communities of Florida, which provides affordable accommodation for seniors above the age of 62. You can also find senior apartments for rent in other communities, such as the Oak Valley Senior Apartments, Holiday Marion Woods, and The Estates at Heathbrook.
Scranton is another city that offers a low cost of living for seniors. It is only a two-hour drive from New York City and Philadelphia, making it close enough to reap any benefits that the major cities have to offer. The median cost of rent in Scranton is $789 per month. The state also offers tax perks for retirees, with 401(k) and IRA deductions post the age of 59 and a half being exempt from state income tax. This makes it an attractive option for many retirees. There are various public and private housing options for seniors in Scranton, such as Geneva House, Goodwill at North – Gerald T. Langan Apartments, Bloomsburg Towers, Keystone Place Apartments, Green Ridge Senior Apartments, and more.
Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids in the state of Michigan is a culturally rich city, with plenty of art museums and galleries to keep people entertained. The city has a median rent cost of $884 per month, making it easy for seniors to relocate here if they wish to. Some of the most popular senior rental communities in this area include Villa Maria Retirement Community and Marsh Ridge Senior Community. The Grand Rapids Housing Commission also has several affordable apartment complexes that provide federal rental subsidies and other benefits for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, such as Adams Park, Antoine Court, Leonard Terrace, Ransom Towers, Mount Mercy, and Sheldon Apartments.
About 120 miles away is Grand Blanc, MI, which also offers various senior-friendly housing options. Heatherwood Apartments is one of the most well-renowned rental services in the area, offering one and two-bedroom apartments on flexible lease terms for people of all ages. This pet-friendly community has amenities such as an open floor plan, swimming pool, round-the-clock emergency maintenance service, sundeck, garages with remote openers, recycling, off-street parking, and more.
Green Bay, WI
If you’d like to retire in a riverside community, then Green Bay, Wisconsin, is for you. With Fox River running through the town and Lake Michigan nearby, this place has considerably low housing costs, with a median monthly rental rate of $784. This area has several apartment communities and complexes for seniors over 55, such as the Woodland Park Apartments, Woodfield Village Senior Apartments, Bay Manor Apartments, Oak Meadow Senior Apartments, and more. The city also has a thriving yet low-cost arts and entertainment scene, with exciting breweries and distilleries, which are bound to keep you well-entertained throughout the year.
Knoxville is a college town that has housing available at rather reasonable rates. The median rate of rent here is $833 per month. Owing to its vibrant lifestyle, thriving sporting community, and accessibility to medical care, over a quarter of the population here is above the age of 60. State income taxes here are also low, with interests and dividends being the only taxed income. Low-income seniors may be exempt from these taxes as well, making it an inviting place for many. There are several senior-friendly communities and buildings to choose from, such as Knoxville High Apartments, Sunnybrook Apartments, Golden Age Retirement Village, Windsor Ridge, Summit Tower, Sutherland Square, Morningside Gardens, and more.
Lansing, the capital city of the state of Michigan, is also a popular choice among students and retirees alike, for its low rental rates. The median cost of rent is $858 per month, and there is plenty for seniors to do here, especially if you enjoy being active. Apart from the various sporting events at the University of Michigan, you can also check out nature trails around the Lansing River. Popular senior apartments here can be found at Ivan Woods, Grandhaven Manor Communities, Colonial Woods Senior Apartments, Newman Lofts, and others.
Chattanooga offers the best of both worlds with glorious natural wonders and high-speed fiber optic networks. If you’re enthralled by the idea of running an online venture or just streaming tv shows and movies all day, Chattanooga is ideal for you. You can also explore Lookout Mountain via the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, or visit the Tennessee River and the Appalachian Mountains. The median rent here is low, costing around $827 per month. You can find senior-friendly apartments at Rockbridge Oaks Senior Living, Cresswind 55+ Living, Silvertree Seniors Chattanooga Apartments, Eastwood Manor, and other places.
Tennessee also offers low-cost and free medical services, durable medical equipment, and medically necessary care services under the state Medicaid program, called TennCare, making it an attractive location for many seniors.
Pittsburgh provides a superb quality of life for seniors, at a fraction of the cost, compared to other cities. The median rate of rent in the city is $831 per month, and travel on public transportation such as the bus, T, and Monongahela Incline is free for seniors over the age of 65, making it convenient for you to get around without a car. You also get access to superior healthcare services from UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside. Depending on the kind of space you need, you can opt for a range of options from studio apartments to 3-5 bedroom apartments. Popular senior rental communities in Pittsburgh include Maiden Bridge and Canongate Apartment Homes, Douglas Plaza, and Cedar Ridge Senior Apartments. If you are looking for limited-income apartments for seniors over 62, you can also check out Coraopolis Towers on First Avenue.
Greenville, South Carolina, is also a great location for seniors to relocate to. The city has a low cost of living, with a median rental rate of $855. The city is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, opening up the opportunity for you to explore the various nature trails and lakes around. If you enjoy fishing, you can find plenty of bass, bream, and catfish at the lake in Paris Mountain State Park. Seniors over the age of 65 get discounted entry into the park as well. The city has several apartment units to offer seniors, available at communities and buildings like Overture Greenville, Landwood Ridge Apartments, Greenville Summit, The Standard at Pinestone, Serenity at Easley, and more.
If you’re a BBQ-lover, Oklahoma is for you. This affordable state has a thriving BBQ culture, rich history, and a vibrant arts scene. It is also tax-friendly towards retirees, as the state does not tax Social Security income. However, there are partial taxes placed on withdrawals from retirement accounts. The city of Tulsa is another attractive option for seniors looking for a new retirement home. The city has an amenable climate for seniors for most of the year, along with an average of 111 primary healthcare providers per 100,000 people (significantly higher than the national average of 82 per 100,000). The city is well-equipped with public transportation, and older adults above the age of 75 can ride the transit buses for free. The average rent here is $820 per month.
There are several senior rental apartments to choose from here, the most popular being 5400 South Apartments and Heatherwood Apartments. 5400 South Apartments are rather conveniently located across the street from LaFortune Park and a few blocks away from St. Francis Hospital and Medical Services. This gated community is the highest ranked in Tulsa. It has attractive amenities like assigned parking for long-term residents, a swimming pool, sundeck, planned events at the clubhouse, BBQ grills, spacious floor plans, carports, 24×7 gym access, a business center, round-the-clock maintenance, and more.
Are you ready to move out of your home, explore the country, and save money on the way? If your answer is yes, it’s time to move to a rental property and traverse the expanse of our beautiful nation in a way that is most convenient for you.