The Best Retirement Communities USA Has to Offer
Publushed by:John E Chambers
Last updated:August 26, 2021
The Terraces at The Clare
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Masonic Villages Elizabethtown
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After decades of hard work and minimal time doing relaxing and enjoying yourself, getting the chance to finally live life the way you want to is worth celebrating.
The retirement communities of today are able to offer something unique from the old homes of the past, with everything from assisted living to world class amenities like gyms, pools, and movie theaters available at your doorstep.
What is a retirement community?
A retirement community is a housing community designed to meet the needs of the seniors who live there, including 24-hour medical assistance and on-site leisure amenities. These communities might cater to active adults who enjoy fitness and social activities, or they could offer continuing care and medical assistance, with many of them offering a bit of both.
If you’re ready to start enjoying your twilight years but want to be sure you’re living in a community that can keep you satisfied and cared for, we’ve rounded up the best retirement communities in the US for you to consider.
We’ll show you their best and worst features, and what amenities they offer, so you’ll be able to find a perfect fit for your golden years.
The retirement communities of today look nothing like they did in the past, and whether you’re after the best active retirement communities or something more catered to assisted living and medical care, we can help.
These are our top picks for the best retirement communities in the United States so you can see what world-class living looks like in your senior years.
Best Overall: The Terraces at The Clare
Location: Chicago, Illinois
For those who plan on retiring in first class style, The Clare in Chicago is the place to be.
Within this building is a retirement building called The Terraces, which is an assisted living community designed for retirees but in the setting of a five star hotel.
The Terraces offers services like medication supervision, meals and diet plans, therapy, health checks, and more, catering to whatever level of help you need while providing a lot of leisure and relaxation opportunities as well.
The best feature of The Clare is that it has an on-site day spa and salon which you can treat yourself to whenever you feel like it.
This gives the accommodation here a five star feel which makes it more prestigious than other retirement communities, and if your goal is to relax and get pampered during your twilight years, you’ll appreciate it as well. In line with this salon, every other facility at The Clare is at the same level of prestige, and you’ll feel as though you’re living in the lap of luxury when you’re here.
The amenities on offer at The Clare are second to none as well, and this includes their on-site kitchen who can cater to any dietary requirements you have and dedicated healthcare staff. This community has earned many five star Medicare ratings and they have a high staff to resident ratio which means you’re always taken care of without having to wait.
One downside to The Terraces is that they’re based in Chicago, smack bang in the middle of the city. This means there are minimal green spaces and if you want a chance to get out in nature, you’ll have to wait for a scheduled outing to do so. If you’ve lived in a metropolis all of your life and dreamed of retiring in nature where you can enjoy some greenery, The Terraces won’t be for you.
As the rooms at The Terraces at the Clare are more like suites, the kitchen in these rooms isn’t as big or feature-rich as some might hope, so there’s no hot plate and only a microwave. The Clare provides meals in their dining rooms and there’s a few options for where you can eat, but if you’d rather cook something for yourself it might be hard as this type of accommodation is more like a hotel room than anything else.
The Terraces aim to provide a personalized living environment for retirees, with as much or as little help as you need, and it’s all done with five star quality. The accommodation is located close to Northwester Hospital, they have lots of amenities and activities, and you can tailor your stay exactly to your requirements. If you plan on retiring somewhere luxurious and want to stay in a bustling city setting, The Clare is our favorite retirement community to do just that.
Runner Up: Shell Point
Location: Fort Mayers, Florida
Shell Point is one of the largest and most versatile retirement communities in the US, situated on the Gulf of Mexico in Fort Mayers and with picturesque views in every direction.
Their healthcare services include assisted living, home care, hospice care, rehab services, and more, as well as getting access to a huge array of amenities and outings like sailing, fishing, swimming, hiking, and an on-site salon and spa.
What makes Shell Point such a standout is that there are six different neighborhoods to choose from, so you can find the perfect match to suit your style. Some of the options are The Woodlands, The Estuary, The Island, and Eagle Preserve, each with a unique focus, whether it’s golfing or living right on the water. Within each of these, you get the choice to have either a condo or single-family house, and there’s plenty of layouts available.
Another great feature of Shell Point is that they have so many more amenities and activities compared to the usual swimming and golf lineup. At Shell Point, residents can woodwork, build model trains, learn photography, and make pottery, and that’s just a few of the things that are regularly on offer. There’s an array of restaurants and cafes to eat at, and residents get a special credit card to use at them, even though all of the meals are included with the accommodation cost there.
However, some of the extra classes and courses offered at Shell Point come with an extra cost, so it can add up over time, even if it is just $10 here and there. As one of the more equipped and expensive options for continuing care retirement communities, you’ll need to make sure you have enough money to live comfortably at Shell Point, and still have something budget and put aside for the extras.
Some reviews of Shell Point also make a note that the service is run by a missionary alliance which means there’s a heavier religious aspect to it. While this might not bother some of the residents, having a Christian-focused accommodation for those who don’t want to partake could put them off. If you’d rather live somewhere that doesn’t have any focus on religion, there are other options available that might even be cheaper as well.
There’s no shortage of beautiful accommodation options at Shell Point in Florida, nor is there a shortage of things to do. If you’re looking for a place you can stay active and social, you can choose either a condo or single-family home to start enjoying the benefits that Shell Point has to offer. This is the perfect choice for the retiree who wants to stay active and meet other like-minded seniors who want to do the same.
Alternative #1: Masonic Villages Elizabethtown
Location: Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Masonic Villages is a leading chain of retirement villages and their Elizabethtown community in Pennsylvania is their most popular.
Situated on 1,400+acres of country side, with over 30 clubs to join, an array of amenities, and care options like nursing care and memory support. The facility has basic accommodation options with studios and larger two bedroom units available, with everything in between.
Elizabethtown goes above and beyond what you’d expect at a retirement village which is what makes it one of the best. As well as all of the facilities for retirees, they even have options like a daycare center and a children’s home available for use. These services are there to give assistance to aging grandparents or carers who are looking after a child, and it’s a much-needed level of support that’s not commonly found at other retirement communities.
Another huge plus of this community is that it operates much like a small town rather than somewhere you’ll set a room up and live by yourself. On site, you’ll find a farmer’s market, ponds and gardens, hiking trails, three pools, and seven different restaurants and taverns. This is in addition to their stellar healthcare assistance, so you get the best of both worlds for an active retirement but also one where you’re cared for.
This is one of the most expensive accommodation options for a retirement village, and it might not be within the budget of every retiree. Although the amenities and level of care live up to this higher price, it’s not feasible for everyone to afford, so this lost the community some points when looking at what each of them offers. However, you should keep in mind that it’s an all-inclusive type of resort so once you’ve paid the main fees, there’s very little else you have to pay for.
According to reviews, some of the amenities and accommodation options were a little older than others and it could do with a modern update. When you compare it to the new retirement communities that have all of the mod-cons and up to date furnishings, it can feel like Masonic Villages’ Elizabethtown is somewhat dated. After factoring in the higher than usual price tag, it seems like some of this money could go towards renovating some of the main living areas.
Although it could do with some minor cosmetic updates, the grounds at Elizabethtown by Masonic Villages are some of the most beautiful and best 55+ retirement communities. There’s so much to do and with over 1,400 acres of countryside to enjoy every day, there’s no better place to spend your twilight years. Of all of the Masonic Villages communities, this one always earns the highest praise, and one look around the grounds will tell you why.
Alternative #2: Provident Crossings
Location: Round Rock, Texas
Provident Crossings is located in Round Rock, Texas, and aims to provide an independent living situation for those over 55 years of age without having any healthcare or medical services on site.
At Provident Crossing retirement community, there are lots of accommodation options including one, two, and three bedroom apartments, with meals, amenities, and activities all provided for an inclusive fee, and everything you need to live comfortably by yourself.
The happiest reviews of Provident Crossings make mention of how many amenities are available for their residents and how there’s always something to do. Among some of the more exciting things available here are the beauty salon and barbershop, lectures and courses, gardening, and arts and crafts. They also take regular trips to shopping malls and fishing spots, as well as having transportation on hand if you need to go anywhere else on your own.
While living at Provident Crossings, you get a lot more independence than other retirement villages, which people loved. You can choose to use their in-room meal service or cook something yourself with the kitchenette that’s included in your accommodation. Having the facilities to make your own food makes it feel less like an old person’s home and more like your own personal living space.
Provident Crossings isn’t one of the truly all-inclusive retirement communities like others we’ve seen, and many of the services and amenities on offer will come with another fee. If you want to attend the salon or get home care support, there are extra costs for that. If you’d rather live somewhere that has a one-time fee and no hidden extras, you’ll probably find the payment scheme at Provident Crossings a little confusing.
Some people might not like that Provident Crossings doesn’t provide any healthcare options, so if you’re looking for assisted living or some other level of medical assistance, it’s not for you. This is more of an independent living facility where people take care of themselves and source their other healthcare services, which could lose it a lot of points for elderly residents looking for accommodation that can do it all.
Provident Crossings is a comfortable and convenient place to spend your twilight years and it caters to retirees who are happy to live independently with any need for healthcare.
There’s no shortage of facilities and amenities, and lots of choices for accommodation options, so as far as retirement communities go, it ticks all of the boxes. If you want to feel comfortable and are happy to care for yourself, you’ll get a great place to do it at Provident Crossings.
Alternative #3: Maravilla
Location: Santa Barbara, California
For retirees who want to spend their twilight years living in the lap of luxury, living at Maravilla will be the only way to go.
This unique retirement campus aims to deliver a premium living experience with amenities like a fitness center, massage studio, spa and heated pool, and on-site restaurant. Maravilla has one, two, and three bedroom accommodation available and they offer healthcare and memory care services, as well as options for independent living.
There are three options for how and where you want to stay at Maravilla, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care living. Having the freedom to choose a living space that better suits your current situation and is able to cater to any changes that might occur in the future is a huge bonus, and people rated Maravilla highly because of it. If you are looking for one of the best retirement communities for active adults, they make sure you get it here.
The picturesque location of Maravilla is another major selling point, and not just because of the great views. Being this close to all of the action but tucked away somewhere peacefully means there’s no shortage of day trips and outings on offer. When you venture into Santa Barbara you can enjoy activities like shopping, dining out at restaurants, and visiting local museums so you’ll never get bored.
On the downside, there are lots of hidden fees associated with this retirement village, and when you add them onto the already higher than average accommodation costs, it might get out of hand. As Maravilla doesn’t operate like an all-inclusive community, it can be hard to gauge what you’re going to spend each month. For those wanting a strict budget, there are probably more affordable options out there.
Some residents might not appreciate the lack of facilities compared to others as far as dining is concerned, with just two restaurants on-site that only open for 12 hours of the day. If you don’t plan on cooking your own meals it’s somewhat limiting in when you can eat, and unlike similarly priced retirement communities, there are not as many options.
Maravilla at Santa Barbara looks and feels more like an exclusive spa, and if you’re all about living that luxurious lifestyle when you retire, you won’t mind paying extra for it. This is a modern and comfortable place to spend your best years and the freedom to change how much care and support you get as your needs change. For the VIP experience and one of the flashiest retirement communities around, check out what Maravilla has to offer.
Retirement Communities FAQ
A quality retirement community is the best place to spend your twilight years, but as seniors all want something unique to meet their needs, there’s no single approach that will suit everyone. to get a better idea about what these communities offer their senior citizens, we’ve answered some FAQs that can help you out.
What Are The Different Types Of Retirement Communities?
A retirement community can offer one or many services to its residents, including continuing care, assisted living, on-site amenities, and schedule activities to keep everyone social and active.
Within the general retirement community realm, there are different types like retirement villages, rental villages, home care apartments, and serviced apartments to choose from.
Are 55+ Communities Cheaper?
In some locations, a 55+ community may be cheaper to purchase a home in compared to a regular residential area in that same city or state.
If you’re looking to retire and purchase a home that is close to amenities and services that you want as a retiree, there are lots of affordable options available in one of these retirement communities and usually at a much cheaper price point than outside of it.
Why Are Homes In Retirement Communities So Cheap?
The accommodation and property options in a retirement community may be cheaper to purchase than a regular suburb because the pool of potential owners is smaller than most places.
As these communities cater to a specific group of buyers, there isn’t as high of a demand as other real estate, and so they might be more affordable in some areas.
Are Retirement Communities Good?
A retirement community is designed to offer retirees a solution to all of their needs, including medical assistance and amenities and activities for staying social and active.
They’re a great living option for most retirees and you can easily choose one that caters to your needs at this time of your life, as well as how much independence you require.
Retire in Style
After a lifetime of hard work, there’s nothing better than having somewhere peaceful and satisfying to call home.
No matter your requirements for a retirement community, whether it’s to stay active and social or live a life of luxury, you can be guaranteed that one of our recommendations for the best retirement villages will meet the mark.