The demographic trend toward the aging of America is in full swing. By 2020 the youngest of the baby boomers will be approaching 60, and the need for medical care of all types, including assisted living arrangements, will increase steadily over the following couple of decades all across the United States. Virginia is an ideal location to open a new assisted living facility because of its diverse population, relatively strong economy, business-friendly legal environment and reasonable cost of labor.

Step 1.

Research the type of assisted living facility (ALF) you are planning to open, the area of Virginia or specific city, and whether you are going to operate as a sole proprietorship, corporation or a partnership. Some assisted living facilities are designed for short-tern stays and physical rehabilitation, while others are more geared toward long-term residential care.

Step 2.

Write a well-thought-out business plan. A thorough business plan should at a minimum include details about the business structure, financing, location, business model, size, licenses required, number of employees and marketing plan for your ALF.

Step 3.

Find an ideal location in the city in Virginia where you have decided to start an assisted living facility. If you have organized the financing to build your own facility then you will need to choose a general contractor and secure building permits. If you are leasing an existing facility, do a careful inspection and review for everything that needs to be renovated or upgraded to meet licensing standards.

Step 4.

Apply for all of the necessary licenses to open an ALF once the location is under construction or renovation. Contact the Virginia Department of Social Services for an initial application for operating an ALF, review the application and schedule and attend a pre-application orientation. After the orientation you will be prepared to complete the comprehensive application, minimize errors and reduce the chance of delays in the application process.

Step 5.

Provide all of the information requested and a notarized statement giving the state of Virginia permission to run a background check on the owner(s) or the officers and principal agents if the owner of the ALF is a partnership or corporation. If you pass the background check, then the last step is a physical inspection of the facility before opening to make sure you meet all of the licensing standards for an ALF of the type and size.


In Virginia a license to operate an ALF must be renewed every 12 months.

You will also need to apply to the IRS to get an employer identification number and register with the state of Virginia to pay unemployment insurance and worker's compensation insurance premiums.