Value and security

Budget analyst gives Riderwood’s financial structure two thumbs up

Created date

June 20th, 2019
Sales Manager Ryan Fitzwater says many people find that the cost of living at Riderwood is comparable to—or even cheaper than—their house or condo.

Sales Manager Ryan Fitzwater says many people find that the cost of living at Riderwood is comparable to—or even cheaper than—their house or condo. 

Financial security is one of the cornerstones of a fulfilling retirement. That’s why Riderwood’s management team works so hard to provide good financial value to residents and help them protect the investments they’ve built over their lifetimes.

Riderwood Sales Manager Ryan Fitzwater explains there are several elements that make the community attractive from a financial perspective. One of those is the predictable monthly service package, which includes property taxes, electricity, gas, water, telephone, cable TV, wireless Internet, and flexible meal plans. As a result, the people who live at Riderwood have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what their out-of-pocket expenses will be each month. 

“A lot of people will look at the monthly service package and assume that it’s expensive, especially if they don’t have a mortgage anymore,” Fitzwater says. “What they don’t realize is all of the maintenance cost that goes into the house; it’s one of biggest expenses they don’t think about.”

When you live in a house, you have to pay for things like lawn care, appliance maintenance and repair, trash removal, pest control, gutter cleaning, roof repairs, and real estate taxes—all of which can be serious budget busters. But at Riderwood, all of those expenses are included in the monthly service package.

“We have a cost comparison sheet, and I will ask people to list all of their expenses for maintaining their house and going out to eat or cooking dinner every night,” Fitzwater says. 

Once they put it all on the monthly cost comparison sheet, they find that not only is it comparable to live at Riderwood but it can also be cheaper.”

Financially on point

Riderwood resident Kathy Grow works as a budget analyst for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, so she is no stranger to crunching numbers. 

Before she moved to Riderwood, she spent about a year tracking her living expenses, including everything from her electric bill to the costs to maintain her yard. At the end of the year, she averaged them and found the monthly cost to live at Riderwood would be in the same range as she was paying to live in her Davidsonville, Md, house. Plus, she says being at Riderwood provides an additional layer of security.

“I don’t have to get up and check what goes bump in the night. I don’t have to go up on the roof and clean out the gutters,” Kathy says. “All that was a major factor in my decision to move here.”

Fitzwater says Kathy’s sentiment is a common refrain among community members: after moving in, people realize how freeing it is to not have to deal with the hassle—or the expense—of household maintenance and repairs.

“Besides saying they wished they had moved in sooner, a lot of people will tell me stories like, ‘Hey my HVAC broke, and [Riderwood’s staff] came and fixed it for free. I went on with my day, and they came and fixed it,’” Fitzwater says. “When things go wrong and they don’t have to worry about it, that’s when people tend to realize the financial value Riderwood provides.”

Residents don’t have to worry about the monthly service package skyrocketing after they move to Riderwood. Fitzwater says people can expect only small annual increases of around 3% to 5%.

“We are a not-for-profit, so we’re not in the business of raising expenses to make more money,” he says. “We raise the fee to continue to deliver high-quality service and amenities.”

Another key aspect of Riderwood’s value proposition is the 90% refundable entrance fee. This onetime fee is held for residents and returned either to them or, if they live at Riderwood for the rest of their lives, to their beneficiaries.

“The entrance fee is giving you security and giving the community security,” Fitzwater explains. “If you ever decide to leave, it goes with you. Some communities don’t give your entrance fee back at all.” (Riderwood’s Residence and Care Agreement has all the details.)

A family affair

Kathy comes from a long line of family members who have lived at Riderwood. Her aunt and uncle previously lived at the community, and her mother and a cousin are current residents. Even before her mom moved in, Kathy was familiar with Riderwood because her parents’ previous house was nearby.

“I watched Riderwood come out of the ground,” Kathy says. “I didn’t really even consider moving somewhere else.”

Kathy has two daughters and three granddaughters. Riderwood’s 90% refundable entrance fee provides financial security not only for Kathy but her family as well.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the financial value at Riderwood is the community’s home for life commitment.” The community maintains a Benevolent Care Fund to assist those who, despite careful planning, outlive their financial assets. Fitzwater likens the Benevolent Care Fund to a long-term care insurance policy without the high premiums. 

“You can’t find another financial or insurance instrument like this on the market,” Fitzwater says. “Our Benevolent Care Fund is a safety net you can’t get anywhere else. If you exhaust all of your resources paying for your care, we will help you with those monthly fees.”

Kathy, who has been a widow for almost 15 years, really values the peace of mind that the Benevolent Care Fund provides. She has a Lancaster-style apartment home at Riderwood—a  spacious corner home with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a sunroom. Kathy can truly feel settled within those walls because she knows her apartment will be her home for life.

“Here, I know I will be taken care of one way or the other,” she says. “To be out in the world by yourself is a scary concept, but when you know you’ve made arrangements to be taken care of, it’s a really good feeling.”