Seniors More Likely to Move Further, Pay More for Combined IL/AL Communities

Senior living communities that offer both independent and assisted living are more likely to attract residents from greater distances, according to a study by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research that found “substantial” geographic mobility among residents.

“The combined IL/ALs communities are more likely to be destinations for the long-distance movers compared to freestanding ILs or ALs,” the researchers found. Long-distance movers are those who moved more than 100 miles from their previous residence, represented by about 21% of the survey sample.

Less than a fifth of survey respondents moved across state lines, and the median distance between someone’s previous residence and the community they moved into is less than 10 miles. But those who traveled, traveled far: the CRR found that residents moved an average of about 150 to 175 miles away from their previous residence.


While long-distance movers have relatively higher total expenses, including for other services they receive, they could be profitable for communities to target, as they pay more for their residence and services on average. Further, they’re more likely to have “no concern” about their ability to afford the fees of the community compared to short-distance movers, at 34% to 28%.

Long-distance movers are relatively wealthier and are less likely to have a total net worth less than $100,000 (at 31%, compared to 39% of short-distance movers), reports the CRR. They’re also more likely to hold a brokerage, stock, or mutual fund account and to hold a trust, but are much less likely to own a house.

And for those who either have or plan to move from one senior care community to another, there’s a pattern of moving toward more care services.


“The evolution of living arrangements shows that there are strong correlations among respondents’ current living arrangements, previous living arrangements, and their plan to move in the future,” say the research authors. “The underlying need for care seems to be one of the reasons that impact the decision to move, and the reasons for moving out also predict where people want to move.”

The study revealed that 42% of former active adult community residents were now in the independent living portion of combined IL/AL communities, with another 29% in freestanding ALs. But among those who formerly lived in a rehab center or nursing home, 85% currently reside in assisted living.

Read the Center for Retirement Research’s study, “Geographic Mobility Among Residents in Seniors Housing and Care Communities,” here.

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Written by Alyssa Gerace