Finding The Right Lifestyle Community For You – Five Things to Consider



Choosing to live in a lifestyle or high-rise community is more popular than ever. Together, they comprise sectors of the housing market that continue to grow. This comes as no surprise when you consider what these living choices have to offer – great floorplans, amenities, services, social events, clubs and more all appeal to a broad swath of the population, regardless of age or income.

With that being said, there are as many lifestyle communities in Arizona as there are ways to live. And developers and builders continue to create new concepts for living that appeal to more and more homeowners. So how do you choose which is right for you? Good thing you asked – we put together five tips to help.
 
1) Get familiar with the types of communities available to you.
What age group would you like to live among? Do you prefer a high-rise or a master plan? Are you over 55 – and will everyone in your household meet this age requirement? This last question is increasingly important for those considering active adult communities. These associations have rules against under-age residents living full-time in the community. The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (or HOPA) allows for the prevention of residents below the specified age limit, so long as (a) all of the community’s occupants are over age 62 or (b) at least 80% of the community’s units include a resident who is at least age 55. With these requirements met, a community is within its legal rights to prohibit under-age residents. What’s more, these associations are legally within their rights to evict residents who violate this policy (so long as they’ve met other state and federal guidelines). The lesson? Be clear about your family situation and its future outcomes before moving into an age-restricted community.
 
2) Know your budget. 
So if you’re looking for a place to live, you’ve probably already budgeted in the price of your new mortgage. But there’s more to consider – association dues, property taxes, utilities and insurance should also be taken into account. Different communities come with a wide range of fees required to support the lifestyles they offer, and this can have a profound effect on your budgeting.
 
3) Location, location, location.
What’s your style, a bustling downtown residence or a tranquil spot overlooking the desert? Is it important to be close to family or friends? What about schools or your job? You can also consider how you like to live – do you need great restaurants nearby, or is a corner grocery store more your cup of tea? Do you rely on public transportation? Do you have regular doctors’ appointments that would be made more convenient if you were closer to them? These are the kinds of things that make location among the most important factors to consider.
 
4)  Imagine your ultimate quality of life. 
This is the time to think beyond the boundaries of your new home space. Take into account the many different amenities offered by a community – and not just whether they have a pool, fitness center, or concierge. Take a look at their “lifestyle programming,” that is, clubs, classes and organizations that could enhance your quality of life. Some communities feature hiking and biking trails, golf courses, wi-fi-cafés, pickle ball courts, wine tasting events, travel clubs and more. You might want to see if your prospective community has an on-site Lifestyle Director, a professional who continually develops new programs based on the changing wants and needs of residents.
 
5) Management matters. 
A well-managed community will continue to meet – and exceed – your lifestyle expectations. Some communities opt for self-management. Others contract with a good HOA management company. Either way, you’ll want to make sure the association is stable and under good fiscal stewardship. Professional management can help ensure that – these companies enforce the rules, bylaws and CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) to make sure property values stay high and residents are kept happy. Get insight and feedback on the status of your prospective association by talking to board members, community residents and, if you can, the HOA manager herself.

There you have it – a few tips to keep in mind when considering a lifestyle community. Do your research and consider the lifestyle you want to live (and can afford) and you’re sure to arrive at a good match. For more information on lifestyle communities, contact FirstService Residential.