Independent Living

Also known as: Retirement Communities, Senior Housing, Retirement Homes

Last Updated: January 2, 2022

Written by the Open Caregiving Team. Editorial review by Joyce O. Murphy RN, MSN.

What is independent living?

Independent living communities allow aging adults to live independently while having easy access to dining, medical care, entertainment, social gatherings, and other communal amenities.

When should you consider independent living?

It may be helpful to research independent senior living if your loved one:

  • Is having trouble maintaining their house or property.
  • Desires more socialization and stimulation.
  • Is having difficulty getting around in their own vehicle or through public transportation.
  • Does not have the funds to hire in-home help.
  • Is on a path toward having difficulty with the above.

What services does senior independent living offer?

Independent living services reduce a resident’s responsibilities so they can live on their own longer. Senior independent living typically offers services that include:

  • Cleaning and laundry
  • On-site dining options
  • Exercise facilities
  • Security services
  • Scheduled social events, activities, and programming
  • Outdoor gardens and landscaping

Services that independent living rarely provides include:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Full-time medical staff
  • Full-time custodial care
  • 24/7 supervision
  • Therapy or rehab
  • Continued care as needs change

How much does independent living cost?

  • The costs of independent living vary based on what state you live in.
  • Based on data from prices can range from $1,500 per month to $6,000 per month in different parts of the country. You can review a full state-by-state breakdown of average prices in this chart.

How to pay for independent living?

There are no government-funded programs that help pay directly for independent living. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers subsidized housing that can help aging adults.

HUD Options

  • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly is the HUD program most similar to independent living. The housing is designed to meet aging individuals’ needs. It offers services like on-premise meals, housecleaning, transportation, and socialization.
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) is the largest HUD program. It offers eligible, aging adults vouchers that help pay for many types of public housing properties.

Waiting lists for both programs can be years long for certain regions of the United States, so explore the above options as early as you can. To learn more about HUD senior housing facilities near you, visit the HUD locator.

How do I find the best independent living or retirement community near me?

LeadingAge has a directory of high-quality, affordable independent living communities based on zip code.

Was this helpful?

Sign up for our newsletter to receive new caregiver stories, resources, and support each week.

Related Topics To Learn About

Assisted Living

Assisted living is for people with disabilities or older adults who need assistance with their daily activities but don't need around the clock nursing care.

Home Care

Home care allows people who are aging, chronically ill or disabled to receive personalized non-medical care in the comfort of their home.