Skip to main content


Independent Living vs. Assisted Living: Which One Is Better for Me?

When entering the golden years of their lives, many seniors wish to leave behind the minutiae of daily life — cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, driving, and similar tasks that many see as chores. Instead of spending their retirement caring for a home and feeling the effects of older age, these seniors move to communities that allow them to live the rest of their years to the fullest. 

Because each person has their own unique needs and wants, there is not necessarily a “one-size-fits-all” retirement community or living plan. On a base level, however, most who move to a retirement community live in one of two primary types of senior living: independent living and assisted living.

Within these two categories, particularly in assisted living, there are many different levels of care. Additionally, there are some fundamental differences between each assisted living and independent living, as each has unique services and resources available for seniors. To help you determine which choice is the best option for your situation, the following will provide an overview of the different types of senior living communities, as well as compare and contrast independent vs. assisted living.

What Is Assisted Living? 

Assisted living is geared toward seniors who, as the name suggests, need assistance in day-to-day life. These individuals may have cognitive issues, physical health concerns, or problems with mobility. Seniors in assisted living facilities receive care from onsite staff members who help with activities like dressing, bathing and hygiene, medication and medical management, traversal, eating, and more. 

Some assisted living communities may include specialized memory care facilities. These long-term care facilities are specifically for seniors with cognitive or memory impairment, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and related diseases. 

Assisted living is not the same as being in a nursing home. Those in assisted living communities do not need round-the-clock medical care, though they do need some extra help with some activities. People in nursing homes, however, typically have severe medical conditions that require advanced, 24/7 medical care.

What Is Independent Living? 

Independent living services are for seniors who are looking to simplify life by letting others handle the mundane tasks of day-to-day living. People in senior independent living communities are able to enjoy their lives independently without worrying about meals, laundry, cleaning, transportation, and more. These seniors do not require assistance with personal care, like bathing, eating, or taking medication.

On top of the independent living services that seniors receive, residents are able to engage in a variety of active senior living activities. These can include competing in bean bag baseball, participating in clubs, going on group outings, playing games, listening to live musicians and entertainers, going to parties, exercising, and many other fun pastimes.

The Main Difference Between Assisted Living and Independent Living

Seniors in assisted living have access to the same fun amenities and helpful services as seniors in independent living. However, the biggest difference between the two programs lies in the level of care involved. 

Seniors in an assisted living program pay a higher amount each month, which earns them the full range of additional care from onsite staff members. They can also pay an additional fee if they would like access to an onsite physician, allowing them to skip visits to outside doctors. 

Seniors in independent living programs do not require additional assistance; as such, their monthly costs are typically much lower than those of assisted living residents. However, all residents have the option to select their own caregiver for select tasks if needed.

Other Differences Between Assisted and Independent Living

Another major difference between assisted and independent senior living is the cost. On average, independent senior living costs come to around $2,800 per month, while assisted living costs are closer to around $4,000 per month. 

However, there are still different levels of senior living care within these categories. For example, a senior may have difficulty with taking a bath but are able to feed, clothe, and travel independently. It wouldn’t make sense for them to pay for all the services provided in assisted living programs. If a senior needs a little extra help but not enough to require assisted living services, they can hire outside providers to give them some extra help. By going this route, seniors can save some money because they’re only paying for the individual services they need.

Additionally, assisted living communities may not have the same amenities and activities provided at an independent living community. This, as well as other things that can vary from one community to another, can be influential in your decision-making. So before choosing between the two types of communities, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions to help figure out the best solution for your needs.

Assisted and Independent Living


Click the Photo Above to View Assisted Living vs. Independent Living Comparison

Questions to Ask Yourself About Retirement Living

When looking at your options for senior living communities, there are some helpful questions that can allow you to narrow your choices down. Some good ones that can help you foster the perfect senior lifestyle include:

  • What amenities and services do I need? If you have mobility or cognitive issues, it may be in your best interest to have some sort of assistance. Whether it’s through an outside provider in independent living or onsite care at assisted living, there are options available. Additionally, amenities such as outdoor areas, clubs, and activities can vary from location to location.

  • Do I think I’ll need additional assistance in the future? If you feel that your health is deteriorating but you can remain independent currently, it may be a good idea to choose a location that allows you to easily transition to assisted living later on.

  • How much can I afford? If you need to keep costs low but still require some assistance, you can determine what services you will specifically need and opt to pay for them individually. This can help you to save on monthly costs.

  • What sort of culture and environment do I want? Again, each senior living community is different. Social butterflies will want a location where there are many chances for interactions, gatherings, and activities, while seniors who are a little more introverted may want more options for single-person activities. However, it’s important to note that social interaction is beneficial for promoting healthy functioning in older adults.

  • How much independence do I want? Many seniors find cooking, cleaning, yard work, driving, and other tasks to be enjoyable and fulfilling activities. If this sounds like you, you may want to find a community that encourages you to continue pursuing those tasks.

  • Where do I want to live? There are tens of thousands of senior living communities throughout the U.S., and each has different options for housing types, room sizes, and in-home amenities. 

Independent Senior Living Near Me 

If you’re ready to begin looking for independent senior housing, apartments, or senior lifestyle communities, our helpful retirement community search tool will help you find the perfect location. Each listing provides in-depth details about available services and amenities, as well as nearby activities, parks, stores, restaurants, and much more.

If you’d like to learn more about a specific community, our helpful representatives are available every day to chat via email or phone. Contact us to learn more about available apartments and communities, and begin the carefree senior lifestyle today.

Related Articles

What is Memory Care?

Read more

What Are My Senior Living Options?

Read more

Paying for Senior Living

Read more