Life On A College Or University Campus – An Alternative Retirement Destination

If you were to ask a group of people to describe what an Independent Living Community or Assisted Living Facility is like, the responses might be, well, subdued.

ALFs, and even ILCs to an extent have come to be seen by some as places where one is relegated to when their life is pretty much over, and all that’s left is relaxation. This could be just what that retiree most craves. But it isn’t for everyone.

Thanks to the booming number of seniors, combined with the impossibility of building enough traditional brick-and-mortar facilities to accommodate them, entrepreneurs have been inspired to create some intriguing alternatives. One of the most exciting, for the right retiree, is termed University Based Retirement Communities (UBRCs).

Though this is not a new concept in the US, it has been largely overlooked and underdeveloped. Right around the year 2000, though, that began to change.

What Are University Based Retirement Communities?

University based retirement communities
(c) Can Stock Photo / Leaf

Which College Campuses Offer Senior Housing?

Imagine yourself as a retiree, setting up your new home on (or very close to) a college campus. What could you expect to find at University Based Retirement Communities? How about daily access to the performing arts, to classes, excellent medical care, and a first-rate library.

For those whose idea of heaven on earth revolves around an atmosphere of continued intellectual and physical stimulation (what college administrators term “Lifelong Learning”), could there be a much more rejuvenating experience than “going back to school”?

The housing and accompanying amenities will vary, from separate houses or condos to apartment-type buildings. Your neighbor might be someone your age, or a 19-year-old, away from home for the first time.

Regardless, the experience and accumulated wisdom seniors bring to the college campus seem to be having a positive and welcome effect on the younger element, not to mention the community at large.

As of 2009, there were more than 100 University Based Retirement Communities in the US. While we were not able to ascertain exactly how many there are now, it is reported that college recruiters and city planners have come to realize a couple of things:

  1. College enrollment numbers, a major source of income for the college and the community surrounding it, are far from consistent (especially as tuition continues to rise, regardless of any other factors involved).
  2. Retirees have money, pay taxes and spend locally. (Nice to have leverage, isn’t it?)
  3. Retirees can contribute as volunteers.
  4. Retirees add to the diversity of the campus and community.
  5. In short, retirees contribute far more to the local economy than drain it.

What follows is a very small sample of the currently best-known college-based retirement communities. To find out what else may be available, choose your desired college and give them a call; even if they don’t have something ready at present, they may be planning such a project. (You might even be able to contribute your own input.)

Please note that, while many of the schools listed below presently offer only Independent and/or Assisted Living, that the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY, also provides nursing home care.

Those that are designated as maintaining CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) should be contacted to discover precise details as to the levels of care included, and what one can expect in the way of support at each level, as well as any requirements on the part of the retiree.

For instance, some colleges will require a resident take a college course, free of charge, per term/semester, or perhaps do volunteer work of some sort.

Among some of the schools currently offering this option are:

  1. Rivers Run at Rochester, New York – Rochester Institute of Technology: Nursing Home, Independent Living and Enriched Living. [EL means that services can be added, as needed.]
  2. Longhorn Village, Austin, TX – University of TX at Austin: CCRC.
  3. College Square at University of Central Arkansas: Independent Living/Assisted Living.
  4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI: Independent living.
  5. Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame, Sound Bend, IN: Independent Living, but plans to build Nursing Care Facility.
  6. Oak Hammock at University of Florida: CCRC.
  7. Penn State University: CCRC.
  8. Oak Hammock at University of Florida, Gainesville: CCRC.
  9. The Forest at Duke, Duke University, Durham, NC: CCRC.
  10. Kendal at Ithaca, Ithaca College, NY: CCRC.
  11. Lasell College, Newton, MA: CCRC.
  12. Kendal at Hanover, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH: CCRC.
  13. Kendal at Oberlin, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH: CCRC.

Lasell College, Newton, MA.

We wanted to take a look at one of the earliest such communities, situated on the Lasell College campus. Not long after establishing the RoseMary B. Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Studies in 2001, the college developed Lasell Village, a continuing care retirement facility for Independent Living, Assisted Living, Long-term Care, and Short-term Rehabilitation. Here are just a few of the inducements to take up residence here:

  • The opportunity to participate in “Lifelong Learning”
  • The added opportunity to help create technology to benefit seniors. Just two examples of the items already developed, and with needed senior input: a hands-free flashlight and a “smart box” that reminds those with dementia to take their meds.
  • The choice of several different floor plans for your living quarters
  • A full range of medical care
  • Free: Up to 4-credit hours of classes per semester
  • All the amenities of a community, including a bank, post office,
  • Access to top-notch hospitals
  • A college library, and all that entails
  • A vibrant, rejuvenating atmosphere infused with the arts, sports, and academics

Seniors are in a position to ask more from the senior housing industry than what has traditionally been provided. Seniors have the money and the numbers to make their wishes known. Retirement, after all, is not the end of life, but the chance for either a new beginning (whatever that means for the retiree) or to continue challenging oneself while applying one’s intelligence, energy, and accrued skills in a new arena.

The upshot to University Based Retirement Communities is that everyone wins. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

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  1. Retiree (straight) from Mn . wants to share housing in a retirement city or on a college campus, interact with college activities/ communities and classes and have a great social life; prefer with other teachers.
  2. Please note that since its founding in 2005, Kendal at Granville has been deeply connected to Denison University (Granville, OH), and new collaboration efforts include hosting two Denison students as Artists in Residence this summer. The AIR students receive room and board in exchange for arts programming for residents of this Life Plan community.
  3. Would like more info re living in the senior program at Notre Dame. Have two easygoing beagles who need to come too. I am interested in short term but would consider long term. I am Licensed Professional Counselors in PA and IL and have 14 years teaching experience with a diverse population, supervised Crisis intervention staff for a County crisis intervention service and worked for a brief time in Older Adult Protective Services. Retired from full time employment in March 2019.
  4. I have several graduate degrees including a law degree. I am interested in relocating to an independent living situation connected to a college which supports non-credit course work for seniors.
  5. I’d like to attend a summer semester at a college or university, without credit. I’m not particularly interested in moving from my home in Pennsylvania, but look at a college experience as an interesting extended vacation. This type of program could benefit colleges by keeping their facilities and resources in use throughout the summer.
  6. 12/1 Young senior/educator retiree looking for retirement community on a college campus not away from it with fees attached for use of library, athletic facility, cheaper classes…not in the north part of the country. I already live in the coldest state, Mn. I have searched now extensively so will I need to have more info re rental prices, furnishings, accomodations, roomates (in college I lived with 6) . I can take roomates, 1/or 2; if , in the south, I would not imagine being inside too often anyhow. Please provide feedback. Thanks N
    1. Are travel options through life learning opportunities available? Can a resident elect not to have meals or no more than one meal per day?

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