Ten tips for choosing a retirement community

A generation ago, when people left the workplace they either remained in place, moved to an apartment or smaller house, opted for the cottage or perhaps went south for the winter. Some even moved in with their children. But with retirement communities springing up seemingly everywhere, the choices seem infinite. The trick to enjoying life in a planned community seems to be finding the right match. Here’s what to consider.

1. Location, location. Set yourself a radius that will keep you within range of grandchildren or any of the other “musts” in your life.

2. Assess your lifestyle. No sense paying for elaborate fitness and recreation facilities if you won’t use them.

3. Check access to doctors, hospitals, dentists, pharmacies and other services you’ll need.

4. Don’t regard your new home as merely a summer perch while you go south in winter. Chances are, with climbing travel insurance costs, it’ll become your year-round home.

5. Check on restrictions such as pets or planting gardens so you don’t get a surprise later.

6. Think resalealues. It may not seem important now, but if you move or one partner dies, it could become crucial.

7. If moving to a land-lease project don’t underestimate monthly land rent costs. To ease the pain, set aside some of the money you’re saving by not buying the land and use the income from it to pay the rent.

8. If one of you doesn’t drive, think about the ramifications if the driving partner becomes ill or dies. Is everything within walking distance? Is there public transit?

9. Pick a housing design that’ll suit you as time goes on. Knee problems or arthritis? Stairs may be best avoided.

10. Most important, spend lots of time visiting as many communities as possible and talking to residents to discover pleasures and avoid pitfalls.