CCRC vs. Rental Retirement Community: What Are the Differences?

Among the choices for retirement communities, two of the most popular options are continuing care retirement communities (also known as CCRCs or “life plan communities”) and independent living communities (also known as rental retirement communities).

Both types have residents that are still living independently. There are some key differences between the two types of communities which lie primarily in four areas: services and amenities, healthcare, cost, and intangibles, and these are not mutually exclusive of one another.

Amenities and services

Typical amenities and services found at both CCRCs and independent living communities may include a community clubhouse, lounge areas, event spaces, dining rooms and bistros, fitness center and group fitness classes, swimming pool, housekeeping services, interior and exterior maintenance, scheduled transportation, Wi-Fi, and more.

It is generally thought that CCRCs–as a whole–offer a higher level of amenities and services than standalone independent living communities. At CCRCs, there may be a choice of larger residential living units–as well as more communal spaces to enjoy meeting with friends and family. Other amenities offered at Westminster Village include a community garden, spas, salons and barber shops, pool, and new to our campus is the addition of an observatory.

Healthcare and other care-related services

The key feature of a continuing care retirement community that distinguishes it from stand-alone independent living communities, and any other type of retirement community, is a contractual obligation on the part of the community to provide housing and priority access to a full spectrum of care services. Most CCRCs have separate living accommodations that are licensed to provide services to residents who eventually require assisted living, memory care, and/or skilled nursing care.

Care services available at independent living communities most commonly offer supportive care services to residents in their own apartment. At Westminster Village we offer our residents in-homecare services. While independent living communities are not always equipped to provide services for residents who develop needs for higher acuity assisted living or skilled nursing care, therefore, residents requiring these levels of care would need to move to an off-site care facility.


Generally, CCRCs are considered more expensive than rental retirement communities, mainly because the large majority of CCRCs require an entry fee, in addition to the monthly service fee. However, the CCRC may provide more in the way of amenities and services. Additionally, depending on the type of CCRC contact and the amount of care eventually required, the overall lifetime cost could prove to be less than a rental retirement community.

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