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Cost Analysis: The Benefit of Moving to a Virginia Independent Living Community

Although Virginia’s cost of living is slightly higher than average, it’s still a popular retirement destination for many older adults, and with good reason. It’s a state filled with diversity, including:

  • Large, thriving cities and small rural towns
  • An interesting culture and history
  • A blend of ocean coastline, mountain peaks and everything in between
  • Four unique seasons with warm summers and relatively mild winter temperatures compared to northern U.S. states

That diversity makes Virginia a great place to retire, although most retirees aren’t sure whether they should continue living in their home or move to a community. Let’s look at various aspects of retirement and retirement costs in Virginia, including independent living in a retirement community and living at home.

Independent Living in Virginia

Independent living communities are a great option for active older adults who want to downsize and free up time to fully enjoy life. Residents who choose to live in independent living communities are active adults over 55 years old who are able to live independently and do not require assistance with basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as meal preparation, housekeeping, bathing and dressing.

Cost of Independent Living in Virginia

Independent living prices vary greatly depending on the services and amenities that are included, as well as the programs and facilities. The lower end communities may charge as little as $700 per month, while luxury communities charge upwards of $4,000 per month.

While $700 per month may sound pretty good for your budget, keep in mind that average rent in Virginia is much higher, with studios going for $1,065. If you pay only $700 per month for independent living, you may get lower quality accommodations and will likely have to factor in expenses for services that other communities include, such as:

  • Utilities, trash removal, cable, and Wi-Fi
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Housekeeping
  • Meal services
  • Transportation services
  • Activities and amenities

Those costs can cause your living expenses to increase dramatically, often resulting in higher costs than many communities that, initially, appear to be more expensive. If you’re seriously comparing communities based on cost, look for a luxury community that provides the quality of life you’re looking for with the amenities that make independent living worthwhile. You can find great communities that are all inclusive for between $2,000 and $3,000 per month.

In addition to looking for amenities, you should compare the cost of a retirement community to your overall cost of living at home, including the impact of tax deductions that often make communities even more attractive.

Tax Deductions on Cost of Independent Living Expenses

Some senior living expenses are tax-deductible; however, most expenses related to independent living are not. Typically, tax-deductible expenses have to do with medical needs.

For example, the IRS allows the deduction of some part of the amount paid on long-term care insurance and medical insurance premiums (the amount is dependent on age) that are partially or fully covered qualified long-term care costs. Additionally, qualifying out-of-pocket medical expenses (such as preventative care, vision care, dental care, treatments and surgery) that have not been reimbursed by insurance may also be deducted.

Any medical expense that is to be deducted must be an IRS defined “qualified expense.” For more information, visit IRS publication 502 which explains the itemized deductions for medical and dental expenses that can be claimed on Schedule A (Form 1040).

Independent Senior Living Costs vs. Living at Home

As you consider your living options, you’ll likely want to compare independent senior living costs versus the costs of continuing to live in your own home. Because everyone’s situation is different and because independent living prices vary from community to community, you’ll need to crunch the numbers to see what is best for you. However, if you’re like most people, you may be surprised to discover that independent senior living costs often compare quite favorably to the costs of aging in place when you do a thorough apples-to-apples comparison.

Costs of Living at Home

There are various costs associated with living in your own home. These costs may include:

  • Mortgage payment, taxes and insurance
  • Homeowner’s association dues
  • Utilities, cable/Wi-Fi and trash
  • Car payments, maintenance and gas
  • Groceries
  • Home repair and maintenance, including repairing or replacing appliances, fixtures or faucets, roof repair and replacement, HVAC repair and replacements, painting (interior and exterior), replacing flooring, sewer system repair and maintenance, plumbing issues, etc.
  • Paying someone to do yard work, housekeeping and laundry
  • Pool access and upkeep
  • Gym membership
  • Security system monitoring
  • Snow removal

Living at home isn’t free. There are lots of costs, and they can add up quickly. These are also the standard costs of homeownership. During retirement, you’ll face other expenses, as well.

Costs of Aging in Place

If you intend to age in place in your home, there are additional costs you need to consider. You may need to make modifications and adaptations to the home for safety and convenience, for example. Creating a safe, supportive home where you can live well into retirement may involve modifications to accommodate accessibility, updating appliances for safety and ease of use and wiring for smart home technologies.

These modifications may include such items as:

  • Installing ramps to eliminate steps, both inside and outside your home
  • Installing grab bars near the toilets, showers and tubs
  • Widening hallways and doorways to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Remodeling the bathrooms to include a walk-in tub, non-skid floors, a no-step shower and wheelchair accessibility especially around the toilet
  • Replacing all the doorknobs with handles
  • Installation of a lift
  • Remodeling the kitchen to make it possible for seated meal preparation and cooking – your pantry, pots and pans, dishes and appliances must all be accessible

Most of these are one-time expenses, but they add up. If you intend to age in place, you’ll want to consider these and many other expenses as part of the price tag associated with aging in place. Let’s look at the estimated costs of a few common modifications:

  • Bathroom renovations: $3,500 to $35,000
  • Installation of smart home technology: $99 to $1,500
  • Monthly monitoring fees: $40 and up
  • Grab bar installation for two bars: $250 and up
  • Building ramps or adding stair lifts: $2,500 to $20,000 each
  • Widening one door opening: $800 to $1,200
  • Creating an accessible master suite addition: $35,000 to $100,000

Adding up the lowest costs for each of these, plus a year’s worth of security monitoring at the lowest cost, you’re already at a total of $42,629. That’s a hefty price tag, especially taking into account the fact that many of these renovations can be significantly more expensive.

Is Staying at Home Right for You?

As you think about what it will take for you to age in place, you may also want to consider the following:

  • Is continuing to live in your home a short-term solution, or do you plan to live in your home for many years to come?
  • How long will any home modifications you make enable you to continue to live in your home? Is the cost incurred worth the time you can continue to live in the home?
  • How great is the possibility that you will eventually need in-home care? Do any illnesses or medical conditions run in your family making it more likely that you will need in-home care at some point?
  • Do you have family members who are physically, financially and emotionally able to help?

In the future, you may need in-home care if you intend to age in place. You’ll need to research the costs for that care and take them into consideration as you determine which living scenario is best for you. The Genworth Cost of Care Calculator can help you with this.

Independent Senior Living Costs

We’ve looked at the cost of aging in place, now let’s look at independent senior living costs associated with a move to a retirement community.

The cost of living in a community is probably less than you think. As we’ve already discussed, independent living prices in Virginia range from an extreme low of $700 to $4,000 per month. However, communities in the middle of this range, often between $2,000 and $3,000 per month, can be very affordable compared to aging in place. They also provide all the services and, if you pick the right community, luxury accommodations to make the move worthwhile.

In addition to providing a roof over your head, the monthly costs of a retirement community cover a wide range of benefits, services and amenities which typically include:

  • A chef-prepared meal plan
  • Entertainment and recreation every day of the week
  • Housekeeping and laundry services (in all-inclusive communities)
  • Scheduled transportation
  • Utilities, cable and Wi-Fi
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Indoor and outdoor common areas

The community may also have:

  • A fitness center
  • Swimming pool
  • Spa, beauty salon or barbershop (additional fees for services)
  • Library
  • Game and billiards rooms
  • Craft workshops
  • Outdoor living areas

All these benefits, services and amenities are typically covered by the monthly cost of the community. And all the laborious tasks of home maintenance, like yard work and snow shoveling, are provided at no additional expense.

As you tour various communities, make sure you find out what is included in the monthly price and what services come at an additional cost. Be sure to get it in writing so that when you get home you have all the information you need to make a knowledgeable decision. Some communities may have a move-in fee which is generally equal to or less than the cost of one month’s rent, so take that into account as well.

Doing Your Own Cost Comparison

Now that you have the general cost information for living at home and moving to a retirement community, you can do your own cost comparison to determine what’s right for you. You can add up the numbers on your own or you can use free tools to help. Genworth’s Cost of Care Calculator can help you review and compare the cost of independent living in a community to the cost of continuing to live in your own home.

Independent Living at Aspire at Carriage Hill

The cost of independent living at Aspire at Carriage Hill may surprise you. We’re an all-inclusive, luxury retirement community that provides apartments with all the amenities you need to enjoy your retirement.

We’ve taken over all the work so you can have all the fun. As part of our amenities and services package, we’ll take care of the chores — weekly housekeeping, home maintenance, landscaping, yard work and snow removal. This leaves you lots of time to enjoy life and to create a future as interesting and exciting as your past. Check out our community pricing for more details, and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. We’d love to spend some time with you and give you a tour of our Richmond, Virginia, retirement community whenever you’re ready to start looking at your options.

Contact Us

With all of the decisions you need to make in choosing a Richmond independent living community, we want to make sure you and your family have the information you need. Submit a request for more information and our team will be in touch shortly.


5020 Sulky Drive

Richmond, VA 23228
(804) 286-1133

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