Top Financial Questions to Ask When Choosing a Retirement Community

Mar 1, 2022
choosing a retirement community

When choosing a retirement community, it is essential that older adults ask financial questions to avoid surprises down the road. Knowing all the costs upfront can help compare different communities on a level playing field so seniors and their families can make the right choice the first time. Although the costs go up as the level of care needed increases, knowing everything in advance is key to ensuring a safe, healthy, and happy retirement.

Is housing rented or purchased?

Different senior living communities offer different types of housing from stand-alone condominiums, villas, or cottages, to apartments with one or two bedrooms. For those moving into active or independent living, a separate home may be preferred because it offers all the benefits of a home with the added convenience of the senior community. This choice, however, does come with all of the typical costs of buying a home such as home inspection, titles and closing costs.

For those who prefer a smaller home, however, moving to a senior living apartment will be the best option because of the very close proximity to amenities and services. Most senior living apartments are rented by the month so residents know exactly what their annual housing costs will be. Before choosing a senior living community, take a look at the housing options available at Ganton’s Countryside.

Is there an endowment fee when choosing a retirement community?

Choosing a senior living community can also be complicated by fees that are charged at move-in. Sometimes called endowment fees, entrance fees or move-in fees, these may be small or very large. According to the blog, “The Cost of Living in a Retirement Community” these fees can range from a few thousand to many hundreds of thousands of dollars depending upon what type of community it is. Also notable is that these fees may or may not be refundable so seniors should read the contract carefully. Unlike many, Ganton’s Senior Living does not charge any endowment fees.

Is there a fee for a second occupant?

When choosing a retirement community as a couple, be sure to ask about additional costs for a second person. When couples share an independent living home or apartment these costs will generally be less than double the amount for one person. However, if the move is to assisted living or memory care they may be the same for both residents or greater for one or the other due to the level of care required. This may cause some older adult couples to believe it’s less costly to live at home, but the reality may surprise them. Find out more about comparing costs in our blog, “Comparing Costs of Assisted Living vs. Home Care.”

What typical monthly services are included?

Another cost factor to consider when choosing a retirement community is whether costs for services like utilities (water/sewer, electricity, and natural gas), cable TV, internet, housekeeping, maintenance, and linen service are included. Again, every community is different, but independent residents of stand-alone homes can often expect to pay some or all of the costs for these services while those in apartments, whether it is independent or assisted living or memory care, will have fewer if any to pay on a monthly basis. When choosing a senior living community check our blog, “Top Questions to Ask When Considering an Independent Living Community,”

Are meals included or extra?

For many, choosing a senior living community has a lot to do with the quality and quantity of meals. This is especially true for those who no longer can or want to cook for themselves, but also for active seniors who want nutritious and delicious meals available when they desire. Many communities offer meal plans with regular meals served in their dining rooms, as well as ala carte options like a deli or cafe where residents can purchase a meal or snack, so everyone has options.

What amenities are included in the retirement community?

Older adults have so many amenities available to them when choosing a senior living community, but it’s important to know what is included and what costs extra. For example, the use of communal areas and services like game rooms, fitness facilities, and libraries are often included while costs for using convenient onsite hair salons and barbershops are extra. Also included are plenty of activities and events designed for older adults to enjoy exercise, entertainment, and social time with friends.

At Ganton’s we also simplify life for our residents by providing the following services onsite:

  • Skilled nursing and rehabilitation
  • Pharmacy
  • Hearing Services
  • Visiting physicians and podiatrists
  • Mobile x-ray
  • Variety of worship services


To find out what to expect from the best in senior living in our blog, “Top Qualities of the Best Retirement Communities in Michigan.”

Ganton’s Countryside offers the full range of senior living options from independent and assisted living to memory care, respite care and skilled nursing all on one safe and secure campus. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.

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