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  • 3-Minute Article
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  • Oct 06, 2017

4 New Trends in Retirement Living

Tiny homes and pocket neighborhoods give new meaning to "retirement communities".

Created in Collaboration with Kiplinger as a part of our Moving in Retirement series.

Today’s retirees are forging bold, new approaches to retirement housing. Driven largely by community spirit, the range of living options is growing – and changing. The question is: Are you ready for modern living situations like these? To help decide whether one of these could be a match, here is a snapshot of four popular alternatives, along with the financial considerations of each.

Tiny Houses

A new trend in retirement living takes downsizing to an extreme. Tiny homes are just what they sound like: typically 100- to 400-square-foot, fully self-contained living spaces. They range from bare-bones to luxurious, with extreme functionality and mobility as common features. Many, but not all, tiny homes are built on wheels.

Tiny homes suit those who are ready to pare down their possessions. What retirees won’t need to pare down on is friends. Up to 40% of new tiny home dwellers are over age 50,1 and many are choosing to band together in tiny-home communities.

Moving to a tiny home can be attractive, financially. Do-it-yourself kits go for less than $30,000. Custom-built homes range upwards of $50,000. Factor in the cost of purchasing or renting a spot to park, whether permanently or just until the travel bug bites.


So-called “pocket neighborhoods” are a retirement living trend to keep an eye on.They’re small clusters of 10 or so homes, built around central outdoor spaces like courtyards, gardens, and walkways. Also known as villages or hamlets, these communities span all ages, serve older residents, or focus on interest groups like bird-watchers or artists.

Homes typically are smaller than the national average. Outdoor common areas encourage the casual interactions between residents that build community. Prices vary depending on location.


If the thought of buying another house, no matter how small or well-designed, is not appealing, here’s another option: a luxury apartment building catering to the active, social crowd over age 55. Offering extras such as fitness centers, community kitchens, and free Wi-Fi, as well as social activities such as book clubs and movie nights, these living spaces encourage resident interaction.

Monthly rent varies by region, tracking slightly above normal apartment rental rates.  Those considering this option should start by investigating rates for a typical apartment, then compare that to the luxury senior rates. With no condo fees, property taxes, or maintenance costs to figure in, this dwelling can satisfy many housing needs, offering flexibility without hitting budgets too hard.


Some retirees are filling their empty nest with friends, relatives, acquaintances, or like-minded strangers who want to live communally, under carefully outlined and agreed-upon expectations. Each roommate enjoys a separate bedroom, but shares common spaces such as living areas, a kitchen, and perhaps a bathroom.

It’s an intriguing option for adults of any income level who are highly social, especially those who don’t plan to spend all their time at home. Bonus: There is always someone to look after the place when you’re visiting family or on an adventure.

Costs depend on the type of house people share, and with how many others. But because roommates share big expenses like rent and utilities, retirees may end up with greater disposable income than if they lived alone. And that means they can do more of the things they want to do in retirement.

If you’re considering one of these options for retirement living, work with your financial advisor to develop a retirement housing budget strategy and assess whether it will fit into your overall financial plan.

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