Finding the right home to spend your retirement isn't just about affordability. Or amenities. Or the food. It's not just about continuing care or the size and style of your home. It's about all of those things. It's about finding a home that offers you the most value, which comes in many shapes and sizes.
Among retirement living options, continuing care retirement communities are most likely to provide all of those things in one place.
Erickson Living manages 20 continuing care communities across the country, including Seabrook, in Tinton Falls, N.J. For Seabrook's 1,400 residents, the top three priorities for choosing a retirement home include amenities and services, predictable spending, and continuing care.
More for your money
Seabrook's 98-acre campus boasts an indoor swimming pool, medical center, fitness center, multiple restaurants, and a wealth of on-site amenities, activities, and clubs.
"Becoming involved in the activities that you enjoy is an important part of living here," says Wayne Steadman, who moved from Asbury Park to Seabrook in October 2016 with his wife Pam.
Wayne finds time to both serve his community as director of living in the community and enjoy hobbies like golf, poker, pickleball, and water aerobics. Pam helps produce two TV shows in the community TV studio and teaches a storytelling course.
Cindy Malmo was previously living in a 55-plus community in Redbank. Her apartment was upstairs, and she was alone. Legally blind from a degenerative disease that surfaced in her 30s and working full-time in Newark, Cindy saw the benefits of living in a maintenance-free, service- and amenity-rich continuing care retirement community like Seabrook, where everything is on one level.
"I feel very fortunate because it's all right here. I used to have to think about how I was going to get my hair cut and get places. Here, it's all on campus, and it's so much easier to navigate," she says.
Dennis Carroll, a photographer and retired art teacher from Asbury Park, has found plenty of ways to explore other artistic endeavors.
"The public spaces are very inviting, and the opportunities to meet people quickly, develop meaningful friendships, and become engaged in activities that interest you are broad," he says.
Seabrook Sales Counselor Dennise Baldwin says many people assume Seabrook is out of their budget because of its wealth of amenities and services.
"In fact, when you compare the expenses of living in a house to living at Seabrook, you're often spending less," she says.
She credits that to Seabrook's incredible value and its predictable monthly service package that covers most day-to-day living expenses. One check each month covers apartment home maintenance, property taxes, heating and air-conditioning, trash and recycling collection at your door, dining plans and options, basic cable TV, regularly scheduled transportation, 24-hour security and emergency response services, plus access to a variety of campus amenities.
When we asked Wayne, Cindy, and Dennis to weigh in, they all said the same thing: Seabrook is a great value.
"Before I moved in, I had a mortgage and an HOA fee, so I added those expenses plus the cable and the food and compared it to living here. It came out pretty much the same," Cindy says.
What's more, she doesn't have to worry about home maintenance—that's included in the monthly service package too. "If something happens, you just call [general services]. They're very responsive and can come in when I'm not here," she says, adding that as a working adult, that peace of mind is invaluable.
On a teacher's salary and state pension, Dennis says Seabrook is both affordable and valuable living. "I feel that I'm getting value for my money. I don't feel that it's overpriced. I feel very comfortable with the financial arrangement. It certainly hasn't impacted my expendable income. I feel I'm living as well as I did in my house—with a lot less worry and a lot less bill paying," he says.
For his part, Wayne has a hand in Seabrook's value and affordability as director of living in the community. He analyzes and considers occupancy, affordability, life cycle renovations, services, and the financial model. With a close eye on these components, he stands by his and Pam's decision to move to Seabrook.
"Personally, I think the value that we have here is very good," Wayne says. "The services that we get, the food—it's excellent food. I'm very happy, and my wife is very happy she doesn't have to cook. We love our apartment. It's great not having to worry about when something needs to be fixed, and we have confidence in the financial strength of the community."
Confidence in the future
There's another thing Wayne and Pam have confidence in—their future—and so do their children.
Multiple levels of care on site ensure that should he or Pam ever need additional care, it's available, meaning they can live independently today with peace of mind for tomorrow.
"Our children said, 'Thank you. We don't have to worry about you.' To me, that is what it's all about," says Wayne.
Cindy discovered the value of having care on site even before she moved in.
"I thought about it and thought, 'What does it matter if I do it now or wait five years?'"
But three days later, she broke her shoulder walking to work. Living alone in an upstairs condo, she had to move in with a friend for two weeks.
The experience reinforced her faith in her decision to move to Seabrook.
"I had to do physical therapy. If I had already lived here, I would have been able to do PT and had easy access to food. My children are so glad I will have help if something happens again," she says.