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Life Care Communities vs. Rental Communities: Which Is Right for You?

As you begin researching Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) to figure out which is the best fit for your health care, financial and lifestyle needs, one of the first key decisions is choosing between Life Care vs. rental senior communities. It’s a big decision. And while it might seem complex at first glance, differentiating senior rental communities and Life Care communities can be quite simple. Here, we’ll examine the differences between the two and provide insights to help you determine which one is right for you.

What Is Life Care?

Let’s start by answering the burning question, “What is Life Care?” Essentially, Life Care is a plan that comprehensively protects your care in the future. With Life Care communities, you pay monthly fees plus an upfront entrance fee that acts as a down payment for your future care needs. A Life Care contract gives you guaranteed care and living accommodations regardless of your future health needs or financial status. Should the time come when you need to move into a different level of living, Life Care guarantees you’re covered.

What Are Rental Communities?

Much like in a Life Care community, you pay monthly fees to live in a rental CCRC. But with rental communities, there is no entrance fee, and your monthly fee is based on the current market rate for the level of care you receive at the time. Your monthly fee for assisted living or long-term skilled nursing care, for example, will be higher than the independent living monthly fee you’re accustomed to paying.

Differences in Cost

Comparing Life Care and rental community costs can get tricky. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. In Life Care CCRCs, your entrance fee goes toward your lifetime care needs, and you pay a monthly fee. While you don’t pay an entrance fee with a rental community, you risk leaving yourself vulnerable to unpredicted circumstances in your future.

The entrance fee in Life Care communities is an upfront investment in future health care costs that can save you significantly in health care costs down the road. If you ever need to move to assisted living, rehab or memory care, your Life Care contract — and entrance fee — will cover the majority of additional cost. And because most Life Care communities offer a full continuum of care, you’ll be able to stay at the same address. Rental senior living options offer no such guarantee. In rental communities, you’ll have to pay market rate costs for additional care at the time you require it — with no guarantee you can afford it at that time.

Differences in Care Levels

Life Care communities generally provide more comprehensive and higher-quality care than rental communities. A major reason for this is because Life Care communities offer a full continuum of care. Residents can start in independent living homes, condos or apartments and easily move to assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care residences staffed with nurses and other highly trained care professionals within the same community. Plus, emergency services are usually available on-site in Life Care communities.

Conversely, rental communities commonly offer supportive care services to residents in their own apartments, often through outside health care agencies. For rehabilitation or memory care, rental community residents will likely need to move to a completely different facility that provides those services.

Differences in Lifestyle

Possibly the greatest differentiator between Life Care vs. senior rental communities is the aspect of lifestyle. Full-continuum Life Care CCRCs are more like campuses than residential living communities, typically featuring a host of amenities and engaging activities and clubs. Many have multiple chef-operated dining venues on campus, a fitness center with group classes, housekeeping and home maintenance, and even lifelong learning opportunities. Life Care communities can also include hobbyist activities for beginners and experts alike. Woodworking, gardening, arts studios and other activities are common in Life Care communities. As you might expect, they foster a friendly neighborhood environment in which residents feel at home in a community atmosphere. Life Care communities are communities built for a lifetime, while in rental communities your neighbors are more likely to come and go.

While senior rental communities sometimes offer amenities like fitness centers and housekeeping services, focusing on engaging residents and providing a neighborly atmosphere is not common. Some rental communities do offer a range of activities or high-end amenities to their residents. However, monthly costs of rental communities can substantially rise with more amenities added.

Elevated Life Care at Querencia

Querencia at Barton Creek is a proud Life Care community offering an unmatched full continuum of care in Austin, Texas. Here, we’re determined to give our residents everything they need to live the fullest lives possible. Our community is full of neighbors who become fast friends and services that promote growth to maximize the life you’ve yet to live. From vibrant independent living to high-quality assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, you never have to worry about what’s next if your health needs change. To see more of our beautiful community and learn about our levels of care, visit our Health Services page here.