The Difference Between Senior Apartments and Independent Living Communities

Sep 23, 2021
The Difference Between Senior Apartments and Independent Living Communities

In the lingo-heavy world of senior living, it can be hard to know the difference between terms like “senior apartments” and “independent living communities.” Sounds pretty similar, right? Look a little closer at their definitions, though, and you’ll find one offers far more than the other. Here’s a breakdown of both senior apartments and independent living communities that can help you decide which is the best fit for you or your loved one. Can you spot the difference?


What are senior apartments?

In the same way that senior discounts are just discounts created for a certain age group, senior apartments are pretty similar to regular apartments, they’re just restricted to, and designed for, older adults. Most often the age requirement for a senior apartment community is 55 or 62. The complex will need to be compliant with the HUD regulations for age discrimination. The senior apartment buildings likely have no or limited stairs, are handicap accessible, and have handrails in the bathroom to accommodate the needs of older adults with limited mobility. Senior apartments differ from 55+ communities in that they typically do not have the amenities that a 55+ community offers. In some instances, senior apartments are subsidized based on income.

What are senior apartment amenities?

Senior apartment complexes offer the convenience of providing maintenance of the building, grounds and apartment. There may also be a clubhouse with planned social activities. The availability and quality of amenities can vary widely by complex.

What are luxury senior living apartments?

Like many things in life, there are more upscale senior living options for those that can afford the high price tag. Luxury senior living apartments promise a premium lifestyle with floorplans featuring gleaming new surfaces and all the latest gadgets, along with access to exclusive amenities. It all comes at a steep cost, though. Luxury senior apartments can quickly eat away at a retirement nest egg and it’s possible to enjoy luxury living for a lot less.

How do I find senior apartments near me?

Chances are, there is a senior apartment community near you. Your best bet is to search online for senior apartments or contact your local housing authority and ask about senior apartment options in your area.


What are independent living communities?

If senior apartments are like a hotel, then consider independent living communities (also called retirement communities) a resort. For example, accommodations in a Five Star Senior Living independent living community range from spacious, beautifully designed apartments to maintenance-free villas and cottages. They’re best for more active seniors who want to maintain their independence and don’t require the type of additional support you’d find in assisted living. Independent living communities offer everything senior apartments do and so much more.

What are some benefits to living in an independent living community?

Tired of shoveling snow off your driveway in the winter and pulling those pesky weeds in the summer? Independent living communities offer a stress-free lifestyle where the hassles of life—like home upkeep, cooking and cleaning—are taken care of so you can spend more time enjoying all the activities and amenities your community offers. Independent living communities not only take care of maintenance, they provide housekeeping, transportation, dining, life engagement programs and more. Many of our Five Star independent living communities offer or can arrange concierge services that can provide support for aging in place. Independent living communities provide the peace of mind of round the clock staffing. In an independent living community, you can truly leave your worries behind and focus on the things that matter most.

What are independent living community amenities?

Boredom is hard to come by in an independent living community. Each day is a “choose your own adventure” thanks to the wide variety of activities and amenities at your fingertips, and the freedom to make your own schedule. Convenient access to on-site shared dining spaces, pools, libraries, game rooms and more ensure that there’s never a shortage of ways to spend your days. To enjoy being a part of your community, you can enjoy community activities like taking a fitness class in the morning, joining friends for lunch in the dining room and attending a fascinating lecture in the evening. Or, you can skip them all and do your own thing! For peace of mind, assistance is also available whenever you need it whether your back or your dishwasher starts acting up. Now that’s carefree living.

How do I find an independent living community near me?

Finding an independent living community that’s right for you is easy. The best place to start is to search online for “independent living communities” or use Five Star’s easy Find a Community search tool to discover select communities in your area. Once you’ve narrowed it down, go on a tour of the independent living communities that interest you to see how well they match the online description. Meet other folks that live there and ask them questions about their experience. Keep in mind that communities will tout their flashy features and glamorous facilities, but in the world of senior living, “new” isn’t always “better.” Visit established senior living communities with a long-term reputation for excellence and read reviews from residents to learn which communities are the real deal.


Did you spot it? Though both senior apartments and independent living communities offer senior living options for older adults, independent living communities offer so much more than just a place to live. They also welcome you into a tight-knit community where friends become family and everything you need is right at your doorstep. Ready to experience the Five Star difference? See if there’s a Five Star Senior Living community near you and schedule a tour to discover just how much you have to look forward to.

Give us a call: (833) 457-8271