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Rental Community vs Life Plan Community

Senior living community salon

Rental Communities vs. Retirement Communities

As more and more Americans reach retirement age, they’ll likely begin considering downsizing and exploring new living arrangements. Maintaining a large home gets more difficult with each passing year and there are abundant options for both retirement communities and rental communities for seniors. But how do you know which to choose? Better yet, how do you know where to start looking? Before you or your loved one starts Googling “retirement communities near me” or “rental communities near me,” take a moment to understand the difference between your options. In particular, compare the similarities and differences that exist between rental communities and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), also known as life plan communities.


When seniors make the move from their own home to an independent living community, what usually excites them most is the promised lifestyle. No-maintenance living is commonplace among both options. Housekeeping services and interior and exterior maintenance are covered by the communities. Additionally, both rental communities and CCRCs offer a wide array of fun and engaging amenities for residents at every level of care. This can include community clubhouses, pools, lounge areas, libraries, event spaces, restaurant-style dining rooms, fitness centers, group outings and more.

As far as residences go, rental communities usually consist of spacious apartments or condos, generously appointed with modern features and appliances. At CCRCs, you’re likely to find a much larger selection of residential living options like stand-alone cottages and villas, as well as more communal spaces, cultural arts centers, galleries and more. Other common features of CCRCs are personal trainers, gourmet chefs, community gardens, spas, salons and barber shops, theatres and even memberships to local country clubs.


Most CCRCs are bought into by residents through an entrance fee, in addition to monthly service fees. While the entrance fees are typically high, similar to the cost of purchasing a small home, the peace of mind that those fees cover is invaluable. CCRCs offer the full continuum of onsite care, regardless of how a resident’s needs change over time. That means someone who enters the community through independent living and eventually requires skilled nursing or memory care, can receive it in the same community, with the same staff at a minimal increase in healthcare costs. This allows them to maintain the same quality of life, activities and interactions with the neighbors they already know, and also helps family members by ensuring their loved one isn’t moving from one location to another.

Rental communities for seniors do not provide higher levels of care. If a resident of an independent living rental community requires additional care or assisted living services, they will either need to hire outside help to come to them or move to a new community where care is provided. These costs can quickly add up, often into the thousands per month for skilled nursing in some areas of the country. All of this is in addition to the stress and other associated costs that come with this kind of transition. So while a rental option may seem like the less expensive choice up front, over time you or your loved one could far out-spend what would be paid at a CCRC.


In most rental communities, there is no long-term commitment, financial or otherwise. If and when a resident chooses to leave, they can do so for any reason without incurring too much financial stress. On the other hand, rental communities can ask a resident to leave at any time, for instance if the monthly costs become too expensive or if their health declines to a point where additional care is needed. When it comes to care services that are available and necessary, rental community residents pay the market rate. Unfortunately, most rental community residents don’t have any form of guaranteed or priority access to care services beyond those coming in from outside of the community. If the necessary level of services aren’t available, then residents are faced with moving to another community that can offer the proper care.

CCRCs, on the other hand, usually offer three different contract types: A, B, and C.

Type B, the modified contract, requires lower monthly and entrance fees, while providing nearly all the same services and amenities. The difference comes when assisted living or skilled nursing is required. If that’s the case, residents are responsible for some cost, often at a discounted rate and for a limited number of days.

Type C, the fee-for-service contract, includes the lowest monthly and entrance fees, along with similar services and amenities. However, if health needs change, their fees increase accordingly.

Type A, the life plan contract, offers the most value over time. While the entrance fees are higher, the peace of mind is priceless. Under this agreement, virtually all senior housing services, amenities and healthcare services are provided with next-to-no monthly fee increase beyond inflation.

Now that you understand the differences between the two options, is there still any reason to search for “rental communities near me?” Can’t you picture yourself at a CCRC? If the answer is yes, consider a place like Laurel Circle. Here, enjoying time with loved ones, chasing passions and not concerning yourself with maintenance or meals are daily delights. Learn more about all of our incredible amenities and services and then give us a call at 908-595-6500. We’ll be happy to talk you through your options and answer any questions you may have.