3 Biggest Factors Affecting Senior Living Costs

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3 Biggest Factors Affecting Senior Living Costs

One of the biggest concerns for families when they begin to consider senior living is cost. In fact according to Advisory Board’s 2017 report on Consumer Preferences in Post-Acute and Senior Care, when comparing communities the yearly cost is the number one factor affecting choice. While it’s true, senior living doesn’t come cheap; neither does aging in place at home. So before you let the sticker shock deter you from the tremendous benefits, let’s look closer at the biggest factors affecting senior living costs and the value behind those numbers.

3 Factors Affecting Senior Living Costs 

Level of Care

How much assistance do you or your loved one need? Your answer will definitely affect price as the greater the level of care the greater the cost. Here’s what you can expect on average per month:

Independent Living2 — For active older adults who require little daily assistance and are seeking a maintenance-free lifestyle with social opportunities

  • With a variety of accommodations from which to choose, the cost typically ranges from $1,400 to $4,000 per month

Assisted living1 — A residential arrangement providing personal care and health services

  • Private, one-bedroom: $4,000

Nursing home care1— Often a higher level of supervision and care than in assisted living with onsite nursing 24/7; also known as skilled care

  • Semi-private room: $7,441; Private room: $8,365

Memory Care3 — Designed to nurture and support those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, with specially-trained staff, 24/7 supervision

  • Single resident: $2,000 to $7,000 per month


Where you live matters as similar to how geography affects the real estate market, it can drive senior living cost up or down as well.  Consider these examples:

Most Expensive Areas for Assisted Living1 (private, one-bedroom)

  • District of Columbia – $9,266 per month
  • Alaska – $6,300 per month
  • New Jersey – $6,065 per month

Least Expensive Areas for Assisted Living1 (private, one-bedroom)

  • Missouri – $2,844 per month
  • Arkansas – $3,037 per month
  • Georgia – $3,100 per month


This is one area in which you have the most control as the more luxury you desire the higher the cost. While you may want the private balcony, gourmet meals and 5-star accommodations, do you need that? More importantly, will your budget allow it? Typically these options add to your monthly cost:

  • Type of residence – private or semi-private; studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom
  • Second resident fee – may apply if your spouse is moving in with you
  • Pet fees
  • Concierge services
  • Private transportation

Keep in mind that communities price differently. Some may offer all-inclusive pricing and some may offer an a la carte menu giving you the flexibility to choose only the amenities and services most important to you.

The Value of Senior Living

Aging in place may seem like the less expensive option initially but have you considered the total cost of living at home? For a true apples to apples comparison of monthly expenses you must go beyond your mortgage or rent to include the cost of food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance and entertainment as those are included in senior living. Then factor in the high cost of at-home care and/or modifications to make your home more accessible and you may find senior living is actually less expensive!

Aside from the cost, also consider the value of the positive impact on your quality of life with all the social and enrichment opportunities in senior living. Isolation and depression are common among seniors living at home, particularly when living alone, and can negatively impact your overall health and well-being.

Not to mention the peace of mind of a worry-free lifestyle with no unexpected expenses, no chores or maintenance and an environment designed specifically for seniors with safety features as standard.

For more information on how to pay for long term care, check out our Senior Funding Guide! 

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  1. Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey
  2. Seniorhomes.com Independent Living Costs
  3. Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey