Retirement Home or Cruise Ship Condo? Tough Choice.
The estimated average annual cost of living in an assisted living facility starts above $30,000, not including the entry fee that could be over $100,000. Retirement communities that don't offer health care programs may have lower rent, but the waiting list can be long and the entry fees much steeper.
Some savvy seniors have put their savings into a much more lively retirement, like 89-year-old Beatrice Muller, who has spent the last nine years living on the luxury cruise ship RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. There are always physicians on the ship in case of a medical emergency, Muller gets all the food she can eat -- it's much better than nursing home cafeteria slop -- and she's seeing the world and meeting new people all the time. According to Muller, she pays about $7,000 a month, which makes this retirement cost about the same as, or even cheaper than, many high-end retirement communities.
The market is catching on, and now there are whole cruise ships dedicated to full-time residents. To purchase a condo for year-round residency on the Magellan will cost anywhere from $4 - $18 million, but fractional ownership (like time-shares) is available as well, starting under $200,000 for two-week ownership. This ship has 300 ports of call in 150 countries, and features luxury amenities like four fine dining restaurants, an observatory, tennis courts, swimming pools, and golf. Construction is due to be completed on this ship in mid-2010, but you can buy your condo now.