You’ve looked into the different types of senior communities out there, and now it’s time to make your short list of places to visit. Do your homework ahead of time so you can limit the number of communities you tour to 3 or 4. You’ll be glad you did! By doing your due diligence before scheduling tours, you will be able to keep in-person visits to a minimum and will be much better able to identify which is truly the best fit for the way you see yourself living.
So what are you looking for? When you picture your next home, is it an apartment or a villa? Would you like to live in an urban area close to shopping and restaurants, or would you rather be somewhere more rural? Make a list of your must-haves, nice-to-haves, slightly importants, and definitely don’t wants. Get it all out there!
Do you love to cook? A nice kitchen is a must-have, and a restaurant onsite is probably low on the list of priorities. Are you a fitness buff? You definitely want a fitness center and classes. Do you love to read? If so, a library onsite would be nice, but at the very least, there needs to be a public library nearby. Have you always wanted to learn to paint? An art club may be something you’d enjoy. Do you have a pet? Make sure the community is pet-friendly!
Now that you know what you cannot do without, what you’d like to have, and/or what you definitely don’t want, start your online research. Look at online reviews (Google, Facebook, A Place for Mom, Caring.com, and several others are great places to check), and see what residents, family members, and staff say about the community. Look at the photo galleries online. Visit the community’s Facebook page to see what the lifestyle looks like.
Once you’ve found a handful that meet most of your criteria, submit an online inquiry or make a phone call to talk about pricing, availability, and ask any questions you weren’t able to glean from the community’s website. If you learn that the community is outside of your budget, let the salesperson know – their goal is to help you find the right fit, and they may have insight into local communities that work with your financial situation.
If the conversation is going well and it seems the community hits the high points for you, set up a tour. Only tour one community a day – you are going to get a lot of information, and it will be hard to keep it straight if you don’t have a break between visits. Ask a friend or family member to visit with you, as they may see things differently or ask different questions than you.
On the day of the tour, make sure to start analyzing the community right away. When you step into the lobby, how do you feel? Your gut reaction is incredibly important to your decision! Is the staff friendly? Don’t hesitate to ask residents what they most like about living at the community, as well as if there is anything they don’t like. They are your best insight into what it will be like to live there!
If you feel uncomfortable or just cannot see yourself living in that particular community, it’s okay to move on. Let the salesperson know you don’t think it is the right fit for you – they will appreciate your honesty and may be able to guide you if you can identify what about the community isn’t your cup of tea.
But if you know from the moment you walk in that you’ve found your next home, trust that instinct. Talk with the salesperson about what next steps look like, ask to see a sample lease or contract, and let your family and friends know you’ve made a choice. They will be your best allies when it comes to helping you stay on track as you start down the path of preparing to move!