The Best Senior Living You Can Find without Moving to Florida

Forget moving to Florida, Boston’s seniors are finding the retirement of their dreams without fleeing to the Sunshine State. From resort-style living to assisted living to staying put at home, here’s how to turn the golden years into a golden age right here in the Hub.

Illustration by Benjamen Purvis

The Top Communities for Every Senior Lifestyle

Best for independent and assisted living


Cost: Independent living starts at $6,250 per month. Assisted living starts at $7,450 per month.

Who It’s For: Senior foodies with a taste for fresh, first-rate cuisine.

What You Get: Dining spaces stocked with honey from on-site beehives; fair trade, organic coffee from an area roastery; locally sourced seafood; and produce from Medway Community Farms, which also operates a hydroponic garden on the grounds. The recently opened 57-acre property—which offers plush accommodations in freestanding cottages and apartments—also boasts a full liquor license, allowing seniors and visitors alike to enjoy New England craft beer and locally distilled liquor at the on-site bar.


Cost: Independent living starts at $8,400 per month. Assisted living starts at $10,050 per month.

Who It’s For: Sprightly suburbanites who want to be close to the action.

What You Get: An oasis dedicated entirely to seniors that just so happens to look a whole lot like a swanky new condo complex. Set on the Boston Marathon route—which makes for a fun Patriots Day—the Wellesley standout includes a movie theater, walking paths along the Charles, and field trips to local destinations such as Lexington and Concord. Residents can also enjoy the suburban feel of the neighborhood, with small shops, restaurants, and parks nearby, while also knowing they can get to the city in 30 minutes or less.


Cost: Independent and assisted living start at $9,000 per month.

Who It’s For: Techies who want to enjoy gadgets such as virtual reality goggles.

What You Get: A one-of-a-kind, gizmo-filled Center for Aging Innovation and Technology and a scenic location right across the road from the Charles. Covetable extras include an ultra-modern spa that performs pedicures and manicures in addition to hair services, and a private dining room decorated with glimmering light fixtures and wall-mounted wine racks. Both independent and assisted living residents can take advantage of these conveniences, plus assisted living folks get the added perk of 24/7 help with personal care needs.

Photo courtesy of the Commons in Lincoln

Best for luxury living


Cost: Independent living starts at $270,000 (one-time payment), plus monthly fees.

Who It’s For: Social butterflies with no desire to slow down—unless it’s at the property’s tranquil spa, of course.

What You Get: More than 100 acres of lawns and gardens set on a peaceful campus with a glittering new indoor pool, a golf simulator, and an aerobics studio. If that’s not enough to keep you and your new pals busy, try spending an afternoon getting crafty in the woodworking shop or the flower-arranging room, then clink glasses in the cocktail lounge or ignite a little friendly competition in the poker parlor.


Cost: Independent living starts at $449,000 (one-time payment), plus monthly fees. Assisted living starts at $6,150 per month.

Who It’s For: Self-care devotees who crave upscale amenities and a variety of diversions no matter what type of care they require.

What You Get: All the conveniences of a five-star wellness retreat, including a heated indoor pool, 27 miles of walking trails, chef-prepared meal kits, and group fitness, music, and art classes. Plus, the residence provides a continuum of care options—from independent living to memory care—allowing residents to utilize more services as needs arise. So whether you hang your hat in a 2,112-square-foot private cottage or one of the sunny studio apartments, you’re sure to live well here.

The Commons in Lincoln. / Photo by Raya Al-Hashmi of Raya on Assignment

The Commons in Lincoln. / Photo by Raya Al-Hashmi of Raya on Assignment


Cost: Independent living starts at $435,000 (one-time payment), plus monthly fees. Assisted living starts at $9,703 per month.

Who It’s For: Nature lovers who prioritize keeping their minds and bodies in tiptop shape.

What You Get: A leafy 162-acre campus that’s shared with a K–8 school where independent living residents can volunteer. An enchanting nature preserve with 2 miles of riverfront walking trails comprises nearly two-thirds of the property, complete with a canoe and kayak launch. Eco-minded adults can also take comfort in the facility’s state-of-the-art green heating, cooling, and irrigation methods, plus interiors featuring high-end sustainable materials and energy-efficient lighting and appliances.

Best for Skilled Nursing


Cost: Starts at $542 per day.

Who It’s For: Introspective seniors looking for tailored spiritual and emotional care in addition to medical assistance.

What You Get: Everything you’d expect of a short- and long-term-care home with a special focus on mental health. In addition to a staff of nurses and physical therapists, seniors also have access to a psychiatrist, licensed therapists with expertise in Parkinson’s disease, and an interfaith chaplain. Religious and spiritual leaders of all denominations often visit the newly renovated facility, nestled on the banks of the Sudbury River, and lead programs at the on-site chapel.


Cost: Starts at $580 per day.

Who It’s For: Outdoorsy adults who want Ivy League–level care.

What You Get: A pondside, Harvard Med–affiliated facility spanning 38 acres of woods, wetlands, and gardens and staffed with top-notch geriatricians and nurse practitioners. The facility, set near the Blue Hills Reservation, offers 45 skilled-nursing beds in roomy, light-filled suites. Orchard Cove also houses independent and assisted living residents who can take comfort in knowing first-rate medical care is on-site should they ever need additional support.


Cost: Long-term-care households start at $610 per day.

Who It’s For: Aesthetes who want an intimate environment with personalized, attentive care that means you won’t get lost in the shuffle.

What You Get: A 59-acre, tree-lined landscape surrounding a cozy community based on a so-called “small house” model. Occupants live in one of seven contemporary households, each with common living and eating areas, plus about a dozen suites with private baths. Another highlight at North Hill: Its extensive professional art gallery, which features a permanent collection of paintings and sculptures from the Danforth Museum in Framingham, as well as rotating exhibits that bring in works from acclaimed artists across the country.

Best for memory care


Cost: Starts at $7,325 per month.

Who It’s For: Urban beach bums who want a calming waterfront setting in the city.

What You Get: A soothing retreat just a block from the South Boston waterfront. With views of Carson Beach from the chair-dotted front porch, the facility also impresses with its cuisine. Meals consist of whole-grain and veggie-filled dishes largely based on the doctor-favorite Mediterranean diet, proven to promote brain health. Bonus: At this small residence with fewer than 60 tenants, making friends with neighbors and close connections with staff will be as pleasant as those sea breezes you’ll take in.


Cost: Starts at $7,900 per month.

Who It’s For: Budding artists, bakers, and anyone else looking for thoughtful, customized care.

What You Get: Apartments organized into garden-filled neighborhoods, plus a range of activities that allow for equal parts relaxation and entertainment. Avita is known in particular for two standout sensory- and memory-enhancing programs: “Memory Making Baking,” a weekly event where residents whip up some of their favorite family recipes, and “Artists in Residence,” where elders have the opportunity to express themselves creatively through painting, jewelry making, pottery, and more.


Cost: $9,975 per month.

Who It’s For: Homebodies who thrive in a communal atmosphere.

What You Get: Small-scale living in petite dwellings that feature a shared living room, dining room, den, and kitchen, as well as 12 single bedrooms with private baths. Located on the same campus as Fox Hill Village, each home is designed with the needs of memory care residents in mind, so you can expect circular pathways, abundant natural light, and no long hallways. How you choose to spend your day is totally your call, but you can expect to end each evening with a cozy family-style dinner with housemates and staff at the dining room table.

Photo via Getty Images


Everything you need to know about elder care, straight from the pros.

My sister thinks we need to seek help for our aging parents, who live in Brookline. I’m not so sure. What are some signs that it’s time to consider elder care?

Two major clues: a decline in home cleanliness or in personal hygiene. “Clutter could indicate that your loved one is becoming confused and is unsure how or where to put things away,” says Boston Senior Home Care CEO Meg Hogan. “An unkempt appearance,” meanwhile, “could be a sign of the onset of dementia or depression.” Best to schedule an in-home assessment with a trained nurse or senior care manager to make sure, she adds.

My mom and I are starting to look at senior communities in Boston and the ’burbs. Any red flags to look for while touring?

Similar to the visits that you and your college-bound kids took to Harvard or (dare we say) Yale, there is certainly an element of salesmanship to endure while touring senior communities. But if employees seem more focused on “selling” you on their community than learning about your mom and her needs, that’s a big warning sign. As Amy Schectman, president and CEO of Brighton-based 2Life Communities, puts it, “Be sure they treat you as a thought partner. If they are simply selling, you’ll sense the difference.”

I’ve lived in my Wellesley Colonial for five decades, and I’m not ready to give it up. How can I modify my home to ensure I age in place safely? 

The saying is true: There’s no place like home. Tapping a certified aging-in-place specialist who’ll use principles of universal design—a method that ensures accessibility for people of all ages and abilities—is a great place to start any renovation. In your kitchen, for example, your consultant may recommend remounting appliances at a height reachable from a seated position. This will allow for “use of the appliance with minimal effort and without strain on your back, shoulders, or arms,” explains Victoria Heydari, design manager at
Medfield-based Mitchell Construction Group.

Photo via Getty Images

Reap the Rewards

Part of the 65-plus crowd? It’s time to cash in on Boston’s best senior discounts.

  • Pack a bag and ride the scenic rails of New England with 10 percent off most Amtrak fares.
  • Back on the T? Take advantage of cut-rate MBTA trips, including half-off one-way fares on the commuter rail, train, bus, and ferry. You can shave $60 off your monthly LinkPass fee, too.
  • Call the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. Boston homeowners living in a one- to four-family home are eligible for a 30-percent discount on their monthly water bill. Who knew?
  • Hit the books at UMass Boston and receive tuition deductions of $214.50 for select undergraduate classes.*
  • Grab your sunblock and reserve a spot aboard a New England Aquarium Whale Watch Cruise for $8 off a
    standard $60 ticket.
  • Explore the famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for $18 (instead of $20).
  • Not into art? Take the grandkids to the Museum of Science; you’ll get in for $25.*
  • Make like an out-of-towner and see the sights by land and sea with $9 off $46 Boston Duck Tours tickets.
  • Get perks like priority seating with a four- or seven-play Huntington theater company subscription, for which you’ll shell out $5 less per play.

*Discount available to adults ages 60 and up.

Photo via Getty Images

How COVID-19 is Reshaping Senior Living

Three pandemic-inspired design innovations you can expect at new residences, according to DiMella Shaffer’s Philippe Saad and Dream Collaborative’s Greg Minott.


Gone are the days of a single lounge or communal kitchen. Instead, a number of smaller shared spaces—micro-amenities, as Saad calls them—will exist on each floor. “People can socialize while minimizing their exposure to bigger groups,” the principal explains. At the recently renovated Glenmeadow in Longmeadow, for instance, DiMella Shaffer incorporated kitchenette-equipped lounges that fit just eight to 10 residents.

Outdoor Rooms

Al fresco kitchens and gardens with walking paths “are very important parts of all future senior housing developments,” Saad says. “With COVID looming over us, people have gained further appreciation for the outdoors.” At Roxbury’s Kenzi at Lot D (slated to be completed in 2023), for example, Dream Collaborative plans to design private balconies to allow for “necessary time outside, even when isolating during a pandemic,” says Minott, the firm’s managing principal.

Touchless Tech

Features such as touchless doors or an app that lets residents call an elevator from their phones “can allow someone to get into their unit more safely,” Minott says. Residences like the Baldwin—a forthcoming DiMella Shaffer–designed community in New Hampshire—will also incorporate meal-ordering technology, should seniors need to avoid leaving their rooms to help prevent the potential spread of disease.