Virtual Retirement Village an Affordable Elder Care Option

by Paige Estigarribia
Virtual Retirement Village photo

Whether you’re looking at retirement housing options for yourself or an aging parent, you might want to consider a virtual retirement village. It could be an affordable option that allows you or a loved one to age in place.

If you’re trying to research all the options for retirement, one possible idea is a virtual retirement village. A virtual retirement village could definitely be an affordable elder care option, particularly for an aging parent who wants to remain in their home. To get a little more information about virtual retirement villages, we reached out to John Brady, founder of TopRetirements.com.

Q: What exactly is a virtual retirement village?

Mr. Brady: Instead of a physical place where you go to live, the virtual retirement village is a group of committed individuals who agree to help one another and share some aspects of community. The objective is to provide the support so people can stay in their homes longer. You can contribute services, accept certain services from the community like being driven to an appointment, or use suppliers and services that have been vetted by the community. The community has to be in a given geographic area, but not one building or neighborhood.

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Q: How do the costs of a virtual retirement village differ than a traditional retirement village?

Mr. Brady: The costs are very modest. A fee is charged to be an annual member of a retirement village. For example, at the time of this writing, the Shoreline Village in Branford, CT charges $500/year for a single or $750/year for a couple. A traditional active adult community or retirement community probably has monthly fees that work out to be just slightly more expensive to quite a lot more, depending on the amenities offered and other factors.

Q: Are all virtual retirement villages generally the same? If not, what are some ways that they differ?

Mr. Brady: These communities seem to offer the same basic services. Some might have a bigger network with more resources to offer or other variations. The geographic scope might be larger or smaller. The Village to Village Network says there are about 282 villages across the U.S.

Q: What are the benefits of a virtual retirement village? How are they set up different from a traditional retirement village?

Mr. Brady: The big benefit is that you can continue to live in your home once you are retired and know that you can get some help for things that might ordinarily drive you to live in a retirement community. You don’t have to move away from your neighbors and familiar area.

For example, you can use the network to find someone to do home repairs for you, shop for you, attend to a sick partner, or drive you to an appointment. You might have to pay for some services, and some might be done by volunteers (in which case you are expected to volunteer, too). Generally there is a volunteer board that runs a virtual retirement village as a non-profit, whereas most traditional villages are set up for profit and then transition to a volunteer board.

Q: Why would someone decide that a virtual retirement village may not be right for them?

Mr. Brady: You may decide to move if your home is not set up and/or not easily converted to your physical abilities (for example the bedroom is on second floor or there are many steps). Other reasons might be that you want the social interaction that comes with living closer to your peers or you are only consuming services and can’t contribute. Maybe you would like the amenities that come with living in another type of development.

Choosing the best retirement housing option can be a big decision. Hopefully these tips will help you make that choice.

Reviewed January 2023

About the Expert

John Brady is the founder of TopRetirements.com. Learn more on how it takes a virtual village to stay in your home.

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