Nov 1, 2022

Understanding your monthly senior living bill

Nat Miller

Many senior living communities will charge you a single all-inclusive rate each month, meaning that there are many elements that go into how much you will be paying your senior living community each month. So it’s always important to understand exactly what you’re paying for, and what to look for on each month’s bill. After all, you don’t want to be overpaying when you have alternative options to get just what you need at a lower rate. Every senior living community is different and so it’s important to carefully consider everything that goes into the monthly bill when researching senior living communities. To make the most of both looking for, and living in, senior housing, make sure to be familiar with some of the most common elements included in senior living community bills each month, and some helpful guidelines for differentiating one community’s expenses from another. 

Factors that go into your bill

While each senior living retirement community is different, there are some common things that will appear on most senior living bills. To confirm whether these apply to your senior living community, we recommend looking into the details of your rental agreement or reaching out to the staff at your senior living community. Some common features that you will pay for in many senior living communities include: laundry; housekeeping; transportation; security; recreational services; and personal care expenses.

In addition to these amenities that many people commonly associate with the care provided by senior living communities (whether they offer independent or assisted living), there are some additional fees that people sometimes overlook when thinking about senior living. These include: 

Move-in/entrance fee: Some communities have this fee while others don’t. But because the move-in fee can be quite large (ranging anywhere from one month’s rent to several thousand dollars), it’s particularly important to ask about whether the senior living community has a move-in fee. 

Pet fee: If you have a pet, check with your community to see what they charge for you to live with your furry friend. This is typically a low expense, so it shouldn’t be a major contributing factor to your bill. 

Extra resident fee: If you have a significant other, and you both live in your community, odds are you’ll have to pay more than you would if you were living in your unit independently. Ask your community how much they charge for an extra resident. Many people assume that a one bedroom apartment in a senior living community costs the same whether one or two people are living in it, but many communities will charge more for the second resident.

Make sure to ask your retirement community whether there are any additional fees in the monthly bill such as a pet fee.

Type of community

At the end of the day the most important factor determining the monthly price of your senior living community will be the level of care provided by the community, with independent living communities generally charging cheaper rates than assisted living or managed care facilities. Independent living communities are typically the least expensive, and are for those who want to give up the chores associated with maintaining a home and enjoy resort-style amenities, but who don’t require any additional assistance or daily care. Assisted living communities are slightly more expensive, as they provide more hands-on care and can offer higher levels of care depending on the resident’s needs. At the highest end of the cost level are memory care and nursing care facilities, which provide daily assistance and medical care to residents. One way individuals will determine the type of community that is best for them is to assess the Activities of Daily Living they are able to accomplish on their own.

Models of payment

Senior living retirement communities can charge their residents in a variety of different ways. These are some of the most popular payment models for senior living communities. 

“All inclusive” model: The all-inclusive model groups the costs for monthly rent, and well as things like meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, security, personal care, recreational activities and nearly everything else residents need in assisted living into a single monthly bill. This is most common in communities where residents require care, such as assisted living or memory communities. If you want to see exactly how your bill is divided, ask your community to provide you with a breakdown of the monthly expenses. There still may be extra payments, such as pet fees, more frequent housekeeping, medication delivery, and more that can be included, so make sure to ask about these elements as well. You may be surprised to learn an added service comes for free, or otherwise that it costs more than you would have thought!

“Levels of care” model: Communities which offer levels of care work through a tiered pricing system. Each tier allows for a certain number of care hours per month (often called “points”). Individuals are assessed upon moving into the assisted living community to determine the level of care required and are re-assessed regularly to ensure they continue to be in the appropriate level. The level of care, and associated expenses, can increase or decrease based on your personal needs or the facility’s evaluation 

“Fee for services” model: In this model, communities charge residents a flat monthly rate for rent and food. Additional charges, which are outside of your monthly bill, may include assistance, extra meals, housekeeping, utilities, and more depending on your needs. This type of payment model is most commonly used in memory care facilities, and can offer a great level of flexibility for each resident to get exactly what they’re paying for. 

Overall, the cost of living in a senior living community can range from reach as high as $10,000 per month depending on the location, level of service, and other factors. Make sure that you have the best understanding of your bill possible so you know what you’re getting from how much you pay.

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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