Assisted Living Costs: Questions to Ask When Visiting Assisted Living Facilities

elderly couple on computer researching assisted living costs questions

Assisted living costs are confusing. When a parent can no longer live at home, your goal is to find the best possible option – a place where they’ll be happy and engaged with life.

Figuring out how much it will cost can leave your head spinning. This post provides key questions to help you understand what it will cost at each facility you consider. And what will work best for you and your loved one.

Who does assisted living serve?

Assisted living serves people who are no longer able to live on their own but don't need around-the-clock skilled nursing care. Residents live in their own apartments. Personal care, activities, and meals are provided, and on-site assistance is available 24/7. Depending on the facility, health-related services may be provided. 

How much will it cost?

There two parts to the price you'll pay: rent and care.


If you’ve rented an apartment, you know what’s included in rent varies. You’ll want to check on whether the following are included. (Be sure to get a list of exactly what’s included.)

  • Utilities. Typically, heat and air conditioning are included. How about cable, internet, or phone?
  • Dining. Are all meals included in the rent? Are there different meal plans (e.g., purchase one to three meals/day)? (Some assisted living apartments have kitchens, others have kitchenettes. Some have neither.)
  • Housekeeping. Are laundry and apartment cleaning included? How often are they offered? Are there additional charges for special cleaning or laundry?
  • Transportation. Is transportation included in the rent? Some facilities may offer weekly trips to the supermarket or big-box store at no charge. Do they charge for trips to doctor appointments?
  • Activities. Are all activities included in the rent? Or are there certain activities that are an extra charge? Some communities offer outings that are not covered in the base rate, while others cover the cost of the entire program.
  • How often does pricing change? Most communities have annual rent increases to allow to the cost of living increase for staff.


Assisted living communities can price care many different ways. Here are the three most common pricing structures for care.

  • A’ la Carte: With this option, you choose only the services that you want and/or need. When your loved one’s needs or wants change, just adjust their plan. 
  • Levels of Care: This option usually offers several different packages based on levels of care. It’s less of a hassle than a la carte since you don’t need to adjust the plan as often. Residents are periodically reassessed to ensure that they're receiving the appropriate care level. While they may receive some care that they don’t need, this is far less likely than with an all-inclusive plan.  
  • All-Inclusive: This may sound like the best option, but it's not for everyone. For one price, residents receive rent, activities, meals, housekeeping, and personal care. This is a good value if your loved one needs a lot of help. If they don’t, they’ll pay for many services they don’t need or use.

Figuring out what’s best for your loved one, and how much it will cost can be quite the undertaking. As you speak with different assisted living communities, don’t hesitate to ask questions until you understand your options and are comfortable with your decision!

How to Pay for Assisted Living Costs