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Why Live in a 55+ Apartment vs. an All-Ages Apartment

If you’re reaching retirement age and looking to downsize your home, you might consider an apartment that will not only suit your needs but your budget as well. For older adults, that typically comes down to two options: a 55+ apartment or an all-ages apartment.

senior couple with boxes, for article on 55+ apartment vs all-ages apartment

It’s moving time. What’s your choice: a 55+ apartment or all ages?

But what are the differences between a 55+ apartment and one where anyone can live? What are the qualifications for residents? Each senior apartment community has different policies and features, but we’ll answer these questions in general below.

While both a “senior” apartment and a “regular” apartment may have many amenities you want, a senior apartment has more benefits and features that cater to people your age. And, of course, more of your neighbors will be around your age.

55+ Apartment Features and Amenities

senior man beside swimming pool

55+ apartment complexes often have swimming pools and fitness centers.

Senior apartments are age-restricted to people typically 55 years old and older. Some may be restricted to 62 years old and older. [Read more about how those age restrictions work.]

These apartments might be referred to numerous ways: as senior apartments, 55+ apartments, 62+ apartments, age-restricted apartments, or active adult apartments.

Although there are luxury senior apartments with higher price tags, most senior apartments are at market rates or below. Some others are specifically deemed low-income or affordable.

Senior apartments are built for older adults and offer senior-friendly conveniences and amenities. They usually offer one- and two-bedroom options and, occasionally, studios. Three-bedroom options aren’t as often available in 55+ and 62+ apartments communities, but they do exist.

Senior apartments often are located near the bus or public transportation lines and near medical centers. Some offer transportation services.

While their features differ between locations, 55+ apartment communities often include or emphasize the following:

  • Fitness centers
  • Swimming pools
  • Walking paths
  • Walk-in and lighted closets
  • Step-in showers
  • In-unit washers and dryers or community laundry facilities
  • Elevators
  • Emergency call systems
  • Gated or controlled access
  • Computer rooms and libraries
  • Social areas and game rooms
  • Arts and crafts rooms
  • Planned activities
  • Salons and barber shops


Note, however, that senior apartments are not the same as independent living communities, though they have many common features and amenities. The biggest differences are that independent living communities generally include meals and housekeeping as part of your rent.

Advantages of Living in a 55+ Apartment

happy senior couples

You’ll be living with more people in your age bracket in a 55+ apartment complex.

Senior apartments offer many benefits over all-ages apartments. The biggest advantage is that you will live primarily with others in your age range. To qualify as 55+ housing and be able to prohibit children under 18, an apartment complex must restrict at least 80 percent of its units for households with at least one person over age 55.

So, if you live in a senior apartment, you won’t have to worry about young children running around, and you shouldn’t have to deal with young adults throwing loud parties. (Don’t worry. Your grandchildren will still be able to come visit. The apartment complex, however, may have a rule on how long they can stay.)

Other benefits of senior apartments include:

  • Planned activities: Senior apartments often have daily, weekly, and monthly scheduled activities for residents. These can include arts and crafts, board games, movie nights, exercise classes, and card game parties. These allow you to meet and spend time with your neighbors.
  • Security: Many senior apartments have gone above and beyond by adding extra security measures such as cameras and emergency alert systems. Some also have security-patrolled grounds and even security guards posted at entryways.

Costs and Qualifications for 55+ Apartments

The cost to rent a senior apartment varies. There are, however, three pricing categories of senior apartments available:

  • Affordable: Based on the local cost of living, renters in these low-income senior apartments pay about 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities. Local, state, and federal laws also determine pricing.
  • Market rate: These senior apartments are offered at competitive rates, usually at or slightly below the cost of local all-age apartments.
  • Luxury: These high-end senior apartments can sometimes be used as a second residence and often are located near cultural activities.

As for qualifications, you typically need to be at least 55 years old, as noted above. Also, you must meet other criteria such as a credit check and being able to pay your rent each month.

Find a 55+ Community Near You

You’ll find age-restricted 55+ and 62+ communities in cities across the United States on Just look for the 55+ Communities under Senior Housing Options. The following cities are some of the most popular for 55+ communities on


Related posts:

Can Someone Under 55 Live in 55+ Housing?

How to Find Low-Income Senior Housing

Luxury Retirement Communities: What to Expect, What You’ll Pay

What Are Your Senior Living Questions?

Ask After55 is a monthly feature of by correspondent Mary Beth Adomaitis. Submit your questions for consideration in one of two ways:

– Comment below on this article. (Your question will be displayed publicly, so we suggest that you don’t include personally identifying information.)

Fill out this form. (Your question will be sent to us privately to be considered for a future Ask article. Note, however, that we are not able to respond to submitted questions personally, especially  individual situations.)

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  • Mary Beth Adomaitis

    About :

    Mary Beth Adomaitis a freelance writer living in Southern California. She has written about senior topics for several senior living websites. She also has a blog, Unwrinkled Hearts, which was started after her mother-in-law passed away in 2015. It focuses on elderly living in the 21st century. Mary Beth has been a writer/journalist for more than 25 years, lending her talents to companies such as The Los Angeles Times, where she also served as a copy editor and graphic designer.


    1. David L. Barter says:

      Do they have these in [email protected]

    2. Hi,
      I am in Independence Mo. They are selling where I’m now living. I desperately need a 55+ community to try to find a home. Would like to stay within 10 miles of Independence. Hoping for March 2018

    3. Carol Ulrich says:

      Is this generally true? That a Sr. independent living condo does not offer any maintenance for the individual apartments, and the caretaker only cares for the communal rooms and the outdoors, but St. Independent apartments which you buy, do? I’ve lived in both, and in the condo I have to call for maintenance outside and pay for it, while in the apartments it was provided by a maintenance person 24/7 and it is included in the monthly fee.

      • Hello, Carol.

        It’s possible that what you describe is more the difference between an apartment and a condo in general, whether they are “senior” or all ages. Any apartment generally will include maintenance inside the unit. A condo generally will not. But it’s always best to clarify with the property management company or condo board what exactly your rent or condo fees cover. Independent living communities for seniors, by the way, generally are more like apartments. See

        – Mark,

    4. Carol Ulrich says:

      I lived in a Sr. apartment building which had all the amenities, and full-time maintenance for the whole building, including individual apartments, included in the monthly fee. The apartments were owned by the residents. Now I am in a Sr. Condo and the individual condos are not part of the deal for maintenance. The caretaker only cares for the common areas and the outdoors. Is this generally true as a difference between Sr. apartments and Sr. condos?

    5. Cathy DeMattia says:

      Income always goes by gross. After Medicare deduction for Social Security and taxes and health insurance from my retirement pension. I only have $2,000 to work with. With car payment and insurance that does not leave a lot for rent.

    6. Sapphire Jackson says:

      I was forced to move with a constructive eviction. No hot water from 2/2016-7/2016. Lost section 8. Need help now.

    7. Hi,

      Great article! Got one question, can you still qualify for a market rate 55+ apartment with bad credit? Does credit even come into play? I am asking on behalf of my parents who are about to destroy their credit thru a debt negotiation and was wondering this.


    8. Elena Moossa-Zahab says:

      Hello in 62yrs, my roommate is selling his house and I just lost my job. I am in desperate to find a home. Unfortunately I cannot afford high rent.
      I’m looking for a place around the Bayarea in California, since their are so many offices to go to, can I apply in multiple areas.

      Please Help!

    9. Cherie Carmona says:

      Hi good evening I am moving to the Aliso Viejo California area I am 55 and I have full power of attorney I believe I will be able to get department on my own cuz my husband will not be able to join me right away please give me some info I really need it will be moving soon thank you so much

    10. Paul Blacker says:

      Rent between 850 and 950 a month for a one bedroom or around Middlesex nj.

    11. penny brown says:

      we live in fl. and we are looking for 2-1bd or 1-2bd-bt. I have sec8. I hope that is exceptable.

    12. Sharon Stoots says:

      I’m looking for an independent apartment and am 55. Although, in checking the income for 1 person is $27,000. I also can’t afford $1000 or more. I don’t need my meals prepared or housekeeping. I appreciate any advice you may provide

      • Hello, Sharon. You might just want to look at senior apartments. They are 55+ but don’t offer additional services like independent living communities do.

        On, just locate the city or metro area that interests you and refine your search for “apartments.”

        – Mark,

    13. L. Louise Newhart says:

      What is considered low income? Can a senior who’s social security income is slightly above what is considered low income, where and how can they get affordable housing?. Hypothetically a person living with their family but would like to be independent but can’t afford much, can they get help with additional support?

    14. Randall F says:

      Hi, Mary Beth. I have a question.
      I’m considering a move to the Tampa/St. Pete area. I am on SS Disability, and suffer from chronic back pain. I can do most things, but heavy lifting is not one of them. That’s something my son helps me with, and I was wondering if my soon-to-be 19-yr old son would be permitted to live with me?

    15. Deborah Felix says:

      We are on our sixties & are currently in chapter 13 but our home & car are not included & pay our bills on time we are selling our home & need to downside my brother said that he would be my cosigner if needed .Thank you Mr & Mrs F

    16. Cindy Budd says:

      Looking for 2-3 bedroom 55+ (I’m age 59). I live in Overland Park, KS & need to move by 9/517.

    17. Steve lindsey says:

      Why are HOA so high?

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