5 Top Questions to Ask a Retirement Community

Are you considering moving to a retirement community? If you, or someone you know, is thinking about making the move, check out these 5 top questions to ask a retirement community.

1. Is the food good?

We all spend a great deal of time at meals, and the quality and presentation is very important. It’s great if you can visit the retirement community and actually join them for a meal. And here are some follow-up questions you may want to ask about the food.

a. Can I meet the Chef? How long has he/she been with you?
b. What is the cycle of menus? How often do they repeat?
c. Could I have a copy of some sample menus?
d. Do you have seasonal menus to take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables?
e. Are there vegetarian/vegan options? What are they?
f. Are there alternate meals if nothing on the menu appeals to me?
g. Can I get a tray in my room?
h. How many meals are offered daily?
i. Is this included in the lease rate?


2. What are the community standards and values?

Since this community will be your home, you want to make sure its values are in line with yours. You’re looking for like-minded individuals that you will enjoy being around. If it’s a niche community, like the BA, the focus will be clear. If it’s not a niche community, then you can gather information about their standards and values from their website, the mission statement and goals, and their publications and printed materials.

3. Who owns and manages the community, and how stable is the management?

You want to know that the community will continue to operate as it does now after you move. Here are some follow-up questions to consider.

a. How long has the company or organization been in business?
b. Is their financial condition sound?
c. Is it for-profit or nonprofit? There’s not a right or wrong answer to this question, but nonprofits tend to be more mission driven.


4. How much does it cost to live here, and how does that compare with what I am currently spending?

No one likes hidden costs. Before committing to a retirement community, find out what is included in the monthly rate and if there are other costs such as deposits, pet fees, buy-in, and other costs. At the BA, the monthly rate is all-inclusive and there are no other monthly costs. To move in requires a first and last month rent and a pet fee (if applicable).

You can compare what you are currently spending with the cost of the retirement community by checking out our Cost-Comparison Calculator–a true apples-to-apples comparison.

Three elderly women laughing on patio

5. What is it like to live in the community?

Is this a community where you will feel comfortable? Will you enjoy the lifestyle? The best way to know what it is like to live in a community is to try it or for a day or so, or more. Here are some follow-up questions:

a. What activities and events take place over a week or a month’s time?
b. When you are not in your own apartment, are the common areas comfortable and inviting?
c. Are special amenities you are looking for included? These are different for everyone, and so make sure what is important to you is present.

These are my top 5 questions, but there are many more questions to consider before making the move to a retirement community. Here are a few more:

6. What do other people think of the community? You can go online to read consumer reviews, particularly from people who actually lived in the community. You can also talk to people who live in the community when you visit.
7. What are the transportation options? Is there a place to keep your car? If you don’t choose to keep your car, is there transportation to the places you need to go? Church, appointments, shopping?
8. Are the staff members in the retirement community friendly, informative, and respectful?
9. What are the pet policies? Some people are looking for pet friendly communities, and some are looking for pet-free communities.

What questions have I left out? Be sure and let me know so I can update this list.

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