4 Steps to Help Your Parents Move Into a Retirement Community

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move into a retirement community

If you’re over 25, it may be getting close to the time when you need to help your parents move into a retirement community. Depending on your parents’ situation, they may or may not need your help in this area.  There’s a lot that goes into moving your parents from a home they may have owned for decades into a more maintenance free living situation.

There’s not just financial factors to consider, but emotional and logistical factors to ponder as well.  It’s often tough for older couples who’ve been in a house for many years to think about moving, even if it’s the best thing for them, and they may not be objective enough to consider all factors before making a move.  Here are a few tips that you can use to help them along the way.

The First Step in Helping Your Parents Move Into a Retirement Community


For many couples ready to make a move into a retirement community, determining a budget may be the necessary first step.  Today’s retirement-aged couples are all over the board in terms of how much they have saved for retirement, and your parents’ retirement accounts may or may not be a large determining factor in what types of retirement community choices are available to them.

Ask your parents if they would be willing to sit down with you to determine what their budget is for a move to a retirement community if they haven’t done so already.  If your parents aren’t comfortable sharing that information with you, try to get them to sit down with a financial planner to figure some numbers out. From there you can help your parents make more decisions about what type of retirement community best fits their particular situation.

Rent vs. Own


This is an important question to consider as you help your parents move into a retirement community.  Although home ownership is nice, it might not be right for every retiring couple.  We are in the process of helping my mom and step-dad find a retirement community right now, and they’ve decided they’d rather rent than own.

Why?  For one reason, they don’t want to be stuck owning a home and not be happy with the neighborhood, neighbors, etc.  If they rent and don’t like where they’re at, it’s easier to pack up and move on.  Secondly, they don’t want us kids to have to deal with selling a property when the time comes for them to need an assisted living situation. Personally, I think it’s kind of them to consider us kids in this way.  Third, they’d like to have direct and quick access to the equity that’s in their current home should any financial emergencies arise.

Although these are all great reasons to rent instead of own, your parents’ situation might be different.  Maybe, for whatever reasons, owning is better for them than renting.  Either way, it’s crucial to sit down with your parents beforehand to discuss the pros and cons of both renting and owning before your parents move into a retirement community.

Community Type


There are many options when it comes to choosing a retirement community for your parents.  There are town homes, apartments, condominiums, and cottages.  There are communities with activities and benefits such as pools and golf courses right on site, and there are basic apartments and town homes that simply house people 55 and over.  There are communities that house both independent living seniors and those in need of assisted living. These are nice if your parents start out living independently and eventually need to move to an assisted living situation; then, they don’t have to leave a community they’ve become accustomed to.

What type of community your parents choose depends on many factors, therefore it’s important to research and weigh all options carefully before signing a lease or purchase agreement.

Other Important Factors


Once you’ve helped your parents determine their budget, whether or not they wish to rent or own, and what type of retirement community suits them best, you can be on the lookout for other important factors that will help your parents move into a retirement community that’s right for them.

What location is best for your parents?  Are there certain family members, like the main caretaker, that it will be important that they live close to?  Are there certain friends, activities or medical professionals they want to be near to?  Is the location of the retirement community they’re looking at close to stores and other available services? What type of climate do they want to retire in?

If you need to help your parents move into a retirement community, don’t panic. With a solid list of pros, cons, and to-dos, you can help the transition be as smooth as possible for everyone involved.


Have you helped your parents or grandparents move into a retirement community, and if so, what are your best tips? Are you dreading the next stage of life for your parents or do you feel prepared to help them through it?



Photo courtesy of: Free Digital Photos

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.


  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    My wife’s grandmother moved into a retirement home about a year ago. Actually, it’s more of a condo-type facility for retired folks versus a nursing home where there are attendants and whatnot. She is really enjoying it and her sister bought the condo next door!

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      That is SO cool, DC! We are looking at similar places for my mom and step dad right now. They want independence without the responsibility of a house to care for. It’s taken a bit of work, but we’ve found some really neat places out there.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    My parents NEED to sell their home. My mom recently bought the house she plans to (partially) retire in, so right now she’s paying double expenses on both houses. But she doesn’t seem willing to consider moving out of the house I grew up in.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      I would imagine it’s difficult to sell the house you raised your family in. Is there someone in the family, immediate or extended, that would want to buy or rent it?

  • Broke Millennial says:

    It’s great you can be so involved and help your mom and step-dad. There are some great retirement communities out there. My grandma lived in one and I loved visiting as a kid because ice cream cones were only 25 cents! πŸ˜› (and i loved seeing my grandma of course).

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Wow – great for grandparents, and a huge bonus to encourage grandchildren to visit; now, that’s marketing! πŸ™‚ Glad to hear your grandma had such a great experience, and glad to hear you visited her too. πŸ™‚

  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way says:

    When my grandfather reached his age of 80 and he had a stroke, my aunt still decided to let his father stayed in their house. She wanted to take care of him until his last days in his life. But I think a retirement community is a very good place for the oldies too, where they could enjoy their remaining lives and meet some new friends.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      “The oldies” – that’s funny, Clarisse, that’s what we call them too! πŸ™‚ We actually visited a couple of places today and they look super fun! In my ideal world, my parents would live with us, but I’m not sure that’s their ideal world. πŸ™‚

  • Dee @ Color Me Frugal says:

    My mother is not quite to this stage yet, but I imagine within the next ten or fifteen years this will become an issue. I probably should sit down with her at some point soon to see if she’ll feel comfortable sharing her finances with me, since right now I have very little idea where she is at financially.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Might be a good idea, Dee. The places we’re finding are for 55+, so, still very active people living there, but yet, it’s a close-knit little complex too so that there are activities, lots of like-minded people, etc.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    This is something my hubby and I talk about all the time. We know that our dads are prepared financially and have a plan in place as far as their next step; however, our moms don’t have quite the resources so our options are going to be limited. We honestly think they will both end up living with us for some time. God help us all! πŸ™‚

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      LOL, funny. πŸ™‚ We’d like for our moms to live with us too – at least we think we would, LOL. It’s interesting with the whole divorced parent thing too, b/c there are twice as many households to think about.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    My parents don’t necessarily need to move into a retirement community, but I wish they would move into a one-story home. My mom has knee problems and they’ve been living in a 2-story for 40 years. It makes me crazy!

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Wow – that’ s a super long time in one house! I’ll bet the thought of moving really freaks them out quite a bit, but I can see how those stairs would be tough on her, especially with knee problems. You know Holly, my mom didn’t want to move either, until we visited some places today. Now she’s like “Let’s move!”

  • Joshua @ CNA Finance says:

    I’ve never helped anyone move into a retirement community, but I do see how these tips can help. I know when my Grandma moved into one, she decided to rent too. Good thing she did because she hated the first 2 she landed in. She’s not your average granny…she’s a loud old jewish lady, so she had to find neighbors that were just like her to be happy. She owns now, but I know she’s glad she rented first.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Your grandma sounds great πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing her story: good to know my parents are on the right track with the renting thing: I’d hate it if they ended up in the place that they didn’t like and were stuck owning it.

  • Practical Cents says:

    I’m a caregiver for my mom. She used to live alone in a senior citizens building but she had a heart attack 5 years ago and we almost lost her. It happened with no notice and she has not been the same ever since. She’s been living with my sister since then and we split the care giving. It can be difficult to deal with and some retirees don’t want to live alone. I know my mom doesn’t want to live in a home so she’ll always live with one of us. My advice is to have a conversation with your parents sooner rather than later as you never know what tomorrow may bring.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Oh no, Raquel – how scary that must’ve been! Love your advice about having that conversation sooner rather than later with your parents: good advice. Thank you, Raquel!

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    I am definitely dreading this stage of my life…I feel like I’ll be part of the sandwich generation with caring for elderly parents while caring for young kids. My parents live in a house and even with them getting older, I think they’ll be pretty stubborn and not want to move. As for now, they really enjoy having a yard and gardening, but maintenance, especially with the snow and recently a leak because of the rainstorm will be tough to take care of.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      I’m guessing your parents are still pretty young, Andrew? I know what you mean about the snow and repairs, though – they really got to my step dad this year, he’s 74, and now he’s like “I’m done with this”. It gets old, keeping up with all of the maintenance.

  • Will - First Quarter Finance says:

    We just got my grandparents into assisted living. It’s all contained under one roof. Honestly, it’s like college without the textbooks. They seem to be far happier there than they when lived at home alone.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      That seems to be the case with a lot of older people, Will. I know one place we visited today seemed like one giant happy family of old people. They were having a blast. πŸ™‚

  • E.M. says:

    My grandma has lived in a 55+ condo development ever since I’ve been alive! We used to have a lot of fun going to Christmas parties in the clubhouse. My parents moved to a 55+ community as well, marketed for “active adults.” They have tons of activities and a really nice pool. They decided to buy, and they were able to outright with the sale of their last home. Renting isn’t a bad idea, though, especially with how much they pay in HOA fees. It is really important to evaluate your financials if you’ll be living on a fixed income, too. In any case, I’m more than willing to take care of my parents if it ever comes to that. It’s why I wanted to move closer to them.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      We would absolutely welcome our parents to live here too, E.M. And so true about the cool stuff in those 55+ communities! The fave so far in my parents’ search has a terrific party room and a guest suite that rents out for $40 a night!

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