Nov 9, 2022

How to minimize your monthly senior living bill

Manny Cominsky

If you’re looking for a senior living community for yourself or a loved one, you might feel some sticker shock as you see that monthly costs for senior living communities can be several thousands of dollars per month, with assisted living or managed care community rents reaching as high as $10,000 a month in some cases. But while senior living communities may seem expensive, when you factor in all of the benefits and assistance that come with a senior living community, from meals, to transportation, to care, to amenities and entertainment, the monthly costs are actually very similar to (and in some cases can even be cheaper than) the costs of living independently, particularly if you are also receiving some form of at home care. 

So while many people think of senior living communities because of the care and amenities they provide, it’s also important to remember that life at a senior living community can also help save you money. Follow these tips to find out the best ways to get the most bang for your buck each month in senior living.

Making a senior living budget

The first step in handling your senior living budget, whether you’re currently living in senior housing or are still researching and exploring your options, is to get an accurate picture of what you’re spending each month. One easy way to get a handle on your monthly expenses that we recommend is to look at a one-month period on your bank and credit card statements, and write down all your major recurring expenses. 

A helpful way to start making a budget is to go through your monthly credit card and bank statements and identifying your biggest monthly costs.

While these will of course be different for each individual, a couple common major monthly expenses are:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Property tax and insurance
  • HOA fees
  • Cable, internet, and utilities
  • House cleaning services
  • Home maintenance and repairs
  • Food
  • Transportation 

If you’re already a resident at a senior living or retirement community, a lot of these expenses will probably be included in your monthly rental payment. But even if all or most of your monthly living expenses are included in your monthly senior living bill, it’s important to make sure to analyze your bill each month to make sure you’re on top of what you’re paying for senior living. For example, if your community uses a points-based system for paying for meals make sure you know exactly how those point breakdowns work to avoid accidentally overpaying for food purchased during the month. To learn more about analyzing your senior living bill each month, check out our blog on understanding your monthly senior living bill.

Find the right senior living community

While budgeting and smart spending can certainly help keep your monthly expenses down, the biggest factor in determining your monthly senior living expenses will be making sure you pick a community that fits both your budget and your lifestyle, as this rental payment is likely to be your biggest payment each month. The first thing to consider when choosing a senior living or retirement community is how much care you need, and the level of assistance you foresee yourself needing. A good first step in this calculation is determining whether you need any assistance completing the Activities of Daily Living.

The biggest factor in determining the monthly cost of a senior living community is often the level of care provided by the community.

Along with making sure that the senior living community provides the appropriate level of care, also make sure to explore what amenities and services come with your monthly rental payment. Senior living communities often provide a wide range of amazing services and amenities - from high-end dining and transportation to entertainment options like movie theaters to everyday comforts like salons or libraries with sitting rooms. Given how many services and amenities are often included in your monthly senior living bill, your rent payment might end up being a majority of the payments you need to make each month.

Tips to reduce your monthly senior living bill

When looking for senior living communities there are a couple of things you can do to try and end up with the lowest possible bill each month. The first is to explore what the meal options are at your community. If you don’t need 3 meals a day, research a la carte communities where you aren’t charged for food that you don’t think you will eat. In these communities, you can pay for only those meals you end up actually eating. 

Make sure to understand the full range of meal plan options at your community, particularly if your community uses some sort of points based meal plan.

Another strategy is to try and find a slightly cheaper location in a different area. As with most things in real estate, senior living communities are likely to have higher monthly rates in larger, more popular areas. If you’re having trouble finding a senior living community that fits your budget in a particular area, it may be worthwhile to try looking in a new locale. If you like a particular senior living community, but would like for it to be slightly cheaper or have slightly different amenities, make sure to research whether the community is owned by a larger company with multiple locations. Many senior living communities are owned by regional or national brands, and the brand you like might have a similar option at a lower price nearby. In addition, make sure to fully explore all the housing options at each community. Some communities have different floor plans which vary by price, so make sure to find the floor plan that fits your budget best. 

Finally, make sure to avoid late fees and other penalties when paying your senior living bill each month. Many communities charge late fees when your rent is past due, and this can add up quickly. The easiest way to avoid late fees is to use Sunbound Pay, which allows residents to choose when they want to make their payments each month. Sunbound Pay also lets residents include family members who are contributing to their payment plan. With Sunbound Pay you can say goodbye to late fees!

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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