Community Living vs. Individual Homes – Which is Right for Your Lifestyle?

So, you’re in your fifties and have planned your finances effectively over your lifetime of working and investing.  You no longer need to be living close to work, your kids have flown the nest, and college is paid for. This may be the time to think about relocating for a final time and finding the perfect home for the way you want to live right now! You’re finally free to relocate to somewhere that suits your lifestyle and where you can really make the most of what every day has to offer.

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Of course, choosing the right location is vital. You want the right weather, the right transport connections, and the blend of city and outdoor leisure opportunities that work for you. But, it’s not only a question of where to move to. The type of property you choose to purchase can have a major impact on how much enjoyment you get out of life.

In this article,we’ll look at whether it’s worth choosing a home in a community over an individual property, and consider some of the pros and cons of each choice to help you decide which would be the perfect choice for your lifestyle. 

How much maintenance do you want to do?

If you’re a passionate ‘Do-it-Yourselfer’, it can be a great idea to buy a home that you can treat as a project: taking it step-by-step, carrying out modifications and improvements that meet your standards, and save you money. When carried out well, these can create a truly personalized living space, which you may think will actually increase the value of your property.  Just be aware though, that certain works require local permits and, by law, and need to be carried out by a qualified contractor.  If you do them yourself, you may violate building codes, and make your home harder to sell.

However, if you just want your home to be hassle-free, a community may be a better option.  While you will still have to pay out for the maintenance of your bricks and mortar, you’ll have peace of mind as the exterior areas will be supervised by the community association. As you’ll pay for this service indirectly, through your monthly fees, costs will be predictable and you won’t suddenly face a huge bill, for example, for a major pool repair. And someone else will take care of the hassle.

How important are your neighbors to you?

One of the concerns buyers have when choosing a neighborhood to live in is that they can’t be sure who’ll be moving in next door.  The wrong neighbors can really destroy your quality of life, and while some neighborhoods ‘move up’ and become more desirable over time, the opposite can happen just as easily. That can have a negative impact not only on your peaceful enjoyment of life but also on the value of your property.

On the other hand, in a private community, you can often choose the demographic of your fellow residents. For example, in private 55+ communities in Arizona and other desirable states, your neighbors will be people in the same stage of life as you.  Everyone will be committed to making it a great place to be part of.  Many exclusive communities restrict who you can sell your property to, so the age and socio-economic profile of the residents are maintained. The demand for these types of properties is only likely to rise as the baby-boom generation continue heading towards retirement, so they can be worthwhile from a financial point of view as well as offering an enviable quality of life.

If safety is your concern, another advantage of gated communities is that there’s likely to be a range of security measures, from entrance control to street patrols. These provide a sense of reassurance that is hard to match in individual homes unless expensive security systems are installed.

Do you love outdoor pursuits and keeping fit?

To a certain extent, the opportunities for enjoying outdoor pursuits and keeping physically fit will be the same – regardless of whether you purchase an individual property or a home in a community. 

However, there are a couple of advantages of living in a community, though. First, most will have a gym and a communal pool on the property. That will offer easy access to daily fitness activities – no need to drive to a fitness center and pay additional membership fees. Most also offer a range of fitness classes, from high-intensity aerobics to yoga and tai chi.  The communal pool means you can dip anytime you like, and there’s usually a café right nearby, so you can relax and socialize after your swim.

It’s the same for other sports. Communities may be equipped with tennis and squash courts for use by residents, included in the monthly fees.  And of course, if you’re a golf fanatic, living next to a course means you can play whenever you like. You’ll never be short of neighbors who’ll be pleased to join you for a game and share a relaxing drink with you in the private clubhouse when you’ve finished. 

Are you a social animal?

When you move to a new city or town,  it’s not always simple to predict how easy you’ll find it to make new friends and build an enjoyable social life. Before you buy an individual property, it’s a good idea to do some in-depth research about the opportunities to create a network of contacts with like-minded people who share your interests and outlook on life. 

The advantage of living in an exclusive community is that, when you’re looking to socialize with friends and neighbors, there’s no need to go far.   Most communities provide plenty of quality cafes, bars, and restaurants, so there’s always the chance to bump into friends and neighbors.  On the other hand, if you’re someone who prefers to keep themselves to themselves, you may find socializing in a community something you’d rather avoid.

It just takes some good research, before deciding the type of property to purchase. There’s plenty of choices to ensure you find the balance that’s right for your ideal lifestyle.  

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