Assisted Living

Independent Living vs. Assisted Living

When looking for the best place to live and enjoy your retirement, it’s important to know all your options. While senior care comes in several shapes and sizes, the most popular choices include independent living and assisted living communities.

Choosing between independent or assisted living typically comes down to individual needs and preferences. If you’re unsure whether independent living vs. assisted living is more suitable, our guide below will help you pinpoint which type of care meets your retirement goals. 

In a nutshell, independent living residents need little to no assistance on a daily basis. Assisted living residents may have varying care needs requiring help with one or more activities of daily living.

What Is Independent Living?

With independent living, everything you need to live a vibrant, engaged lifestyle is right at your fingertips. At this stage, individuals don’t require health support and can engage in exciting activities and opportunities onsite. 

For example, a typical independent living community may offer anytime dining, scheduled transportation to local shopping, entertainment and services and a full calendar of activities. Residents can also enjoy the security of a tight-knit community, in addition to the safety measures in place to create a positive and secure feeling.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living community is geared toward people who need help with daily living activities. A team of professionals, often including medical professionals, are on call 24-hours a day. While options like a skilled nursing facility are best for more advanced needs, this level of care is often enough for most people to maintain an engaged lifestyle in a home-like setting.

Caregivers are available to assist residents when and how they need it, allowing them to maintain much of their independence. Similar to independent living, there are engaging activities, opportunities to enjoy time with friends, family and neighbors and the same delicious dining options in community restaurants and dining rooms.

What Do Independent Living & Assisted Living Have in Common?

While independent living and assisted living have different care focuses, they offer some common ground in terms of amenities and services. Specifically, both types of senior care generally provide:

  • All-day dining: Both independent and assisted living residents have maximum flexibility in dining options. Individuals can savor anytime dining with chef-prepared entrées throughout the day in multiple dining venues.
  • Resort-style amenities: Individuals can design their own days through a wealth of onsite amenities that may include an outdoor patio, fitness center, theater, art studio, game room, social and educational programming, etc.
  • Convenient services: Both types of residents also have access to weekly housekeeping and laundry, maintenance, 24-hour security monitoring and more.

What’s the Difference Between Independent Living vs. Assisted Living?

That said, independent living and assisted living offer distinct approaches to senior care. Here are the main differences to keep in mind during the decision-making process. Essentially, the choice will depend on every individual’s needs, abilities, preferences, and goals.

Resident Profiles

Independent living is for people who could benefit from being part of a safe, active community while maintaining total independence. Individuals are typically eager to connect with others and make the most of onsite amenities to create fulfilling daily experiences. 

Assisted living is for individuals who want to benefit from a similar environment with the added perk of having health support close by. The typical candidate for assisted living may need help with one or more of their daily living activities (such as bathing, dressing, toileting and medication management), but won’t have more extensive medical needs.

Type of Care

Independent living doesn’t offer any specific assistance or medical care, though this support is usually available if required in the future. At this stage, residents are keen on participating in wellness programs to boost their overall health. 

Assisted living is focused on providing assistance with activities of daily living and enhancing the dignity and independence of every individual through support services such as medication management and physical therapy. Personalized wellness programs are also available in order to enhance abilities and overall fitness. 

Staff Training & Ratio

Independent living residents will interact with staff in common spaces and through community activities, but otherwise won’t have one-to-one time. 

Assisted living involves health aides who assist with daily tasks and certified nurses who manage medications and health checks.

Living Spaces

Independent living apartments are designed to support residents’ independence, which means a variety of floor plans and sizes are available. Some units will include a kitchen cooktop and appliances so individuals can prepare snacks or meals on their own. 

Assisted living also provides senior-friendly apartments but they typically have a kitchenette and fewer appliances. In addition, all apartments are equipped with safety features to make getting around easier, including raised vanities, walk-in showers with grab bars and an emergency response system.


Independent living is typically the most affordable senior living because it doesn’t include health support of any kind. The cost to live in these communities varies dramatically depending on where you live and the specific community you choose. Communities that offer expanded amenities and meals in their monthly fee are much more expensive than basic senior apartments. Typically, independent living can cost 30-50% less per month than assisted living.

Assisted Living costs can vary widely based on the community’s location, amenities, care offerings, and the level of service it provides. Luxury communities with resort-style amenities can cost significantly more than those that offer more basic amenities. This is true even if the communities are located in the same area. It’s important to tour and understand the pricing structure of each community you are considering. Many assisted living communities charge an all-inclusive monthly fee. Others charge a monthly fee that covers rent, meals, and activities, as well as additional fees for care services based on the “level of care” a resident needs. The higher the level of assistance, the higher the cost.

Choosing Between Assisted and Independent Senior Living

Ultimately, you can use our guide above to decide between independent vs. assisted living, but always go with your instinct. At Varenita, we offer an impressive mix of fun and engaging experiences designed to stimulate the mind and provide a rewarding sense of purpose. These include dynamic activities such as concerts, exercise, cooking and art classes, and more. Our goal is to make residents’ lives easier while helping them enjoy their retirement years to the fullest. 

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a resident of our thoughtfully appointed and planned senior living communities.