Guide to Independent Living in Virginia
Based on an analysis of affordability, health factors and general quality of life, Virginia is ranked the 2nd best state for seniors, who make up almost 16% of the state’s 8.6 million residents. Virginia provides financial concessions to older residents, such as not taxing Social Security benefits and allowing deductions from their state taxable incomes of up to $12,000 in pension payments and other retirement earnings. There are also personal property and real estate tax benefits in some counties and cities across Virginia.
Independent living can be a good choice for reasonably healthy and active seniors looking for a community designed around the needs of older people. Housing can range from one or two-bedroom apartments to studios, duplexes and cottages. There is typically a clubhouse that’s the community’s hub, providing rooms where seniors can participate in games, fitness classes and educational courses. Many have spa facilities, including swimming pools, and some have tennis courts. Beauty salons are another common feature, and most facilities offer cleaning and laundry services.
This guide considers the costs of independent living in Virginia and the surrounding states. It also reviews other senior care costs and lists some useful free resources.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost in Virginia?
Note:There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
The typical Virginian pays approximately $488 more per month for independent living than the average American. The state is also the most expensive in the region, with the exception of Washington, D.C., where costs of $3,866 are the norm. Maryland’s average costs are closer to Virginia’s, but the difference is still $228 per month — or $2,736 over the course of the year. It’s more common to find costs in the $2,000 range, such as in Kentucky ($2,241), North Carolina ($2,607) and West Virginia ($2,704).
The United States
The Cost of Independent Living in Virginia’s Top Cities
Comparing costs in some of Virginia’s most important cities reveals wide variations in independent living fees, such as the $3,049 average in Virginia Beach and the $3,851 average in Roanoke. Harrisonburg is also at the high end of the cost scale, at $3,712, although Winchester and Richmond both have median fees below the state average, at $3,260 and $3,186, respectively.
The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care
With the exception of adult day health care, where the average Virginian pays $1,690 per month, independent living is the most affordable type of senior care in the state. Assisted living facilities provide similar amenities and accommodations but charge an additional $1,837 per month for their care services, which equates to just over $22,000 every year. Although not as costly as assisted living, homemaker and home health aide agencies can also be costly, typically charging $4,767 and $4,954, respectively. Nursing home facilities are much more expensive because of their greater levels of care, with a typical semiprivate room costing $8,213 per month.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Aide
Assisted Living Facility
Nursing Home Facility (semiprivate room)
Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Virginia?
The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in Virginia to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in Virginia.
For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.
How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in Virginia
Many seniors use their savings and retirement incomes to cover independent living fees, but not everyone is in this position. Some life insurance policies can cover some or all of the costs, as can long-term care plans, which are designed specifically for the purpose. Annuities may be another option, as the senior can receive monthly, quarterly or annual payouts that could meet expected costs. It’s prudent for seniors to choose their insurance options carefully, as some will be for limited periods and may not cover every expense. Reverse mortgages are a popular solution for homeowners, as they draw on the equity of their home and only require the balance to be paid once it’s sold.
Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Virginia
There are many free resources in Virginia that can help seniors struggling with common tasks, such as preparing their taxes, applying for benefits and dealing with problems that require legal assistance. Those listed here can also aid seniors who need transportation or would like to volunteer.
|Virginia Department of Veterans Services||(804) 786-0286||The Virginia Department of Veterans Services can assist vets and their dependents in several ways. These include helping them identify and apply for state and federal benefits in addition to getting nonmedical help for psychological issues at their nearest VA clinic. The department can also refer vets and their families in need of medical support to the appropriate center within the commonwealth.|
|RSVP Northern Virginia||(703) 246-3460||RSVP Northern Virginia is one of several resources within Virginia for seniors who want to volunteer their time. Most parts of the commonwealth have their own RSVP agencies, covering areas such as the Virginia Penninsula and Montgomery County. RSVP volunteers can deliver meals to homebound seniors, mentor younger members of the community and assist at local events. Some roles enable the volunteer to use their existing skills, while others require training. In all cases, the volunteer receives free accident and liability insurance from RSVP.|
|Area Agencies on Aging||(804) 662-9333||There are 25 Area Agencies on Aging in Virginia, each providing a range of senior-friendly services and supports across several counties. Most of their work involves helping seniors age comfortably at home, but they can also assist residents in independent living facilities. The agencies can connect seniors to local transit services that provide free or low-cost rides, in addition to issuing checks to purchase healthy locally grown food at farmers’ markets.|
|VaLegalAid.org||(866) 534-5243||VaLegalAid.org provides free legal advice and support for adults aged 60+ whose issues can be resolved through civil law. These include consumers harmed by purchased products, those who need help preparing their wills and elders being abused.|
|AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program||(888) 687-2277||IRS-certified and trained volunteers provide seniors with in-person and online support via AARP’s Foundation Tax-Aide Program. Seniors can choose to have a volunteer prepare their taxes or work with them in one of the many centers participating in the program across Virginia.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Virginia Independent Living Communities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.
This data has been most recently updated on 2/15/2022, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?||Yes|
|Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?||Yes|
|Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||No (Conditions Apply)|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|