The Perks of Living in a Senior Community … even if you yet aren’t one

I live in a condo complex owned and run by a Property Management company, not by individual owners. When hubby and I sold our last home in a hot market, the last thing we wanted was to rent someone else’s condo so we’d be at their mercy about if they decided to sell and we’d have to move, or that they could raise rents till their heart’s content. This complex was erected, some time in the early 1970s, and back in the day, this complex was touted as a luxury property, where most renters came as empty nesters after their homes were emptied and became too big for them, as well as a lot of divorcees.

The complex is well known in the northern part of my city, and although there are some quite large units, comparably to today’s ‘closets’ passing for condos here in my city of Toronto, these three buildings were never particularly promoted as a place for children. Many mid-life people moving here from their homes liked that aspect.

Through the years and decades, the buildings were always well kept with lots of amenities at our doorsteps without having to walk outside. These features obviously became draws for seniors to move here. And for many that have moved here from their previous homes – they never leave. I have to say that this gives me the creeps when I think about the reality that for many, it becomes the last stop before the final stop. My own father moved into the complex in the mid 70s after he FINALLY divorced my mother. He lived here for approximately fifteen years before his untimely death – his last stop before the final stop.

The grounds are vast and beautifully manicured with gazebos, fountains, and walking trails. I am literally a three to five minute drive to three major highways. Within our complex we have a convenience plus store, a dry cleaners, a library, tennis court, pool table room, swimming pool, sauna, gym and security at the gates. The biggest bonus of all is that they don’t build condos like these anymore, tight building budgets and cheap materials preferred over better now, the golden days are gone. These buildings also have what we call ‘rent control’ on them too, as our government deems any buildings built before 1990, eligible for rent control, meaning the rent can only go up so much annually without gauging, as dictated by governmental rate increases. These units are practically soundproof because the walls are made of plaster. In fact, anything heavy to hang on the walls must be drilled with a cement drill just to get the screws in. But the size of these units are often the sizes of some people’s houses. My husband and I moved here after selling our last home, for the same reasons many seniors do – let go of the home responsibilities and be able to travel through winter without house worries. For six years we lived in a 2000 square foot three bedroom unit. I recently moved to a one bedroom in the same building with 1200 square feet. The smallest place I’ve lived in since leaving home for the first time, but still, huge comparatively to today’s builds where a brand new condo penthouse will typically get you at most 1200 square feet, and the average one bedroom around 500-600 square feet.

At first when my husband approached me to move here I didn’t want to. I think it was the stigma I had set in my mind – the last stop thing I told him I couldn’t shake from my mind, but eventually, I succumbed. Admittedly, I feel like a ‘baby’ in this building because it is predominantly seniors who live here, most of them living here for years and decades. But I have made friends with several older folks here who always have advice to offer and helpful tips. And because I’ve been here a few years myself, already comfortable with my surroundings, and knowing anywhere else I’d move, I’d be living in a shoebox, I decided to stay here and move to another unit after my husband passed, instead of looking elsewhere.

But there are more perks. Besides all of the above, the management looks after the building well. Throughout the year we get notices to enter to fulfill each unit’s maintenance such as: drain cleaning, checking air vents, fire alarm testing, and we make maintenace requests for anything requiring fixing. Each unit is renovated before new tenancy – including wood floor resurfacing, new floor tiles and cabinets, new appliances and painting. When we first moved here we had put in granite counters in the kitchen and bathrooms, new light fixtures and draperies, and paid the painter to paint colors of my choice. I did the same when I moved into this unit. My friend Vinnie was our longtime real estate agent and a builder, so he got me a great builder’s deal on granite, and he switched out all my light fixtures and draperies from my other unit and installed them where I am now. What a good friend!

And still there are perks! What I love about living among so many seniors (besides the peace and quiet), is that we have a great guy as our member of parliament who looks after the district I live in. That would be the equivalent to an American person’s Congressman. Because there are three buildings to the complex with approximately two hundred units in each, we have a sizeable senior community right here. Because of this, many government programs are brought right to our doorstep! First and foremost luxury – a voting station is set up in our library for our elections. We don’t even have to step outside! Typically, when we have our elections, one can find a place to vote, virtually, almost anywhere near where everyone lives, most within walking distance in Canada, but having one right in the building is so convenient. We also had Covid vaccinations, boosters and flu shots organized to have done here too. We received emails inviting anyone to come down to the library last fall to have our QR codes validated for our vaccine passport, made into a business card size code and laminated so that seniors who weren’t familiar with digital would be able to carry the card in their wallets. Of course I went down to get one!

Why not? Yes, people who use phones as appendages  may not be interested, but I can tell you that last fall, while my bestie was visiting from UK, we went out to restaurants quite a few times and had to show our QR codes in order to enter. I can say with certainty, when it comes to my phone that feels as though it’s been possessed by Google and Microsoft with the shenanigans going on with it, it takes me a moment to first dig up my phone out of my bottomless purse, punch in my password code, then go looking for the icon where I downloaded the code to, only to find once again, my icons have been moved around, it is literally faster for me to grab my wallet (so large and easy to spot) and pull out my QR code card! Okay, I know not everyone is thrilled about vaccines, but for me, it’s been a thrill not to have to drive far in my congested city and stand in lines to get vaxxed.

For now, it doesn’t look like I’m moving anywhere soon. But in my head and my heart, I feel I have more living to do and it isn’t here in my city. My bucket list is long, and before my husband took ill, we were considering moving to Mexico. Now alone, I don’t have quite the courage to continue that plan without my husband, but if I keep putting it out into the universe, I believe something is going to give. For right now, the grass isn’t looking too much greener anywhere else.

©DGKaye2022

79 thoughts on “The Perks of Living in a Senior Community … even if you yet aren’t one

  1. I know that feeling—more living yet to do. As soon as we cave in and let our bodies or minds go, we’re one step closer to cashing in our chips. (Pun intended—I remember you used to deal blackjack.)😎

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      1. I hear you loud and clear Pete. My body reminded me in my first class back to taking yoga. The last two years I just stopped everything, including the gym. My body reminded me how out of shape I was. You know what they say – if you don’t use it, you lose it. 🙂 🙂

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  2. That sounds great compared to a lot of senior places one hears of. The block up the road from me is called Stalag. Being able to go away a lot is I think one of the reasons people move to places like yours. House ownership comes with potential problems always round the corner. Personally I love my house and garden and our neighbours and space for family to stay, but without family, especially builder son coming to sort out building and computer stuff, it could be a disaster living by myself!

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  3. It truly sounds like you live in a wonderful, convenient, luxurious, and HUGE place (at least compared to my dwellings). The last two couples of friends we visited (where we crashed on their driveway for weeks/months on end) live in small houses of less than 1,000 square feet. Currently, I’m staying in a tiny house in Belgium as well. It works for me, but I can see the attraction of something bigger. Happy hump day, Debby.

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  4. Thanks, Debby. It sounds like a good place for people who are looking for an easy and uncomplicated life, and perfect for the stage of life where you’d rather do without excess baggage or worries. Being looked after is nice, and it sounds as if they take good care of the buildings and the people there. I live with my mother now, but as I have lived alone for long periods of time, I must say a place that felt safe and handy for most activities would be quite handy. Good luck with your future. You never know how things will work out, but I’m sure you’re right and there’s plenty more to come, and who knows where?

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    1. Thanks Jaye. I think this complex organically became this way with empty nesters – who never left lol. It isn’t sold as a retirement property, but just turned out that way for many, and it works fine for me. 🙂 x

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  5. Your apartment block sounds perfect for you Debby and what great friends to have help you move and decorate etc.
    Keep enjoying the perks…
    And as for us oldies I’m two years off my 7th decade, we are as old as we feel. Most days I’m around 40ish 😅 in body, in mind I’m still 21.. lol 😆 😂 🤣😅

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  6. Moving is a huge step, especially when you have such wonderful folks around you where you are. I love how you put it out into the universe. I do that too and believe when the time is right things will happen. Sending love and hugs 💕🙂🤗

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    1. Thanks Harmony. I’m a big believer the universe moves us when the time is right. At this stage, still adapting to my new single, alone life, I’m best off right where I am until a shift lets me know it’s time to move on. Hugs to you. ❤ 🙂 xx

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  7. Hi Debby – staying put … seems like a very wise choice – and what a wonderful place to live in – talk about security of peace of mind. How interesting to read … I’d love to be in that situation … fascinating – thank you – cheers Hilary

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  8. You are in a comfort zone, which you need right now to regroup. But stepping out of the comfort zone is where life is and where we find fulfilment. Keep sending it out to the universe. As you say, something will give, and you’ll leave the comfort zone and embark on a new adventure.

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    1. HI Diane. You are so right, and that’s exactly how I feel. I am comfortable in my cocoon at this stage of my life, but not planning on it to be my ‘last stop’. 🙂 ❤

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  9. Hi Debby, This was very interesting – your apartment complex sounds wonderful, and you’ll have to show us some of the garden one day. How nice to have so many things organised for you. Toni x

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    1. Thanks Toni. Yes, I will have to video the grounds here. When I first moved here from my beautiful house, I felt out of my element, but the universe sometimes brings us where we need to be. After losing my husband, right now, this is a good safety zone for me. I only hope it’s not my ‘last stop’. 🙂 xx

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  10. Your community sounds incredible, Debby. So different from the places that pass for senior living now. I think you’re wise to wait until the universe tells you it’s time to move—luckily you have a beautiful place to live in the meantime.

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  11. It sounds a lovely place to live. Sam and I have looked at various flats for seniors, but they all come with huge annual service fees and the people living there all seem to be in their eighties. We’re not quite ready for that stage yet, but when we do move we’re probably going to buy a flat on the Isle of Wight as it’s like a second home to us now. x

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  12. To be honest Debby as we go through our 18th house move and facing the logistics of not just moving but the upkeep and maintenance as we get older you sound like you have the best of both worlds. You know you can walk away and leave if for several months at a time and whilst not your own gardens having a pool and the other facilities on tap sounds great. The last time we lived in a complex was back in Texas and we won’t so lucky with the walls or ceilings and quickly learnt to move into a top floor appartment at the end of a block. Still we had so much fun, great friends and we were very happy there. Life as you know brings things to our door when needed… but you have a high standard right now and it will have to be pretty amazing..♥♥

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    1. Thanks Sal. I do remember a few of your Texas stories! And yes, it’s bad if we have to worry about uncourteous nieghbors. My husband and I had our share of renos and moves, and I admire you both for still doing it. I’m done. Yes, G, led me here for many good reasons, so here I shall stay till my next chapter somewhere begins. Hugs ❤ xxx

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  13. What a lovely community, Debby. I’m so happy for you. As we age, many of us (maybe most of us) look for settings that are less stressful and supportive of our interests. This sounds perfect. ❤️

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  14. It sounds like an amazing place you live, but I agree about not locking into anything no matter what age. There is always more to explore!

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  15. An interesting reflection, Debby. I too, live in a 55+ community, but without all the perks you listed. Still, it’s better than a regular apartment complex with young people and children. At least it’s quiet. I don’t think of this apartment as my final stop either. I have more to do! Here’s to what’s around the corner!

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  16. Your place sounds ideal for you at this time. It is a good size. We had a 1350-square-foot apartment in Vancouver which was great. Our place here in Spain is only 750 square feet but it has a community pool, overlooks an orchard and we spend most of our time outside anyway. I got used to the small space but still miss my walk-in closet. Sigh.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in Darlene. I know Europe is a totally different lifestyle, and outdoor life is most important. But oye 750 sq. ft., not far off from what the new builds are here today. Good for you for taking the plunge! ❤

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  17. Senior communities with perks are hard to beat. I’ve enjoyed living in one for many years, as I qualified earlier than most due to the chronic illness. Now, for the first time, I’m looking forward to owning my own home in a supportive rural community. I know you’ll discover your next right place, Deb, once the universe aligns the energies and opens the portal for you to step through. Folks like you and me aren’t very adept at waiting, but I suppose that’s a lesson in itself. Thank the Goddess we have good friends by our side as well as strong intuitive and perceptive senses. AND, we’re in a good place while we wait. Can’t get much better than that, eh? ❤️

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  18. What a wonderful place to live, Debby. Perfect for now maybe, but maybe there’ll be something else too. I like that you keep your options open with so much more life to live.

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  19. Your home and community sound lovely, Debby. At least you shouldn’t have reno worries or violence showing up on your doorstep.
    We live in a senior’s RV park and love it. The people are quiet and friendly, and always willing to lend a hand if needed. Our fifth wheel is large by trailer standards but falls in the tiny and compact category when it comes to house sizes, lol. That’s okay, less to clean 🙂

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  20. Debby – loved this post and all the “perks” that you mentioned. The follow-up discussion added much to this conversation which had themes of living boldly, aging in place, travel, dreams and loss. You covered the essentials of what it means to be human. You had me thinking of how we can live within a world that presents many challenges from health to climate change, to sharing resources, to living in smaller units, to building compassionate communities.

    I always enjoy our conversations. Sending hugs!

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    1. Thanks so much Rebecca. Life cycle on steroids. That’s how fast the years go. And thanks for contributing to the conversation. ❤ I enjoy our conversations too. Hugs xx

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  21. Your living arrangement sounds VERY green to me (as in your grass is gree), Debby. Truly, this post is a kind of love song to your community, your building, your space, and the seniors who live around you. I say THREE CHEERS to this place. When my guy and I moved from CA to New England, I knew I didn’t want a big place with acres or lots of bedrooms or a big yard. Our realtor suggested a “55+” community and I was aghast (even though I was over 55). ME? I’m not a senior. Turns out to be the best thing we did. No snow shoveling or lawn mowing required. We have a corner townhome with many windows and a green lawn and woods all around us (that we’re not responsible for!). And with 2 bedrooms.2 1/2 baths, we still have over 2500 sq ft. So, I think this may be the way to go for those of us who have rocked and rolled, and now want a bit of a gentle song (and home) to dance to. 🙂

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    1. Oh wow Pam, your place sounds like a slice of heaven! But I hear you, like you, I felt the senior stigma. lol, until I realized ‘the perks’. Lol. It’s perfect for now until the universe lets me know where I’m supposed to be. ❤

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      1. Same with me. Moving different places (in different coasts) has given me such great perspectives, so I know moving can be good for the psyche and soul. BUT so.much.work. Like you, I’ll wait for the nudge from the Universe. xo

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  22. It sounds like the ideal situation – no worries about lawn maintenance or snow shovelling! 🙂 I’m sure you’ll embark on new adventures when you’re ready. No way is this your last stop!

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  23. We lived in our own house in a senior community in AZ a while ago. I must say, it wasn’t a good experience and that is why we never moved to that type of community again. But, Sis… your condo sounds perfect. I can’t really see a reason for you to move. You’re much better located than most folks. I think you’ve been given a blessing and sometimes we just have to enjoy what we have. I’m just thankful you’re in such a good spot. ❤️

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    1. Thank you Sis. Oh yes, as much as I didn’t want to stay here, with the economy and escalating rents, etc. In this city right now, here is the best place. My big move will be when I figure out where else on earth I wish to live. ❤

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  24. Congratulations, Debby! Thanks for the great description, and i have to say living outside of Germany really is very different to here, in every stage of live. Here senior living is mostly organized like Germans like to organize: Boxed, quiet and in view of the coming second life (if there will be one). Here we are just taking the first steps to establish something like community living for seniors, and i really like the way its done at your site. It sounds a little bit like paradise. Enjoy it, and have a good weekend! xx Michael

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  25. Hi Debby, it does sound like this is a great place to live. Old age sort of creeps up on people and suddenly they are not what they were before. My parents moved in with us 17 years ago when my mom was 66 and my dad was a young 55. Now they are 83 and 72 and things have changed so much. They are needing a lot more care and I think we may have to consider a place that is better equipped to care for their needs as they grow older. Time passes quickly and I think you have the best of both worlds where you are and you will have all the things you need when you grow into them for want of a better expression.

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    1. Hi Robbie. Thanks so much for sharing with us a slice of your own experience. Yes, old age does creep up, as I witnessed with my husband. I was blessed to be able to care for him, and worry about my own old age down the road. I hope you can work out a nice place for them. Bless them both. ❤

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