Cost of Independent Living

Cost of Independent Living

The cost of independent living and monthly fees for Independent living community residents vary due to a number of factors, from the community’s location to apartment size. Typically more affordable than Assisted living or Nursing homes, the average cost for these communities ranges from $1,500 to $3,500 per month. Some communities require an entrance fee, also called a "buy-in" fee, while others only require a month-to-month, all-inclusive rent payment. One of the most important issues facing retirees centers around cost-of-living changes. Cost-of-living is based on food, health care, housing, recreation, taxes, and transportation. Because income changes after retirement, it is important for your loved one to reassess his or her budget during this period. This can be done individually or with the help of a financial planner.

Cost of Independent Living

Oftentimes, recent retirees are interested in continuing to work in some capacity. Many older adults find the extra money, social atmosphere, and structured schedule of employment to be beneficial. Additionally, the income gained from a part-time job allows many retirees to continue to live at standards slightly below those they were previously used to-rather than standards that are drastically lower. If your loved one is interested in continuing to work, he or she should find out how difficult it is for seniors to find employment in the relocation.

Paying for Independent Living

Most independent living residents pay out of pocket for their living expenses. Long-term care insurance or life insurance may help pay some of the costs of an independent living community.

Meanwhile, some residents turn to family to assist them in covering Independent living community fees. Neither Medicaid nor Veteran’s Administration (VA) benefits may be used to cover these costs. However, both programs can help pay for additional in-home care for qualifying residents in independent living communities.


Medicaid doesn't pay for independent living facilities, but if your loved one qualifies for Medicaid coverage of In-home care, it can be provided in an independent living facility. In order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of in-home care, your loved one has to have very low income, few assets (other than the independent living unit itself, if he or she owns it), and a need for regular in-home care as determined by the state's Medicaid agency.

Veterans' benefits

If your loved one is a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, there may be some help from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for in-home care, which can be provided at an independent living facility. Also, if your loved one is a veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran and has low income and few assets other than the independent living facility unit he or she lives in, some monthly cash benefits may be available from the VA. And if your loved one is housebound, these benefits may be even higher.

Cash and Counseling (payment to family members)

Even if your loved one is able to live in an independent living facility, he or she may need regular assistance with some of the activities of daily living. And in some states, there's a program that pays an older adult directly to cover part of his or her in-home care costs. If your loved one qualifies for the program, he or she can then use the cash benefits to pay you or other family members, or independent home care workers, to provide care.

Pay for Independent Living With Insurance

Long-term care insurance or life insurance might help pay for some of the cost of an independent living facility. But if neither of those is an option for your loved one, you and other family members may have to get together to help pay for independent living facility costs. Here are the basic options:

Long-term care insurance

Some long-term care insurance (LTC) policies include what's called in-home or home care coverage, which pays a set daily amount directly to an insured person who can't perform a certain number of the activities of daily living. If your loved one has this kind of LTC coverage, the policy's benefits may be paid to him or her while living in an independent living facility. Your loved one can then use the money to help pay for outside private caregiver assistance or to help pay for the cost of the facility itself.

Life insurance for cash

If your loved one has a life insurance policy, it may be possible for him or her to cash in the life insurance to provide a substantial amount of money toward the cost of an independent living facility. Some life insurance policies can be cashed in with the insurance company itself for 50 to 75 percent of the policy's face value. However, some policies permit these "accelerated benefits" or "living benefits," as they're called, only if the policyholder is terminally ill (usually meaning having less than six months to live, as certified by a doctor).

Independent Living Providers features hundreds of independent living community providers throughout the U.S. These range from large national chains to local companies that manage only one memory care community. Different providers offer their own unique programs, but many offer similar amenities.

How to Find an Independent Living Community

To find an independent living community near you, search by zip code here in the Independent Living Directory. Be sure to look for reviews of independent living communities written by other family caregivers.

Once you've narrowed your choices, take a tour so your loved one can see the amenities firsthand. Ask for a complete independent living cost analysis with every charge detailed, and be wary of extra fees or hidden costs. Many independent living communities will also let your loved one stay as a guest for a night or two, to get a better idea of what the lifestyle really feels like.


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