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A senior housing crisis is on the horizon. The senior housing market is seeing more demand than ever as supply dwindles and generations age. The oldest baby boomers are turning 80 this year, and the generation is expected to be over 85 million strong in 2025. This year, we attended the 2024 InterFace Active Adult Conference in Dallas to learn about a senior housing option experiencing exponential growth in development and resident demand: Active Adult communities. This product type was once challenging to finance. However, banks and lenders have become more familiar with the product, making it easier to finance. This exciting community type could play a part in changing Baby Boomers’ point of view on senior housing and has enormous potential in the market.

What is an Active Adult Community?

As the name implies, active adult communities are intended for physically and mentally active older adults who need little to no assistance completing daily activities. There is often confusion between independent living communities and active adult communities, and the key differentiators are:

No on-site healthcare

Active adult communities do not offer or provide any healthcare assistance. If a resident needs any type of healthcare services, they need to personally arrange and pay for those on their own.


Active adult communities can either be age-targeted or age-restricted. Age-targeted communities are specifically designed and marketed to adults who are 55 and older and do not have any age requirements - anyone can live in an age-targeted community. Age-restricted communities are dictated by the Fair Housing Act which specifies that at least 80% of the residences in the community must be occupied by someone who is 55 or older and no one under the age of 19 is allowed to be a permanent resident in the community.

Meals NOT included

A key difference between active adult and other senior housing types is that no meal service is provided. Like a multifamily community, active adult communities may provide snacks or light-dining options from a coffee bar or small on-site market.

The Active Adult Resident & Lifestyles

Residents who choose to live in these communities are younger than those in independent living, averaging around 73 years old. Active Adult community residents often stay in their communities longer, with an average turnover rate of 20%, compared to multifamily, where resident turnover rate is 50%. Active adult residents are looking for a place to age with a community. We learned at the conference that residents choose to live in these communities for several reasons, including:

  • Desire to downsize from a large single-family home with less maintenance responsibilities
  • Wanting to stay active and socialize with peers in a community tailored for independent older adults
  • Easier living arrangements that still allow flexibility compared to a traditional apartment
  • Ability to age in place within the same community if future assisted living is needed
  • Hospitality-focused services that make daily life more convenient
  • Proximity to existing community ties like family, friends, and stores
  • Amenities and programming that support health, wellness, and social interests

Programming and design elements that make Active Adult communities attractive to these residents are:


More active adult communities are adopting a hospitality focus in their operating models, employing concierge services, including different levels of amenities based on price points, like hotels. Adding these elements into the community can help change Baby Boomers’ perspectives of the traditional senior living models they may be familiar with.

Focus on social engagement

In terms of the architectural design of active adult communities, they are similar to multifamily communities and include amenities such as a clubhouse, fitness center, or flex spaces that promote social interaction. Programming is then scheduled around these amenities like daily yoga classes in the fitness center, a craft club gathering in a highly visible flex space to encourage others to join, or having televisions in the outdoor kitchen so residents can host their friends to watch the big game.

Promoting health and wellness

Baby Boomers value staying active, and it is all about options. Amenities like fitness centers, walking trails, pools, and sports courts encourage active lifestyles. Wellness centers and spas are gaining popularity in active adult communities so residents can enjoy a massage or other services to support relaxation and stress reduction.

A Popular Senior Living Option

The product type is gaining more popularity, especially for developers, as there is an immediate demand pool for active adult communities. There is also no required healthcare licensure, less operational and nurse-level staffing costs, potential rent premiums, and there are longer residential lengths of stay.

As the most senior group of Gen Xers enter their 60s next year and their predecessors enter their 80s, this could be a popular option as there is an immediate demand for more senior housing. Many of the elements that set these communities apart start in their design. Using our decades of experience with this product type and new knowledge from the InterFace Active Adult Conference, we can implement many design elements catering to the next generation of senior living. If you want to pursue an active adult community, call us at 303.832.4474.


This is the philosophy that drives KEPHART to create thoughtful homes and communities that positively change people’s lives.

KEPHART is a nationally recognized, award-winning architectural design and planning firm with 50 years of housing expertise. Our passion for designing well-designed places to live, work, and play has driven us to create more than 500,000 homes across the country, ranging from single and multifamily homes to workforce housing, senior living, LIHTC communities, and everything in between. We have a deep bench of talented staff to design and deliver innovative and practical solutions to meet the unique requirements of every project.

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