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These Are the Most Expensive States for Senior Living

By Barbara Bellesi Zito – Updated Jan 5, 2022 at 9:13AM

Key Points

  • New Jersey is the most expensive state for assisted living; Georgia is the least expensive.
  • Aging in place is a trend that stems from preference and/or necessity.
  • There is an opportunity for real estate investors, particularly multifamily investors.

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This is one of the reasons aging in place is a growing trend.

Assisted living communities are places where people can lead full lives while also getting help with daily tasks like meal preparation, housekeeping, medication management, and more. Residents of these communities and facilities often find companionship and a sense of belonging. It's a solid option for many older Americans, but none of it comes cheap. 

According to a recent report by Seniorly, an online platform that connects people with senior living options and resources, the average rent for assisted living communities across the country is $4,057 per month.  New Jersey is the priciest, at $5,893 per month, while Georgia is the least expensive, at $3,000 a month.

A couple happy at home in their living room.

Image source: Getty Images.

The Most Expensive States for Assisted Living

Ranking State Monthly Rent
1 New Jersey $5,893
2 New Hampshire $5,644
3 Alaska $5,514
4 Massachusetts $5,421
5 Washington, D.C. $5,369
6 Delaware $5,286
7 Hawaii $5,063
8 Washington $4,995
9 Connecticut $4,726
10 Maine $4,711

Data source:

Based on a typical salary and rate of saving, it would take the average person 9.5 years to save up for just one year of assisted living. It's no wonder so many people are either pushing retirement off or looking for other options to live out their golden years -- including staying put in their own homes.

The growing trend of aging in place 

About 90% of people over the age of 50 wish to age in place, according to an online survey of nearly 3,500 individuals conducted by WebMD and Capital Caring Health, a nonprofit healthcare provider. Reasons for this may include anything from financial constraints to wanting to stay near family and friends to simply wanting to stay in the place that has brought them decades of wonderful memories. 

Currently, the occupancy rates of senior living communities -- which include independent living, assisted living, and nursing care facilities -- are below what they were prior to the pandemic, according to NIC MAP Vision data. Assisted living community occupancy rates in particular are at 76.9%, though they were at 85% capacity prior to the pandemic. There are several reasons for the decline in occupancy rates. For starters, there was the grim fact that the coronavirus has caused more than 186,000 deaths among residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There were also fewer elective surgeries that needed to be followed up by skilled nursing care or rehabilitation. But a third reason is that families who were able to do so brought senior relatives home to care for them there.

An opportunity for real estate investors

At first blush, the aging-in-place trend might be seen as an obstacle for real estate investors, particularly fix-and-flip investors. Assuming seniors are choosing to stay in the same homes they've been in for decades already, that means the opportunities to snag aging homes in need of an upgrade for a steal are limited -- though the low housing inventory and high demand for it are also to blame here.

But there are opportunities out there for senior citizens looking to downsize and particularly for multifamily investors as seniors do so to move in with other relatives. In the second quarter of 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, a national NAR (National Association of Realtors) survey found that 15% of homebuyers bought homes meant for multigenerational households -- the highest percentage since 2012. The long months of isolated lockdowns caused many families to reevaluate their priorities and bring everyone together under the same roof.

Still, any residential investor -- particularly those investing in any of the top 10 most-expensive states for assisted living -- would be wise to view renovations and upgrades through the lens of accessibility. In addition to cosmetic upgrades like granite counters and stainless steel appliances, adding features like walk-in showers and wider doorways to easily permit wheelchairs and walkers should be top of mind. For single-family investors, now would be the time to secure the permits to add that in-law suite over the garage. Those in the luxury market might pique more buyer interest with the installation of an in-home elevator. Medical assistance might still need to enter the equation at some point, but for a growing number of seniors, there's no place else they'd rather be but home.

The term "forever home" has taken on greater significance as more people wish to age in place. Perhaps it's a home large enough to house multiple generations of the same family, or maybe it's a smaller home that's easier to care for and, most importantly, get around in if mobility is an issue. Although older Americans will likely need some type of medical assistance at some point, real estate investors can capitalize on providing opportunities for seniors to get that assistance from the comfort of their own homes.

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