Independent living pricing can feel like a mystery because independent living itself can seem like a mystery. Too many people lump together assisted living with independent living, when they’re really quite different—even when it comes to costs.
Of the three types of senior living lifestyles, independent living typically costs the least because it requires the fewest services. Seniors who choose independent living are active and don’t need assistance with everyday activities. In most cases, seniors who choose independent living want to say goodbye to the drudgeries of home maintenance so they can have time to do more of what they enjoy.
The differences are that simple—but when it comes to pricing, it can get a little more complicated. Let’s look at what goes into independent living pricing.
One Price Doesn’t Fit All Independent Living Communities
Prices at any senior living community can vary greatly based on each resident’s needs. However, you can get a general idea of the price level by considering a few factors.
1. Independent living should cost less than assisted living.
Many people think that assisted living and independent living are different names for the same thing, but that’s not the case. However, assisted living pricing can give you an idea of what independent living prices may be.
If you’re thinking that independent living prices are close to assisted living prices, you’re not too far off—but independent living is likely to cost less than assisted living. For seniors who don’t need help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and are still as active as ever, independent living can be a positive, affordable choice.
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2. Location impacts price.
If you live in an area where general housing prices are high, independent living costs will be high—think of it as renting a full-service apartment. Rents in different states can vary dramatically. There’s a great state-by-state chart that shows the low-end, middle, and high-end costs of independent living. In states like Alabama, costs are as little as $1,400 per month. Go up north to New Jersey, to the higher cost of living there, and the price can rise up to $6,000.
3. Think of the cost of maintaining a home.
Seniors are sometimes surprised when they compare the cost of maintaining their home to the cost of independent senior living. Oftentimes, the cost difference is minimal, and for many seniors, it’s less expensive living in an independent living senior community.
To get a better idea, make a list of absolutely everything that adds to the cost of maintaining a home—from lawn care and house cleaning to things like groceries and cable subscriptions. Yes, even streaming subscriptions! Netflix, Hulu, Amazon—they can add up!
Make a list that considers things like:
- Mortgage or rent
- Groceries and dining out
- Cable, satellite, or streaming services
- Transportation or auto expenses
- Home maintenance
- Yard maintenance
- Property taxes
For active seniors who can still handle all of their own ADLs, independent living is a very affordable and attractive option, especially when compared to the true monthly costs of maintaining a home.
4. Understand your own wants, needs, and comforts.
You’re not basic, so don’t just think about the basics when you consider what you need to live the life you want. Make sure you leave plenty of room for having a good time, like enjoying hobbies, learning new things, and developing new relationships.
Most independent living communities include a lifestyle that will help you with housekeeping, laundry, and meals at no additional cost. But your wants, needs, and comforts can add to independent living monthly costs.
Think of your “non-negotiables.” What is absolutely essential to you living your best life? Ask yourself questions like:
- Can I still do the hobbies I love in independent senior living?
- Does the apartment have an outdoor space, like a private patio?
- I love visiting with my family! Are family visits easy and convenient?
- No way I’m moving without Sparky? Can I bring my cat or dog?
- I’m kind of picky. Is the food high quality?
- Are there cultural and social activities?
Activities can vary by community location, and many are truly unique, including things like creating and maintaining a lovely butterfly garden. Typical senior living community activities often include:
- Fitness opportunities such as walking and yoga
- Social activities such as group movies or fun outings
- Learning opportunities such as arts and adult education
- Spiritual events such as worship services or church groups
5. Comparable communities may have different costs.
If you’ve already toured communities, you may have realized that it’s common for two communities in the same town or city to offer the same services, look the same, and provide the same level of care—but have a different pricing structure. It’s understandable that people get confused.
It all boils down to business and how funds are allocated. Staff size, taxes, and insurance impact the budget. Additionally, the age and size of the building can impact price, along with whether or not it has been upgraded in recent years.
Get Insider Intel on Independent Senior Living Pricing
We’re just getting warmed up. There’s so much more information out there about pricing, and we want you to help you make informed decisions. That’s why we put together this e-book, The Insider’s Guide to Understanding Independent Living Pricing.