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Negatives of Active Adult Communities

Negatives of Active Adult Communities thumbs down lady with frowning face

There are many advantages to retiring in active adult communities. In fact, sometimes it sounds like it’s all positive. So, for the last few months, I have been asking people, especially those who live in active adult communities, “what are the negatives?”


A recent 15-day cruise gave me a lot of time to talk with some wonderful people we met who live in active adult communities in California and Arizona (these were mostly Del Webb communities). They could talk for hours about the positives. When I finally asked about negatives, it actually took these folks a long time to come up with anything. But, there were some!

Homeowner Associations


The number one complaint I heard was about homeowner associations.  The HOAs were too restrictive, too noisy, too petty, or too political. I know in any subdivision that has an HOA they can become like little dictatorships and really tend to irk residents. Think about all of the usual restrictions an age-qualified community must have – then add the headache of an HOA on a power trip. Retirement is suddenly not as relaxing as it should be!


Another big complaint about communities with homeowner associations was the frequency of neighbors reporting others for violations; Some even doing their own inspections, vigilante-style. Sheesh!

New Homes Aren’t So New

for sale house

Several residents of the communities originally built by Del Webb in CA and AZ felt the new homes built in their communities after Del Webb sold out to Pulte were not up to the same standards of quality. I also hear that in my own active adult community as well. In fact, a lot of residents choose to upgrade their homes.

Age is Sometimes an Issue

tired older woman

A couple in their 50s told me that didn’t like the active adult community they bought into, so decided to sell. They felt the residents were too old for them. Older developments tend to have older residents, so be sure to find out the average age in the community!


hard of hearing

For myself, living in an active adult community for some time now, I would say the gossip turns me off. There are many social gatherings that can be fertile grounds for gossip. Lucky for me, the gossip doesn’t usually hit the outdoor sports I usually participate in!


Do the Negatives of Active Adult Communities Outweigh the Positives?

55+ man shrugging in front of a plain blue background

That all depends on you! There are a lot of misconceptions about active adult communities. Some may say residential communities are “too old.” HOA horror stories turn some people off too. But, as an active adult community resident myself, I genuinely feel that the bad does not outweigh the good. Your retirement experience in one of these communities is usually what you choose to make it!

Living in an active adult community gives you many wonderful opportunities to meet new friends and socialize! I know that I value the friendships I’ve made with some amazing people who are 10 and even 20 years older than me.

Many of the larger active adult communities are located in small towns on the outskirts of larger metro areas. They may not have all the nice restaurants you’re used to or the upscale specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, or Trader Joe’s. But, those places aren’t usually too far away!

Originally published June 05, 2023

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