15-minute read

Active adult communities are all the rage with baby boomers heading into retirement, and for good reason! Imagine a place designed just for you, where staying healthy and making friends is a breeze. Typically (but not always) age-restricted 55 and over, the communities feature low-maintenance homes, resort-style amenities, and regular activities, clubs, and events to foster an active and social atmosphere among residents. Plus, healthcare, recreation, and entertainment are usually just around the corner.

For nearly 30 years, Private Communities Registry (PCR) has helped tens of thousands of active adult and 55+ buyers find their perfect community to call home. And in this comprehensive guide, we'll be your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about active adult communities...delving into the benefits they offer, different types of communities available, what to consider during your search, and valuable tips to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you're just starting to explore your options or are nearing a final decision, this article will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to find the community that perfectly matches your desires and lifestyle.

You’ll discover:

What is an Active Adult 55+ Community?
The Benefits of Active Adult Communities
Active Adult Community Housing, Amenities, and Lifestyle
Types of Active Adult Communities
Choosing a 55+ Active Adult Community
Top 55+ Homebuilders
Moving to an Active Adult Community
A Resident's Day in a Life
Finding the Best 55+ Active Adult Communities

What Are 55+ Active Adult Communities?

Active adult communities are expansive private neighborhoods or housing developments designed specifically for residents looking to embrace an active and social lifestyle as they near or enter retirement. These retirement communities offer amenities and services tailored to the needs and preferences of older adults, like recreational facilities, walking trails, fitness centers, and social activities. Housing options within the communities vary, but often include low- or no-maintenance single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, or apartments. They cater to older adults and retirees looking to downsize from larger homes, simplify things while remaining active and engaged, and enjoy the benefits of living among like-minded individuals.

Why Are Active Adult Communities So Popular?

Why are active adult communities so popular

We’ll dive into all the benefits in just a bit, but the popularity of active adult communities boils down to this: They offer a sense of community and belonging, with social events and amenities that encourage residents to connect with like-minded people. Add to that the quality low-maintenance homes from the nation’s top builders and the convenience of on-site amenities, and it’s easy to see why so many older adults flock to these developments.

Speaking of boomers, they’re dominating the housing market right now, so it’s no surprise that the demand for active adult communities is higher than ever.

Here are some quick stats on today’s baby boomer homebuyer:

Market Share: While millennials recently re-took the top spot from boomers, it's been a back-and-forth tug-of-war between these two leading home buying demographics. Still, boomers accounted for 31% of all home sales and dominate the selling market making up 45% of all sellers. 

Age Breakdown: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) breaks down baby boomer homebuyers into two categories: younger boomers (ages 58-67) and older boomers (ages 68-76). Interestingly, younger boomers are a significant portion, making up roughly half (around 19.5% of total sales)  compared to older boomers (around 19.5%).

Financial Strength: Baby boomers tend to have a financial advantage in the housing market. Homebuyer.com research shows they secured an average mortgage of $347,167 (older boomers) and $350,024 (younger boomers) for their purchases. In the case of active adult community purchases, many are cash buyers (60% according to PCR research).

Lifestyle Preferences: PCR research also shows these age-targeted buyers have highly preferred amenities, all focused on maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle: Walking/Biking Trails (71%); Swimming Pool (71%); Fitness Center (69%); Clubhouse (51%); Tennis/Pickleball (42%); Golf (40%).

Difference Between Age-Targeted and Age-Restricted Communities

Age-targeted communities and age-restricted communities are two types of residential developments designed specifically to cater to the needs and preferences of older adults, particularly retirees. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct differences in terms of their demographics and regulations.

Age-Targeted Communities

  • Definition: Age-targeted communities are housing developments marketed towards adults of a certain age range, typically 55 years and older. However, they do not impose strict age restrictions, meaning residents of any age can live in these communities.
  • Demographics: While age-targeted communities often attract a predominantly older population due to their marketing focus on retirees and empty-nesters, they may also have residents who fall outside the specified age range, such as younger adults or families with children.
  • Regulations: Since age-targeted communities do not have age restrictions, they do not legally enforce age-related requirements for residency. Residents may vary widely in age, and there are typically no limitations on who can purchase or rent homes in these active adult communities.

Age-Restricted Communities

  • Definition: Age-restricted communities, also known as 55-plus communities, are specifically designed for residents who are 55 years or older. These communities enforce strict age requirements, often prohibiting residents under a certain age from living there on a permanent basis.
  • Demographics: Age-restricted communities primarily consist of older adults who have reached retirement age or are nearing it. Residents are usually retirees or individuals who no longer have children living with them.
  • Regulations: In the US, for instance, the Fair Housing Act allows communities to be age-restricted as long as at least 80% of occupied units have at least one resident over the age limit. This ensures a majority of residents are within the targeted age group. Younger individuals may still visit or reside temporarily in an age-restricted active adult community but are generally restricted from permanent residency. For more details, find out who can live in a 55+ community here

Benefits of 55+ Active Adult Communities

Benefits of active adult communities

With an array of amenities and coveted locations, living in a 55-plus community has a lot of advantages. They appeal to retirees (and those approaching retirement) seeking an active, hassle-free lifestyle within a secure environment. While often labeled as retirement havens, it's worth noting that retirement isn't always a prerequisite for residency. Here are a few of the main reasons people choose to move to active adult 55-plus communities:

Lifestyle tailored to older adults: These communities offer amenities and services specifically designed to meet the requirements of individuals aged 55 and older. This can include clubhouses and amenity centers, fitness facilities, swimming pools, walking trails, classes, clubs, and social activities for seniors.

Sense of community: With age restrictions in place, residents often share similar life experiences and interests, fostering a strong sense of community and camaraderie. This can lead to lasting friendships and a supportive social network.

Maintenance-free living: Many 55-plus communities offer maintenance-free or low-maintenance living options, including services like lawn care, snow removal, and exterior maintenance. This appeals to older adults looking to simplify their lives and reduce the burden of home upkeep.

Security and peace of mind: Age-restricted communities often provide enhanced security measures, such as gated entrances or security patrols, which can offer residents a greater sense of safety and peace of mind.

Proximity to healthcare facilities: Many communities are strategically located near healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. This can be particularly appealing to seniors looking for retirement communities with easy access to medical care and services as they age.

Active Adult Community Housing, Amenities, and Lifestyle

When prepping for retirement, folks are on the lookout for a thriving community where they can kick back, stay lively, and mingle with fresh faces. Tired of the endless chores of regular old houses, they're craving a spot that caters to their lifestyle and offers all the bells and whistles.

Active adult communities housing, amenities, and lifestyle

Enter active adult 55+ communities—the ultimate destination for living out those golden years in style! Get ready for a real estate adventure, packed with options galore, amenities that'll knock your socks off, and vibes that scream 'living your best life'!

Homes Built for Your Next Chapter: These communities cater to a range of preferences, with affordable options like single-family homes, ranch-style layouts for easy living, low-maintenance townhomes, and stylish condominiums. Many residences boast modern features like open floor plans, wider doorways, and grab bars in bathrooms, promoting accessibility and comfort.

Amenities Galore: Dust off your tennis racket and swimsuit! Active adult communities often resemble resort-style living, with shimmering pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers complete with yoga studios and weight training areas, and scenic walking or biking trails that meander through beautifully landscaped grounds. Game courts like bocce ball or pickleball provide a fun way to get some exercise and socialize with neighbors. Clubhouses act as a central hub, buzzing with activity rooms for everything from arts and crafts to billiards, and hosting classes on topics like cooking, technology, or even foreign languages.

A Lifestyle Tailored to Connection: One of the greatest benefits of these communities is the tremendous sense of belonging. Surrounded by like-minded individuals who share similar life stages and interests, residents can easily forge lasting friendships and build a supportive social network. Whether it's joining a hiking club, participating in a book club discussion, or attending a community social event, there are endless opportunities to connect and create lasting memories.

Who Thrives in Active Adult Communities?

Who should live in an active adult community?

The communities aren't a one-size-fits-all situation. They cater to a variety of folks, each with their own reasons for wanting to embrace this lifestyle:

  • The Active Bunch: Retirement doesn't have to mean rocking chairs! These communities are sanctuaries for those who want to stay active with amenities like pools, tennis courts, pickleball, and even golf courses, turning every day into an adventure.
  • The Rightsizers: Empty nesters often find themselves with more house than they need. Downsizing to a low-maintenance condo or charming single-family home in an active adult community frees them up to explore new hobbies and travel the world.
  • The Social Butterflies: Some people crave connection! Active adult communities are like social hubs, buzzing with clubs, events, and activities. It's the perfect place to meet new friends who share your interests, from bookworms to art enthusiasts.
  • The Wellness Warriors: Staying healthy is a priority! Many communities offer fitness centers, walking trails, and even on-site wellness programs. These features cater to those who want to keep their bodies and minds sharp as they age.
  • The Snowbirds: Ever dream of escaping the winter blues? Sun-seekers flock to communities in warmer climates. Think resort-style living, minus the hefty price tag, with the added bonus of a built-in community.
  • The Independent Spirits: The communities strike a perfect balance. Residents enjoy the benefits of a supportive environment with optional activities and social gatherings, all while maintaining their cherished independence and privacy.

Types of 55+ Communities for Active Adults

Different Types of Active Adult Retirement Communities

An increasingly popular option for retirees and pre-retirees, 55-plus retirement communities appeal to an incredibly large swath of lifestyles. Here's a look at some of the most popular types of communities for active adults:

  • Golf Communities: Catering to golf enthusiasts, these communities feature golf courses, expansive clubhouses, pro shops, driving ranges, and related amenities that promote a social atmosphere centered around the links.
  • Boating and Waterfront Communities: Ideal for individuals who enjoy waterfront living and water-based activities, these communities often provide access to lakes, rivers, or coastal areas and even include private marinas and related services.
  • Tennis Communities: Designed for tennis lovers, these communities feature tennis courts and related facilities, tennis clinics, on-site pros, and more.
  • Pickleball Communities: Even more popular than tennis these days, pickleball has taken the retirement scene by storm. In pickleball retirement communities, residents have access to world-class facilities and often compete in regular tournaments.
  • Fitness-Oriented Communities: Tailored for those with a passion for fitness, these retirement communities offer state-of-the-art facilities, classes, and activities to support an active and healthy lifestyle. They often include miles of trails that weave through the community for walking, jogging, hiking, and biking.
  • Margaritaville Retirement Communities: Known for their laid-back beach vibes and Jimmy Buffet-inspired services and amenities, Latitude Margaritaville retirement communities have totally captivated the active adult population since they first opened in 2018.

Those are just some examples of lifestyle-oriented communities that promote diverse and independent living. In many cases, your chosen community may contain any and all of those amenities and then some!

Choosing the Right Active Adult Community

Full of forward-thinking development and innovative homebuilding, the future of active adult communities has never been brighter. But as you research communities and plan your move, there are a few things to keep in mind.

By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect community and embarking on a vibrant and fulfilling new chapter in your life!

Lifestyle Alignment: Before diving in, take a moment to reflect on your lifestyle preferences. Are you an avid golfer seeking a community with a championship course? Or perhaps a social butterfly who thrives on group activities and events? Identifying your priorities will help narrow your search.

Explore Locations: Consider factors like proximity to family and friends, access to healthcare facilities, and of course, the climate. Do you crave sunshine year-round, or prefer the charm of changing seasons? Especially when moving to another state…be sure to do your research!

Size it Up: Active adult communities come in all shapes and sizes. Do you envision a sprawling campus-style setting or a more intimate neighborhood feel? Prefer the big city bustle or the tranquil countryside? Think about the type of environment that best suits your personality.

Dive Deep into Amenities: Communities offer a wide range of amenities, from swimming pools and fitness centers to walking trails and hobby studios. Make a list of the features that are most important to you.

Focus on Healthcare: Prioritize access to quality medical care by researching local providers, specialists, and primary care physicians available within the community's vicinity. Ensuring comprehensive healthcare options nearby offers peace of mind and essential support as you navigate retirement.

Maintenance Clarity: Understand the property maintenance responsibilities and associated costs, whether covered by inclusive monthly fees or billed separately for specific projects. Clarity on these aspects ensures transparency and informed decision-making regarding ongoing upkeep requirements.

Test the Waters: Schedule visits to multiple communities to get a firsthand feel for the atmosphere. Talk to residents, attend social events, and sample the amenities. This personal touch is crucial in finding your ideal match.

Top 55+ Community Homebuilders

Active 55+ communities offer a range of attractive home options, including single-family houses, patio homes, condominiums, and townhomes, all emphasizing quality, energy efficiency, low maintenance, and privacy. But developers and builders of retirement communities don’t just prioritize high-quality homes. They also choose locations with amenities that promote stress-free living, health, wellness, convenience, and community engagement.

The top homebuilders in the country excel in optimizing lots, homes, and communities for an active lifestyle, and here are a few of the very best.

Top Retirement Community Homebuilders

Trilogy by Shea Homes
Shea Homes Trilogy offers high-end 55+ retirement communities with architecturally superior designs and tailored amenities for an exciting lifestyle focused on wellness, exploration, learning, and personal connections.

K. Hovnanian Four Seasons
K. Hovnanian Homes, a renowned builder since 1959, offers Four Seasons active lifestyle communities for active adults seeking a resort-at-home experience. Their communities provide low-maintenance living with amenities such as golf courses, clubhouses, pools, tennis, pickleball, and diverse planned activities for year-round recreation.

Cresswind Kolter Homes
With over two decades of expertise, Kolter Homes Cresswind communities attract homebuyers who want to retire in the Southeast, providing dream homes and lifestyles. These active adult havens offer resort-style amenities, energy-efficient homes, and a commitment to enhancing residents' quality of life.

Lennar Heritage Collection
Established in 1954, Miami-based Lennar Corporation is a leading builder, offering their Heritage collection focusing on active, indulgent living for adults 55 and older. Their high-quality retirement homes in urban, golf course, active adult, and suburban communities across 17 states epitomize a commitment to quality, value, and integrity.

PulteGroup Del Webb
From humble beginnings in 1950, PulteGroup has become a leading builder with more than a half million homes in 29 states. Responsible for the original 55-plus active adult community, renowned Del Webb retirement communities stand out for their award-winning homes, inclusive clubs, social activities, resort-style amenities, and friendly neighbors.

D.R. Horton Freedom Homes
Since 1978, D.R. Horton has been a leader in affordable and efficient new home construction, prioritizing quality and design innovation. In 2016, the introduction of Freedom Homes showcased D.R. Horton's commitment to providing low-maintenance living, superior amenities, and a genuine sense of community for retirees, embodying their vision for livable and quality homes.

Minto’s Latitude Margaritaville
Tracing its beginnings to Florida in the late 70s, Minto Communities USA has been a symbol of integrity, financial strength, and enduring value for over 40 years. Renowned for their sought-after Latitude Margaritaville retirement communities, Minto consistently ranks among the nation's top retirement community builders, with a paradise-like atmosphere that offers a unique island home experience.

Moving to an Active Adult Community

moving to an active adult community

Downsizing the house, upsizing the fun! While the idea of community living sounds idyllic—rejuvenating spas, social events, and a built-in friend group—the transition can feel daunting. These tips will help prepare your move to an active adult community.

Downsizing Prep: Moving to a smaller space often necessitates downsizing. Start early by sorting through belongings and deciding what to keep, sell, or donate. There are professional services that can help with this process.

Financial Evaluation: Assess the financial feasibility of your chosen community by evaluating entrance fees, monthly charges, and potential hidden expenses. Consider the broader financial landscape, including the cost of living relative to your current location and the tax implications of a potential relocation. Seek guidance from trusted sources to make well-informed financial decisions tailored to your retirement goals and aspirations.

Plan the Logistics: Moving can be stressful. Hire reputable movers experienced in handling senior relocations. Consider the logistics of transferring utilities and setting up new services in your new home.

Embrace the Community: Once settled in, take the initiative to connect with neighbors! Join clubs, attend events, and strike up conversations. Remember, building a social network is key to thriving in your new environment.

By doing your due diligence, choosing and moving to the right active adult community becomes a lot less stressful. In many cases, communities offer inclusive Discovery Packages that provide prospective residents with the opportunity to test-drive a community before they commit. It’s a great way to talk to current residents and use the facilities to get a feel for what it’s like to live there before you make your decision.

A Resident’s Day in a Life

So, what’s it really like to live in a 55+ active adult community? Let's imagine Susan, a resident in a sunny California lifestyle community.


7:00 AM: Susan wakes up to a gentle stretch class led by a certified instructor livestreamed into her living room. Afterwards, she enjoys a cup of coffee on her patio, overlooking the walking trails.

8:00 AM:  She heads to the community center's garden. Residents with green thumbs collaborate on maintaining the flourishing vegetable patches and rose gardens. This is a great opportunity to socialize and share gardening tips.

9:00 AM: Back at home, Susan prepares a smoothie using fresh ingredients from the community garden. She might take a quick dip in her patio's small pool to cool off before her pickleball match.

10:00 AM: It's game time! Susan joins a group of friendly residents for a competitive pickleball match on the outdoor courts. The laughter and cheers energize the atmosphere.

12:00 PM: After the game, Susan showers and heads to the community center's cafe. Today's lunch features a healthy salad bar with grilled chicken, alongside a social event - a presentation by a local travel blogger on exotic destinations for solo travelers.


2:00 PM: Feeling inspired, Susan explores the community center's library. She picks up a travelogue and a new novel by her favorite author.

4:00 PM: Back at her place, Susan relaxes with a good book on her patio. A gentle breeze carries the scent of blooming jasmine from a neighbor's garden.

6:00 PM: The community center hosts a wine and cheese reception featuring a local artist's paintings. Susan mingles with friends and neighbors, enjoying the artistic creations and conversation.

8:00 PM: Before heading home, Susan grabs a pre-ordered healthy dinner from the community center's bistro. Tonight's menu offers baked salmon with roasted vegetables.


9:00 PM: After dinner, Susan spends some time reading her new book, enjoying the peace and quiet of her patio.

10:00 PM: She settles in for the night, feeling happy and connected after a day filled with activities, social interaction, and a sense of belonging.

This is just a glimpse into what is often a typical day for a 55-plus community resident. Keep in mind these communities offer a wide range of activities and amenities for singles, couples, and empty nesters alike, so residents can personalize their schedules as they see fit.

Search, Explore, and Find Your Perfect Active Adult Community

Living in an active adult community transcends the conventional notion of housing. It's about belonging to a dynamic ecosystem where residents actively participate in shaping their shared experiences. These communities are meticulously curated to provide an array of amenities, services, and activities that resonate with the collective ethos of its residents.

Your Journey Starts Here

Skip the endless online searches and generic brochures. PrivateCommunities.com is your one-stop shop for unlocking the world of incredible active adult communities! We take you beyond basic listings, providing in-depth details on a variety of communities across the country. Search by state, region, and city, then discover community highlights, real estate, see photos, and request information directly from community representatives.