Liz White gained more than an apartment with her big move.

We often hear the benefits of a retirement community for older people, who enjoy the social aspects of those kinds of living situations.

But a 32-year-old woman is reminding everyone that all people can benefit from the structure and support of community — no matter how old or young you are.

An Unexpected Move

woman with her hands held wide

In 2021, a woman named Liz White visited her parents at a retirement community in Naples, Florida. Her retired parents spent their winters there, and White liked the building and community so much that when an apartment freed up in the same building, she decided to move in.

According to CNBC, the average age of people living in that building at the time was 55 years old. Liz was by far the youngest. That first year, the customer success manager paid roughly $2,000 in monthly rent for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. Later, when her landlord put the unit up for rent, White’s parents decided to buy it.

Apartments in the area can go for up to $1 million, but White didn’t contribute financially. Instead, she lives in the apartment and takes care of it. When her parents are in town, they also stay with her.

The young woman’s biggest takeaway after moving in was how much she learned to interact with people on a daily basis and how good it’s been for her.

“When you live somewhere where you’re not around people, you can keep to yourself, and now, I have to be ready because I might have a conversation at any time,” White explained to CNBC. “It was an adjustment at first but it’s become a joy of my life.”

Facing Hard Times

White’s parents had only owned the apartment for about three months when Hurricane Ian flooded it. It was a devastating and stressful time for the family, who had to decide whether to sell the unit or completely remodel it.

In the end, they decided they liked the community too much and wanted to reconstruct it. It was a hard path since they’d lost pretty much everything, and it took almost a year to finish the massive project.

It was during that time, however, that White realized the true power of her community. She rented from another neighbor during the remodel and recalls someone telling her that she would laugh at the situation one day.

“I felt like it was the worst part of my life forever, but at the end of the day, I got through it,” she told CNBC. “It’s been really good to have that sense of community and have people to grow you with different perspectives in life. It’s also made me more open to meeting new people and not sweating the small stuff,” she continued.

“Life is hopefully going to be long and there’s a lot of phases to it. If you’re going through one hard phase, it’s not going to be forever.”

There’s No Place Like Home

Living in the community, White added how she’d made friends of all ages, including people her own age, and has experienced many great adventures as a result. It just goes to show you that community is what we make it, and we get what we put in.

While certain retirement communities have age restrictions, White’s story also serves as a powerful reminder that home is what you make it. You don’t necessarily need a fancy big house or solo living to be successful. Multigenerational living is also a successful way of life, especially when you consider the collective power of all that wisdom you gain by living with others.

After all, Liz herself said it best: “I don’t just have to be friends with people who have lived the same kind of life I’ve lived.”