Diverse group of happy senior people taking selfie with cell phone.

Is a niche retirement community right for you?

Things to consider before joining a community of like-minded retirees.

Not long ago, most planned retirement communities revolved around a golf course, a few tennis courts and a swimming pool. But today’s retirees have an abundance of choices, including all kinds of niche communities designed to cater to narrowly cast affinity groups – from yoga practitioners to Jimmy Buffet fans.

Niche retirement communities are growing in popularity thanks to baby boomers, who are pursuing their passions rather than settling for “traditional” retirement living.

An array of options

You’ll find communities geared toward a variety of groups, including environmentalists, LGBTQ+ seniors, and even retired letter carriers. A few notable examples:

The Burbank Senior Artists Colony in California welcomes actors, artists, musicians and other creative types with a 40-seat performance theater, artist studios and classrooms, a library and galleries.

Desert Gardens is an RV resort co-op with full hook-ups for water, sewer and electric service in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, designed to promote a natural and active lifestyle.

Perhaps the fastest-growing niche is the university-based retirement community (UBRC), geared toward lifelong learners, such as Mirabella at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona and Kendal at Oberlin College, just outside Cleveland, Ohio. Residents have access to classes and often campus fitness centers and athletic events.

And, of course, there’s the community of Jimmy Buffett fans, Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona Beach, Florida, with its private beach club, tiki huts, bandshell and no-worries vibe.

Finding the right community

Niche retirement communities aren’t right for everyone, as many people still prefer to age at home. But if the idea appeals to you, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Start with an honest assessment of what you want – and need – out of your retirement. What kind of medical support will you require? Are you someone who enjoys a lot of exercise, or more cerebral activities? How far are you willing to move?

Next, it’s time to think about a budget. Will you rent or buy? Some niche communities may require a hefty entrance fee and subsequent monthly fees to cover maintenance, taxes, meals and other services. To create your budget, set up time with your advisor, who can help guide you through this process.

Do your research

Choosing a niche retirement community should be as fun as it sounds. First and foremost, visit the community – more than once. Go multiple times, on different days and at different times.

Be sure to talk to the residents and staff. Ask how the community is managed to make sure the property is economically viable. What kind of reserves do they have? Who are the owners?

Planning where to live in retirement can be overwhelming, but there are lots of resources to help. For example, seniorliving.org is a veritable goldmine of information for retirees, offering tools to help you evaluate and understand the many types of senior living opportunities available.

Sources: Kiplinger.com, USNews.com