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Considering the Move to an Active-Adult Community? We’ve Got Advice on Evaluating the Options.

As retirement nears, many older adults consider the benefits that an active-adult community can offer. For some, the option to downsize out of an over-large house can mean a more comfortable retirement and a larger estate to pass on to heirs. For others, the proximity to recreation and community promises to help keep them active for years to come.

California offers a vast array of active-adult communities, large and small, lavish and budget-minded. And although comparing sports offerings and swimming pools can be fun, experts say that a robust analysis of the benefits and potential problems ought to weigh into the decision.

John Brady, the creator of active-adult community directory, told Fox Business that prospective buyers should conduct thorough due diligence on the financial health of a community. This can include looking at the financial documents, asking about the number of homes in foreclosure, reading the minutes from the Homeowners Association meetings and talking to current residents. For even more peace of mind, Brady says, ask an accountant or an attorney to help review financial and legal documents. Excellent due diligence up front can help eliminate significant and costly surprises later on.

Ann Brenoff at the Huffington Post suggests that retirees with grandchildren check the community’s policy on and attitude toward children. According to Brenoff, some communities limit the number of nights that children can spend the night -- which may put a cramp in some people's' grandparenting style.

Finally, most experts agree that potential buyers should give the community a trial run before buying. Adults can rent one of the homes for a month or two or arrange an extended stay. This can give future buyers the confidence of knowing that the community and its residents are a great fit.

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