Moving into a Senior Living Community is an important decision, and for many a difficult one. Deciding where you want to live as you age, before the need arises, will grant you the opportunity to chart your own course for retirement with independence, dignity, and peace of mind.


As you research, you’ll find that most fall into one of two categories: rental retirement communities and continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), also referred to as a “buy in” community. Sometimes these senior living options look quite similar at first, but there are some important details to consider in finding which community suites you best. Let’s compare.


1. Housing Options


Rental: The standard housing for a rental community is an apartment-style planned development for older adults who live fully or mostly independently, without the need for advanced levels of assisted living or daily healthcare services.  Rental apartments offer basic décor and minimal options for personalization.


CCRC: In general, there is a much wider range of housing options offered from the style of residence to floor plans and square footage. Many allow the residents to select décor options such as paint colors, window treatments, and flooring granting them the opportunity to transform a space into a special place to call home.



2. Care & Support


Rental: Most provide a basic level of care and support for residents. However, these services are often provided by a contracted third-party caregiving service, just as you would in a private residence. Some rental retirement communities have added separate assisted living and/or memory care apartments to meet resident needs but very few offer short or long-term nursing care.


CCRC:  Unlike most rental communities, CCRC’s are likely to offer full continuum of care on-site, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation services. If care needs change, the care and support is provided on-site at any level. Some also offer enhanced services such as a full-time RN and access to therapy and Helping Hands for assistance with everyday tasks.



3. Commitment


Rental: With a rental retirement community there is no long-term commitment. If a resident chooses to leave the community, they may do so without much of a financial sacrifice. However, on the flip side, a rental community can ask the resident to leave at any time. For example, if a resident can no longer make the monthly rent payment or the resident care needs exceed what the rental community can sufficiently and safely provide.


CCRC: The key distinguishing feature of a CCRC is that it offers a full continuum of care and does so on a contractual basis with the resident. The contract specifications can vary, but most offer Care and Financial Guarantees. Most contract stipulates that the resident will have priority access to the various care services for life and it describes what the resident will pay for those services when needed, which is usually at a discounted rate.



4. Costs


Rental: It is common for rental communities to have higher monthly rates and are subject to maximum increases on an annual basis.  There is no “buy in” or entry free, though if you calculate those higher monthly rates over a course of time there will come a point of breaking even when comparing against a CCRC.

If care services are available, residents in a rental community will pay the market rate. If the necessary level of care services is not available, then the resident would be faced with moving to another facility that can provide those care services and moving can be expensive. Generally, there is no priority access to care services beyond those coming in from outside of the community.


CCRC: One of the major benefits of many CCRC’s is the Guarantee of Financial Subsidy, which provides financial support if a resident exhausts their assets. Typically, when a resident is properly cared for the result is a longer and better life, therefore it is not uncommon for a resident to outlive their monies.  Also, a financial reversal occurring through no fault of their own also falls under the Guarantee.

Most CCRC’s require an entry fee or admission fee. This “buy-in” concept is what typically deters people, though one must consider the projected lifetime cost and understand that the purpose of the entry fee is twofold:

  • First, since CCRC’s tend to offer more services and amenities, the entry fee helps keep the monthly fees lower. Without an entry fee, it is highly likely that the community would need to charge more monthly to help cover the cost of services and amenities.
  • Second, some portion of the entry fee may be set aside in reserves to help offset the cost residents pay for assisted living and healthcare services.

Also, it is important to note that most CCRC’s offer generous refund policies for a voluntary move out or a refund upon death which would return to a resident’s estate.



5.    Not-For-Profit vs. For Profit


Rental: Rental communities usually operate as for-profit entities and are almost always part of a larger parent company.


CCRC: About 80 percent of CCRC’s operate as not-for-profit organizations. This is part of the reason why so many communities offer financial support if residents deplete their assets. CCRC’s may be independently owned or part of a larger organization.



6.    Community


Rental: On average, the age of entry at rental retirement communities tends to be a few years older than at a CCRC. Since rental communities are month-to-month and use third party care support services, they are sometimes viewed in a similar light as assisted living facilities, even though they may not be regulated as such. New residents may wait too long, needing support services prior to moving to the community.


CCRC: When it comes to CCRC’s, it makes sense that residents would move in a bit sooner/younger. To begin with, many CCRC’s do a health evaluation as part of the application process, so new residents must be healthy enough to qualify for a continuing care contract. Naturally, this contributes to a lower age of entry.

Residents invested in a CCRC usually want to get their money’s worth, and rightfully so. If they are going to pay an entry or admission fee, they want to do so early enough that they can live independently for the foreseeable future, allowing time to foster friendships, get involved in the various activities and committees, benefit from the wellness and preventative health programs, and so much more.



As you can see, there are many important differences between rental retirement communities and continuing care retirement communities. If you are considering senior living options, learn as much as you can about each, so you are an informed consumer. We would love the opportunity to assist with this decision. Contact our friendly and knowledgeable Sales Counselors at 727-464-1750 or by email at sales@stmarkvillage.org.




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