Choosing whether to continue living independently or to move into an assisted living home is a huge decision, not just financially, but emotionally as well. While you might think living in your own home would be more affordable, this isn’t necessarily the case—both involve considerable expense as well as many pros and cons. Let’s explore the two choices and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Living at Home
It’s common to expect moving into a senior living community to come with a hefty price tag. But while moving into a community does cost money, so does living at home. You’d be surprised at the volume of funds poured into everyday life when you are a senior attempting the latter, as well as the attention and time it takes to tend to each item.
Rent & Mortgage
By far the most expensive part of living on your own is paying for the place you live in. Whether that be your own home or a rented property, it’s almost never free. The average rent in the United States is around $1,200 a month. Depending on whether or not you’ve paid off your mortgage, it could cost more than $1,000 a month. And that’s not including property taxes.
Sometimes we take the little things for granted. Light, water and heat all come at a cost, and it takes a lot to keep up with monthly bills. All-in-all, utilities can cost up to $500 a month. And if you multiply that by 12, that’s $6,000 a year. In other words, an enormous chunk is taken straight from the old retirement fund.
Oh yes, food. Everyone does it differently, and the cost can vary significantly depending on your habits and preferences. But as a rule of thumb, $250 should be enough to keep one person fed for a month. That’s $3,000 a year. Plus, you have to get to the grocery store, lug it all back to your kitchen and cook your own meals.
Like food, transportation costs can vary, but assuming you operate a vehicle and don’t take public transport, gas costs around $250 a month. Another $3,000 a year. And that doesn’t include servicing your vehicle or taking it to the car wash.
Everything In Between
So far, we’re at about $26,000 a year, and those are just the necessities. We didn’t cover housekeeping, laundry, eating out, entertainment, unexpected expenses or trips. Staying in your home may sound like a comfort, but it’s a lot to put on your own plate when you’re supposed to be retired and relaxing.
The Pros and Cons to Living at Home
Pros: Familiarity. Can cost less. No need to move.
Cons: A lack of community support. No curated activities. Difficult transportation. No service benefits (food, utilities, home maintenance).
Total Cost: $27,000-plus per year
Independent living is for those who want all the freedom with none of the work. If you’re a senior who can operate day-to-day without assistance, this option is for you. It’s a vacation-style, carefree environment that lets you live your best life without the stress of home maintenance or daily responsibilities.
Service Rate & Rent
Depending on the service level you want and the type of apartment you’d like to live in, these costs can vary dramatically. But that’s the best part, it’s completely up to you. The basic monthly service rate can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, but averages around $2,900 a month. The majority of apartments cost anywhere from $2,300 to $3,500 a month, and in some cases you will have to pay a one-time fee of $500 to $1,000 as a community fee.
Don’t worry about it. Utilities are included in the rent. Fancy that.
Imagine having your meals prepared for you. You don’t have to lift a finger, well, maybe a fork, but not a finger. With Independent Living, most of your food is included. Not only are most meals included, the delicious, healthy, restaurant-style meals are served with a variety of options to choose from.
Another thing you won’t have to worry about —transportation to local routine destinations is typically covered by the service rate. So if you need to go to the doctor or visit a local shopping center, you’ll be covered.
Everything In Between
With beautiful accommodations, laundry services, recreational and cultural programs, events, maintenance and other amenities you may be interested in, the Independent Living option has it all. This way you can spend your better years enjoying personal growth and expanding your horizons, while also relaxing your socks off.
The Pros and Cons to Independent Living
Pros: Community interaction and support. Physically and mentally stretching activities. Routine transportation included. Utilities included. Delicious, prepared-by-someone-else food. Relationship building. Independence. Entertainment. Vacation-like lifestyle.
Cons: Takes time to adjust. May cost more depending on level of support.
Total Cost: $39,600-plus per year
This option is for those who need help with their daily routine. Seniors will be provided with services tailored to their abilities. With 24-hour assistance and help with everything from managing medication to eating, it ensures that your loved one will be comfortable and happy.
The service rate covers unit rental, utilities, food and other basic services. It can range anywhere from $2,600 to $3,800 depending on the size of the unit and locations. And the monthly care fee will change depending on individual care needs. The average monthly care fee is somewhere around $800. The average total cost is $4,000 a month. Plus, a small one-time fee of $500 to $1,000 as a community fee.
Everything In Between
With this option, we’ll make sure your loved one has the best possible experience and that they have the care they need. Some of the services include help with getting dressed, handling of medication, bathing, events, exercise, housekeeping, linen services and social activities. And other services that might be needed.
The Pros and Cons to Assisted Living
Pros: Comfortable. Life improving and personal growth programs. Curated activities. 24-hour support and assistance. Care assistance. Medicine assisted or administered. Hygiene aid. Delicious, healthy food available. Routine transportation. Community interaction.
Cons: Takes time to adjust. Depending on services needed, prices may fluctuate.
Total Cost: $40,800-plus per year