Financial Basics of a Life Plan Community

If you’re just beginning to look into senior living communities, you probably have two very big questions you want answered: What are the options, and how much does it cost?

Both are great questions, and smart places to start — because the cost of a senior living community can vary widely, depending on a number of variables: 

  • Where you’re planning to retire
  • What type of continuing care you need now or think you may need in the future
  • The residence size you choose
  • The services and amenities you want

Understanding the options and costs of Life Plan Communities can be confusing at first. So let’s start by explaining the basic terms you’ll encounter in your research, including what a Life Plan Community is, along with the levels of continuing care you might typically find. We’ll delve deeper into entrance fees and monthly fees. Then we’ll take a look at what you may already be paying in your current living situation. 

Once you compare the costs of senior living versus what you’re already spending in your current home, you may find making the move actually makes good sense. 


A Life Plan Community — also known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) — is just as the name suggests. It’s a community where you can enjoy an active and independent life while having a smart plan in place for any future needs for care as you age.

At this type of community, you’d choose the type of independent living residence that fits you best — perhaps it’s an apartment or condo, a villa, or a cottage-style home that’s part of a larger senior living campus. Depending on the type and size of your residence, your entrance fee and monthly service fee will vary (we’ll explain that a bit later). 

Regardless, your independent living residence will offer you a wide range of services, which may include:

  • Maintenance-free living, inside and outside your residence
  • Upkeep of the community grounds
  • Landscaping, yard work, snow removal
  • Regular housekeeping and flat linen service
  • 24-hour security
  • Some utilities paid
  • Scheduled transportation
  • An on-site clinic with physician services

You’ll also enjoy a host of community amenities, including:

  • Full calendar of social, cultural, intellectual and spiritual programs
  • Restaurant-style dining and remarkable cuisine prepared by an executive chef
  • Salon services
  • Comprehensive health and wellness programs
  • Regularly organized excursions

As a resident you’ll also enjoy access to a number of community common spaces. These spaces may range from an indoor pool with spa, gym and aerobics studio to a library, gift shop, gardening area, arts studio and woodworking shop. Community spaces are usually available to you at your leisure.

As an independent living resident at a Life Plan Community, you also have a plan that provides peace of mind to you and those who love you. Should you need Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Memory Care or Rehabilitation in the future, you have each of those levels of continuing care available to you, right on campus. 

Having a solid plan means your future care decisions are in your hands, not in the hands of others. You have the security of knowing you don’t have to make a move elsewhere in a health crisis. You know you’ll receive the care you need from a familiar place on your senior living campus, close to your spouse, neighbors and friends.

And the way you secure both your independent lifestyle now and your plan for your future is through your entrance fee and your monthly fees.


Moving to a Life Plan Community usually involves two different fees. The first one is an upfront, one-time fee known as an entrance fee. You may also hear the term Entrance Deposit; that’s because some communities actually refund a percentage of your entrance fee back to you or your estate. The entrance fee essentially secures your place at a Life Plan Community for the rest of your life. 

The entrance fee you pay varies on the size and type of your residence. But paying a larger entrance fee upfront lowers your monthly fees if you move into a higher level of care.

Most residents pay their entrance fee by selling their home, or through a combination of savings, investment income, a pension or other retirement plan. 


The monthly fee is one monthly, non-refundable fee you pay to cover services and amenities the community provides. These include the dining program, all interior and exterior maintenance, housekeeping, transportation, activities, planned programs and much more. Think of the advantages: You pay only one fee for everything a community provides to you. 

If you do need continuing care, your monthly fee may increase from what you’d pay in independent living to cover the costs of the additional care you receive. That can include anything from assistance with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing and medication management, to around-the-clock care or higher-level memory care services.

So let’s look at the costs of staying put in your own home, and compare them to what you’d pay at a Life Plan Community. 


It’s understandable you may not want to move from your home to a Life Plan Community. You’ve lived in your house for many years. You have many happy memories there. And your house is paid for (congratulations!) so you don’t see the wisdom in possibly dipping into your nest egg to pay for a senior living community. You think you simply can’t afford it.

You might be surprised to learn your financial lifestyle doesn’t need to change drastically to move into a Life Plan Community. The equity you have in your house may very well pay for most, if not all, of your entrance fee.

Even if you own your own home, you’re still paying each month for your electric, water, gas, cable, internet and other bills, groceries, all your insurance, gas and car maintenance, entertainment, dining out, upkeep for your yard, snow removal, home repairs — and these are possibly just a few of the many things you pay monthly for.

If you think you can’t afford the costs of moving to a senior living community, perhaps the real question is, can you afford NOT to move? Aging in place has its own perks, but also its own perils. And eventually, the perils can win out. What happens, for instance, if you’re hospitalized after an illness or injury and need rehab before you can return home? What if you need rehab for a month or two? Where will you go? Who will watch your house? And what if you need to move permanently to a higher level of care? 

As we age, there are increasingly more what-ifs to plan for in life. Which is why a Life Plan Community might just be the life plan you need.

Here’s the perfect way to find out whether a Life Plan Community is the right fit for you: Learn more about one. May we suggest starting with eliseo™? 

You can contact us any time to start the conversation. When you call, you’ll have all your questions answered by our friendly and knowledgeable staff. When you’re ready, you can schedule a tour of our 28-acre campus in Tacoma, WA, where we can show you our independent living residences, walk you around our numerous common spaces, and explain in detail how our refundable entrance fee works.