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Retirement Communities

Retirement communities have begun to open near major universities.

Most retirement communities provide recreational activities. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Most retirement communities provide recreational activities.

Retirement Communities

Everyone ages, but the thought of aging usually comes with a sense of trepidation and insecurity, especially when it comes to the consideration of retirement communities. Recent trends in retirement lean toward modern living in sociable environments, and many senior citizens are welcoming opportunities to influence the next generation. College campuses have begun to embrace senior communities in the neighborhood as a way of creating cross-generational environments. A benefit to both young and old, college retirement living is the next wave in the silver-haired revolution.

What Does the College Retirement Community Offer

Retirement communities emphasizing active approaches to retirement (where prolonging active lifestyles takes precedence over the more traditional concept of settling down) continue to grow. As the Baby Boom generation faces retirement, they bring with them different standards and desires than their parent's generation. Baby boomers have diverse needs and hobbies, and many wish to pursue new opportunities after retirement.

Retiring next to a major college community, such as Penn State University or Oberlin College, presents a number of opportunities for seniors, including the chance to take college classes for free or at a drastically reduced cost. While on campus, seniors can interact with younger generations, share years of knowledge and life experience, and contribute to the diversity of the college community. As a result of being so close to the college campus, retirees are able to take advantage of the many activities and events that take place at the college, including sports, games, theater productions, lecture series, seasonal fairs, concerts and great places to eat. For seniors who wish to continue employment on a part-time or volunteer basis, some college campuses offer senior employment programs.

Things to Do: Community Specific Activities

Besides the close proximity to college campus events and classes, upcoming active retirement communities offer their own schedules of events and activities. The Kendal Retirement Community at Oberlin College places an emphasis on senior musical programs due to its proximity to the college's music conservatory. Located near Cleveland, Ohio, the community offers all the perks of metropolitan living in a quiet country setting. The Oberlin Residents Association organizes group activities and publishes a newsletter of news and upcoming events. The association's fitness center, cafeterias and community center keep things very social.

The Village at Penn State offers retirees not only the convenience of a nearby college campus, but also a fitness center with a pool, an arts and crafts center and a spa/salon. The community also features a library, mailing center, grocery store, creamery, lounge and a health clinic.

The Downside of Campus Communities

Regardless of location, there are always pros and cons associated with any retirement community. Some communities may be close to a college campus but not actually affiliated with it. This could make a difference in the range of opportunities and discounts available to seniors. Another drawback of campus retirement communities may be the cost. Community fees, as well as possible donations to the college, can have a major impact on the choice of location.

Kendal at Oberlin College is not a cheap place to retire; its platinum service agreement ranges from $91,000 to $449,650 as of 2009, though they offer gold and silver packages at a lower cost. These costs do not include monthly service and membership fees that range from $2,292 to $5,657, but the community does accept insurance to offset a lot of these fees.

The Village at Penn States admission costs range from $170,000 to $370,000, with additional charges of up to $3,500 in monthly fees. Prices are subject to change and include maintenance fees as well as meals.

Types of Housing

The type of housing depends on the campus retirement community. Kendal at Oberlin has more than 150 cottages and more than 40 apartments. They also offer assisted living units and skilled nursing rooms. Cottages include two bedrooms and two baths, as well as small kitchens and up to 1,800 feet in living space.

The Village at Penn State offers one- and two-bedroom apartments and cottages in a variety of styles that overlook the stadium, and each housing unit is less than one mile from the main campus. All apartments have cable hookups as well as washing machines and dryers, and kitchens are fully equipped with the latest technologies.

Getting Situated

Finding the right college retirement community for an individual's needs and budget requires careful research. Choosing a community based on a previous affiliation with a college does not necessarily mean that the community will satisfy the retired individual's desires. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) provides a comprehensive list of college campus retirement communities with links to their individual websites and contact information.

Most communities offer detailed brochures on their living quarters and amenities as well as tours of the residences.

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