15 Best Retirement Communities For Active Adults

·12 min read

This article features the 10 best retirement communities for active adults. If you're only interested in the top 5, feel free to skip our in-depth analysis and jump straight to the 5 Best Retirement Communities For Active Adults.

Retirement is a period to enjoy the fruits of your hard work and take a step back from the daily grind. It can also be a time for active adults to pursue new interests and adventures. Retirement communities have been gaining popularity in recent years as more and more retirees look for a lifestyle that supports their active and social lifestyle.

In this article, we will discuss the 15 best retirement communities for active adults and provide insights into what to look for in an active adult community.

What Is An Active Adult Community?

Active adult communities are residential areas that cater to adults aged 55 and over who are still active and independent. Within these communities, various housing options are available, including condominiums, townhouses, single-family homes, and apartments. Residents can rent or purchase a house according to the community's regulations.

Designed to promote an active lifestyle among retirees, different amenities and services, such as fitness centers, swimming pools, hiking trails, and golf courses, among others, are offered to the residents.

Who Should Consider Active Adult Living?

Active adult living is an excellent option for retirees looking to downsize from their family home, simplify their lifestyle, and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. It is also a perfect option for retirees seeking a community that supports their active and social lifestyle.

Maintaining social support during early retirement and as you age is essential to prevent social isolation and cognitive decline. Dr. Lisa Gibbs, a clinical professor at UCI School of Medicine, is of the opinion that one way to foster community and connection during this period is by joining an active adult community, where residents share common interests and lifestyles. These communities often offer a quieter and more private atmosphere and typically require residents to be aged 55 or over.

Cost Of Living In An Active Adult Community

The cost of active adult communities varies widely depending on location, amenities, and services. Some communities require a monthly entrance fee, while others are available for purchase. Understanding the costs associated with a community before making a decision is essential.

Dr. Lisa Grod, a gerontologist based in California, states that active adult communities may charge entrance fees ranging from $50,000 to $400,000, with prices varying depending on the community's location, demand, desirability, housing unit size, and level of care required. 

For example, continuing care retirement communities in New York may charge a starting entrance fee of approximately $115,000 for a single living unit and monthly payments of $2,100.

Moreover, some active adult communities may require additional monthly payments for services such as medical care and gym access.

Choosing An Active Adult Community: Key Factors To Consider

The ideal community for aging should empower individuals to thrive and be their best selves. Consider the following factors to help narrow down the search for an active adult community:

  • Community Rules & Regulations: Learning about the community's specific rules and speaking with current residents is essential to understand how they are enforced. Pet owners should also ensure their pets are allowed, as some communities may not be pet-friendly.

  • Location: If proximity to family, friends, healthcare providers, and essential services is a priority, consider active adult communities near your current location. Also, check if transportation services, hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores are accessible from that particular district.

  • Activities: Dr. Grod suggests considering the community's facilities to maintain hobbies and aligning them with your lifestyle needs and preferences. She advises visiting the communities more than once and meeting the residents to get a feel of life there. The ideal community should help individuals live well, stay healthy, and remain independent.

Trends In Active Adult Retirement Communities

According to PR Newswire, BBG seniors housing investor survey reveals the following key market trends in 2023:

  • Cap Rates Projected To Remain Flat Or Expand: According to the survey respondents, capitalization rates for all senior housing care levels are anticipated to remain stagnant or rise in 2023. Active adult and independent living communities are projected to have the least capitalization rates, with active adult care levels having the lowest among all the levels surveyed.

In contrast, skilled nursing and CCRC/LPCs are projected to have the highest cap rates. Around two-thirds of the respondents anticipate that assisted living and memory care properties will expand by a minimum of 25 basis points (bps) this year. Meanwhile, independent living received the highest number of responses, which foresee decreased cap rates.

  • Higher Rental Rate Growth Projected: About 90% of the individuals surveyed predict that rental prices will rise, with a roughly even distribution between a 1 to 5% increase across all property categories.

The biggest anticipated growth was in assisted living and memory care, with projections ranging from 5 to 10%. Additionally, 15% of those surveyed expect rent to surge by 10% or more in the current year.

  • Operating Expenses On The Rise, Margins Under Pressure: Most respondents project seniors' housing operating expenses to increase by 3% to 5% in 2023, relative to the same period a year earlier.

Also, the survey reveals that 77% of respondents anticipate stagnant or reduced margins this year, while the remaining respondents predict a net margin increase. The respondents attributed the expected pressure on margins to rising costs associated with staffing, the current inflationary climate, and increasing property insurance expenses in leading senior housing states.

  • Active Adult Leads Stabilized Occupancy: The survey respondents foresee active adult communities having the most substantial stabilized occupancy in 2023, and skilled nursing is expected to have the lowest rate. Compared to other care levels, CCRC/LPC is expected to have a significant difference in stabilized occupancy.

Demographic Profile Of Active Adult Communities

As per another Forbes article, those who desire a quieter living environment may find 55-plus communities appealing, as they don't have noisy children around. The difference that 55-plus communities offer from other types of housing is that they are devoid of children, says Rande Friedman, a senior real estate specialist in Tampa, Florida.

Many communities have restrictions on how long visitors under 55 can stay, notes Andrew Carle, an adjunct professor of senior living administration at Georgetown University.

On the other hand, for those who prefer to live in a more diverse setting, retirement communities are being built near or on university campuses, providing opportunities for intergenerational interaction, which, research shows, can provide significant health benefits for older adults.

Andrew Carle, adjunct professor of senior living administration at Georgetown University, suggests that Mirabella at Arizona State University is one of the best examples of such communities. These communities are typically affiliated with universities and provide inhabitants with opportunities to enroll in courses and football games, and interact with young individuals, which can have a rejuvenating effect.

Technology And Innovation In Active Adult Retirement Communities

Technology and innovation are increasingly crucial in active adult retirement communities. It includes innovative home technology, virtual fitness classes, and telehealth services.

Several leading health and wellness firms, including Elevance Health, Inc. (NYSE:ELV), Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC), and AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE:ABC), possess the necessary resources and expertise to drive technological advancements and innovation in active adult retirement communities. 

According to Fierce Healthcare, Elevance Health (NYSE:ELV) commissioned the Harris Poll to survey 5,000 adults about their attitudes toward virtual primary care. Of those who had used virtual primary care in the past, 94% said they were satisfied. Moreover, the Elevance Health (NYSE:ELV) study shows that 79% of respondents expressed that virtual primary care helped them manage their health better.

Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC) is committed to investing in wellness solutions, which facilitate the elderly population's access to healthcare and enable them to live life to the fullest, despite the obstacles they may encounter. Centene (NYSE:CNC) has partnered with San Diego State University's Center for Excellence in Aging & Longevity, investing in innovative solutions that prioritize the well-being of this population.

AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE:ABC) is taking bold steps towards innovation by initiating a $150 million venture fund to support emerging healthcare companies. 

Titan companies like Elevance Health, Inc. (NYSE:ELV), Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC), and AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE:ABC) can continue to push technology and innovation even further in active adult retirement communities and contribute towards enhancing the quality of life of seniors living in these communities.

With this backdrop, let's move to the 15 best retirement communities for active adults.

15 Best Retirement Communities For Active Adults
15 Best Retirement Communities For Active Adults

Copyright: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo


For this research article, we systematically identified the 15 best retirement communities for active adults. We began by reviewing credible sources such as Forbes, PR Newswire, Investopedia, Boomershub, and Coventry Direct to gain insights into the industry's current trends and best practices.

After careful evaluation, we selected the 15 best retirement communities for active adults based on our analysis. Our final selection represents a diverse range of locations and lifestyles, catering to the needs and preferences of a broad range of retirees.

Here are the 15 best retirement communities for active adults.

15. Sun City Lincoln Hills

Spanning over 2,992 acres, Sun City Lincoln Hills is a community renowned for its expansive landscape. The Orchard Creek Lodge recreation center is a key attraction, offering residents a wide selection of amenities, including indoor/outdoor pools, a state-of-the-art fitness center, numerous activity rooms, and a ballroom with an entertainment stage.

For those who prioritize an active lifestyle, Sun City Lincoln Hills offers 27 miles of fitness trails and various activities across acres of rolling hills, wetlands, creeks, and open space.

14. Sun City Shadow Hills

Sun City Shadow Hills is an active community in Coachella Valley, California, only 30 minutes from Palm Springs. This gated community offers diverse amenities to cater to your entertainment needs and has risen in the active community rankings.

Plenty of shopping and cultural venues are present in the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Area. Amenities include golf, tennis, pickle ball, bocce, fitness centers, pools, and a library.

13. Tellico Village

Tellico Village, a premier senior planned retirement community in the South East, is set in the Tennessee Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains on 4,800 acres of land alongside Tellico Lake. Established in 1987, Tellico offers a mild four-season climate, natural beauty, and world-class recreational facilities, including boating, fishing, and swimming.

Residents enjoy unprecedented high-quality amenities, including three private championship golf courses, state-of-the-art healthcare, and great shopping centers, ensuring a fulfilling life.

12. Pelican Preserve

Located in Fort Myers, Florida, Pelican Preserve is a 1,100-acre community with a tremendous 2-hole championship golf course, featuring striking fairways. This master-planned community for active adults boasts about 2,500 residences, including spacious condos, carriage homes, attached villas, and single-family homes.

Pelican Preserve is also known as a botanical paradise. It was among the first residential communities to receive the Gold Seal of Sustainability from Audubon International's Development program, highlighting its commitment to environmental responsibility.

11. On Top Of The World

Named for its exceptional reputation, On Top Of The World is an active 55+ community with numerous awards, including best-selling community, the community of the year, and the best 55+ community worldwide.

This esteemed establishment has maintained its success by offering a diverse range of home styles, prices, and amenities, as well as a commitment to continuously improving its standards and quality of life within the community.

10. Solivita

Solivita is a master-planned community on 4,300 acres of prime Florida real estate, flaunting over 150,000 square feet of amenities, including golf, water activities, and areas for private and community-wide events, as reported by Investopedia. This community is an excellent option for those seeking a warm-weather retirement destination.

With homes priced from the mid-$100,000s to the mid-$500,000s, options are available for virtually any retirement budget.

9. Stone Creek

Stone Creek, Ocala, FL, is a gated community with a projected 3,800 homes ranging in price from about $100,000 to the mid-$500,000s. With 17 home designs available, including options for quick move-ins, residents can select the home that best fits their needs and lifestyle.

Renowned for its picturesque surroundings, Stone Creek is a 60,000-square-foot recreation complex with a kitchen, dining, social halls, gaming areas for personal and community use, a spa, and a resort-class pool.

8. Del Webb Sweetgrass

Set on 500 acres of prime real estate in Richmond, TX, Del Webb Sweetgrass provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, with miles of walking trails and other amenities. 

The community offers a range of 1,500 projected homes, with prices ranging from the mid-$200,000 to the low $600,000s, and virtual tours are available online. The 27,000-square-foot clubhouse includes gaming and dining areas and spaces for socializing.

7. Sun City Huntley

Nestled in Huntley, IL, Sun City Huntley is a sprawling active retirement community covering 2,200 acres. The community offers approximately 5,500 homes, costing from the mid-$100,000s to the high-$500,000s, making it a better choice for those with smaller retirement budgets.

Its proximity to Chicago is also a great perk. The community also exhibits a 94,000-square-foot clubhouse with 80 clubs and various amenities.

6. Village at Deaton Creek

The Village at Deaton Creek, situated in Hoschton, GA, is a Del Webb retirement community offering gated living. It features a 35,000-square-foot clubhouse, the central hub of all community activities.

Residents can participate in fitness classes, arts and crafts, pool games, or browse the library. The community also organizes day trips to downtown Atlanta. With over 1,100 homes, the price ranges from the high-$200,000s to the mid-$600,000s.

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Disclosure: none. 15 Best Retirement Communities For Active Adults is originally published on Insider Monkey.