I’ve heard from many who are inspired to start their own assisted living facility. Inspiration may keep you motivated. Knowledge and experience will show you what to do. But money will make your dream a reality.
So, how much money do you need to start an assisted living facility?
The amount you need will depend on a many factors. What is the cost of real estate in your area? How many changes, if any, are needed to your property? Will you be working in the facility, or hiring staff or managers to do all the work?
The exact amount is something you need to calculate for your own circumstances. But here is a list of things to keep in mind when you do the math.
- Down Payment. You may be buying, building or converting your new assisted living facility. In either case, you will probably be financing most of the price. Lenders will normally require a down payment equal to 20% to 25% of the cost. Yes, there are many ways to reduce that percentage but this is what most will need.
- Start Up Costs. So now that you have your building, it’s going to need furniture, equipment, supplies. Some estimate this amount to be $3,000 to $5,000 per unit after accounting for both resident unit and common space furnishings. Your facility may be more or less based on its size and on both the quantity and quality of the furnishings you provide.
- Working Capital. This is an area where many undershoot their estimate. Working capital is basically the cash you have in your checkbook to fund operations after you’ve bought, furnished and supplied your facility. If you’re buying an existing facility that is producing positive cash flow, it will be much easier to estimate the amount you need: often that’s 30 to 60 days of operating expenses, including all payroll, mortgage payments and all other costs. If you’re starting from scratch with no residents in a facility that you build or convert, then it gets more complicated: how long will it take to lease up? when will you reach break-even? will the rates you expect to receive turn out to be those you do? You will learn more on this site soon about estimating your working capital needs during a start-up, but for now plan to fund operations for at least three to six months before reaching break-even and maybe longer for larger facilities.
Let’s look at the following example.
Jane is buying a 40 unit assisted living facility at a cost of $4 million. The facility generates $120,000 a month in revenue but expenses and debt service amount to $90,000 a month.
First, Jane will need at least a 20% down payment of $800,000. Second, since the facility is already operating and comes with furnishings, she only plans to make about $50,000 in improvements to the furnishings and equipment. And third, with expenses running at $90,000 per month, Jane sets aside $180,000 for working capital to make sure she isn’t stressed financially.
That’s a grand total of $1,030,000 needed for Jane to get started in her own assisted living facility.
So now you know how much money you’re going to need. Your next question is probably how do I raise that much money? That’s a great question, and the topic for an upcoming blog post right here, so check back soon.
Already own an assisted living facility? If you want to find its current market value, visit Senior Care Realty to learn more about the market today.
This post is not intended to provide legal or tax advice, and the information provided is only a limited discussion of the issue. Please consult with your attorney, CPA or other professional advisor before making business decisions.
Alta Chaupard says
what is the first course I need to take if I leave in Montgomery county, MD, and who should I contact about this course?
Alta – I’ve received a lot of requests for this information about Maryland’s education requirements. I did some research and it appears that a good source for the required education is the LifeSpan Network, the trade association for senior care providers in Maryland. Click on this link to check out their online education programs: . Hope this helps. Mike
Alta Chaupard says
I need to know how can prepare or where can find classes offer for assistant leaving?
One of the best places for assisted living training is with the state affiliates of ALFA. Follow this link to find a state affiliate where you live:
Celia smith says
Where can I find training for ALFA on long island
The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) has affiliate chapters in most states. For New York, just go to http://www.nyalfa.org/. They should have training available (or they can direct you to some) specifically for your area. Hope this helps.
I have been working since 1977 with elderly have a 4 bedroom house that i want to turn into an alf i love it how do I get started
There is a long to-do list if you want to turn your house into an assisted living facility. But the first step is probably talking to your local zoning office to find if an assisted living facility is an allowable use in your location, or if you need to take any steps to receive approval. Next, I would suggest connecting with a local trade association for assisted living providers that may have a guide for starting an ALF in your area. Each state is a bit different, so let me know where you’re located and we may be able to talk about more specific next steps.
Ian Ippolito says
Hey Mike, thanks for a helpful article and useful website.
A couple questions:
1) Do you sell assisted-living facilities in Tampa Florida (where I live)? If not, can you connect me to someone who does?
2) You mentioned in another article that you can hire a consultant. If I build instead of buy, I could really use one tell me estimate revenues expenses, before proceeding further. Is it possible for you to refer one to me?
Yes, our company sells assisted living facilities across the US. But we aren’t currently working on anything in the Tampa area. However, between the owners we know and the agents we cooperate with, we should be able to help you in some way. Send me an email at email@example.com with more details about the size, type and location of property you’re seeking and we will get back to you asap.
There are many consultants that could help you. Again, send me an email with a few details about what you want to build and I’ll narrow the list a bit. A consultant to help with a financial feasibilty study of a 100 unit ALF is one thing, while someone to answer some questions about income and expense at a smaller facility is another. I’m sure we can help you find someone.
I live in California and I’ve been researching what the true costs are to open a facility. I’ve spoken to a few people here that have board and care homes and have received different information from all of them. One of them suggested that I should just forgo trying to open a board and care and instead try for a smaller assisted living with 30 beds. What would be your advice about this? I am interested in this business because of my 93-year-old Aunt and what our experience has been with her with these facilities both board and care and small assisted living.
I’m always thankful when I hear from people like you who want to start an assisted living facility because of a personal connection with an older person. That’s how our family got started in 1988. And some of the more successful facilities that I’ve seen have similar stories. At the same time, a strong mission and passion will only take you so far. The reality of running a facility may be different than the dream of what you want to do for your residents. So, it’s also great to see you doing your due diligence to understand the costs involved and making sure that you’re ready to take on the responsibility.
Your question about the wisdom of having a smaller facility or a larger facility is a good one. And very common. In my opinion, there is a place for both the small home-style assisted living and larger facilities. Larger facilities have an advantage in the economies of scale – a few vacancies may not cause concern in a 30 bed facility but they can sink a small facility if not filled soon. Likewise, staffing and other costs can be spread over a larger source of revenue in larger facilities. If you want a smaller facility, such as 10 beds or less, plan to spend a lot of time there and to be the primary staff person – small facilities seldom work for absentee owners.
I’m sure you may have more questions, so comment back again and I’ll do my best to give you some answers or point you toward them. Best of luck to you Rosemary.
Wondering if you ever got around to the follow up article that answers the question you posed at the end of the article?
Not yet – it’s on the list. Thanks for checking. Mike
Angela Hardaway says
Hey Mike, I live n Arkansas. Two of my dear friends & I are looking to start an ALF n our area. A social worker, an LPN & a CNA. The area we live in doesn’t have ALF of this kind n our area. We’ve spoken with the GPD PROGRAM. They are waiting for the 2016 NOFA. We’ve asked & researched the most asked questions. We r infact having trouble registering with the IRS as a non profit organization. Please help with this & any other suggestions. Thanks in advance
Why do you want to register as a non-profit? You may just want to create a small business and get started. It’s only half joking that many small businesses are non-profits anyhow. Of course, if you’re part of an organization that meets all the IRS qualifications and you have no intention of selling for a profit later, then keep pursuing the non-profit. Connect with a good CPA that works with non-profits and assisted living facilities – they’ll be able to help your situation. The assisted living trade associations in your state would be a great source of a local CPA that could help – check Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association or the Arkansas Assisted Living Association.
sasha blake says
good morning mike. i live in maryland and my passion is opening a 6 bed assisting living in waldorf md. i already have my 80 hour management and cpr, cna,medtech certification. I need an investor who can help me with funding do you know where i can start the search.
Sasha – One place to start is with owners/sellers of an existing assisted living. Sometimes, a seller is willing to provide financing or lease their property to you. Or, if the property is listed with a real estate agent, ask the agent if they have any real estate investors that might want to own a property that you lease. Those are some unconventional sources but they might just work…they have for others. Mike
Adult Day Care Evansville IN says
Very good blog post. I definitely appreciate this website. Keep it up! We offer Independent and Assisted Living in surroundings that are elegant, comfortable, and affordable.
I’m in California ,please give me advice i like to open in home care but I’m confused between home care and assisted living at home which one have less cost for me to open and which one easy to open please give me some advice. Thanks
Sandy – That’s hard to say. With home care, you don’t have the upfront cost of real estate. Perhaps you would start up by offering services to clients in their home. So, the costs to get started in home care would probably be less. Mike
Kay Carter says
For small assisted livings or residential care home facilities, what is required from a medical staff perspective? I see most are categorized as non-medical but do you still need to have a delegating nurse or ED as you would with a larger ALF? This is the part that is confusing for me. Well, actually, a lot is confusing for me. I live in Maryland. I have a house already but just need to make updates to care for residents – handicap bars, etc. Another thing I’m not clear about is furniture and if it’s better to do private rooms or shared rooms. I know we’ll need to provide all common space furniture but should we be prepared to also furnish all the bedrooms? I’m asking a lot but as I began to type, the questions just started flowing. I’ve been doing a lot of research and can’t really find a good blueprint. Any help or guidance is appreciated.
Kay – That’s a lot of good questions! I’m not going to say for certain as to the RN requirements in your state. I need to do more research but I’m working on an article for Maryland licensing that should be ready soon. Private vs. shared? Private is usually preferred but it also depends on what residents expect and what is offered in your market. Having unrelated people sharing a room can bring extra challenges but, on the other hand, it may also bring needed revenue for your program. It really depends on your market and what is expected. I would be ready to furnish a few rooms and always keep one set up as a ‘model’ unit so that it shows better to prospective residents and you’re ready if someone needs furnishings. Always check your regulations to confirm what furnishings, if any, you’re required to provide in the resident’s unit. Good luck and check back with updates on your progress. Mike
Have you finished the article for Maryland licensing? I am very interested in that. I recently finished my ALM certification and am currently looking for housing to start with 4-6 residents.
Melissa – It’s been a long time coming but it just went up on the website. Click here: https://seniorcaremike.wpengine.com/licensing-an-assisted-living-facility-in-maryland/. Please leave feedback or other questions that we can answer with the next update to the post. Thanks for reading. Mike
Hi MIke. My name is Anthony and I am currently working as an LVN. I have had the dream to start a small 3-5 bedroom assisted living facility for some time now. I have done a bit of research and will be attending AALNA classes to get certified when classes are open next month. My question is would it be possible to continue working 12 hour shifts at my current job while maintaining a small assisted living facility?
Only with a really good staff backing you up. Will you have a partner who can work too?
Mohammed Raheem says
I like to start assistance living facility on small 4 bed room single family home, I have liquid cash 200k. Is this coptial enough? I need help to find a patience And how do I get paid? Can someone help me out?
Mohammed – It appears that you are starting with more capital than most so you should have many options available. Starting in assisted-living facility from scratch is a big challenge. I often recommend looking for and established facility that you can purchase to lower the risk of a start up. Take over the property, policies and procedures of someone who has done it before, and then add your own touch as you gain experience. Require the seller to provide training during the ownership transition process and many of your questions should be answered. Good luck! Mike
Hi, I live in South Florida and have been doing countless research into opening an Assisted Living Facility. I am an RN of 30 yrs and have a piece of property that I want to construct a 15 bed facility as that is what my zoning will allowed. The question I have is have you ever built a facility from off the ground and what were the steps taken. Like I said I own the land but that is about all the collateral I have. I did some homework and know that the size will allow me to construct a 15 bed unit with 2 levels.
Brenda – Yes, I’ve been involved with ground up development many times. We’re in the middle of a 44 unit expansion right now. Many steps to answer your question but I would go talk to an experienced assisted living architect for ideas and contacts. Check with the Florida Assisted Living Association for builders and architects in your area. Stay in touch and get back to me with any specific questions. Plus, stay tuned for more resources here to answer this very popular question from my readers. Mike
Hello mike I’m in Dallas tx I want to open a small home and provide like non medical care. I have 75 thousand of my own money to start with I’m 27. Just need guidance or do you think trying to provide home care to patients at their own home would be a great thing to do? Opening a home health agency is much harder?
Nikki – You have a big head start compared to others with $75,000 in capital available. I don’t have a lot of experience with home health business but I think you’re right – it’s a big challenge. One of the challenges is recruiting, hiring, training, and managing a staff. Same thing with assisted living but probably even more so. There are many smaller assisted living facilities for sale – with a $75k down payment you should be able to find one. Mike
Susan Cochran says
Hi Mike–I am a senior, medical and mental health social worker, who has worked with seniors for about 20 years in their home and most facilities in our area. I take care of a lady who is 73 years old and has Alzheimer’s. She resides in a small facility with 13 current residents. I am unhappy with the running and care of this facility and am looking to start my own 4 resident family care home in southern Indiana. I have a good amount of capital and own vacant property, next to my own home. I am not sure if I should explore putting up a home on my property or buy an existing property in our area. First I want to know if there are any care homes for sale in our area and, if so, what might one cost. Would I be better off to acquire a loan and use my capital for managing the facility or pay for the facility and operate on income? I do not yet know the zoning in my area and will explore that as a first step to building. Thanks for your help
Susan – Thanks for connecting with us. Your situation is so familiar – you’re not satisfied with what you see in the market so you’re going to go do it yourself. Great job! That’s how our company started in 1988 and I always love to see others taking action to bring a better solution to the market and all we serve. Now, on to your questions.
Are there care homes for sale in your area? I have a few questions for you: how far are you willing to travel? where are you located? and would you consider a size other than 4 residents? There may be some good options if you’re flexible. If not, it may take some time to track down what you’re looking for.
Should you get a loan and use your capital for operations? Another good question. I like to be debt free but I like to be liquid, too. If you use up most or all of your capital to purchase a building, then you may be in a cash crunch later. I think a blend is a good idea if you’re able to do it – that is, make a substantial down payment on your building so you don’t have as much of a debt load to carry but keep plenty of cash on hand to cover two to six months operating expenses. You’ll sleep better at night!
Hope that helps. Please stay in touch.
olga Garcia says
Mike good morning very grateful for your suggestions. but I have a few questions I am a registered CNA I’ve been taking care of seniors for 25 years I need some advice I want to buy a 4 bedroom house. and start my own ALF I’m very passionate and caring seniors I love what I do for a living .. please advise me what would be my next step thank you
Olga – I’d start by trying to find a house already being used as an ALF. It may cost a bit more at the beginning but be worth every penny if you have an immediate based of business from current residents and you don’t need to go through all that’s involved in starting from scratch. So that’s my advice about the next step — find one that’s for sale. If you have questions about that, let me know. Good luck! Mike
Mike Good Afternoon,
I am very interested in opening a smaller scale assisted living facility in Southern New Jersey. I personally have worked in Long Term Care Facilities for over 25 years. My background is Physical Therapy. I have a dear friend who has been very successful in Maryland with smaller facilities and I do think that there are some benefits that I could offer an alternative to seniors. I am getting insight from her but the state rules need to be my guideline. I have been doing quite a bit of research and will be taking a class in a couple of weeks to obtain my ALF Administrator Certification in New Jersey. But I have found that in New Jersey we seem to have many large scale facilities in our surrounding area. I am trying to get concrete information regarding how to begin in New Jersey as far as the certificate of need and licensing? I am concerned that the reason there is not many small scale options is due to the cost of even being able to get licensed in the first place. Or maybe people just have not explored that option as actively? Do you have any suggestions as far as where to obtain good information regarding the process in New Jersey? Thanks so Much! Denise
Denise – Start by talking to someone at the Health Care Association of New Jersey. That’s a trade group that works with assisted living providers in your state. They may have information on their website or they might be able to direct you to a local consultant. Better yet, attend some of their upcoming activities and strike up conversations with those in the biz for the best information. In my experience, other assisted living providers are generally helpful to start ups (at least those that aren’t direct competitors!) because we’re all interested in making sure that quality is maintained throughout our industry. Here’s a link: https://www.hcanj.org/. Mike
Wiener Junior Jean Baptiste says
Great article Mike. The way you answered every one’s questions considering all types of contengies and different situations shows me that it’s clear that you know this business in and out. This is my first time landing on your site and your blog looks like a great resource. P.S. Thank you for your mentioning of ALFA and LifeSpan Network as other education resources as well!
Wiener Junior Jean Baptiste says
I am starting a Residential Care Home with about 6 to 8 residents about how much start up costs I need it’s a family business
Jondra – Great question. Starting with enough capital is critical to your success – start with too little and you may be out of business before you’re ever profitable. The best that I can offer you for now is a range based on your budget — you have a budget, right? If not, start there. And maybe that’s your question – what are the costs of running a residential care home for 6 to 8 residents? If so, that also depends on the cost of your property, the cost of staff you plan to hire, payroll taxes and benefits, utilities, property taxes, insurance, food, supplies, license, training, activities, etc, etc. I have a small facility budgeting tool that will be available soon and I’ll post it here. For now, think through all those things I listed and the others that aren’t on the list. Be conservative and make sure you’re not banking on the best case scenario – keep a contingency line or miscellaneous expense in your budget to have some cushion for the things you miss when you’re starting out. Good luck and please keep checking back here for more help later. Mike
Richard Faidley says
Hello. First let me thank you so very much for this blog. The information being provided is mind blowing but very helpful. I want to make my wife and 2nd of 3 daughters dream come true with owning and running a personal care home. My wife is a cna and daughter is an administrator in a pch with a cna license. We have a home available with approx 76 bed max, but its a very scary idea. We live in Pennsylvania and rules by DHS are strict. I’ve seen this question many times in others comments, but where do I get started. We are clueless as to steps needed to get this place up and running. Right now all we have is hopes and dreams
Richard – That’s the big question we often get – where to start. We are working on a new series of blog posts and related training programs to answer that question in detail because it’s such a frequent request. For now, I’m going to answer your question with one topic: feasibility. Everyone starts from a different starting point so feasibility may or may not be the next step for you but I’ll touch on this topic in my reply. First, I normally think about two types of feasibility – market feasibility and financial feasibility. Let’s face it, if there is no market there is no deal. But how do you know? A market feasibility study is something that you can hire a professional to complete or, as is the case often, it’s something you do yourself to understand the market and find how best to serve it. One of the best and simplest ways to learn about the market is to talk to likely referral sources, such as staff and senior centers about the options currently available, what’s good, what’s bad and what’s needed. They often have opinions that could be very revealing about the direction you should go. It’s also important to know your competitors, how much they charge and how many vacancies they have. Again, if there are several good providers and they’re all suffering from high vacancies already, then the last thing you want to do is join their misery. After you’ve decided that there is a market need that you feel qualified to meet, then you should consider financial feasibility. Will the market pay a price and occupy enough units to generate revenue sufficient to pay all your expenses and pay you something for your trouble? You will gather a lot of this information as you study your competitors while looking at market feasibility but you’ll also need a good handle on expenses. How will you staff your facility? What are the going pay rates for staff? And how much do other expenses add up to? Finally, you need to show yourself (and eventually your lenders or investors) that there is enough bottom line to comfortably make mortgage payments. That’s a quick summary of the feasibility study process which is the first step launching most assisted living facilities. Hope that helps Richard and please stay tuned for details. Mike
I like to buy a brand new assisted living facility with 11rooms with 16 beds avaliable. I don’t have any background of this type of business in my past that I have to hire management team run this facility for me. I also have to find a loan company to finance this deal and I have $250K for downpayment.
Kaylie – I will follow up with an email. Hiring a good management team is essential and picking a good one depends on where you’re located and what they’ll be managing. Likewise, your choice of lender for a project of this size may be dependent on your location. In general, community banks with experience with this type of property are a good choice for financing. As I mentioned, I’ll follow up with an email to learn more about your project and location so that I can give you tips on managers and lenders in your area. Mike
Thank you for starting this informative post! I’ve been researching ALF’s but I’m trying to figure out which state out of FL, TX and AZ would be the best from a perspective of maximizing profitability and having the least state/county “hoops” to jump through. For example it looks like Florida limits a home ALF to a maximum of 6 people. Labor cost is obviously a big expense and I assume it will be harder to find talent as the industry grows. Is the industry starting to experience labor shortages or are wages being driven up?
Pedro – You asked a great question and raised a really good point. First, your question about which state has the fewest hoops. I think that you’ll find advantages and disadvantages in every state and I don’t have a good answer for you on that one. But I’d be really curious to hear what the rest of our readers here think about the question. Second, you raised the issue of labor and its cost. There is no question that there is a labor shortage in senior care today. In my home state of Wisconsin, many are calling it the ‘staffing crisis’ and taking steps collectively in trade associations and in government to encourage more to enter health care and senior care jobs. Projects like this video highlighting caregiver careers are one way they’re trying to attract more to this field. I would guess that we’ll see wage rates climbing and most would tell you that they’re already moving up in efforts to attract the most talented caregivers. Mike
Evan Morton says
Mike, this is a great website and thank you for what youre doing! I will be looking to get a small ALF off the ground in next 5-8 years in a mountain community here in Colorado. My question deals with financials. I do not know if I will have any down payment. I do know that I will have a wonderful bisuness plan and my wife and I will be working on this together, so on top of our staff labor wont be an issue. I am very familiar with the industry and know the price ranges I can work with and all the numbers related to running the business. I am worries, however, that I wont find a bank to loan me the money to buy a property and also include in that loan enough money to cover startup costs… I did read your posts about the start up costs associated with this kind of venture (very informative!), so I understand somewhat what type of money ill need. Ive heard about small business loans helping people in my shoes… How would that work for someone that has no initial money to start with? IF I was able to show them a very accurate budget sheet that showed the profit margins of , lets say, one average month, and I was able to prove that with that budget I would be able to make the payments, how do you think a bank would go forward with that? Another option would be investors but I want to run this operation the way I want to run it… im sure youd like to include your response in your blog. But would t be possible to also email it to me so I can get it sooner? I am very interested in hearing your response to my questions… Thanks Mike!!
Evan – I think you have a few options. First, just because you don’t have any money doesn’t mean you can’t get a business loan – assuming you have good credit, another job for a source of income, and perhaps some other assets such as retirement funds or a house. There are many small business lenders that are eager to lend to qualified borrowers – even if a local bank might say no. I just heard today that Paypal is even getting into lending for small businesses. Second, it may be necessary to get an investor but you can still maintain control of your business and limit their involvement. One way to do so is to pay a fixed fee to ‘borrow’ the investor’s credit. What I mean by that is you could pay an investor with good credit and collateral to co-sign for a loan with you like one of the business loans I referenced above. The investor wouldn’t get a piece of your business but would just get a substantial fee to help you get the money you need. And, hopefully, you could refinance that loan soon after you get your business up and running and producing positive cash flow so that a new loan wouldn’t require the co-signer. There’s a few options for you – good luck! Mike
Mike, I live in Arizona. Between my girlfriend and myself, we own two homes without mortgages and have approximately $100,000 in cash. We’d like help understanding what licensing we personally need to obtain. Arizona allows residential home owners up to 10 clients. We have an idea of the income potential, but we’d like help understand the expected costs per client. Do you have a breakdown of these costs available? What percentage of gross revenue will go to areas like: staff, food, utilities, transportation, insurance, etc?
Charles – We are working on some resources to answer those questions. For now, I’d suggest connecting with the Arizona Assisted Living Federation. Just click that link. They have a lot of great information for assisted living in your market. And stay tuned…we’re working on making more information available for our readers soon. Mike
Barbara dean says
To on my own nursing home