College towns are attractive destinations for many retirees. It’s a trend that has also spawned the development of University-Based Retirement Communities (UBRCs)—facilities that offer residential housing while also promoting lifelong learning for seniors.
University-based communities are as varied as their residents. Before selecting one, it’s essential to determine which activities, amenities, and lifestyle elements are critical, including the hobbies you enjoy, your educational interests, health concerns, eating, and activity preferences.
The following questions can help you identify which programs are best suited to your needs and preferences:
Educational and Cultural Considerations
- Do you want to enjoy the artistic and cultural aspects of a university retirement community, or are you more interested in their academic and intellectual offerings?
- Do you want to take classes? If so, do you prefer auditing courses, or are you seeking a degree?
- Do you want to attend classes in person, or do you prefer online learning?
Other Personal Considerations
- Are there adequate transportation options? (bus, public transit, taxis, airlines)
- Are healthcare facilities available? University-based communities often have cutting-edge healthcare, but smaller college communities may not.
- Will you have convenient access to grocery stores and restaurants? What about walking paths, farm-to-table markets, swimming, golf, and other activities of interest?
Know the Cost
Some college or university retirement communities have hefty entrance fees, in addition to substantial monthly payments. Be sure you know:
- What's included in the monthly fee? (classes, transportation, events, maintenance, etc.)
- Is the entrance fee refundable, in whole or in part, if you move away? It’s best to have a lawyer check the contract.
- What happens if you can no longer afford the fees? Some adult communities receive funding from outside sources to help seniors with financial difficulties.
Know the Facility
It’s best if the property is close to the campus (within a mile or less). Some developments claim to be university-based, but are located upwards of 20 miles away!
- Talk with the university or college about their relationship with the retirement community. Get a list of upcoming events, as well as those that have occurred within the past year.
- Find out if the facility offers graduated care or independent living only. Is onsite physical therapy or occupational therapy available, if needed?
- Know all restrictions affecting things like visitors’ age and length of stay, pets, gardening options, parking allowances for cars, RVs, boats, etc.
Know the College
Talk with the administration about their cooperative relationship with the retirement community.
- Ask about tuition waivers, auditing courses, scholarships, and online courses for seniors.
- Determine if there are any fees associated with attending concerts and art shows or participating in other university events.