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6 Common Unexpected Expenses When Moving to a Senior Community
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on July 10th, 2019

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6 Common Unexpected Expenses When Moving to a Senior Community

Independent Senior Living  |  assisted living expenses  |  Aging & Caregiving  |  dependent senior living

Cost is a major concern families consider when it’s time to move a senior loved one into assisted living. While you might be able to pinpoint upfront costs, like the monthly rent in a community, there are other costs that you may not anticipate. Here are some unexpected expenses your family should plan for before moving your senior loved one into an assisted living community.


1. Moving Costs

As with any move, transitioning your senior loved one into assisted living comes with moving costs. However, when you’re focusing on the cost of a new living facility, new furniture, medical care, and more, it’s easy to overlook moving expenses. Depending on the distance and the number of possessions your loved one is bringing along, this moving expense can be quite high. You also need to consider the cost for storage if your loved one is only bringing a few possessions along but wants to store the rest.


To ensure this cost isn’t too high, you need to do extensive cost comparison research. Talk to numerous companies about how much they charge and what their pricing structure is. Some companies charge by the item, while others charge by the approximate weight of the load. You also may want to consider renting your own moving truck if you have enough hands to help and don’t forget about the cost for storage bins, boxes, bubble wrap, tape, and other moving supplies.


2. Meal Plans

One great benefit of living in an assisted living community is that residents’ meals are provided. Many seniors living alone in their own homes struggle to eat healthy every day. However, when your senior loved one lives in a community where they have access to freshly cooked meals, you can feel confident that they’re well cared for. These meal plans, while beneficial, are another added cost that you need to consider. 

When you’re evaluating which communities are best for your senior loved one, be sure to look into how many meals are provided each day. Some do not provide three meals a day, so you may need to budget for grocery shopping or eating out.

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3. Space

Much of the cost of your parent’s senior living community will be dependent on the size of the apartment they choose. Residents at senior living communities can pick from studio, one bedroom, and even two bedroom apartments. Before you choose where your parent will live, talk to them about how much space they actually need. As you look at larger spaces, keep in mind that the larger the space they choose, the more the price will increase.


If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, you could talk to your loved one about their willingness to share a room with someone else, which will minimize expenses and offer a chance to socialize.


4. Off-Campus Trip

You want your senior loved one to feel entertained and part of a community. To keep residents active, many assisted living communities plan off-campus trips for their residents. These outings can include anything from food, shopping trips, concerts, museum visits, and more. While some of these activities may be free for residents, others may come at an additional cost. Because these expenses are easy to overlook, it’s important to remember that disposable income should still be included in the budget for your loved one’s assisted living costs.


5. Luxuries

Even though your parent is moving into assisted living, there are still a few luxuries you should include in the budget. For example, some senior living communities have all the amenities on campus for residents. This includes salons and barbershops, whose prices are likely not included in the price of your senior loved one’s monthly rent. Setting money aside for your parents to take advantage of these luxuries each week or every other week will ensure they feel great about themselves.


6. Additional Fees

Whether you live in a home, an apartment, or a senior living community, there are always additional fees that you may overlook. Budgeting for items like utilities, phone service, cable television, and even renter's insurance is important if you want to have an accurate view of how much it actually costs for your parent to stay in an assisted living community. Some communities even offer seniors the option to upgrade their apartments, allowing them to select features like lighting fixtures, trim, and flooring to make them feel at home in their new environment.


How to Plan for Senior Living Expenses

Moving your loved one into assisted living does come with costs, but the benefits of having your parent in a safe, healthy environment greatly outweigh any cost you might pay. All of the expenses listed above should be factored into the choice you make for a senior living community. As you evaluate each community and its costs, be sure to ask questions like, what does your meal plan entail and how much is it per month? 


If you’re worried about the cost, start your financial planning by looking at your loved one’s current expenses. How much are they spending on food and outings? These expenses may be less when they move into senior living. Another factor to consider is the expense of owning a home or owning a car. When many seniors move into assisted living, they sell their homes and vehicles, which can offset the monthly costs of their new living arrangements. This also eliminates costs, too, as they no longer pay utilities or homeowner’s insurance. Instead, those funds can be diverted to their new expenses, which will likely be lower. Plus, when your loved one moves into senior living, you’ll feel confident that they’re receiving the care they need. 


If you ask the right questions and are thoughtful about the different costs that will ensure your parent has an enjoyable life, you won’t be caught off guard by unexpected expenses. Watch out for the six expenses listed above, and talk to your loved one, other family members, and advisors at the communities you’re evaluating about what expenses you should expect.


Before you start touring senior living communities, download this free guide to help you with your search.

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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.