istock_000008325515xsmallThe factors you need to consider when choosing when to move to a retirement home are not unlike the factors you consider when selecting a college or university to attend. There’s the finances the consider, as well as what programs you need, the location, and how easy it will be for you to socialize and make friends. By looking at all these different factors now, you can be prepared to make your big decision wisely when the time is right. Whether you are considering a senior living facility in the short term or the long term, using the college metaphor as a way to approach the process can help, and even make it seem more fun.

You’ll want to consider your interests and hobbies for sure, much as you did when selecting a major, and what kind of social offerings there are. Do you want to be around people in a similar phase of life? Do you like the idea of regular games and activities, and if so what kind of activities are you hoping to find? Just like some colleges have better athletic programs than others and some have more of an emphasis on arts, you might find you prefer a retirement community with an emphasis on golf or that has a physical therapy program you need to stay healthy. Others might have outings and organizations you’d prefer to be a part of. That’s all worth considering as you make your big decision.

You’ll also want to consider your unique needs and medical history. Is there a distinct possibility you’ll need memory care assistance at some point? Are you considering a retirement home because you already feel you need assisted living care? Or are you simply thinking ahead after noticing a big change—such as driving becoming too difficult? It’s important to thoroughly research what kind of staffing and medical care a senior living facility can provide, much as you might research the faculty at a university on your list.

Dorms and meals, too, have retirement home equivalents. You’ll want to be sure you like the layout of your apartment, that it meets your size needs, and that you enjoy the food options. There are often many different apartment sizes and styles to suite different tastes and levels of ability. You may find some retirement facilities offer regular trips to outside eateries around town or you might start a monthly tradition to go to a favorite restaurant with a group of friends. Definitely investigate this aspect of the retirement community you are considering—you want the community part to be one you are comfortable in.

In many ways senior living communities and universities are similar. Both meet specific needs while also serving as a complete community and lifestyle package. By carefully considering your retirement options as you might have considered your college years, you can make sure you are taken care of, will have fun, and are making the absolute best decision possible for you and your future.