According to Retirement Living, Texas is one of the best states for older Americans making a move to retire or downsizing as they prepare for retirement. It found that Texas’s lack of income tax, wide-open spaces, affordability, and sightseeing opportunities, among other advantages, makes it the sixth best state for retirement.
In recent years, Census data shows there has been an increased net migration of retirees or older Americans to the Lone Star State. This influx of mature residents plays a role in the demand for 55+ communities for seniors looking for a lifestyle that fits their golden-years goals and financial resources.
Retirees make up 10.6% of Texas’s total population, or about 3,062,526 of the state’s roughly 28,891,754 residents.
In this post, we’ve consulted with a top real estate agent in Texas, Scott Myers, who has extensive experience helping seniors relocate, and researched some of the best 55+ communities in terms of lifestyle, location, affordability, and safety.
To compile this list we looked at:
- Activity offerings
- Location of each community
- Access to quality healthcare
- Nearby desirable amenities and services
- Established and enforced age restrictions (55+)
- Type of retirement community (active adult, independent living)
- Ratings and reviews
- Homebuyer interest
- Top real estate agent recommendations
What is a 55+ community?
55+ communities are intentionally planned housing developments for those of retirement and pre-retirement age. Their most notable feature is that they restrict who can live there based on age. Residents typically have to meet the 55+ requirement in order to purchase a home, however, there can be exceptions, depending on your circumstances and the community’s guidelines. For example, a younger spouse or an adult child (18 or over) moving with you may not need to meet the age requirement.
The appeal of these communities is for those in their later years to live in desirable surroundings among their peers following the busy years of career building or child rearing. While not all residents are retired, many are and seek recreational outlets throughout the week that they didn’t have time for during their earlier years. Such communities often provide activity programs and can include things like golf, nature trips, and crafting.
Planned 55+ communities give mature residents a sense of belonging and often offer a low-maintenance way of life.
What are the most popular retirement cities in Texas?
According to Retirable, some of the most popular or best cities in Texas for retired or older Americans include:
- Port Arthur
- San Antonio
- El Paso
Why seniors choose Texas
There are many reasons why Texas is an appealing destination for Americans making a move to retire or to downsize in anticipation of retirement. Some of the most notable include:
- Lower cost of living during retirement
- Low taxes to help stretch Social Security, pensions, IRA and reduce homeownership costs
- Mild winters
- Outdoor activities like golfing and hiking
- Cultural activities like festivals and outdoor music
Our picks for some of the best 55+ communities in Texas
There are a number of outstanding 55+ communities in Texas. Based on the parameters we listed above, here are some we feel are worth considering:
Sun City Texas
Phone number: 512-948-7720
Location: Georgetown, Texas
Price range: mid-$100K to mid $800K
About: Established by Del Webb in 1994, Sun City Texas is located just outside of Austin and has a small town feel nestled within surrounding natural beauty. It’s in close proximity to Georgetown Municipal Airport, grocery stores, and several nature preserves and parks.
Ratings and reviews: Reviews on Caring give Sun City Texas full stars for being an active community, with friendly and professional staff, well-maintained facilities, and shopping outlets.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: The community offers amenities like three golf courses, fitness centers, arts and crafts studios, sports, fishing ponds, and hiking trails. Some attractions near Sun City include Lake Georgetown, Blue Hole Park, and Inner Space Cavern.
Hill Country Retreat
Phone number: 210-679-0303
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Price range: low-$200K to low-$400K
About: Owned by Del Webb and Village Builders, Hill Country Retreat has over 1,900 single-family homes in a peaceful setting with panoramic views and wildlife sightings. Though not a care facility, this community does offer help with things like meal preparation and medication management.
Ratings and reviews: Reviews on Nice Local give Hill Country Retreat a 4.4-star average with people commenting on the good amenity and activity options, nice neighbors, and beautiful setting.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Amenities include a resort clubhouse, fitness center with indoor and outdoor pools, library, gaming rooms, and walking trails. Surrounded by natural areas, Hill Country Retreat is also in close proximity to busy shopping districts in San Antonio. It’s about six miles from SeaWorld Antonio and 17 miles from University Hospital, which is one of the nation’s leading academic hospitals. It’s also 11 miles from the Golf Club of Texas.
Phone number: 512-379-5856
Location: San Marcos, Texas
Price range: mid-$200K to low-$500K
About: Named after a Texas legend Sam Houston who had a penchant for kissing, Kissing Tree is a 1,300-acre gated community located between Austin and San Antonio with over 600 homes and plans for over 3,000 more.
Ratings and reviews: Named by Forbes as one of the best places to retire in Texas, Kissing Tree holds an average review score of 4.5 stars at 55 Places. Reviewers enjoy the community’s location, choice of homes, amenities, and unique architecture.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Amenities include an abundance of sporting and gaming opportunities, bars, hiking trails, a demonstration kitchen, a cafe, and swimming pools. It’s also about 10 miles from the Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing featuring a historic aircraft hangar and World War II museum.
Bonterra at Woodforest
Phone number: 281-780-4652
Location: Montgomery, Texas
Price range: mid-$200K to high-$300K
About: Bonterra at Woodforest is a Taylor Morrison community with houses by Darling Homes. It’s located in south Montgomery County seven miles west of Interstate 45. Its 700 properties feature energy efficiency and sustainability in an overall setting that encourages activity.
Ratings and reviews: Reviews at 55 Places give Bonterra at Woodforest an average of 4.3 stars. Those who commented said that they love the development’s other residents, the affordability of the homes, and the selection of amenities.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Bonterra at Woodforest’s amenities include a fitness center, a meeting space for events and celebrations, a massage room, a covered veranda with an outdoor kitchen, a resort-style pool and hot tub, pickle ball and bocce courts. It’s located about 15 miles from the Fernland Historical Park, Museum and Memory Garden, and a similar distance from the Nat Hart Davis Pioneer Complex and Museum.
Phone number: 888-988-3927
Location: Denton, Texas
Price range: low-$300K to high-$700K
About: Established in 2002 and located 35 miles northwest of Dallas and Fort Worth, Robson Ranch has 7,200 attached and single-family homes with over 25 different floor plans ranging from 1,284 and 3,746 square feet.
Ratings and reviews: Robson Ranch holds an average of 4.4 stars on 55 Places. Patrons commented that the development isn’t “cookie cutter,” is set in a beautiful setting, and has an “incredible” clubhouse.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Amenities include a clubhouse, ballroom with main stage, multi-purpose activity rooms, fitness center, sports club with multiple pools including one for grandkids, and a creative arts and technology center. It’s located about 10 miles from the Courthouse on the Square Museum and a similar distance from the Bayless-Selby House Museum.
How can I find a 55+ community near me?
There are many other 55+ communities in Texas. One way to see your options is to search the internet with phrases such as, “55 and older communities near me” or “retirement communities near me.” Check ratings, reviews, and comments posted on the Better Business Bureau site, Google Reviews, and industry websites.
Another way to find a quality 55+ or retirement community near you is to consult a top real estate agent in your area. An experienced agent who knows your market can provide you with valuable insights into community characteristics such as crime rates, affordability, home construction quality, and the reputation of the governing association.
13 questions to ask before you buy a home in a 55+ community
Here are 13 important questions to ask before you commit to purchasing a home in a Texas 55+ community.
1. What activities do you offer and how often?
One of the primary reasons that older adults choose 55+ communities is the social connections that come with being in proximity to their contemporaries. Though not all who live in these communities are retired, many are and have more free time to pursue hobbies and enjoyment. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that the community you choose has the type of activity programming that appeals to you on a schedule that fits your desired lifestyle.
2. How are the homes spaced and what are the layouts like?
At the end of the day, moving into a 55+ community means settling on a home that works for you, just as it should in any other type of community. If space and privacy are important to you, find out if there are some homes on larger lots with more setbacks between neighboring properties. Additionally, ask to see floor plans. For instance, you may not want a house with areas that require stairs or extra steps, or you may need higher square footage if you expect frequent visitors.
3. What’s the policy on age restrictions?
While this might not be obvious, different over 55+ communities have different policies about what age ranges are allowed among residents. For example, you might be 56 but your spouse might be 48. For some developments, this may not be a problem, but it’s important to find out. Additionally, if you have many grandchildren who will be spending a lot of time at your house, find out if there are a maximum number of days that young people can stay per year.
4. Will I own the home or is this a lease community?
Love for a house or neighborhood can happen at first sight, but don’t go head over heels until you find out if your pick for a home in a 55+ community is for sale or lease. While you’re at it, be sure to find out all of the potential hidden costs that might come with the deal.
5. What are the community rules?
Most active adult communities have specific rules that must be followed. These might include:
- Children and grandchildren restrictions
- Pets (Limits on how many, allowable breeds and sizes)
- Parking (number of vehicles, where to park, limits on RVs or boats)
- Guests or visitors (numbers, length of time, etc.)
- Other rules typically associated with HOAs.
6. What are your new neighbors like?
It’s a subjective question but important to ask. See if you can get a sense from the sales team if the general culture of the place is in line with your personality, interests, and values. You could also ask to meet or attend an activity session to see if you mesh with the residents.
7. What plans are there for the adjacent property?
You may be looking at a newer 55+ community that’s not fully developed yet. As such, your home might be surrounded by vacant lots or empty land. Find out what the plans are for those parcels. If you find out that a clubhouse will be constructed next door, that may or may not be an appealing revelation.
8. Is the community financially sound?
Before you buy a home in a 55+ community, ask to see financial reports to make sure that the development isn’t on shaky financial ground or headed for bankruptcy. This is important because it could affect your own property values as well as influence the quality of maintenance and amenity offerings.
9. Is there a reserve fund for maintenance?
Also known as a sinking fund, reserve funds are set aside to make sure that the development remains well-maintained such as common areas and landscaping. Again, strong property values depend on the general upkeep of the area, and if management can’t foot the bill things could deteriorate.
10. What other projects belong to this developer?
55+ communities often have other, similar developments in their portfolio. Research the other areas and see what locations, homes, and amenity offerings seem the best for your situation. The exercise will also give you a better sense of the developer’s track record.
11. Is the governing association easy to work with?
You will want a community board with a proven track record of working together and finding solutions. If you discover a dysfunctional board led by power-hungry or inept individuals, it may prove to be the cause of great angst and can harm the unity of the entire community. So, ask a number of different residents what their experience has been. Check with your real estate agent. Find out if the board and its members are competent, effective, and civil. One free resource to research your association or HOA is communityassociations.net.
12. What security and safety measures does the community have?
Safety is a high-priority concern for many seniors. Ask what security systems the community has in place. Do they have continuous video surveillance and protocols for visitors? Is the entrance gated or guarded? How many emergency situations are handled each year and what are the response times?
13. What is the resale value of homes in the community?
While you may plan on making this your final lifetime move into a 55+ community, life circumstances can change unexpectedly. You may need to move closer to relatives or into an assisted living facility. Ask your real estate agent about the projected resale value of homes in the community. Review the HOA rules for restrictions on for-sale signs. Some 55+ communities have their own sales offices and prohibit hiring an outside agent.
Check out the community around the community
Vetting the 55+ community with the 13 questions above will help you uncover crucial insights into what life might be like within the boundaries of those neighborhoods, but you will want to look beyond the front gates.
To truly identify the best 55+ community for you, you should also research the history, reputation, culture, and amenities available in the surrounding host city or town. Find out what the area has to offer that can improve or enhance your retirement years.
- How far away is the nearest hospital and other medical facilities?
- What are the safety and crime rates of the surrounding city or town?
- How easy is it to access major highways and commuting routes?
- Is it located directly on a busy, noisy highway?
- Is there a variety of conveniences nearby such as restaurants, banks, or grocery stores?
- Is there a dog park or groomer nearby?
- Is there a bus route or commuter rail that serves the area?
- Are there nearby churches or places of worship that fit your beliefs?
- Are there undesirable businesses or manufacturing facilities nearby?
- Is it near enough to an airport for convenience, or too close with excessive noise?
- Are there connecting bike paths or walking/hiking trails?
- Where is the nearest grocery store and does it offer foods that meet your dietary needs?
Q&A: More tips and insights about 55+ communities in Texas
What’s the primary reason people move to Texas for 55+ communities?
According to Myers, the number one reason is the lower cost of living, including lower taxes.
Where are most moving to Texas from?
Myers said that about 30% of over 55+ folks moving to Texas are coming from California.
What are some other reasons people choose 55+ communities in Texas?
The warm climate allows people to play golf and tennis nearly all year round, Myers says. Others choose a location where they’ll be close to children and grandchildren.
Are 55+ communities popular in Texas?
Only a small fraction of those at retirement age are specifically looking for a 55+ community in Texas, though this varies a bit by city, Myers says.
Where do most seniors live in Texas?
Rockwood, Texas, has the highest percentage of seniors of any city in Texas at a share of 55%.
What are some top affordable 55+ communities in Texas?
According to 55 Places, the most affordable 55+ communities in Texas are Alamo Country Club, Sunshine Country Club Estates, Siesta Retirement Village, Regency at Esperanza, CountryPlace, Watermere at Southlake, Scenic Hills, Amberwood at Fall Creek, Windsor Lakes, and Four-Leaf Towers.
What is the 80/20 rule in some 55+ communities?
To be compliant with the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) and federal Fair Housing laws, 55+ communities generally require that at least 80% of all units must be occupied by one person aged 55 or older, while the remaining 20% of households can be available for residents of any age. This also means that if these communities have sufficient interest from prospective residents to exceed 80% occupancy by those over 55, they may choose to do so.
When should I visit a prospective 55+ community?
To get the clearest picture of how you might connect with a 55+ community, it’s best to visit at different times of the year. You may love an area you visited on vacation in the fall, but that does not mean you will like it in the winter. Remember, you are making long-term retirement plans, so multiple visits are worth the time and investment. It’s also valuable to consider several different retirement locations and compare the benefits and drawbacks.
Are there real estate agents that specialize in helping seniors?
Yes. There is a specialty certification that agents can receive from The National Association of Realtors to become a Seniors Real Estate Specialist or SRES. An SRES agent will be well-versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, and more. To learn more, see our post: Should You Hire an Agent Who Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Conclusion: Living your golden years in the Lone Star State
With its nearly year-round warm climate, abundant verdant open space, and low cost of living, Texas is a top destination for retirees and other older adults to seek 55+ communities to call home. But as with any housebuying endeavor, research is vital to find the best fit. With the social component being a central part of the allure of 55+ communities, it’s essential to find out if the activities, neighbors, and culture are right for you in addition to the house itself.
Don’t go it alone when searching for the best home in a great 55+ community. HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform can connect with an SRES agent or a top-performing agent who can help you downsize or guide you in your search for a great 55+ community in Texas.
Header Image Source: (Matthew Lancaster / Unsplash)