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Which Retirement Housing Option Is Right for You?

Ready for retirement? There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding which retirement housing option is right for you. See how your health, budget, desired amenities, and where you are in your journey can affect your retirement living arrangements in our guide below!

Pros & Cons of Aging in Place

When it comes to where to live in retirement, 87% of seniors said staying in their current single-family home was the preferred option. If maintaining your home doesn’t seem like too much work, you love your current location, and you plan to have frequent visitors, staying where you are is a great choice! Plus, you’ll avoid the emotional strain of saying goodbye to the home where you raised your children or spent the bulk of your adult life.

There are also ways to modify your home and tailor it to your accessibility and mobility needs. Installing a chair lift, remodeling a bathroom, or hiring in-home care or an aging in place specialist are all options that can help you stay comfortably in your home for longer.


  • Paid off home keeps costs low
  • Familiarity
  • Closeness to family, friends, and neighbors
  • Comfortable for pets
  • More independence
  • No emotional strain of moving
  • Space for guests


  • Lawn maintenance
  • General cleaning and upkeep
  • No guaranteed community
  • Unexpected repair costs
  • Possibility of needing to move later
  • No built-in healthcare assistance

Pro & Cons of Downsizing

Row of Townhomes. Photo by Instagram user @acrestate

Photo via @acrestate

At the beginning of your retirement journey, downsizing could be the best option for you! Not only could moving to a townhome or condo help lower your monthly expenses, but it can give you a jump start on clearing clutter as well. If you’re an active older adult who loves your independence and being in a neighborhood, this could be the right retirement housing pick for you. While you’ll still have to clean and cook on your own, most of these properties include maintenance like lawn care, appliance repair, and snow removal.

Though a townhome or condo won’t have as much space as your single-family home, you may still have room to entertain guests and be able to bring along any furry friends. In addition, if you live in a colder climate, downsizing could even free up funds so you can invest in a winter rental somewhere tropical!


  • Free up money from selling your home
  • Assistance with maintenance
  • Lawn care and snow removal
  • Unique amenities
  • Space for pets
  • Surrounded by all ages and lifestyles


  • Community or HOA fees
  • May require a mortgage
  • Could include an application process
  • Emotional strain of moving
  • Less privacy
  • May have to move again as you age
  • No medical care included

Pros & Cons of Retirement Communities

Retirement Community. Photo by Instagram user @vallecnsw

Photo via @vallecnsw

Independent living communities—which can be anything from senior apartments and retirement villages to 55+ resort-style communities—are all age-restricted housing geared toward active older adults. If maintaining a home or condo is getting difficult or you’re starting to feel isolated, it could be time to consider new living arrangements. Retirement communities are some of the best housing options for seniors who want some help with everyday tasks but overall want to live as independently as possible.

These facilities provide private residence living while also offering meal and laundry services, scheduled activities, and a built-in community. Some even go beyond that with luxury amenities like a nail salon, barber shop, movie theater, fitness center, and a community pool. There are also specialized communities for veterans, LGBTQ individuals, pet owners, and more!


  • Age-restricted community
  • Tailored amenities
  • Transportation services
  • More daily assistance available
  • Lawn care and snow removal
  • Surrounded by peers
  • Less personal space to maintain
  • Fewer chores
  • Meal plans


  • Leaving your home
  • Less privacy
  • More difficult to house visitors
  • Less space
  • Expensive fees
  • No regular medical care
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Pros & Cons of Continuous Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

Continuous Care Retirement Community Building. Photo by Instagram user @scotiavillage

Photo via @scotiavillage

If you’re earlier in your retirement journey, planning for health concerns, decreased mobility, and less independence might be hard to think about right now. However, a CCRC does the forward thinking for you! This elderly housing option combines independent living, assisted living, and a nursing home into one campus. That way, you’ll have everything you need, even as you require higher levels of care.

Many retirees start out in single-family homes or senior apartments and are shifted into more supervised care as medical needs arise. CCRCs are also ideal if you and a partner or spouse require different levels of support but want to stay together.


  • One campus for all your needs
  • Tiered levels of care
  • Housing variety
  • Cost metered by needs
  • Stay near a partner or spouse
  • Meals provided
  • Lifetime housing
  • Medicare or Medicaid often accepted


  • Large entry fee
  • Medical costs increase with higher levels of care
  • Decreased privacy
  • Less personal space
  • Can still require moving within the campus

Pros & Cons of Residential Care Homes

A residential care home provides support with daily tasks, but with significantly fewer residents than in an assisted living facility. However, the level of medical care provided is not as specialized as in a traditional care facility. Because many are family homes that have been converted into residential care homes, they can be found in all different parts of town in a variety of architectural styles. Residential care is one of the most affordable housing options for seniors that still provides help with hygiene, medication, transportation, meals, and more.

If you or a partner/spouse have mobility issues or dementia, residential care homes can be a great option because they provide a close-knit community, structured activities, and assistance with daily tasks.


  • More affordable than assisted living or nursing homes
  • Personalized care
  • Tight-knit community
  • Cheaper than assisted living
  • Specialized homes for different medical needs
  • Assistance with daily tasks


  • Can’t accommodate medical needs
  • Fewer amenities
  • Less space for activities
  • Fewer opportunities to socialize
  • Reduced privacy

Pros & Cons of Assisted Living

What’s the difference between independent living and assisted living? Assisted living facilities offer many of the same great amenities as retirement communities while also providing more emergency and routine medical care. These facilities are geared toward helping with daily needs, such as taking medication, bathing, laundry, and more. However, you’ll still maintain more independence and privacy than is afforded in a nursing home at a lower price.

As an aging adult, you might need an elevated level of care as the years pass. That’s why assisted living facilities combine fun community events and activities with a skilled medical staff ready to meet your changing health needs.


  • Assistance with daily tasks
  • Cheaper than nursing homes
  • Meals provided
  • Laundry assistance
  • Support with personal hygiene
  • Help with medication
  • Medicare or Medicaid can help with costs
  • Fun amenities
  • Private rooms available


  • Pricier than independent living
  • Less personal space
  • Restrictions on pets
  • Not able to host guests

Pros & Cons of Nursing Homes

If you or a loved one is in need of constant supervision and daily medical care, it might be worth considering a nursing home. While assisted living provides help with daily tasks and medication, it doesn’t provide constant supervision or an individualized medical plan. You might not be thrilled about switching to a shared bedroom or bathroom, but you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing that a staff of trained professionals is always nearby. Plus, you’ll still be surrounded by your peers and able to relish in playing cards, watching movies, and participating in arts and crafts.

Most skilled nursing facilities also offer physical therapy and occupational therapy, so everything you need is under one roof. There are also nursing homes that specialize in memory care or have Alzheimer’s units.


  • 24-hour supervision
  • Medicare or Medicaid often accepted
  • Greater level of hygiene help
  • Meals geared toward medical needs
  • On-site therapy


  • Possibility of shared room
  • More expensive
  • Reduced privacy
  • Less say in day-to-day activities
  • Restricted visiting hours

Take time to investigate the unique benefits of different senior housing options before your retirement so you can plan ahead and ensure you age comfortably over the years. Thinking about moving somewhere new for your golden years? Check out these great U.S. cities for retirement!


Need a place to store belongings while downsizing? Extra Space Storage has easily accessible storage facilities across the nation. Find a storage facility near you!

Senior Housing Options