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Finance Rich retirees are paying over $1 million to move into luxury communities that operate like 'five-star resorts' with award-winning chefs, wine cellars, and VIP treatment

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These aren't retirement communities for the average American. Entrance fees can range from $100,000 to $1 million, plus monthly fees in the thousands.

Retirement is looking a little more glamorous these days. play

Retirement is looking a little more glamorous these days.

(Shutterstock)

  • Luxury senior living communities are rising in popularity around the United States.
  • These communities charge retirees entrance fees of up to $1 million, plus monthly fees in the thousands, and offer a variety of lifestyle options, from independent living to nursing care.
  • The hallmarks of these luxury communities are their hotel-like amenities and concierge-level services.

Retirement is looking a little more glamorous these days.

According to a recent New York Times story, senior living communities with an emphasis on luxury are rising in popularity around the United States.

"These upscale communities offer a continuum of care from independent living to failing health, allowing people to age in one place for a relatively fixed price, but with amenities common in exclusive hotels and high-end cruise ships," writes the Times' Scott James.

But these aren't retirement communities for the average American. Known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, about 2,000 around the US house some 700,000 people, James wrote. According to AARP, they're "the most expensive of all long-term care options" — entrance fees can range from $100,000 to $1 million and monthly charges can run in the thousands.

These communities typically offer a tiered care system, which ranges from independent, single-family homes up to full-time nursing care facilities, according to AARP. The entrance fees are often refunded to the resident's estate upon death.

Read more: It's about to get easier for millions of California workers to save for retirement

At Fountaingrove Lodge, an LGBT retirement community in Sonoma, California, the largest units — two-bedroom bungalows — command an entrance fee of $1 million, plus monthly installments of more than $6,000.

Included in the cost is continental breakfast as well as 21 flexible meals, plus weekly housekeeping and wellness and fitness programs, according to the website. In addition, residents get access to a fitness center, wine cellar, art studio, swimming pool, salon, movie theater, and even a restaurant helmed by a classically trained chef who's worked with Wolfgang Puck. James reports that Fountaingrove Lodge has 100 residents and a 70-person wait list.

The dining veranda at Fountaingrove Lodge, an upscale retirement community in Sonoma, California. play

The dining veranda at Fountaingrove Lodge, an upscale retirement community in Sonoma, California.

(Fountaingrove Lodge LGBT Retirement Community/Facebook)

Business Insider's Katie Warren previously reported a similar preference for hotel-like living taking hold among wealthy Americans: "More and more people are staying in luxury extended-stay hotels for months at a time, choosing the convenience and amenities over apartments and Airbnbs."

Upscale "apartment hotels" offer wealthy families and individuals the comfort and coziness of a private home, without the commitment of a lease or the hassle of a hotel check-in process. Concierge-like services are a huge draw, even if they come with a steep price tag.

Private real-estate firm Related Companies is looking to bring luxury senior living to the masses. The company recently announced a $3 billion joint venture with Atria Senior Living to build and operate "modern, urban communities catering to seniors" with an emphasis on luxury in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, DC, the Times reported.

Read more: 22 American cities where $1 million goes the furthest during retirement

Brad Breeding, a retirement blogger from North Carolina, told the Times most of the Continuing Care Retirement Communities are offering more than just extended medical care for aging Americans. Many are pouring their life savings into these communities, looking for a full-spectrum, all-inclusive lifestyle.

"You're selling somebody's complete lifestyle in a retirement housing plan, and they're putting a lot of money into this," Breeding said.

In Dallas, construction is underway on a $140 million luxury complex with 186 apartments, fine dining options, and high-end amenities and services, the Times reported. The community, called Ventana by Buckner, is set to open next year, charging entrance fees from $400,000 to $1.8 million and monthly fees up to nearly $11,000. Already, 81% of the units are claimed.

The executive director, Rick Pruett, told the Times that their goal is to "completely treat everyone like a VIP ... like you'd see at some of the finer operating hotel chains and resort centers."

Read the full New York Times story here »