Costs of continuing care retirement communities

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If you're considering independent living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) on Hilton Head Island, it's important you know all the financial aspects of that commitment.

It's not an inexpensive endeavor, and not necessarily for everyone.

Qualifications: CCRCs require prospective residents to complete a simple financial statement showing their annual income and liquid assets (real estate is not considered liquid until it's sold).

Each CCRC will have minimum financial guidelines that need to be met; however, a low annual income can be offset by a significant amount of liquid assets (stock portfolio, CDs, etc.). Often, approval is based on a prospect's primary residence being sold, which frees up extra cash.

Membership and-or initiation fee: CCRCs can have campuses with over 100 acres and numerous common areas and amenities that need to be managed, maintained and updated.

It's similar to an upscale resort hotel or country club.

By charging a membership or initiation fee, the community generates much needed revenue to help fund ongoing improvements. It can be a one-time non-refundable fee or a percentage of sale price. Be prepared to pay $15,000 or more.

Housing: Hilton Head Island's three CCRCs offer the real estate purchase option (like any other deed-title transaction), with each having community-specific features that provide a variety of choices of size, floorplans (condo, villa, cottage and home) and price points.

A two-bedroom condo can range between $125,000 to $275,000 or more.

Monthly fee: As an owner-resident, you are required to pay a monthly fee that covers a number of living expenses including meals, insurance, activities, access to amenities, transportation, etc. Some CCRCs include allowances for future medical expenses.

The monthly fee amount is a function of the size of the unit owned, having one or two residents and the number of services included. Two-bedroom monthly fees for two people can range between $2,800 to $4,000 or more.

The financial side of the decision to move to a CCRC is only one spoke on the wheel, but it's a very important spoke to be sure.

The bottom line is that people should consider all options and ask lots of questions before making a decision on what's right for them.

Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.org

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