Community Spotlight: NORC

Image by Jay@MorphoLA via Flickr

Image by Jay@MorphoLA via Flickr

Are you familiar with the concept of a NORC? These communities can’t be built or forced, they are simply naturally occurring like dandelions or maple saplings. NORC stands for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. These communities didn’t start out just for seniors but for various reasons, such as people moving in or out or aging in place, they are occupied in large numbers by older adults.

NORCs can exisit anywhere; suburbs, cities, condos, houses, apartments. The type of structure doesn’t matter as much as the ages of the residents who make up the majority of the community. Because of the natural evolution of these communities relationships develop over time and community members begin to form a support system. Thus, they begin to attract other seniors to the area as well.

NORC Blueprint has also evolved to provide tools for individuals interested in community living. NORC Programs, like the one in New York, offer services and infrastructure to seniors living within these communities.

An excellent example of a NORC in action is in the town of East Point Georgia. While the wider community has a diversity of ages, there are parts of town where seniors live today. Three Atlanta area organizations came together to give the seniors living in the East Point NORC important services.

photo credit: CoffeePartyUSA via photopin cc

photo credit: CoffeePartyUSA via photopin cc

Community living doesn’t have to be a conscious choice. Individuals living in NORCs have found themselves, over time, in communities of others of similar ages. Because their families have relocated to other communities, these individuals or couples begin to rely on their neighbors. A community is build organically from the ground up.

If you have been considering a change in your living arrangement, look around for situations in your own life. Who are your neighbors? Are there areas in your town where seniors are more concentrated than others? Are there NORC support systems in your area?

Keep in mind that not all NORCs are good. Some areas considered NORCs are because the 60 and older population is in poverty and cannot move elsewhere. However, situations where there are support systems and programs to assist seniors in these naturally occurring communities can thrive.

Do you want to know more about NORCs? Join the conversation on Facebook or visit the Women for Living in Community Website.


  1. Love what you are doing! We seem to be on the same page! Would be great to talk and maybe set up a couple speaking engagements for you here in the San Diego area?

Women For Living in Community