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What Are Active Adult Communities? Homes for the Young-at-Heart

If you could choose to live in a community of your peers, with plenty of social activities, fitness facilities, and a spacious apartment or condo of your own, would you? A lot of older adults would answer with a resounding, “Yes!” That’s life in an active adult community. But if we called it a “senior community,” would that change your perception? We’re not surprised.

seniors in swimming pool

Everybody into the pool! Putting the “active” into “active adult.”

In most states, your 18th birthday signifies that you’re legally an adult. But in spite of the senior discounts, there’s no specific birthday that makes you a senior citizen. You really are as young as you feel – and that’s exactly why so many active adult communities are popping up across the country. Sorry, Shakespeare, but clearly a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet.

What Are Active Adult Communities?

Active adult communities are housing communities that cater to active older adults, usually but not always ages 55+ or 62+. The term is broad (and unofficial). Active adult communities, or AACs, fall into two categories – those that are age-targeted and those that are age-restricted. The difference lies in the legalities.

senior couple on exercise bikes

Fitness centers are common in active adult communities, both age-restricted and age-targeted.


Age-restricted communities have legal requirements. Under the Housing for Older Persons Act, housing communities intended for (and occupied by) older adults can be exempted from renting to families with children under 18 if they meet several criteria. These include requiring that at least 80 percent of all units have at least one resident age 55+, or requiring that all residents be 62+.


Age-targeted communities are not governed by any age-related rules or regulations. They simply market to older adults. Since age-targeted communities don’t have the Housing for Older Persons Act exemption, they cannot legally discriminate against people with young children. Also, it’s important to note that, under the Fair Housing Act, no housing community can discriminate on the basis of handicap or disability.

Despite their differences, these two types of active adult communities may end up being very similar in demographics and even amenities. Most residents in age-targeted communities typically fall into the same age group as those in age-restricted communities. The focus for both types of communities is serving active older adults – those who believe age is just a number.

For Baby Boomers Who’ve Grown Up

senior couple on golf course

Some active adult communities have their own golf courses.

Of course, active and age-defying is the perfect description for one of the fastest-growing segments of the over-50 population in America – baby boomers. Traditionally, boomers know what they want and aren’t afraid to speak their minds. And what they don’t want is a senior community reminiscent of their grandparents’ retirement homes.

In terms of housing types, active adult communities offer a lot of variations: condos, apartments, even single-family homes. But one strong component they all have in common is the opportunity for residents to be active – at the pool, on the golf course or tennis courts, in exercise rooms, or maybe walking, hiking or biking.

But active isn’t limited to athletics. Many active adult communities have community rooms where residents can gather to play cards, paint, shoot pool, watch movies, even get their hair and nails done. Some host weekly or daily happy hours – even “yappy hours” for those with pets. Residents might mingle over free coffee and muffins in the lounge every morning. Other popular activities include classes, book groups, educational presentations, cooking demonstrations, and day trips.

senior couple drinking cocktails

And after all that activity: happy hour!

For Empty-Nesters and More

Active adult communities appeal to a variety of people – from empty-nester couples who’ve downsized, to singles, widows and widowers. Whether you’re a 50-year-old looking to be free of yard work, or an 80-year-old still running five miles a day, an active adult community is not your grandma’s senior community. Nope. This is a place for active older adults who are young at heart. No wonder active adult communities are so popular.

Related articles:

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

Can Someone Under 55 Live in 55+ Housing?

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

When Is It Time to Downsize Your Home?

Never a Dull Moment at Today’s 55-and-up Communities (The Washington Post)

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  • Sue Sveum

    About :

    After helping her own parents as they aged, Sue began working with other seniors, and now shares what she learned in her blogs for seniors and their families. She currently writes about seniors and healthcare for several websites but her past includes diverse topics ranging from dogs to weddings to ghosts. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and Golden retriever, Wrigley.


    1. teresa bray says:

      Happy Tuesday Everyone.. ;-)… i have just turned 60…. still working fulltime & raising grandchildren… looking to retire in approx 2 yrs… sale our big house and move to a 2brm condo with a ocean or waterfront view preferrably in the sarasota area ..we dont want
      to have to drive our car would prefer to a little golf cart or walking.. ok with purchasing or leasing now… got any suggestions?

    2. Can you kindly direct me? Looking to rent in a community of my age group. I am 58, tired of living with noise. I rise early and retire early.

    3. Janet Croshaw says:

      We are looking for an independent senior apartment complex. We do not want assisted living or anything like that. We are not low income nor are we luxury Seekers. We are looking in the area of southern Pennsylvania.

    4. Annette Jones-Graham says:

      Hi I’m turning 55 in January 2018 MY Husband James is already 67 where can we find housing in Chicago Illinois been turned down because income

    5. Lyn Jones says:

      We are looking to move to a 55+ active mobile home community in 2018. Is there a better time/month to move to Florida? Looking south of Tampa to north of Fort Myers. No golf courses, plenty of activities, we are both military retired, and over 55. Thanks, Lyn

    6. Alice Wood says:

      I have found 1-55+ In the Pearland, Tx area (Pearland Senior Village) but can’t seem to find more. Can you help?

    7. hi do you no of any 55 + low income areas in new jersey area im currently in maple shade apartment not 55+ or low income cant stay much longer cant afford it thank you and hopeing wont have to go through social services bc done that and its been forever .

    8. Gary Cheeseman says:

      Iam looking for a place for me 62 and my emotional support dog in Brooksville, Crystal river or Inverness Florida and iam taking my ss at 62 probably around 500.00 please help

    9. Hello,
      Do you know of any senior apartments, condos or townhomes in Central Florida that are not labeled as low-income but would be within the range of $1100 to 1300 a month. I’m finding that apartments, condos or townhomes seem to be either low income or in the $2000/month range. Thank you.

    10. Doris Marcano says:

      Buenas tardes, cómo están, estoy muy contenta con todos los comentarios que he leído, estamos buscando una comunidad para seniors ubicada en Hollywood-Florida o en Fortlouderdel, de bajo costo con 1 ó 2 cuartos y un baño o tipo estudio, podemos pagar por los momentos $800, tenemos una mascota pequeña y también queremos saber el costo de tenerla y también si hay que cancelar aparte gastos de mantenimiento, hablamos poco inglés, nuestro idioma es español. Necesitamos el apartamento para el 12- 31- 2017. Gracias por su atención, esperamos respuesta.

    11. Edward McDonald says:

      Need list of 30 percent locations in Austin Texas.

    12. Thank you, Sue. I’m looking for a place. I’m 72 but far from ready to sit and crochet all day! I gotta be up, out and about. I didn’t know about the distinction you explained. Thank you! Rhoda Nelson

    13. Ryzak Renee says:

      Activiti,es of all kinds and interests. TRANSPORTATION for Medical care, shopping and JCCs.

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