After spending a significant chapter of your life raising children and growing your career, retirement may be just around the corner, and its finally time to focus on living a life where you have more freedom to do what you want. From traveling (hello, senior travel discounts!), to exploring new hobbies, to making new friendships, this chapter in your life is exciting and filled with opportunity!
Whether you have an empty nest and are looking to downsize, or you’re just ready for a change of pace, your new lifestyle may await in a 55+ community. As you explore active adult communities, we’ve gathered some important rules and regulations to consider before making the switch.

What You Will Learn:

Estimated Reading Time: 25 Minutes

What is 55+ Housing?

A 55+ community is a neighborhood intended for occupancy by at least one person over the age of 55 and it prohibits anyone 18 and younger from living in the community. Often referred to as “active adult communities”, these age-qualified communities offer many buyers at or near retirement a fun and enjoyable place to live in this new chapter, surrounded by people who are looking to do the same.

Many residents who move to 55+ communities are also looking to downsize. For those shoppers, many 55+ communities offer a selection of smaller homes.  

Two tennis courts of people playing tennis on a sunny dday

Key Features of 55+ Communities

Whether you want to explore new hobbies, build new friendships, or make wellness a part of your lifestyle, 55+ communities can offer several qualities to help you do this.  Some of the popular features found at larger resort-style 55+ communities may include:

  • Fitness: Many active adult communities have fitness centers, group workout classes, pickleball courts, and more to fit your interests.
  • Amenities: Part of living in 55+ communities are amenities and community clubhouses. Many 55+ communities include pools, golf courses, restaurants, and lots more!
  • Landscaping: 55+ communities have a Homeowners Association (HOA) and in some communities, depending on your home type, fees paid to your HOA may cover your exterior landscaping. The HOA typically maintains common areas as well, which adds to the visual appeal and standards of these types of planned communities.

Check with your community for special features.

3 women smiling after finishing yoga

Age Rules & Regulations in 55+ Communities

Generally speaking, 55+ communities require at least one resident in the home to be at least 55 or older and prohibit anyone 18 and under from living in the community, with certain exceptions as permitted by state and/or federal law. This age restriction is found in the recorded CC&Rs and is enforced by the homeowners association (HOA). To help maintain the lifestyle and beauty of the community, most 55+ communities will have restrictions on when certain amenities may be used by those 18 and under such as visiting grandchildren and guests, ensuring the private nature of the community is maintained for all residents to enjoy.

Reach out to your specific community’s HOA and read the CC&Rs to determine their particular age rules.

A group of people hanging out and laughing

What is the 80/20 Rule in 55+ Communities?

If you’ve already begun your search for 55+ community living, you may have heard of the 80/20 rule. This rule is derived from the Federal law. In short, the 80/20 rule provides that at least 80% of the occupied homes have one resident who is 55 or older, and the community must continue to show intent to provide housing for adults 55 and older. The 20% is there as a cushion, allowing some flexibility in age requirements.  However, regardless of the 80/20 rule those 18 and younger are not permitted to live in the homes.
For communities located in California, 100% of the homes must be occupied by one person 55 and that the other resident in the same dwelling must be a “qualified permanent resident”.  A “qualified permanent resident” is defined as someone who “was residing with the qualifying resident prior to the qualifying resident’s death, hospitalization or other prolonged absence, or prior to the dissolution of marriage with the qualifying resident” and “was 45 years of age or older, or was a spouse, cohabitant or person providing primary physical or economic support to the qualifying resident”.  A qualified permanent resident also includes a disabled person who is a child or grandchild of the qualifying resident or a qualified permanent resident who needs to live with the qualifying resident or qualified permanent resident because of the disabled person’s disability. Underage health care providers may also live with the 55+ resident under certain circumstances.  More information can be found in California Civil Code Section 51.3.
In certain circumstances, a person under 55 years of age may be able to reside alone in a 55+ community upon the death of the senior citizen, dissolution of his or her marriage, the 55+ resident’s hospitalization, or other prolonged periods of illness.

a couple and a dog relaxing on a green field on a nice day

What if My Spouse is Younger Than 55?

Most 55+ communities recognize that spouses may share a bit of an age gap. Usually, as long as one of the residents is over the age of 55, spouses who do not meet the age requirement are welcome, but you should review the CC&Rs to be sure.
As a note, there is no protection for underage spouses under the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) upon death of the age qualified spouse. Underage spouses count towards the 20% and are subject to the discretion of the HOA.

A group of people celebrating a birthday and  blowing out a birthday cake at home

Can Children Live in 55+ Communities?

Most 55+ communities do not allow children 18 and under to live in the home. Some communities will allow a person to live with you if they are over 19, others will allow age exceptions, and they may have time limits on days lived in the home annually. State law may also provide other exceptions. Make sure to check with specific communities and be sure you clearly understand the CC&Rs.

Decide if a 55+ Community is Right for You 

Whether you want to enjoy the benefits of living in a new home, explore the fun and vibrant lifestyle, or make new connections, an active adult community is a great option to consider. Shea Homes and Trilogy® 55+ communities give you the freedom to your best life, in a community that’s designed to make your next life chapter one of your best. Speak with a new home advisor today or click below to start your search!

Explore 55+ Communities at Shea Homes and Trilogy Communities

Frequently Asked Questions about 55+ Communities

Can My Grandchildren Come Visit? 

Of course! Grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins are all welcome! Kids keep us young and joyful, and we love having them around to visit. Every community has its own rules about how long guests under 19 can visit and how and when they may enjoy the amenities.
We know how important family time is, and these shorter-term visits are in place for a reason. Most adults who move to a 55+ community have a different experience than found in atypical family neighborhood.

Can a Younger Family Member Inherit the Home if the 55+ Resident Passes Away? 

A younger family member can inherit the home; however, they may not be able to occupy it. If you move to a 55+ community and wish to bequest the home to someone under 55, we recommend speaking with your lawyer and community representative to find the best solution for you. 

Can I Rent My Home to Someone Under 55? 

Generally speaking, you cannot rent your home to someone under 55. You should review the CC&Rs and speak with the HOA if this is something you are considering.

A group of people going on a nature walk on a sunny day

Where Can I Find a Shea or Trilogy 55+ Community? 

Shea and Trilogy have 55+ communities across the United States, each designed to fit your unique lifestyle. Explore our 55+ communities by state to find your forever home.

Explore our 55+ Communities by State

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