17 Largest Active Adult Communities in U.S

Category: Active adult communities

April 10, 2017 — Retiring to a very large active adult community offers a unique experience to baby boomers. Developments with over 10,000 residents almost always provide an amazing variety of amenities and lifestyle options. They often have hundreds of clubs and dizzying choices for non-stop activities every day. Populated as they are with people of all kinds of backgrounds and interests, you would have to work hard NOT to make a lot of great new friends.

Exact figures are hard to come by, but we estimate that there are at least 20 active communities in the U.S. with more than 10,000 residents, and at least 10 that have more than 10,000 homes (some communities might be below that now but have plans to go over). Because of their size they feature a range of recreational and social options that smaller communities generally cannot provide. Here are some of what they typically offer:

– Wide choice of sports suitable for all ages of retirees (multiple golf courses and tennis courts, swimming pools, softball, pickleball, bocci, etc.)
– Active social program with planned events on a daily schedule
– Wide array of clubs to match many different interests. Sometimes there are hundreds of different clubs
– Planned activities to enjoy such as crafts, woodworking, arts, singing, theater, etc.
– Classes and opportunities for life-long learning on campus
– Clubhouses, community centers, ballrooms, and performance venues that bring people and talent together
– Many of these communities have restaurants, stores, medical facilities, etc. on the premises
– Golf carts are usually permitted on internal roads – many people rely on them for their daily transportation needs
– Not all of the communities we list here are exclusively for adults 55+. Some like Daybreak are open to residents of all ages and include children, even schools.

Sun City Center, located in Ruskin near Tampa, is one of the handful of communities that have more than 10,000 homes. The amenities are extensive (8 golf courses, over 250 clubs), and it is inexpensive. The rap on this Sun City is that, since it has been around a long time, the average age of its residents and its facilities is getting up there. So it might not appeal to some young retirees. Also in the Tampa area is Valencia Lakes, a newer but smaller community from GL Homes with plenty of active amenities, minus golf.

On Top of the World in the Ocala/Orlando area has thousands of enthused residents with a planned total of 10,000 homes. The list of amenities and clubs is just about endless, including a multi-acre airport for model airplanes. See our article “What Sandy Learned” for more about this community.

Century Village (Southern Florida). There are actually 4 Century Villages in Southern Florida; in Palm Beach, Deerfield Beach, Pembroke Pines, and Boca Raton (all east coast). In some ways CV has superior locations to many other large communities, as they are much closer to beaches and bigger towns. They are also really big – over 500 clubs, 145,000 sq.ft. clubhouses, and every form of recreation you can think of. As is typical with communities that have been around for a long time, its residents have a higher average age than most of the newer communities.

Golf cart-friendly Peachtree City

Peachtree City. This master-planned, all age community is 25 miles south of Atlanta, Georgia. The average age is 37.5 and the population is over 35,000. It has achieved some level of fame for its extremely high golf cart population – like The Villages, customized golf carts seem to be the preferred method of transportation. There are swimming pools, athletic fields, 2,000 seat amphitheater, etc.


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Solivita Another community in nearby Kissimee that might appeal to younger retirees is Solivita, which bills itself as “The Younger Next”. Here you can drive your golf cart to one of the championship golf courses, or burn off some of the calories from the community’s 3 restaurants at the 32,000 sq.ft. Riviera spa and fitness center.

Villages of Citrus Hills near Ocala has just over 10,000 homes. It is a country club community in the heart of of Citrus County between Tampa Bay and Ocala (Hernando). In addition to golf there are 2 tennis centers, and hundreds of activities and clubs.

Daybreak is a huge community near Salt Lake City that is open to peole of all ages. There are 20,000 homes planned amidst many different neighborhoods. One of those is Garden Park Village, a fully maintained neighborhood designed with the 55+ empty nester in mind. Garden Park has its own private clubhouse, fitness area and easy beach access.

The Villages is the community that most active adults think of when talking about a very large community. The complex spans 3 counties in Florida and had 157,000 residents as of 2016. Its town centers have daily events with a changing schedule of entertainment options. Many restaurants and shops as well as big box shopping are available within The Villages. Perhaps the biggest draw of The Villages for baby boomers is the awe-inspiring array of recreational activities available that are included with the modest fees. The Villages has 26 executive golf courses and 9 Championship courses, dozens of swimming pools, fitness centers galore, and hundreds of clubs.

Boca del Mar is a community that not that many people have heard of, yet it is very large with 25,000 residents. It offers single family, town homes, condominiums, and villas. It is not age restricted. Amenities include a country club, golf course, pools, exercise centers, dining, shops, nightlife. Prices range from $100,000 to $1 million.

Cadence is a master-planned, all ages community designed around active lifestyles and spread across 2,200 acres in Henderson, Nevada. The community of over 13,000 homes will feature single family, townhomes and condos and 450 acres of open space with walking trails, bike trails and parks. At the heart of Cadence is the 50-acre central park, where residents can gather and attend special events

Sun City, Arizona was not only the first 55+ active adult community in Arizona, but also the first in the country. It is probably the second largest active adult community after The Villages. Sun City has 48,000 residents. It was founded by Del Webb in 1960. It boasts every conceivable activity – 7 recreation centers, 11 golf courses, 3 country clubs, 2 bowling centers, Sun Bowl, Viewpoint Lake – plus hundreds of clubs. Like many communities established long ago, at 75 the average age in Sun City is well up there.

Sun City Grand is a development by Del E. Webb. It opened in 1996 and completed its last home in 2005. Spread over 4,000 acres, it includes 400 acres of common area, providing a delightful environment for the 17,000 residents living in 9,550 homes. All of the extensive amenities are 100% homeowner-owned. Many of the other Sun Cities communities across the country are very large as well, such as Sun City Texas has 9,900 homes and so does Sun City West.

Bella Vista in Arkansas was originally a very large affluent retirement community, but is now incorporated as a community. The government shares some administration with a POA (Property Owners Association). It has 8 lakes, 9 golf courses, parks, walking trails, Bella Vista Country Club, library, and 26,000 residents including some younger couples and families. 42% are 65 or older. The community has summer vacation rentals and 2 school districts.

McCormick Ranch, Arizona is over 40 years old and has 27,000 residents. This up-scale master-planned community has golf courses, lakes, miles of public trails, parks, resorts, shopping centers, an outstanding hospital campus surrounded by medical specialists and city municipal services. It was once the 4,200-acre working ranch of Anne and Fowler McCormick.

Laguna Woods Village(LWV) is a 55+ age-restricted gated community located on 2,100 acres of rolling hillsides just minutes from the Laguna Beach coastline. The community has 12,736 dwellings and is considered to be one of the largest of its type on the West Coast. Laguna Woods Village is home to 18,000 residents. The average age of residents moving into the community is 67 (which means the average age of all residents is higher). Laguna Woods Village offers a wide range of social and recreational activities, including yoga, dances, shuffleboard, lawn bowling, paddle tennis, table tennis, and bridge. Facilities include seven clubhouses, five swimming pools, a performing arts center seating 814, and the community’s “living” amenity, the equestrian center. The community owns several horses available to residents and their guests. There are over 230 clubs and organizations to choose from, and a choice of more than 100 Saddleback College Emeritus courses. Unlike some other large communities, LWV does not have any retail or commercial establishments within the community, although they are nearby.

Hot Springs Village

Hot Springs Village HSV This community near the historic town of Hot Springs, Arkansas is open to all ages. HSV is home to 14,000 residents. It has a full range of amenities and clubs including 9 golf courses and 10 lakes with marinas for boating and fishing.

Green Valley, AZ. Located in extreme southern Arizona, Green Valley is home to several developments and about 20,000 residents in over 12,000 homes. Most of its residents are retired. It has 9 golf courses, 13 recreation centers, shopping plazas, dozens of clubs and volunteer organizations, medical facilities, places of worship and recreation centers. Residents share in a cooperative venture, Green Valley Recreation, Inc., which provides recreational opportunities across the many developments in the Green Valley area.

By no means a complete list
This list of the largest active communities is by no means exhaustive. There are other large communities; Holiday City in Toms River, NJ is one of them. There are undoubtedly others not mentioned here. But before you search only for the largest communities, you should decide just how large a community you would be happy living in. Then it boils down to location and what the community is like.

You can use the Advanced Search at Topretirements to look for 55+ communities by size and other characteristics, such as amenities, price range, and type of community (however, not all communities have all their attributes in our database yet, so there may even be more than you discover). As always, the best answer to the question of where to live is to sample various communities. Take advantage of “Stay and Play” or “Discovery” packages to see first hand if the community is right for you – before you buy!

What do you think? Is a very large active community for you? Or would you prefer to live in something a bit smaller? Did we miss some obvious very large communities (over 5,000 homes)? Let us know your preferences using the Comments section below.

For further Reference:
Large Communities East: Competitors to The Villages
Large Communities West
The Villages – Facts and Opinions

Posted by Admin on April 9th, 2017

21 Comments »

  1. Another very large master-planned community (all-ages, but it does contain an active adult community within it – Heritage Isle), that can be added to the list is Viera, FL, with more than 23,000 residents . It’s in Brevard County, on the east side of the state, right off Interstate 95. Started in 1989, Viera is still being developed. You’ll find health providers, shops and restaurants, schools, tons of recreational opportunities, and houses of worship.

    by Jan Cullinane — April 10, 2017

  2. At some point can this list be updated to include the HOA costs/membership fees? IT would also be nice if some of this information could be put into excel spread sheets for printing. Could include average electric costs, average home prices, average home tax, etc.

    by Louise — April 10, 2017

  3. Louise,
    I quite agree with you. HOA fees can be a deal breaker. Please let’s get a thread started on this topic. Also how much of an average increase has been realized within a community. It is not just the fees themselves, but any history of special assessments, etc. and the state of the reserves that would make a real difference. The age of the community should also be included in the data. I live in a co-op built in 1929 on 10 acres in Washington, DC. We residents love the old Moorish construction, plaster walls, ten foot ceilings and parquet floors, but hate the lack of parking, and shared laundry rooms (very few personal W./D are allowed in a unit) and only two units per tier can have this advantage. Our fees actually went up a large 6.9% this year. Most of us expected a 3% increase and were shocked by such large increase. I have served on every committee that serves the Board save one (grounds). I would be very interested in knowing the financials people are paying if they have an HOA.

    by Jennifer — April 11, 2017

  4. Great idea Louise – although we found that the fees are sometimes called different things, sometimes buried in the jargon of a sales pitc, and don’t forget that they rise annually! Ours have risen at a steady rate of 3-5% depending on which fee you are talking about! The cost of living is also hard to pin down as everyone utilizes utilities differently – some like the AC at 70, others can tolerate 76. Some have irrigation systems for their lawn- others do not, thus a wide swing in water usage. but perhaps a prototype of a retired couple could be developed by the writers and then the information could be upsized for those who like more, and downsized for singles, those who travel a lot, and those who live frugally. We would have welcomed this spreadsheet when we were hunting for our retirement home a few years ago.

    by SandyZ — April 11, 2017

  5. Good idea from Louise and SandyZ,
    A spreadsheet would be very helpful.
    In my searching for a good retirement town (area) I’ve found that the HOA fees are not always listed and oftentimes other fees such as CDD can be buried in the wording if stated at all. It makes comparisons difficult at best.

    by Curt — April 11, 2017

  6. A spreadsheet could be created and updated once a year as far as HOA costs. All the resorts could be in alphabetical order and certain attributes could be in each column. Such as min/max price of homes, HOA, average electrical costs, water cost, home taxes, average insurance costs, local taxes. Other members can suggest ideas on what they would like to see. I love spread sheets! They give a lot of information in a digested format.

    by Louise — April 12, 2017

  7. Louise and others, I very much agree that this would be great information to have — especially in the form of a spreadsheet. But I’m not sure that ya’ll realize what a huge undertaking that would be! As has been explained in the last few post, it’s not just a simple fee, but they have various names (fee, assessment, payment, etc.), they may come in the form of multiple “assessments” annually or other period, and they typically increase regularly. With the hundreds or thousands of retirement “places” and HOAs, such and endeavor could well take a special staff and would be incredibly difficult to maintain accuracy and keep up-to-date.

    I don’t have a solution — I just frankly have to question the practicality. Perhaps another option might be a simpler permanent article which helps to identify what specific kinds of fees (or whatever) any potential buyer/investor should be alert for and what kind of documentation they should obtain to assure that the “fees” identified are indeed all inclusive and cannot be added to or increased by certain limits.

    Sorry, I’m throwing cold water, and I really don’t have a solution.

    by Rich — April 12, 2017

  8. We looked closely at a planned community in Olympia that was beautiful and appealing, and the initial costs seemed reasonable. But when we did the math (3-4% increase annually on the fees) we realized that after a certain point we would exhaust all of our funds just to live there. Disappointing but at least we knew ahead of time that this would not work for us. Without the fees, or with an alternate method of funding, it would have been an ideal place to live.

    by Dawn — April 12, 2017

  9. Does Telico Lake in TN qualify for this list?

    by James G. — April 12, 2017

  10. Agree more info is great.
    However the sheet should include amenties. You get what you pay for.
    Saddlebrooke north of Tucson had a low hoa cost and impressive amenties for the cost.
    With better landscape than flat valley desert.
    Nice variety of age groups as older section and residents blend with new buyers.
    Over 5000 homes with new section at Preserve still bringing in new buyers.

    by Sara — April 12, 2017

  11. McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale is not a retirement or age restricted community. However, in the downtown area is Villa Monterey which is designated as an historic community and most is 55+ so no school tax.

    by Kathy C — April 12, 2017

  12. Here are some HOA costs if anyone is interested. The author says at the end of the article that the prices were updated 3/14/2017. The original article was written in 2011.

    Better have deep pockets for On Top of The World.

    http://www.ocalarealestatetalk.com/1500/ocala-real-estate/ocala-55-community-hoa-fees-chart.html

    by Louise — April 13, 2017

  13. Thanks for the comments and suggestions everyone. We would add a couple of points to the HOA fees discussion, and then hope to move on to pluses and minuses of living in a super large community as where as more ideas on where to find them.

    – We agree with Rich. Unfortunately a spreadsheet on HOA fees is beyond our scope. It would be very difficult to compile it all and then keep it up to date. What is covered in the fees varies tremendously (maintenance, amenities, user fees, etc.) – taken by themselves without a lot of explanation they can be misleading.
    – Focusing on HOA fees seems a bit narrow-minded. In our view the lifestyle offered and general environment is much more important. Sure, no one wants to pay more than they have to. But who wants to live somewhere if it isn’t a great place to be for all the things you are looking for. The link to Fees in Ocala provided by Louise is helpful though.
    – A better way to think about HOA fees is to find the communities that attract you for lifestyle and location, and then investigate the fees with a knowledgeable person like a realtor you can trust. They can explain why one community might offer better value than another.

    So, who knows about some other large communities we should have mentioned? Anybody live in one of these communities that would like to talk about it? Thanks

    PS – To James G’s question about Tellico Village – it is very nice and very large, but not quite up to the 10,000 residents mark. It has 7,000 residents.

    by Admin — April 13, 2017

  14. Admin, I do not personally think focusing on HOA fees is narrow minded. First of all, if a community has an HOA fee of $400 a month, multiplied by 12, right from the get go you see it will cost $4,800 a year. Some people can afford that and for others it breaks the bank. Right away it eliminates even wasting time to persue looking at a community if it is too expensive to begin with. If your comfort range is $200 a month HOA, then it is helpful to know what communities offer that price range. Yes, that is where you should go to a realtor and tell them this is as high as you want to go to avoid wasting their time and yours too. However, it would be nice to do your own investigation before seeking the help of a realtor if that makes you happy. I supposed you can call the community and ask but I have a feeling, in some cases, they won’t want to reveal costs unless you visit the community.

    by Louise — April 13, 2017

  15. Regarding HOA fees in Florida the inclusions can vary widely. One thing often included is insurance and if so it is a good deal. It covers all your exterior such as roofs. You only buy interior and content insurance which is not very expensive as compared to having to personally insure the entire building.

    There is also another benefit that we experienced when Hurricane Wilma hit us. Our community has 900 units and nearly all of us lost the shingles off our roofs. Because of our size, every roofing company around came to us immediately bidding on the job. We were all reroofed quickly after the storm as opposed to individual home owners who had to wait months to get someone to work on their home. In this case size did matter!!

    by Laura — April 13, 2017

  16. Regarding HOA fees in Hurricane areas. I saw a couple of responses saying that the HOA covered the Flood and Hurricane insurance. In most cases they pay for insurance on the building not on the contents of the building.
    Before you get tricked be sure to ask what specifically HOA fees cover.
    Better safe than sorry

    Ron

    by Ron — April 13, 2017

  17. HOA Fees

    In many communities the developer pulls a fast one and amortizes the cost of building the development into the HOA fees.
    Some HOA fees are worth the cost if they pay for something you care about. I for one don’t use a community pool or a golf course etc etc. So I won’t move into a community that has an HOA with fees over $80 month this is reasonable for grass and other maintenance activities.

    by Ron — April 13, 2017

  18. A higher HOA fee often means more amenities, some of which you may seldom use, but it also often means that everything on the exterior is covered: siding, painting, roof repair and replacement, exterior insurance (which can be very high if you live in an Atlantic/Gulf coastal area), landscaping, mowing, etc. Our HOA fee of $390/mo. covers all these exterior items, plus a great deal of amenities. But we bought our particular condo in Florida primarily so we wouldn’t have to be concerned about the time, effort and cost of any exterior repair, maintenance and insurance. If we want to travel for a day or a year, we just lock the door and go. We’re in our 50’s and 60’s.

    by Clyde — April 13, 2017

  19. What I noticed is that even though I have a high co-op fee here in Washington, DC, it covers everything but my phone and cable TV (which I do not have anyway–I use an HD 50 mile radius antenna). If I had a single family home, I would have to prepare for emergencies with a savings account and worry about the exterior, the roof , lawn care, etc. It is taken care of here. A simple spreadsheet with ANY fees listed would be a help. If one is interested in the community mentioned they could call a Realtor to find out what the fees cover.

    by Jennifer — April 14, 2017

  20. Clyde
    That’s not always the case. Many HOAs may cover only some of the things you mention and what they cover may change over time. Ron is correct, due diligence is needed.

    by Staci — April 14, 2017

  21. Staci, you are correct. Most HOA fees do not cover everything on the exterior of your home or unit, including yardwork, landscaping and exterior building insurance. My point was that some monthly HOA fees that seem high are at that cost level because they do relieve the owner of all those responsibilities. I guess one could say it’s up to the owner. Pay lower fees and take care of the cost and effort involved in these red yourself, or pay higher fees to have them taken care of for you. And, yes, due diligence is definitely called for when buying in a community or development that charges any HOA fees.

    by Clyde — April 15, 2017

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