July 4, 2015 — It’s out there somewhere, the perfect place for you to retire. A community with the right combination of activities, ambience, neighbors, type of homes, etc. that matches exactly to what you are looking for. The reality is there might be dozens, even hundreds of places that where you can retire happy, if you can identify and analyze them. This quiz will take you through the major issues that will help you understand and rate the communities that are a good match for you.
About this checklist/rating sheet
For each question there might be several answers that describe you and your preferences, so choose as many as fit. Once you complete this form you will have a better idea about your overall preferences. Then, by rating different communities against these questions the right retirement choice will start to emerge. At that point you can use the Advanced Search feature at Topretirements to help you identify communities that match your criteria in the state and/or regions you are interested in.
One way to use this tool is to print out the pdf version (see end of article). Mark items in the first column with a Y (Yes) if that attribute is important to you (some items ask for a rating). In the second and third columns put the name of the community(s) you are evaluating, and then rate on a 1 to 10 scale how well it measures on that attribute.
1. What type of community are you looking for:
2. What type of housing matches your lifestyle:
Single floor living
3. What is your ideal location:
List states you are most interested in here
4. Geography and climate
Minimum winter temperature
Maximum summer temperature
Close to town
Shops, restaurants or professional services within the community
5. Are you looking for a particular theme to the community that you are looking for?
Past employment (military, arts, postal)
6. What are your cost constraints (indicate your minimum expectation and maximum allowable):
Yearly maintenance, insurance, and taxes
Note: Fees for different communities can be very different. But you do have to consider all the factors – including value received (resale value, level and variety of amenities, taxes, etc.)
7. What are you looking for in neighbors, and how well does the community measure up:(indicate: high, medium, low for each item. Then rate the prospective community against your preference)
People have to be like yourself
Welcoming and friendly
Prefer to keep to yourself
Actively want social interaction
8. What types and level of activities do you want:
Activity level you desire (little, medium, much)
Places/opportunities to meet other people (informal or formal)
Sports you must/want to have
Activities you must/want to have
Leagues to participate in
What it is like for people who don’t participate
9. What does your ideal slate of amenities include:
Arts and crafts studio?Theatre or ballroom
Swimming pools (what type – indoor, outdoor, lap, children’s, etc.)
Note: A community might have many or few amenities. The question you have to answer is, will you use them or are you paying for something you won’t use.
10. What are the rules that might apply to you:
Are you in general very rule abiding, neutral, or a rule breaker
Will your pets fit under the rules
Will you have visitors such as an adult child, much younger spouse, or grandchild living with you
Do you want to do decorating or landscaping that might nor be permitted
Parking – how many cars and types of vehicles (RV, boat, trailer)
11. Does the Home Owners Association (HOA, or Community Association) deserve to have you: (In most cases the answers should all be Yes. But it is important is to rate the HOA against the criteria)
Are minutes from a recent meeting available
Have you met anyone on the board
Is the HOA run by the residents or the developer
Do board members have staggered terms
How long has the community been in existence
Who owns the facilities
What kinds of assessments are there/have there been
What is the level of financial reserves on hand?
What is the delinquency rate on community dues
These questions should give you a start for how to evaluate different active communities against your preferences. But undoubtedly you will want to refine and add your own considerations too. With this Communities-checklist-TR2015 you can print out the checklist to compare and contrast different communities.
Comments?What other questions can you come up with that would help you identify the optimum community? Which of these issues resonate the most with you? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
For further reading
10 Things Your Active Community Won’t Tell You
Home Owners Association: Friend or Foe
The Most Popular Active Adult Communities for 2014
10 Questions to Ask Before You Buy in An Active Community