The time comes when the way we’ve been living seems a little too much like work. The duties and responsibilities of a conventional home were once a way of life we chose gladly and gratefully. We never questioned those tasks. They were just part of our way. Our thoughts turn to independent living homes and apartments on the day we decide we’d rather have more time.

That’s the tradeoff. What could we do without, that would give us more time? Yard work, household repairs and maintenance, the upkeep of appliances and furnishings. Whether we admit it or not, a few of us were not even handy until we became homeowners. Even when being handy has become a point of pride, life often gives us other things that we would rather do.

When it begins to dawn on us that more time with children and grandchildren, more time at the lake, more time for our favorite hobby or sport or pastime sounds better than time spent on the chores that come with home – that’s when independent living homes and apartments begin to get our attention.

Shifting to Carefree

No doubt about it, it’s quite a change of gears when we first consider what carefree living might mean to us. It might not sound like it makes sense, but still the truth is for a lot of folks that shift is more complicated than it sounds. For nobody is it a snap decision. What happens instead, if we are fortunate, is that little-by-little the priorities we set for ourselves in live start to stack up fulfilled. Completed. Achieved. Done and dusted. When we realize that, when we let that in, then thought can turn to discovering what would be our best choice among independent living homes and apartments.

So, then what? When the children are out of school, when they’re out on their own two feet, when they start a family of their own, then we are free to look into independent living homes and apartments. But do we see that? Usually not right away.

Whether we were businesspeople or farmers, athletes or artists, homemakers or breadwinners – or all of the above – the momentum that put us where we aimed to be usually carried us on farther, past the point of fulfilling our dreams, our role, our responsibilities. Then it dawns on us gradually. Who am I when I’m not meeting the mortgage? What do I do when I don’t have to save any more for college? What’s next when the career is complete?

Even the questions take time to take shape. The answers often take even longer. When the biggest answer to what we want is, “Time,” then it makes great sense to look into independent living homes and apartments, and to consider carefree living at last.

Looking Over the Menu

The first thing to notice about the options and arrangements that are offered among the variety of independent living homes and apartments, is that there is no one definition of independent living. That’s a good thing. It’s up to us to match our own desires and designs to the options that suit us best.

What kinds of homes do an independent living community offer? What kinds of activities are available, and what fun can you get to nearby? How is the community located for ease of travel? Is there a good chance I am going to like my neighbors – and how close-by are they, anyway?

The puzzle pieces that make these answers take shape can seem like a jumbled pile when we first take a look at what’s available among the independent living homes and apartments. To get them organized, let’s imagine that all the choices fit somewhere along a spectrum.

The Range of the Rainbow

There are a lot of values we could put at the opposite ends of that spectrum. Cost is one of those factors, let’s face it. Fortunately, in most cases the cost conforms and follows most of the other things we might use to measure our choices. What if we picked “Independent,” the word itself, as the value we use to set up our spectrum for evaluating the choices of independent living homes and apartments?

If we use “Independent” as our measuring stick, then the two opposite ends of the spectrum look something like this.

In Arizona and Florida and in the Carolina Lowcountry, there are examples of “senior living” communities that have been around so long that they are often used as a kind of measuring stick for independent living homes and apartments. The most famous of these arrangements was started decades ago by a building contractor from Nevada who got big by helping to build Las Vegas back in the 1940’s and 50’s.

That famous example offers every form of recreation on-site, from complete golf courses and tennis facilities to some of the biggest theatre complexes in their areas. They boast of having more than 200 clubs, made up of residents who organized along their favorite interests or topics or hobbies. As complete and comprehensive as these communities might appear to be, the houses themselves are designed for the simplest and most expedient kind of quick construction. And there is not as much variety in those houses beneath the surface as there appears to be.

On the other end of our spectrum for evaluating independent living homes and apartments, we might put a senior-living apartment building, with minimal amenities, or perhaps a mobile home park.

A Sweet Spot of Your Very Own

Most of us would be more comfortable living somewhere that is not on the extreme ends of this spectrum. Finding the sweet spot becomes the main idea. Consider that the most comfortable choice for living independently may not be a city-like, organized community, nor an apartment building, nor a plot of ground with basic utilities. Instead, what if the answer is more like a village?