This past week, I was honored to speak to a great group of residents and prospects at Freedom Pointe at The Villages, a beautiful continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community) in Florida. After my presentation, I talked with a gentleman who is a resident of the community. He made two really interesting points with regard to senior living moves and questions we hear a lot: Is a CCRC a good financial decision, and does moving to a CCRC mean I’m giving up my freedom?

Other major financial commitments we make in life

Let’s first examine the topic of whether moving to a CCRC is a good decision, financially speaking. This gentleman made the point that the decision makes sense logically, but emotionally, when you see those dollar signs on paper, it can feel a bit overwhelming. He observed that there is a mental hurdle that must be reckoned with when it comes to the cost of a CCRC.

But as this man astutely noted, there are many life decisions we make that are also major financial commitments that people don’t seem to worry about quite as much as they do the decision to move to a CCRC. First and foremost, he talked about how the decision to have a child is a huge financial commitment — as I, and many of you can probably attest to.

A 2023 study conducted by LendingTree looking at data from 2021 found that the average American family can expect to spend $237,482 over the course of 18 years to raise a child. This number factors in the cost of essentials that are higher for people who have one or more children, as compared to those who are childless — expenses like:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Childcare
  • Apparel
  • Transportation
  • Healthcare and insurance

And that more than a quarter of a million-dollar figure is just the national average. Some states are quite a bit lower, like South Carolina at $169,327, but some are substantially higher, like Alaska at $270,930 and Hawaii at $314,529. Additionally, this figure does not include the cost of college, which can reach well into the six-figures.

Is a CCRC a good financial decision?

Looking at these figures from LendingTree and thinking about the topic purely from a financial prudency perspective, there is no denying that the decision to have children is a huge financial commitment. As the man at The Villages noted, it is also a decision that many people make without really crunching the long-term numbers.

Now moving to a CCRC or another type of retirement community, on the other hand, is a financial decision that some people truly agonize about. They worry about whether they can afford it and how their monthly costs will compare to remaining in their current home. They also extensively analyze tangential topics like whether they will run out of retirement savings as a result of the move or how it will impact the potential inheritance they can leave to loved ones.

There are so many variables that come into play in making a senior living decision, and ultimately, a CCRC or other retirement community won’t be right for everyone. But to the point of the gentleman I spoke with last week, while a CCRC can be a big financial commitment, when you weigh it all out, many people find it’s a commitment worth making — just like the decision to have children.

>> Related: What’s the True Cost of Staying in the Home?

The freedoms we willingly sacrifice for our children

The man I spoke with at The Villages also talked about how people considering a CCRC or other retirement community often say they don’t want to give up their freedom by leaving their home. They feel that even in an independent living retirement community residence, they may have to sacrifice things like privacy or making their own schedule.

But as this gentleman in Florida observed, people who choose to have children also willingly give up a lot of their day-to-day freedoms for a greater good. Planning your life around a baby’s naptime, spending your entire weekend at the soccer field, and giving your blood, sweat, tears, and treasure in countless other ways as they grow older are just a few examples.

>> Related: Senior Living Community, Leaving an Inheritance: Is It an Either-Or?

Does moving to a CCRC mean I’m giving up my freedom?

Parenting is truly all about sacrificing for your child. We gladly forego much of our own independence in order to give our children the experiences and resources they need to be happy, healthy, and successful in life. Again, the gentleman at The Villages noted, these are freedoms we sacrifice without much thought.

People considering their senior living options, on the other hand, sometimes wrestle with what freedoms they may be giving up if they move to a CCRC or other type of retirement community.

For instance, when living in any multi-family community, like a CCRC or other retirement community, it’s true that one must consider how their actions impact their neighbor. For instance, if you opt for a condominium unit with shared walls, playing the drums at 5 a.m. or working on your tap-dancing routine at 11 p.m. could obviously infringe on the rights of your neighbors to a restful night’s sleep.

The man I spoke with shared that prior to moving to Freedom Pointe, he had a bunch of tools, but he wasn’t able to bring all of them with him because of space constraints, so he did feel like he was giving up something with his move. However, he pointed out that he also gained many new freedoms in exchange. He doesn’t need the tools now because if something breaks in his home, he just picks up the phone, and someone is there to take care of it. He is able to let go of worries about home maintenance, freeing up his time to do things he wants to do.

Indeed, one could argue that there are numerous examples of the benefits that come with the fairly minor sacrifices of a CCRC move: freedom from tasks like home maintenance, housekeeping, and yard work. Depending on the community, you also may win freedom from some cooking duties, while gaining access to amenities like a pool, fitness center, and numerous wellness and social opportunities.

But for those who opt for a CCRC, there is an even greater perk that must be factored into the cost-benefit analysis. CCRC residents know that should their ability to live independently change, they will have access to a continuum of care services. This peace of mind can create the ultimate freedom for residents, and their loved ones — peace of mind — as they let go of worries about the future’s unknowns.

>> Related: 6 Ways a CCRC Simplifies Independent Living Residents’ Lives

Some things are worth the cost and sacrifice

I love talking with prospects and residents at the retirement communities I visit across the country. I always meet people with fascinating life experiences and unique viewpoints. The perspectives of the gentleman I spoke with at The Villages on the costs and sacrifices of having children as compared to the decision to move to a CCRC were quite thought-provoking.

Obviously, there are distinct differences between these two major life choices. Just as having children is not for everyone (or may not be an option for all), so too moving to a retirement community isn’t right for every older adult.

There are many different factors that go into a senior living decision, and a person should make an informed choice based on their individual preferences, finances, and goals. But as the man at The Villages pointed out, there are some major choices we make in life without giving too much thought to the cost and freedoms we will give up — like the decision to have children.

Just as having a child can bring immeasurable happiness — despite the costs and sacrifices we must make for them — for some people, the cost and relatively minor freedoms that are given up with a retirement community move may be well-worth it when they weigh the deciding factors that are most important to them.

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