Independent Living for Seniors

What are your options?

Is it time to make a change?

As you age, you might find that your current living situation isn’t working for you anymore.

Maybe you’re an empty-nester, and your friends have left the neighborhood. Maybe the upkeep of an entire home and yard is too much for you. Maybe you want something new.

No matter your reason, once you’ve decided to explore your senior living options, you will likely feel a wide range of emotions.

We’ve created this guide to help you understand your options, teach you more about independent living for seniors, why more and more older Americans are choosing it each year, what you can expect, and more.

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What is Independent Living?

Independent living for seniors is a type of senior living community for active older adults who can—and wish to—live on their own.

You can think of an independent living community as a retirement community; most residents are over a certain age (typically 55) and are retired, most live in single-family homes or apartments, and most are looking for the same thing you are: convenience and connection.

In independent living communities, your home maintenance, yard work, and sometimes even housekeeping and laundry are taken care of for you.

When you don’t have to deal with the day-to-day hassles of home ownership, you’re left with free time to enjoy retirement while living fully.

Types of Independent Living Communities

Age-Restricted Communities

These communities are made up of single-family homes, townhomes, or condos built in a neighborhood-style with a clubhouse that typically offers community amenities, a fitness center, social activities, and services.


This community consists of apartment complexes with an array of services for dining, transportation, and social activities. Some offer more high-end amenities than others. Floor plans also vary.


This type of community offers options for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care, which allows you to age in place.​


This type of community consists of private homeowners working together to manage their property, maintain homes, carpool, and more.​


Facilities comprised of studio or one-bedroom living quarters with shared living spaces; also known as a retirement home.

Assisted Living Facilities vs. Independent Living Facilities

If you haven’t looked into senior housing options before, you may think most senior communities are like nursing homes, designed for people who require more personalized health care. However, there’s a significant difference between independent living and assisted living facilities.

The most significant difference between the two options is the available levels of care offered. Many assisted living residents are not capable of living entirely on their own, whereas independent living residents continue to live an active lifestyle without assistance. Assisted living residents need regular senior care, help with regular daily activities, and cannot physically and/or mentally care for themselves without some level of assistance.

Independent Living Hero Image

Who is Independent Living for?

Independent living communities are for active seniors who are capable of living on their own. Ask yourself (or your loved one) the following questions:

  • Can you manage housework, yard work, and shopping on your own?
  • Can you manage medication, health appointments, and a healthy lifestyle on your own?
  • Do you experience isolation or loneliness? Do you want to spend more time with like-minded older adults?
  • Are you interested in maintenance-free living?
  • Are you looking for extra security
  • Do you want to avoid in-home care as you age?
  • Do you want peace of mind as you age?

If you struggled to answer yes to the first three questions, you might want to consider assisted living or a nursing home. Those options provide more personalized care with all the resort-style benefits of independent senior living.

Features of Independent Living for Seniors

  • Daily social activities
  • Common areas built for socialization
  • Ability to cook in your very own kitchen, enjoy community restaurants, or eat in a restaurant-style dining room with fellow residents
  • Exercise, fitness, & wellness programs
  • Housekeeping & laundry services
  • Transportation services
  • Walking trails & golf courses
  • Access to health care services
  • 24-hour security for peace of mind

Paying for Independent Living

Independent living probably sounds great to you now, but you’re probably wondering what the catch is.

Well, luckily for you, a senior living community doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive. Just like any neighborhood, apartment complex, or even hotel, there are a wide range of options to match any budget.

What you pay will vary depending on what type of independent senior housing you choose, which amenities you’re looking for, and where you’re located.

As you research more specific costs to your area, keep the following line items in mind:
  • Down payment for housing if you are purchasing a single-family home in a community
  • Monthly mortgage or rent
  • Entrance fee for facility living
  • Monthly fees for maintenance, upkeep, & repairs

There are many ways to pay for senior living. Many seniors in independent living communities pay privately out of pocket. Look into your private health insurance and life insurance policies, Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits to see if you qualify for assistance.

How to Choose the Best Independent Living for Seniors

Now that you understand the ins and outs of independent living for seniors, it’s time to decide what option is best for you.

These questions can help you research various communities near you:

How old are the residents?

You may want to live in a seniors-only community, instead of seniors-mostly! Additionally, “seniors” is a wide age range, and you may want to ensure you’ll have neighbors close to your age. All the better to reminisce with!

What kind of amenities does the community offer?
If you plan on using your kitchen for cooking and your living room to entertain, you may not need a large clubhouse. On the other hand, if you’re looking for big common spaces or fitness programs, you should look into a full list of amenities.

What kind of social activities are on the calendar?

Are you a social butterfly or more of an introvert? Make sure the activities that scheduled are things you’re interested in joining.

How are meals handled?

Again, if you still want to cook yourself, make sure that you’ll have a full kitchen in your new residence. If you’d rather eat in a dining room with other residents, take a look at the menu to make sure you’ll find meals you like. Additionally, if you have diet restrictions, ask about how they handle those.

Are pets allowed?

If you have furry friends, find out if you can bring them along.

How safe is the community?

Asking this is an entirely fair question. Security should be around 24 hours a day, but be sure to ask about nights, weekends, holidays, and emergency services.

What is covered with your monthly fees?

If there are any surprise charges, you’ll want to find those out before you move in!

If you are beginning to explore living options for yourself or a loved one, you may find out that aging is a balancing act of many different competing needs, such as:

  • The need for privacy vs. the desire to be social 
  • The need for freedom vs. the security of medical care at a moment’s notice
  • The need for your own space vs. the inability to keep up with housework 

Independent senior living is a great option that is a perfect balance between all of these things and more. The senior is still free to do as they wish, to come and go as they please, and to live the life they have grown accustomed to; the only difference is that they can get all the help and support they need to continue this lifestyle!

It is not a nursing home or hospital, but rather it is simply flipping the page on a new, exciting chapter in life. It preserves all the good things about aging—freedom, no longer having to do housework, a chance to continue growing and learning—while still offering security when it comes to the changing needs that arise when growing older. 

Here at Caring Advisor, our representatives want to help kick-start the journey of choosing the senior living option that is right for you or your loved one. If you are looking at independent living near you, you probably have a lot of questions and things to consider before choosing a location. We’re here to help!

What Does Independent Living Mean?

Independent living means many things to many people: freedom, security, comfort, wellness, and so much more. This level of care preserves a feeling of autonomy and security, all on top of offering a range of social activities, dining programs, and everything a senior could need to enjoy their golden years. 

With independent living, residents that are typically aged 55 and up get all the benefits of living on their own while having the peace of mind of knowing that assistance is available whenever it is needed. Those who choose this type of senior housing generally live in their own private quarters with floor plans that vary in size from cozy studio apartments to spacious multi-bedroom villas. These living spaces are located on campuses that offer a myriad of activities and programs for residents to enjoy.

Overall, independent living is a safe and affordable first step in the retirement journey for many people across the country. 

Independent Living Services and Amenities

At most independent housing communities, you can expect care services for a broad range of needs. The items below may already be included in a monthly or yearly fee or you may opt into some items for an additional charge. Be sure to ask an independent living community near you what types of services they offer to help you or your loved one make a decision.

  • Access to as much or as little health care as needed: As part of a continuum of care, residents benefit from easy access to assisted living, rehabilitation services, and skilled nursing care should the need arise. This might be on a short-term basis after an illness or surgery, or long-term if health status changes. For example, if a resident has a planned surgery, they can rehab on campus before returning to their apartment or villa.
  • Amenities and services: Residential living may include lawn care, concierge service, interior and exterior home maintenance, transportation, housekeeping, laundry services, utilities, etc.
  • Daily social activities: Opportunities to socialize are a leading reason that seniors choose to move to an independent living community. When a senior enters into retirement years and beyond, they finally have more time to reconnect with old passions or pursue new ones. The common areas bring people together for life-enrichment activities, wellness programs, volunteer opportunities, and more.
  • 24-hour security: Retirement communities also offer individuals a safe and secure environment. For example, in many senior living communities, security personnel are on campus around the clock which helps with everything from crime prevention to emergency response.
  • Exercise and fitness: Good health is the result of so much more than the finest nursing care. Staying active also means engaging in routine physical activity. Access to walking trails, golf courses, wellness programs, and physical trainers means that residents can keep up with their overall wellness long into their retirement years.
  • Cook on your own or dine with friends: When seniors live in their own independent living apartment, they have the ability to cook in their very own home or they can enjoy a meal with friends in a restaurant-style dining room. 

What is the Difference Between Independent and Assisted Living?

Seniors and their families are sometimes unfamiliar with the difference between independent and assisted living. Yet, this is an important distinction to understand.

While an assisted living facility focuses on providing support with personal care and activities of daily living, an independent living community is dedicated to providing services that support a thrilling lifestyle for an active adult. This senior housing option makes it easier for older adults to have the freedom they need to live every day to the fullest while giving them as much or as little support and medical care as they want.

Independent Living For Your Loved One

When home care begins to be too much for caregivers, many people have described a move to senior living as a gift that seniors can give to their children. Knowing that an elderly parent is safe and secure provides adult children with peace of mind.

When an adult child is free from worrying about who will do a parent’s laundry or how to arrange

transportation for them to go to the grocery store, families are able to spend quality time together. Reconnecting over intergenerational activities instead of chores helps families build

lasting memories.

Independent Living Costs and How to Pay

For many seniors of various backgrounds, independent living is a realizable goal and is more affordable than one might think. For example, there is no need to pay for 24/7 nursing or other expenses associated with things like memory care, continuing care retirement communities (ccrc), or other senior living arrangements. Also, there are no longer additional expenses that might be a drain on resources, including mortgage, property taxes, home maintenance, cleaning costs, etc.

Many people may ask if insurance or long-term care pays for independent living. There are certainly many different programs that can help cover the cost of independent living for yourself or a loved one, such as employee retirement insurance, VA benefits, private health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and more. Get in touch with your insurance to see if you qualify.

How To Find Independent Living Near You

If you’re ready to make the switch to an independent living community, choosing the right one should come down to your needs, personality, and lifestyle. Here are some tips on how to find independent living near you that meets all of these requirements:

  • Step 1: Make a list of essential needs – Find out what is most important to you or your loved one, such as activities that are available, pet-friendly apartments, transportation options, proximity, pricing,social interaction, visitation policies, and safety measures (especially during a pandemic such as COVID-19), etc.
  • Step 2: Begin the search – Many people start with asking family and friends for referrals. This is particularly helpful if you talk to someone whose needs and lifestyle match the senior’s and if they have experienced a senior community first-hand. Other routes may include the senior’s doctor, community leaders and, of course, online searching. CaringAdvisor is a great online option to explore communities both near and far.
  • Step 3: Location considerations – You will want to choose a senior care option that is near you, but that’s not the only consideration. Think about if it is important to you or a loved one to be surrounded by a rich community that perhaps has a theater nearby, bustling city life, or is conveniently located near another loved one so that it’s easier for them to visit. 
  • Step 4: Schedule a visit – Not only should you tour the senior apartments, but also explore the grounds and the common areas. Go during a mealtime when more people are active so that the senior can see the community life and taste the food to see if it meets their standards.
  • Step 5: Take your time – Ask lots of questions while you’re there and even after you get back home. The goal is to walk away with a clear idea of what community life will be like and where the resident can fit in and be happy. This is a major decision and one that demands time and careful consideration.

To learn more about our many different communities and the care options search Caring Advisor today!


Independent living for seniors is a big industry with a lot of options.

Finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. Talk to the experts at Caring Advisor to find out more about what you need and where to find it.

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