The Phoenix metro area is the nation’s fastest-growing retirement destination, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.
With nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, temperatures that rarely dip below freezing and a relatively low cost of living, MarketWatch says Arizona can be an attractive retirement destination.
If you’re new to the area — or are just considering retiring in Phoenix — take the time to explore the city, suggests Paul Hermann, executive director of Sun City, an active-adult retirement community. That includes getting familiar with the area’s notoriously hot summers, he adds.
“I always tell newcomers to rent here for a summer before committing to buying,” Hermann says. “You’ll already love our mild winter, spring and fall temperatures, but if you can make it through a summer, that’s when you’ll know if this is the right place for your retirement home.”
Once you’ve decided to retire in Arizona, choosing a retirement living option that’s right for you depends on a number of factors, such as your general health, budget and lifestyle preferences. Here’s a look at some of your options in Phoenix.
With a median home value of approximately $161,000, according to Zillow.com, the Phoenix area offers a number of neighborhoods where seniors may choose to buy or rent a home.
One area, Copper Square near downtown, has been lauded as one of the nation’s best neighborhoods to retire, thanks in part to its easy access to sports, cultural activities and public transportation.
But, there are alternatives to traditional neighborhoods, too. Manufactured and mobile home communities abound in the Phoenix area, including some catering to the 55-plus set. Paradise North and Boulder Ridge are examples of two such communities offering activities and services designed for retirees.
Though manufactured and mobile home prices vary widely, a perusal of recent Boulder Ridge listings on MHVillage.com shows many area homes priced in the tens of thousands — significantly less than houses.
Sun City, located near Peoria, is the nation’s oldest active-adult retirement community and boasts more than 38,000 residents, says Hermann. Communities like Sun City are intended for fairly healthy and mobile retirees, he adds.
“Communities like Sun City are for retired adults who want to be active and enjoy a variety of activities,” he says. “We cater to older adults who want to enjoy everything from golf and swimming to dancing and cultural activities.”
Many active-adult communities include recreation for free or at a nominal price. At Sun City, Hermann says, an annual $456 fee gets you access to seven swimming and recreation centers, while bowling and various activity clubs cost anywhere from $3 to $20 per year. The low (or included) cost of activities at active-adult communities is a huge perk for many retirees, Hermann says.
“You probably couldn’t even get an annual membership at a single Phoenix gym for that price, let alone golf, movies, dance or activity clubs,” he says.
Active-adult community homes vary in price, depending upon their location and the type and size of a unit. At Sun City, for example, garden apartments can start at about $40,000, while large homes on prime lakefront property can cost upwards of $400,000.
To compare price listings across various area active-adult communities like Sun City, Sun Lakes and many others, check out 55Places. One last note: Hermann recommends inquiring about school taxes, recreation and amenity fees, or other added costs when comparison shopping.
By knowing the parameters of the lifestyle you want in retirement, you’re one step closer to finding the home that’s right for you.