Home vs. Senior Living Community: A Cost Comparison

Home vs. Senior Living Community: A Cost Comparison

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



There are many factors to consider when sorting through care and housing options for older adults. Lifestyle preferences, socialization, transportation, physical limitations, daily routines—to name a few—can all impact the best choice for your loved one. And though cost is always part of the decision, comparing the various ancillary costs of “aging in place” (or remaining at home) with the inclusive pricing of community living is a complicated process. So, let’s break it down… 

The Changing Face of Senior Living 

Senior living communities are no longer where older adults go when they’re unable to care for themselves. They’re active communities that mark the next chapter of life—a chapter that can be full of adventure, quiet reflection, constant socialization, and much more.

 If your views about senior living are based on stereotypes, fear, or an experience from decades ago, it’s time to shift your expectations. Try visiting some modern senior living communities to get a feel for what they actually offer. You may be surprised to see older adults leading more engaged lives in community settings than they ever did at home. 

Staying at Home: A Costly Option 

Ultimately, decisions about senior living may come down to a question of price. You can’t stay somewhere you can’t afford. And even if you can technically afford something, if it limits other opportunities, such as the ability to take part in activities that interest you or eat the food you love, it might not be worth the expense.

However, many families wrongly assume that if the mortgage is paid off, remaining at home is free! Unfortunately, there are still taxes, insurance, utilities, food, transportation, inside and outside maintenance, repairs, home modifications, emergency response technology—the list goes on and on!

Aging in place can cost almost twice as much as living in a senior living community, particularly if you need medical or living assistance. What misleads many seniors is they compare the cost of their mortgage with that of a senior living community. A mortgage will almost always be less. This figure fails to take into account costs such as home maintenance and living expenses, as well as in-home care when and if you need it.

 The little things can really start to add up at home. The expenses start with groceries and continue to anything from basic maintenance to trash collection—not to mention major costs such as home renovation to accommodate wheelchairs or other older adult needs.  An older adult who has modest in-home care needs of about four hours per day can expect to spend $4,800 per month if he or she owns a $150,000 home. Someone living in a $500,000 condo can expect to spend more like $8,900 per month. Keep in mind that these figures don’t take into account the costs of more intensive needs, such as in-home memory care. An older adult who needs memory assistance or whose illness demands 24-hour care could easily see an aging-in-place bill well over $10,000 per month.

Older adults willing to consider senior communities pay less at every level of need. In fact, memory care costs hover around $6,700 per month. Older adults who need assisted living can expect to pay about $5,400 per month, and seniors living in independent settings would pay about $3,700 per month.

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Staying at Home Can Mean Less Independence 

Though cost can constrain your options, it should never be the only consideration. Many older adults are willing to pay a premium for greater independence and a more fulfilling life. The problem is that aging in place might not offer what you hope. 

When you live at home, you’ll have to leave the house to see friends, take classes, and participate in your community. Aging can make driving more difficult and may eventually remove the ability to drive altogether. Older adults who can’t drive may feel like prisoners in their homes. They’re shut away from their communities and dependent on public transportation, senior services, or family members to take them where they want to go.

Older adults who intend to live at home may find those homes unsuited to handle the challenges of aging. Stairs, concrete floors, jagged sidewalks, and gardens that need tending all pose dangers to seniors. More than 1 in 3 seniors experience falls each year. The wrong home setup increases the risk.

 Lost independence, increased risk, and the challenges of finding things to do outside your home are all intangible costs of aging in place. You might not be able to put a specific value on these factors, but you should consider how much your quality of life is worth. An affordable senior living community can offer a more vibrant life with more options. 

Hidden Costs to Watch For 

When comparing senior living communities with aging in place, looking for hidden costs is important. If you’re contemplating remaining at home, consider the following questions: 

  • Is it likely my home will need any major repairs in the next 10-20 years?
  • How easily can I access activities and socialization if I’m no longer able to drive?
  • How much does entertainment cost me, and how much do I need to spend to remain happy and engaged?
  • Are there any additional costs, such as home modifications, that I wouldn’t have to pay if I opted for a senior community?
  • How safe is my home? What is the potential financial and medical toll that an injury could take?
  • What other expenses do I need to pay on a recurring basis?
  • Will I need to increase my budget to accommodate in-home care? How much will that cost?
  • What level of in-home care, if any, will my insurance policies cover?

If you decide to try a senior living community, be sure to ask: 

  • What amenities are included in the base price?
  • Are activities and transportation included, or do they cost extra? How much?
  • What sort of care and assistance is included? How much does additional support cost?
  • Are there additional fees, such as community dues or a deposit, I’ll have to pay?
  • How much are various meal plans? How much will I likely spend on groceries to supplement these meal plans?

There’s no one right choice. A realistic perspective on costs, your specific needs, and your future health can help you arrive at the right decision. Don’t be afraid to compare multiple communities and ask plenty of questions. You deserve a future you can be excited about. Keep looking until you’ve found it! 

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