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5-star retirement living

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Friday, July 8, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

If your vision of retirement communities is a few dozen prefab homes scattered around a shuffleboard court, you haven't been keeping up with the latest trend in homebuilding.

These days, retirement communities for those over age 55 have upped the ante significantly, with amenities such as valet parking, dog-walkers and five-star chefs. There are even "lifestyle directors" to help you organize your activities. This is in addition, of course, to the pool, championship golf and tennis facilities. It’s all meant to meet the demands of retirees who can afford to live the good life and it’s a booming industry, says one builder.

An article in SmartMoney.com quotes Toll Brothers CEO Doug Yearley as claiming the luxury building segment of his business is growing four times faster than the rest of his homebuilding business.

That doesn't mean the high-end retirement community isn't feeling the housing pinch, however. Potential residents can still find bargains and get a whole lot of extras to boot. But while they may find a deal on the house, buyers should still be cautious and make sure the costs of the amenities aren't buried in extra fees or complicated contracts. The on-call massage therapist doesn't work for free, after all.

While we've seen plenty of mansions go into foreclosure, luxury hasn't lost its luster. For those who can't afford their own personal staff, pooling resources for all the extras at a retirement community may be the next best thing.

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