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Rental vs. buy-in

What are the costs associated with each type of retirement community?

Created date

October 12th, 2017
A view of a courtyard and residential buildings at Eagle's Trace.

The financial structure at Eagle’s Trace provides peace of mind, a sense of security, and the assurance of a solid decision.


When Jack Gleeson and his wife Fran were researching retirement communities, they amassed a manila file folder an inch thick full of marketing materials from communities around Houston.

“Our patio home was just around the corner from a retirement community that operated on a rental basis, and we had several friends living at that rental community,” says Jack. “But as we did our homework, we realized there are a variety of financial models represented among Houston’s retirement communities.”

Jack and Fran ultimately chose Eagle’s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston, which requires a onetime entrance deposit and reasonable, fixed monthly service package.

“You have to consider what makes the most financial sense for you,” says Jack, a retired marketing executive for Shell Oil.

Rental communities

Some retirement communities operate solely on a rental basis, where residents pay a significant monthly fee for amenities and services.

“We learned that it’s important to compare apples to apples,” says Jack. “When we compared apartments at rental communities with the same square footage as apartments at Eagle’s Trace, we found that the monthly fees were nearly double at the rental communities. We also found that some amenities and services that were included at Eagle’s Trace incurred an additional cost at rental communities.”

Buy-in communities

Eagle’s Trace simplifies finances with two primary costs that cover most expenses.

The first is a onetime entrance deposit, which is 90% refundable to you or your heirs. 

The second cost is a predictable monthly service package. One check each month covers most day-to-day expenses, including 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 wealth of campus amenities.

“We’ve found that the monthly service package at Eagle’s Trace is a great value for the money,” says Jack. “And it’s so convenient to write one check each month.”

In addition, Eagle’s Trace offers a home for life commitment. Eagle’s Trace is a not-for-profit community dedicated to supporting community members who experience a genuine and unforeseen change in their financial situation. The home for life commitment provides several options for residents to protect their future (the Residence and Care Agreement has complete details).

‘Solid financial decision’

“You can feel confident that you’re making a solid financial decision when you move to Eagle’s Trace,” says Sales Director Pam Burgeson. “Our entrance deposit, which is 90% refundable, is a great way to preserve your nest egg for you or your heirs. And our home for life commitment ensures that you’ll never be asked to leave the community should you outlive your assets.”

Burgeson also points to the on-site amenities, which include a fitness center, swimming pool, medical center, pharmacy, salon, library, wood shop, and restaurants.

“We’re a vibrant, active community that’s continuing to grow,” says Burgeson. “The financial structure at Eagle’s Trace offers peace of mind, a sense of security, and the confidence that comes from making a smart financial decision.”

Amenities you can bank on

Bob Aldridge, a motivational speaker and sales trainer, moved to Eagle’s Trace in April 2015.

“I looked at retirement communities across Houston and found I could comfortably afford Eagle’s Trace,” says Bob. “I liked the financial structure at Eagle’s Trace more than a rental community because the monthly fees are so high at a rental.”

Bob says the on-site medical center at Eagle’s Trace was another differentiator that set the West Houston community apart from its competitors. 

The medical center at Eagle’s Trace is staffed by full-time physicians specializing in geriatric medicine.

“At some of the rental communities, I would have paid for services I didn’t need,” says Bob. “At Eagle’s Trace, the monthly service package includes amenities, like the medical center, that are important to me.”