38-20 Bowne St., Flushing; 718-762-3198, flushinghouse.com
Facilities: 319 apartments, from studios to one-bedrooms.
Fees: $1,925 to $2,800 per month.
Waiting list: None for studios; one to three months for one-bedrooms.
The biggest independent-living facility on this list, Flushing House, was built as a nursing-home alternative in 1974 by United Adult Ministries, a nonsectarian nonprofit group. Geriatric-care managers say the residence is an excellent value, both for its services and the summer-camp-like environment. Outings include bus trips to museums and baseball games, and to view the Christmas lights on the homes near Jones Beach, but the most popular pastime is a version of The Dating Game, where a male resident grills three women hidden behind a curtain. (The winner gets to go on a dinner date with him.) Residents, a religiously and ethnically diverse, middle-class outer-borough and Long Island bunch, also run a drama group, book club, and news and current-events forums. “The activities are fantastic,” says Helen Hipsman, 85, a two-year resident. “You have to be on the ball the whole time—they don’t let you get old.” Common spaces are simply furnished, and apartments are spacious but not luxurious. Basic health care is offered at Flushing Hospital’s geriatric clinic on the ground floor; home-care aides are available through an on-site agency for $16 an hour.
“Louis plays nearly every night. I came here, and we started talking and we found out we came from the same neighborhood. How do you like that? We were kids together in East New York. His father had a barbershop, and my father had a dairy.”
Fran Miraglia, 86, Lott House
The Hallmark of Battery Park City
455 North End Ave., nr. Chambers St.; 212-791-2500, thehallmark-bpc.com
Facilities: 217 apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms.
Fees: $4,600 to $10,600 per month.
Waiting list: One to 24 months, depending on the apartment.
Hallmark charges top dollar, but it works hard to earn it. Before they even move in, residents-to-be get assistance from a full-time move-in coordinator who measures their furniture and draws up a floor plan to make sure it fits, sets up phone and utilities, and arranges to have the new apartment painted or wallpapered. Most retirement homes offer art classes, but how many feature nude models? There’s also a whirlpool spa, billiards room, beauty and barber shops, an on-site bank, and an indoor swimming pool. “In one day I went to my mailbox, to the physical therapist, to the art studio—and I never left the building,” says Bea Duchowny, a resident for more than two years. “They even brought the voting here.” Apartments have well-proportioned kitchens, new fixtures, and good storage. An on-site wellness center is staffed by New York Downtown Hospital doctors and nurses; supportive services are available in four packages. Residents are “predominantly Jewish and 80 percent Democratic, liberal,” says former residents’ council president Edith Green, 81. “Though we get our fair share of Republicans.”
675 Portion Rd., Lake Ronkonkoma; 866-409-7932
Facilities: 120 apartments, from studios to one-bedrooms.
Fees: $2,865 to $4,120 per month.
Waiting list: A month.
Long Island is well served by corporate chains, but this is a small and charming nonprofit facility where residents make the most of the fourteen-acre wooded property. Raised flower beds allow gardeners to tend tomatoes and zinnias without stooping; each Saturday a walking group strolls the pathways. Furnishings in the common areas are more Ramada than Ritz, and apartments are clean and comfortable but not huge (there’s a laundry room on each floor). Hertlin House also has a hair salon, library, game room, fitness center, and arts-and-crafts studio. An internist, podiatrists, and physical therapists make site visits on a fee-for-service basis. Socially, the group is active and ecumenical (Jews go to weekly Eucharist services and Christians light Hanukkah candles). Many move here to be close to family in Suffolk County. “Some of us have kids who had the same teacher in high school,” says Virginia Francisco, 90, a Queens native who’s been a resident for three years. “I met a woman who went to the same elementary school in Woodhaven. We like to reminisce about our childhoods together.”
Sterling Glen of Rye Brook
1200 King St., Rye Brook, N.Y.; 914-939-2900, sterlingglen.com
Facilities: 166 apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms.
Fees: $4,067 to $7,400 per month; $5,500 onetime fee.
Waiting list: None.
Sterling Glen competes with high-end continuing-care retirement communities like Kendal and Cedar Crest (see “Not Your Grandfather’s Retirement Community,” page 116), but without a six-figure buy-in or intensive care guaranteed for later stages of life. Located within BelleFair, an eight-year-old gated community of single-family homes and duplexes, Sterling shares access to its host neighborhood’s indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, and basketball courts. Residents, a 60-40 split between Jews and Christians, tend to be fun-loving and social former professionals. Popular hangouts are the ice-cream parlor and a 40-seat theater. There are also karaoke nights and happy hours at a fully stocked bar. The apartments, built in 2003, have walk-in closets, kitchens with granite counters, and washer-dryers. A general practitioner, physical therapist, and podiatrist make regular visits on a fee-for-service basis. Basic living help is available through a variety of packages for an additional charge (rates vary). While it’s not a spot for those who’ll need nursing care imminently, “right down the street are a couple of excellent nursing homes—Greenwich Woods and King Street,” says Miriam Zucker, a New Rochelle–based geriatric-care manager. “They have the same upscale elegance as Sterling Glen.”