‘It’s been good to have that sense of community’: 32-year-old has lived in a retirement

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In 2021, Liz White was visiting her parents — retirees who spend the winters in Naples, Florida — when an apartment became available in their building and she decided to move in.

Each senior living arrangement has its own eligibility requirement, but residents in this retirement community are typically at least 55 years old. All of the residents meet this age requirement except for White.

White, a customer success manager at a tech company, paid around $2000 a month in rent for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment for her first year in the building. White’s landlord then put the unit up for sale, and her parents decided to buy it.

The arrangement is that White lives in the apartment full-time, and when her parents are in town, they stay with her.

While White did not feel comfortable sharing how much her parents paid for her unit or the cost of monthly HOA fees, she did tell CNBC Make It that apartments in the building are put on the market for as much as $1 million. The median listing price for a condo in Naples, Florida is $950,000, according to RedFin.

White says she did not contribute financially to the purchase.

Liz White moved into her parents’ retirement community during the pandemic.

Liz White

White’s parents closed on the apartment in July 2022. However, the bliss of new homeownership was short-lived — hurricane Ian flooded the unit that September. The family had to choose between a complete remodel and putting the unit up for sale just three months after closing.

They decided to rebuild the apartment and rent from another neighbor on a higher floor while the renovation took place. It took almost a year for the apartment to be done.

White and her parents were hoping to keep remodeling costs low, but because of the way, the condo flooded — the doors and walls had to be cut almost in half — they had to get rid of pretty much everything except one lamp and a table.

White admits going through the renovation was hard, but says it helped bring her and some of her senior citizen neighbors closer together.

“It’s been really good to have that sense of community and have people to grow you with different perspectives in life,” White says. “It’s also made me more open to meeting new people and not sweating the small stuff.”

“Life is hopefully going to be long and there’s a lot of phases to it. If you’re going through one hard phase, it’s not going to be forever.”

White recalls that after the hurricane, one of her neighbors told her that she would laugh at the situation one day, but she couldn’t believe it in the moment.

“I felt like it was the worst part of my life forever, but at the end of the day, I got through it,” she says.

Now that she’s been living in the building for almost three years, White says the biggest adjustment for her has been “being people-ready at any time.”

“When you live somewhere where you’re not around people, you can keep to yourself, and now, I have to be ready because I might have a conversation at any time,” White says. “It was an adjustment at first but it’s become a joy of my life.”

White has also been able to grow her group of friends, both young and old, since living in Naples. In the summer of 2022, she went on a hiking trip to Austria with two of her neighbors, and she also found people her own age to hang out with.

“I think it’s in part because the area here is so much older, many of us young people just naturally seek each other out.”

Part of living in a retiree building means that White tends to go on early dinner dates.

Liz White

When asked what she has learned about herself living among senior citizens for all these years, White says it’s been valuable to make connections with people who are so different from her.

“I don’t just have to be friends with people who have lived the same kind of life I’ve lived.”

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