More for your money

Cedar Crest offers exceptional living at an affordable cost

Created date

May 23rd, 2019
Bruce and Marge Campbell researched retirement living options, and Cedar Crest in Pequannock Township, N.J., came out on top.

Bruce and Marge Campbell researched retirement living options, and Cedar Crest in Pequannock Township, N.J., came out on top.

Did you know that not all retirement communities operate on the same business model? A number of financial structures, in addition to lifestyle and amenity options, exist among area communities.

Variety of options

In Northern New Jersey, you’ll find 55-plus communities with detached homes and neighborhood amenities, senior apartments that operate on a rental basis, life care communities, and fee-for-service continuing care retirement communities.

Active adult 55-plus communities typically provide activities and a return on investment, but homeowners are still responsible for home maintenance.

Those who live at a senior rental community don’t buy in to the property, so they don’t receive a return on their investment. They pay one monthly fee to cover their rent and use of on-site amenities.

Life care communities, another option, require a long-term, upfront financial commitment. Residents pay a substantial fixed monthly payment that remains the same as they progress through levels of care.

At fee-for-service communities, residents pay for advanced levels of care only if and when they need it. It’s a financial model that’s both affordable and secure for most retirees.

Pound for pound, dollar for dollar

Bruce Campbell, who had a career in sales and sales management, and his wife Marge, a stay-at-home mother turned administrative assistant, did their due diligence when researching retirement communities in the area.

“We weighed the decision quite heavily,” Bruce says. “We spent a considerable amount of time investigating our options and looking at the value of each one.”

Among their considerations were location; overall appearance and maintenance of the grounds, buildings, and facilities; friendliness; and financial security.

Ultimately, they decided on Cedar Crest, the fee-for-service continuing care retirement community in Pequannock Township, N.J. “In terms of doing my due diligence, Cedar Crest came out on top. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, they were the best,” Bruce says.

When it comes to location, he and Marge love Cedar Crest’s proximity to their church, doctors, and all the area hospitals, while knowing that should they ever need to stop driving or should weather keep them in, a chapel and full-service medical center are located right on campus.

Additionally, Bruce says, the property is well maintained: “The outside is just prime, and inside it’s not old and dated. It’s just a very pretty place.”

But what really struck them was the friendliness, knowledge, and transparency of the sales team, staff, and residents. “We got a bit of a cold feeling when we visited two of the other communities. Here, the health care team, the sales team, and the people are all so friendly. We felt that it was well managed,” Bruce adds.

Most importantly, Bruce and Marge felt they were making a smart financial decision with a reputable company they could trust with their nest egg. Bruce investigated the financials and background of Cedar Crest and Erickson Living, Cedar Crest's development and management company. “I didn’t want to get stuck with a place that might fold ten years down the road,” he says.

Erickson Living is a nation-leading developer and manager of continuing care retirement communities. The Erickson Living network currently comprises 19 communities in 11 states, which together are home to more than 25,000 residents. This network of communities has been serving seniors for over three decades.

Even now that the Campbells have lived at Cedar Crest for over two and a half years, Bruce says the community remains transparent about its financial standing, which continues to give him and Marge confidence that they made a smart financial decision.

“Joe Pisano [director of finance] is very transparent, and he’s not only sharp with the numbers but can explain them,” Bruce says. “There’s transparency, opportunities to get involved, and opportunities to question numbers and understand what’s going on here financially.”

Value player

“When you look at what’s out there, we’re a value player in the market,” says Pisano. “What you get for what you pay is substantially more than you’ll find at other communities.”

There are two basic components to Cedar Crest’s financial structure: a 90% refundable entrance fee and a monthly service package that covers most utilities, 24-hour security and emergency response, flexible dining plans, scheduled shuttle service, trash collection and recycling at your door, and all maintenance and repairs (full details can be found in the Residence and Care Agreement).

“When we meet with customers, we are very transparent in providing financial information regarding the 90% refundable entrance fee and the monthly service package,” says Sales Director Ray Guarino. “We even provide a monthly cost worksheet to compare a customer’s current expenses in their house to what is provided at our community. Most times, the customer will find that he or she will spend less at our community and receive much more in services and amenities.”

That’s exactly what Bruce did. Before signing on the dotted line, he created a spreadsheet where he compared the cost of living at Cedar Crest with the cost of living in their house in Wayne.

While the cost per square foot was less in their 3,200-square-foot house, “We no longer want a large house with all the upkeep. I was hiring people who were doing a poor job,” he says. “My costs here are less than what we had, we know what we’re getting, and it’s a great value.”

Smart financial choice

Now, he and Marge can get involved in the myriad clubs and activities available at Cedar Crest. It offers more than 120 resident-run clubs and activities, including a hiking club, travel club, art classes, music groups, and continuing education courses, to name a few.

A TD Ameritrade survey of 2,002 adults taken in 2018 noted that 81% see their retirement years as a time to pursue new goals. And 76% see themselves using those years to pursue passions they previously neglected like spending time with friends and family, traveling abroad, or taking up a new hobby.

Cedar Crest removes the worry and maintenance associated with owning a house and replaces it with clubs, amenities, and social opportunities, empowering retirees to enjoy a vibrant retirement.