Whatever your interest, culture or lifestyle, it’s likely that there will soon be a retirement community for you, if one doesn’t already exist. While retirement communities have long tried to attract seniors with amenities like golf courses, fine dining and other on-site activities, the newest trend is “niche” or “affinity” communities that cater specifically to retirees who share a common interest, hobby or trait.
A number of such communities are already in existence and several more are scheduled to open in the next few years. Some examples of niche retirement communities include those targeting particular school alumni, providing access to college classes and other educational opportunities. Then there are retirement communities for those who share a common culture or lifestyle, such as for gays and lesbians or Asian Americans. Lastly, there are communities for those who share common interests or hobbies, such as RV enthusiasts or those interested in music and the arts.
Like many changes in retirement living, this trend is driven by 78 million baby boomers who are approaching retirement. The concept of niche retirement communities is alluring as these retirees are increasingly likely to define themselves by their interests and leisure activities than previous generations. They are also more likely to have the requisite good health to pursue their hobbies long after retirement.
Many residents argue that being in proximity to others with similar lifestyles or passions enhances their own enjoyment and makes them feel more comfortable and accepted. However, there are potential disadvantages to living in a niche retirement community. For one, people who are surrounded by like-minded people fail to broaden their horizons. They may also become more extreme in their views. Residents of niche communities with a focus on a hobby or lifestyle can get “burned out” or over-satiated with activities for which they were once passionate. Finally, while the cost of most niche retirement communities is on par with traditional retirement homes, some can be pricey, with entrance fees of up to one million dollars.
Ultimately, experts urge retirees to base their decision of where to live primarily on more imperative criteria such as proximity to loved ones, access to adequate health care options, weather and reputation rather than less consequential extras the community may provide.