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Chapter 9. Alternative Housing > Retirement Communities

Retirement Communities

Retirement Communities originated about 70 years ago as significant numbers of people reached retirement age and were looking for housing that would be low maintenance and that would provide services and amenities. They also were looking to avoid the cold of winter, so it is not surprising that most of these early Retirement Communities were located in Arizona, California and Florida rather than in North Dakota. Retirement Communities vary a great deal in the kind of housing and services available, but the essential element of them all is that this is primarily independent living with recreational facilities, health services and social programs made a part of the community. At the high end of Retirement Communities, you may even feel like you are staying in an upscale hotel and you might not be too far off—Hyatt Hotels has been in the Retirement Community business since 1987, operating eighteen Retirement Communities as “Classic Residence by Hyatt.”

So, how do you pay for housing in a Retirement Community? Many early Retirement Communities were constructed by religious groups or fraternal organizations that essentially required new residents to turn over their entire assets to the entity operating the Retirement Community in return for lifetime care and services. Unfortunately, this was a recipe for financial disaster as unanticipated and prolonged expenses put many of these Retirement Communities out of business.


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