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Evaluating Your Senior Living Options: Rental Communities

a senior couple using a tablet to research rental senior living communities

If you’ve been considering a senior living community for yourself or a loved one, you’ve probably noticed that the options are vast and vary. It can seem a bit overwhelming. Where do you even start?

A good place to begin is by looking at two of the most popular choices – Life Plan Communities (also known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs) and rental retirement communities.

While both types of independent senior living communities can offer similar benefits in the way of fitness and wellness programs, dining options, housekeeping and social, recreational programs, rental retirement communities don’t typically provide access to a full continuum of health care services like a Life Plan community.

However, more and more rental senior living communities are now providing higher levels of care, including assisted living and memory care – without requiring an entrance fee or long-term financial obligation. Many seniors find them attractive for the choice, flexibility, and control over how and when health care services are structured, scheduled and delivered.

What is a Rental Senior Living Community?

Senior independent living rentals are considered less expensive than Life Plan communities because they don’t require a sizable entrance fee upfront.

A rental senior living community typically offers apartment-style living for independent, or mostly independent seniors. It requires a resident to sign a lease and pay a security deposit, sometimes called a community fee, which may or may not be refundable. As well, a resident doesn’t have to meet medical and financial eligibility criteria for residency that’s required at a Life Plan community.

However, your rental fee can be increased when a lease is renewed. But on the flip side, there’s no long-term commitment at a rental senior living community. If you decide to leave the community, you may do so without much of a financial sacrifice.

Fees for Health Services at Rental Communities

Like Life Plan communities, rental retirement communities can offer higher levels of care such as assisted living and memory care. Historically, most stop short of offering an on-site healthcare center for skilled nursing and rehab, although there are some that do.

A Life Plan community requires a substantial entrance fee, which helps offset the future costs of health care if needed, plus an ongoing monthly fee. On the other hand, a rental senior living community’s fees for health care services are based on the needs of each resident. It’s pay as you go. That means if your health needs change, your monthly fees will also change, as you’ll be charged at market rates for each care service you receive.

The upside is that if you never need these services, it doesn’t affect your monthly fee and you’re not paying for them upfront. A potential drawback is that if your health needs change and the community doesn’t provide the level of care you need, such as long-term care, you’ll have to pay to bring these services into your home or move to another community.

What’s Right For You?

When considering your senior living options, it’s important to be well informed. Many favor Life Plan communities for the peace of mind of knowing that they have guaranteed care for life. But if you prefer convenience and flexibility, and don’t find an entrance fee to be appealing, a rental retirement community may be the best choice for your needs.

As you explore your options, use our Find a Community locator tool. With over 140 rental and Life Care communities around the country, Life Care Services is sure to have the right option for you and your family.