The Circle

Rental vs. Buy-In Senior Living: How Do I Decide?

When it comes time to consider senior housing, you may hear about a range of different choices. From various buy-in communities to straight-forward rental communities, the options for senior living may look similar at first, but there are many differences.

When trying to choose the best independent living option for yourself or a loved one, consider the similarities and differences to come up with the best solution for your personal situation.

Assessing the Similarities of Rentals and Buy-Ins

What makes these two options so appealing to older adults? Many times, it’s the carefree lifestyle that frees residents from everyday burdens such as home maintenance, housekeeping and yardwork. Instead, they can put aside endless to-do lists and instead spend more time on enjoying all that retirement life has to offer. Not only this, but opportunities for social engagement often abound just outside their doors.

At both rental and buy-in senior living communities, a range of activities, events and programs are offered that are specially planned to meet residents’ interests. At Waterstone at the Circle, a rental community located in Boston, MA, residents enjoy daily opportunities for growth, creativity and connection. Senior living communities – whether they are buy-in or rental – offer a range of convenient services and amenities designed to make life more simple, worry-free and fulfilling.

Another significant aspect of life at senior living communities is dining. Especially at Waterstone at the Circle, dining is a true culinary experience that allows for socialization, a focus on proper nutrition and, of course, five-star service.

Divulging the Differences Between Rentals and Buy-Ins

Now that we know the lifestyle offered at buy-in and rental senior living communities is often very similar, we’ll explore the key differences that may make one option more appealing for active, on-the-go seniors.

Entrance Fees and Monthly Fees

Before establishing what the right option is for you, it’s important to know what each one entails financially. A rental senior living community may require a small up-front fee or security deposit, but it allows you to pay a month-to-month fee for your senior living apartment. This gives seniors the ability to enjoy a carefree retirement lifestyle without the hassles of homeownership – and without being locked into an extensive long-term contract.

A buy-in community requires an entrance fee. Often, this is a significant sum that is paid up front and may or may not be refundable when a resident moves out. This entrance fee is in addition to the regular monthly fee. Not only does a buy-in community have a large impact on your assets, but it also ties up your funds in up-front costs.

At a rental senior living community like Waterstone at the Circle, residents maintain control of their assets to use as they wish – whether that’s for traveling, investing or something else.


Rental senior living communities also typically provide more flexibility when it comes to the possibility of making a chance in the future. For example, if a resident chooses to make a move at Waterstone at the Circle, a 60 days’ notice can satisfy their lease, allowing them to move on their own terms.

When it comes to CCRCs and other buy-in communities, residents often must wait until their unit re-sells before they are able to recover any refundable portion of the initial entrance fee. In some cases, residents may lose a significant amount of their upfront fees if they choose to move.

Care Options

Some rental senior living communities offer access to on-site supportive care services in the event health needs change over time. Waterstone at the Circle partners with premier care providers to help ensure residents’ needs are met – and can be delivered in the comfort and privacy of residents’ apartments. This means residents never pay for care they do not, or may not ever, need.

Care in many buy-in communities often means being locked into care systems that are dictated by the CCRC itself. Essentially, residents are paying for a continuum of care that may be costly and one that they may never actually need. Sometimes in a buy-in community, residents who require assistance with activities of daily living may be asked to move to a different part of the community where that care is provided and couples may be separated when care needs no longer match.

So, Which Is the Best Option?

It’s important to do your research about both options to be sure you’re making the best choice for your personal situation. In any case, getting an inside look by making a personal visit to a senior living community can give you a more well-rounded view when deciding. While you’re touring, talk to team members and ask residents about their experiences.

Why do our residents choose Waterstone at the Circle? Ultimately, it comes down to the freedom to live the lifestyle they desire along with financial flexibility that a rental senior living community affords. Residents love The Circle because of the concierge-style services, impressive amenities, luxury floor plans, social opportunities, supportive care services and ideal location at the foot of Chestnut Hill.


For more information about Waterstone at the Circle, Boston’s premier independent living community for seniors 62 and over, contact us today.