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The Ultimate Guide for Finding the Perfect Apartment as a Senior Renter

It used to be the norm to want to reach your golden years in your own home, the one you bought with your hard-earned money. But times are changing — and so are preferences. Now, studies show that more seniors are deciding to downsize and give renting a chance due to the multiple benefits that come along with this lifestyle choice.

For instance, imagine not having to worry about maintenance or property taxes; being able to enjoy living in a community surrounded by people your own age and with similar interests; and, more important, having the option to move whenever and wherever you want — perhaps closer to family or somewhere warmer and prettier.

Granted, seniors have several options when it comes to renting in retirement: depending on your preferences and needs, you can opt to live in assisted or active senior housing, the latter of which includes independent living communities, retirement communities, senior cohousing, or homes or apartment for rent. So, to help you navigate this adventure, we put together a guide that has everything you need to know — from choosing the best apartment for you to negotiating your lease and legal aspects to be aware of.

Benefits of Renting in Your Golden Years

With all the freedom that renting provides (specifically, being able to pack your bags and move wherever you want), it’s easy to see why it’s gaining popularity among seniors and younger people alike. Add that to the comfort you have in knowing that, if something goes wrong in your apartment, you have maintenance professionals ready to step in and repair whatever needs fixing at any time of the day.

Financially speaking, you would also have lower overall costs, as well, given that you’d no longer be paying property taxes or home insurance. It’s also important to point out the multiple benefits and amenities provided by apartment communities — from central locations and beautiful common areas to on-site entertainment centers, gyms and swimming pools.

How to Find the Right Apartment as a Senior

In the age of technology, it’s so much easier and faster to search for the apartment of your dreams. All you have to do is go to the apartment listings website of your choice, input your city and preferences, and browse through hundreds of verified apartments. When searching for an apartment online, you can also:

  • View apartments in any state, city, neighborhood or zip code
  • Search by budget, location or apartment/building amenities
  • View photos, videos and floorplans of apartments
  • Get firsthand opinions of the community by reading reviews left by other residents
  • Sign up to be notified by email whenever a new apartment matching your criteria becomes available
  • Contact the property directly, schedule an appointment and finalize your application — all from the comfort of your home

But, there are drawbacks, as well. For example, it’s important to pay extra attention online as there is the possibility of scams. Therefore, never agree to pay anything upfront before you sign the lease. To that end, if you feel like something’s off or if the offer is too good to be true, proceed with caution and double-check by contacting the property directly. It’s also wise to only use websites like rentcafe.com, which has verified listings that ensure the property information is reliable and up-to-date.

Pets, Service Animals & Apartments

Wondering if you can bring your beloved pet with you once you start renting? You definitely can: rental properties are increasingly accepting pets nowadays, so finding a new, pet-friendly home is easier than ever. However, before making a commitment to move to a particular community, make sure to find out whether it has any breed restrictions. This information should be available on the property’s website, along with any other details regarding pet fees or pet rents.

Notably, if your pet is a service or emotional support animal, it will be accepted at any property, regardless of whether the property is pet-friendly or not. In this situation, breed restrictions and other fees would also not be applicable to these types of pets.

Questions to Ask Your Future Landlord

Before signing anything, it’s important to have a discussion with your landlord. Specifically, here are some questions you should ask:

  • How much is the security deposit and is it fully refundable?
  • Are utilities included? If so, which ones?
  • Is maintenance available 24/7, and where can I submit maintenance requests?
  • What is the penalty for breaking the lease early?
  • Is the rent a fixed rate?
  • Is renter’s insurance required?
  • Are there additional, one-time fees?
  • Can I negotiate my payment date based on when I get my Social Security check?

Note that, according to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, senior renters are protected by law against any discrimination based on age. Plus, if you’re on a fixed income, you may have certain protections against rent increases, as well.

Life as a Resident in a Rental Community

Apartment living has changed significantly in the last few years, so expect a plethora of new and impressive amenities, including:

  • The option to set up automatic, online payments for the monthly rent
  • Common areas to socialize with neighbors or family
  • Opportunities to learn about community events through online portals
  • Use of on-site fitness, business or entertainment centers
  • The option to submit maintenance requests online

Now that you’ve found the perfect apartment and signed your lease, all that’s left to do is enjoy this new adventure you’ve embarked on!