Representing not-for-profit, community-based senior care providers throughout Western New York.

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Senior Housing: Considerations For Making The Move and Making It Easier
Older adults who can live independently have more options than ever when it comes to senior housing.

It really comes down to whether or not you’re ready to transition from your current residence that requires more maintenance than you’re willing to provide, to a maintenance-free residence in an apartment-like setting that is designed for older adults.

Although making a move does require you to adjust to a new environment, there are many advantages. These include having more time to enjoy hobbies and activities, the elimination of worry about maintaining a larger residence and the benefit of friendships with other older adults. Downsizing can come as a welcome relief, especially following a life-changing event such as the death of a spouse.

But there are many considerations as well as many options for senior housing. You, and any other family members or friends who are helping you with this transition, should make research a priority before you go looking, just as you would for any other type of residence.

It’s important to note that senior housing is different than assisted living or a nursing home residence. Senior housing is geared for independent older adults who require little or no assistance. If you require community services, such as a home care agency, you must be able to access those services on your own just as if you lived in a single-family residence.

A good general overview of senior housing can be found at

These topics may assist you in your decision to move to senior housing:

Are You Ready To Move? Location What Can I Afford? Market Rate Senior Housing Subsidized Senior Housing Retirement Communities Senior Housing Chart
Click on the link below to view a chart of the LeadingAge WNY senior housing providers by housing categories as well as by services and amenities.

Are You Ready To Move?

If you’re motivated to downsize, if you want more social opportunities or if you want more freedom to travel or to live the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of – these are just a few reasons that may contribute to your decision. Other factors that other older adults take into consideration include:

·         The seasonal upkeep of a residence (i.e. a single-family home) such as mowing and shoveling snow

·         Having to ask family members to help you with maintenance around the house

·         Difficulty climbing stairs

·         Experiencing a sense of isolation or loss of security

There’s no question that moving will be a life-changing experience, and hopefully a positive one.  It’s important to assess your desire and ability to maintain your home.

However, delaying the decision may compromise your search. Many senior housing communities have waiting lists, so it’s best to start the process now instead of procrastinating.  Once you’ve decided to explore senior housing options, fill out applications to have your name placed on waiting lists. You can always withdraw your name if you change your mind.

Some senior housing residences have waiting lists that exceed one or two years. Also consider that it may take time to sell your home and downsize some of your furnishings before moving.

Location, Location, Location

Well, they say that location is everything, and so it is also true for senior housing. You’ll need to narrow your choices of neighborhoods and communities. Proximity to family and friends, ease of transportation, amenities offered within the neighborhood, prior knowledge of the area, access to healthcare, and safety considerations are all part of the equation. Perhaps you have other requirements, too, that will affect your selection.

What Can I Afford?

Affordability is a big factor, just like it is when purchasing any other type of residence. However, there are different types of senior housing, and your income may qualify you for these residences or it may also disqualify you. Senior housing falls into these categories: Market rate senior housing and subsidized senior housing

Market Rate Senior Housing: This is housing that is rented to older adults at a “fair market value.” This housing category generally does not have rent restrictions or requirements for income eligibility. It is similar to renting a typical apartment except that the residence may be geared for the older adult population.

Subsidized Senior Housing (sometimes called Affordable Senior Housing, Low Income Housing or Section 8 Housing): Your gross annual income will determine if you qualify for affordable housing, which essentially lowers the rent you will be expected to pay. Most housing providers in this category follow Federal income limit guidelines. As of 2013, for example, the gross annual income limit for a one-person household to qualify for subsidized housing is $22,250; for a two-person household, it is $25,400.

An important consideration: Income requirements can vary by thousands of dollars in some locations, depending on the type of subsidized housing. Contacting the housing provider directly will provide you with the most accurate information as to your eligibility.

In most subsidized housing communities, your rent will be based upon your adjusted gross income. Your adjusted gross income is the gross amount of the income you receive from Social Security; any retirement plans (employer or individual); employment income; interest on assets, such as savings accounts and checking accounts; and any dividends on stocks or bonds. 

If you own or are selling a home, the fair market value of the home will be added to your asset total and a small imputed interest rate will be applied against your asset total in order to determine an estimated annual interest income.  This resulting estimated annual interest earned will be added to your annual income.

You can quickly estimate the uppermost rent you may incur by multiplying your gross amount of monthly income by 30% (.30). In addition, subsidized housing providers may also reduce your income by a percentage of your out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as co-pays for doctor visits or prescription medicine.  This reduction will lower your income and thereby lowering the monthly amount of rent that you will be expected to pay.

Most subsidized housing will annually re-examine your income, assets and out-of-pocket medical expenses to ensure that your rent does not exceed 30 percent of your adjusted annual income.

If your income is above the guidelines for your household size, you will want to investigate conventional (market rate) apartment options or retirement communities. 

In many cases, there is also an age requirement of 62 or older to qualify for this housing.

HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) administers and funds this housing category. More information and/or help with applications can be found through:

Retirement Communities (this category includes Luxury Apartments and Continuing Care Retirement Communities): A retirement community is a very broad term that covers many varieties of housing for older adults. A community can have many amenities such as golf, swimming pools, and other luxury amenities; or it may have very few extras and just offer upscale units or residences. Some have entrance fees; others do not.

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a newer concept that offers a variety of services for older adults all in one location. It provides the individual with the opportunity to remain in one place as he or she ages and includes access to other levels of senior care such as assisted living, skilled nursing and other health services if needed.

CCRCs usually offer a wide range of services – meals, housekeeping, transportation, emergency assistance and social and educational activities.

CCRCs are often referred to as lifecare communities, meaning that they provide housing and services for life. Most communities require a one-time entrance fee and a monthly service fee.  In New York state, CCRCs are regulated by the Department of Health and the Department of Insurance.