Does The Villages Have Any Large Competitors-You Bet.

Category: Active adult communities

Note: This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series. Part 1 covers about competitors in the West, Part 2 discusses alternatives to The Villages in the East.

February 11, 2011 — We frequently get a question just like this one – “We have visited The Villages (TV) and we love it – it is our first choice for retirement. But before we commit, are there any other age-restricted communities that are remotely the same size or offer a similar range of amenities”?

The good news is that, although no other community comes close to the mega-size of The Villages, there are least 7 other active communities with over 10,000 residents, which is a size sufficiently large to provide a comparable range of amenities and clubs to those enjoyed by the 107,000 residents of The Villages. In addition, there is another large group of communities with more than 5,000 homes which also have… the complete package of amenities. This article (Part 2 of a series, see end of article for link to Part 1) will explore these competitors in more detail. The article assumes that you are the kind of person who is interested in a very large community that offers endless amenities and clubs. For other folks who are interested in smaller or medium sized communities because of the greater intimacy and community they might offer – we invite you to explore those in the State Directories at Topretirements.

Before we examine each of these communities, here is a brief recap to explain what all the hubbub is about at The Villages. It has 2 town squares (Spanish Springs and Lake Sumter Landing) that provide shopping, restaurants, and open-air plazas featuring free nightly entertainment. There are 33 golf courses, 8 country clubs where residents automatically become members, along with a large number of separate family and adult recreational areas. The Polo Center and its Pavilion host international polo matches and events like BBQ competitions. There is virtually every kind of activity and athletic resource: archery, one finger painting, pickle ball, quilting, scrap booking, synchronized swimming, taichi, yoga, etc. There are hundreds of clubs for every interest, including one for just about every state in the country. The community is large enough that singles can feel at home here, since there are clubs and activities just for them.

Sun City. The original Sun City in Peoria, Arizona 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, making it the original active community in the world. 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 West, which is close by the original, has almost as many residents and similar amenities.

More Sun Cities. The Sun City communities developed by Del Webb and Pulte consistently offer some of the largest active adult communities in the world. We already mentioned Sun City and Sun City West. Others include: Sun City Texas (near Georgetown) with 7,500 homes, Sun City Anthem (Las Vegas) with 7,200 homes and an 86,000 sq.ft. clubhouse. Sun City has other locations all over the country, including at least 4 in Nevada alone. On the east coast there is Sun City Hilton Head (near Bluffton), which is another very large community of 8,500 homes. It boasts three impressive amenity centers, an entire sports complex, state-of-the-art fitness centers, the 540 seat Magnolia Hall Performing Arts Center, two social halls and over 100 clubs and resident community groups. Sun City Center in Ruskin (near Tampa, FL) is another very large community. This older community is built out and offers resales only. Residents enjoy Enjoy 8 golf courses, tennis, pickleball, softball, lawn bowling, swimming, fitness exercises, dozens of crafts, cards, dancing, and a library. It has 250 clubs for the residents of its 12,000 homes. The nearby Sun City Tampa is still being developed for its 11,000 residents. Search on Topretirements for “Sun City” to find more – all of them are at least 1,000 homes and some much larger.

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 TV, LWV does not have any retail or commercial establishments within the community, although they are nearby.

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.

Robson Ranch near Dallas, TX is a large and well-established community of 7,200 homes. It offers the extensive amenities you would expect in such a large community. Robson also has other large communities such as SaddleBrooke Ranch in Tucson. This one has 4,600 homes and includes amenities like 2 semi-private golf courses and a 27 hole private country club. Plus many, many clubs to join.

Sun Lakes, developed originally by Robson back in 1973, has almost 6,700 homes in several neighborhoods, plus all the amenities one would expect, such as 5 clubhouses and 4 golf courses. PebbleCreek (Robson) has over 6,000 homes in Goodyear, AZ.

Rossmoor Walnut Creek (CA). This community in an afflluent area about 25 miles from San Francisco has 6,700 residential units in three cooperatives, 12 condominium and one single-family home developments. It also has its own recreation department.

By no means a complete list
This list of the largest active communities that can compete with The Villages is by no means exhaustive. 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. TV is in a class by itself – but the truth is that any community over 10,000 residents is going to be large enough to offer plenty to do and many interesting people to meet. Then it boils down to location and what the community is like. For our money, the location of The Villages isn’t that great – there is a reason why the company was able to amass that much land – rural central Florida was never developed because it was too far from the coasts.

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:
Part 1: Competitors to The Villages
The Villages – Facts and Opinions-West

Posted by John Brady on February 11th, 2011

35 Comments »

  1. Before committing to the Villages in FL, you should look at other 55+ communities in the Southeast. As mentioned, Sun City Hilton Head is one of the premier resort destination 55+ communities and is located approx. 15 miles from Hilton Head Island and the beach. Savannah and Beaufort are about 20 minutes away, Charleston about 2 hours and Jacksonville FL about 2.5 hours. There are many home choices ranging from villas, cottages, single family homes, custom homes and even some homes with lofts. Prices range from low 100’s to over 600K. So many clubs and activities, the choices are almost endless.

    by Margaret Fallon — February 11, 2011

  2. Some people choose these large places like The Villages because there are hundreds of activities and socialization that never ends. They figure if they are in that stuff they will never age and go on with all the abilities they have unlike what they think occurs in other styles of retirement. All the ads for these large places feature youth retires and the pictures look as though the people are 45 or 50 that live there. This is a myth if you go there in person you will find many who are not as healthy and robust as in other retirement places. The Villages is busy building independent and assisted care places within their bounds. You will not be “young” forever. Think of what you will be like ten years from now and whether these places are the best place for you.

    by David M. Lane — February 12, 2011

  3. I have visited several active adult communities … love The Villages except for 2 things: would prefer to live in a condo[even a midrise] and a better fitness club available ie with a pool, hot tub, sauna, steam, spinning classes … all-in-one!! Any suggestions?? I do understand that The Villages may have a better health club available in a few years when they build their 3rd town center??

    by fiddlehead — February 12, 2011

  4. Not sure what area of the country that you are focusing on fiddlehead but Laguna Woods fits all of the parameters that you set out. On top of it, it is about 10 miles from Laguna Beach. Laguna Woods is the old Leisure World but became so large that it is now a city in and of itself. David Lane does have a valid point. One of my good friends is a realtor and when we sold our home, we wanted to look at Laguna Woods. We are in our early 60’s and our friend advised us not to buy there yet. She told me that she sells a lot of condos in the development to people between 55 & 65 and within a year, they are calling here back listing the property. The reason? The age difference. Keep in mind that many residents in these locations are un their late 70’s to early 80’s.

    by Lauren — February 12, 2011

  5. I would like to retire in a motor home! Are there any communities that cater to retirees living in their own motor homes?

    Comment from Topretirements: Al, good question. If you use our “Search” feature you can search for 55+ communities and others for RV/Mobile Homes. Also, check out this new site: http://www.bestplacesinusa.com/rvcommunity.html Use the pull-down menus to search by state and lifestyle.

    by Al — February 12, 2011

  6. We moved from the Tampa FL area to Tellico Village in Loudon, East Tennessee 30 minutes south of Knoxville. There are so many nice communities to live in both in Florida and East Tennessee and all over the country. But I can tell you from personal experience that we absolutely love living in Tellico Village. What’s not to like… 3 great golf courses, wellness center, yacht club, 125 special interest clubs, a tremendous lake where you can boat directly all the way to the Gulf of Mexico!

    Add to that a very low cost of living (1/3 of Florida just in annual taxes and insurances alone), 4 mild seasons, access to major medical, shopping and restaurants and the great smoky mountains, a great outdoors lifestyle… not to mention we’re not fixated on the Weather Channel worring and watching the track of hurricanes every summer any more! There are many other similar communities in East Tennessee as well… Rarity Bay, Tennessee National, etc.

    by Rob Sassano — February 12, 2011

  7. [...] March 20, 2012 — The question we just received from Jim is similar to many we get on a regular basis: “Where in North or South Carolina is there a retirement community that has similar amenities as The Villages in Florida? I am not looking for size, I’m looking for the same quality of life that I have enjoyed for the last 5 years here in the Villages”. We have answered this question in the past, but since it keeps coming up, here is a fresh look, with a concentration on the Eastern U.S. (we reported on the Western U.S. last year, see “Does The Villages Have Any Alternatives“). [...]

    by » Tempted by The Villages: Here Are Some of the Best Retirement Alternatives Topretirements — March 20, 2012

  8. Does anyone have any information on Sun city center? They have some nice homes for sale.
    The area seems good. Any insight would be appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Barbara

    by Barbara — September 19, 2012

  9. My parents have lived in The Villages the last 7 years. We love the area living in northern Wisconson. They have much to do in the area with clubs and organizations. They have 2 squares and are building a third one. The population is at 80,000 and when it caps out at 120,000 they will cap it out. It is also a golf cart community. When we can we may also move to the Villages too.

    by Rick Berlin — September 20, 2012

  10. I would love to see top retirement communities for young single retirees…not looking for dating or ‘hooking up’ so to speak, but one which is inclusive of all types of people and in which singles will be able to form long term friendships.

    by clauper — December 14, 2012

  11. Clauper and other singles. I too am looking for what you wrote of. I especially am having difficulty finding single family homes with less than 1,500 sq ft. 2/2. No kids! I do not need a large home for retirement. TN is my target area so far. Coming from San Diego will be an adjustment but it’s better than my home town of Buffalo, N.Y.

    by JulieG — December 15, 2012

  12. I too would like to see a pklace to retire, small walkable town, where being single wouldn’t be strange.

    by gold1839 — December 15, 2012

  13. Retirement income. I have the impresseion that most on this site are wealthy, By that I mean monthly income is above say $3,000/individual double that for couples. I am not one of those. My income will be approx. $2,000/month. Are there any here in the same circumstances? Thanks.

    by JulieG — December 15, 2012

  14. Julie…I’m with you…not affluent. I tried coming off the west coast of this country and I’m in agony with the closed mindedness I’ve encountered. Tell me about your attraction to TN.

    by Shari — December 15, 2012

  15. Shari,I’m glad I’m not alone. I’ve just started my research on where to retire. TN is attractive, so far, because of no state income tax, moderate climate and housing I can afford. I would also be closer to family (Buffalo and FL.) Living in So. Cal for over 30 years has been wonderful except for how expensive it has gotten. I want an area that isn’t completely flat terain. Also, I’m a conservative, politically speaking and want to live in a Red state or at least a Red county. I like being active but many of the retirement communities have the added cost for all those ammenities that I just won’t use. I don’t like paying for something I don’t want. I’m also wondering why so many of these communities have 2 story, 3 & 4 bedroom homes. I understand with larger families some might want extra rooms but the inventory of single family, one story homes with 2/2 seems very limited.

    by JulieG — December 16, 2012

  16. I considered Tennessee and North Carolina – NC beats out TN because of the mountains and ocean. However, I realized that political election that “most”, at least the ones that voted and are my age (65) are too conservative for my tastes. Would not fit in at all and would not like their narrow minded views – so I will meander down the road to Delaware, not too far from my or my kids, and has ocean, and more tolerant population. Having lived in Maryland all my life, living on the eastern shore of Maryland has had its challenges since they are so conservative; however, overall Md is socially liberal.
    Delaware has no state sales tax and is very tax friendly, i.e, property tax.
    tax on pensions, etc

    by Carol — December 17, 2012

  17. I find it curious that someone who describes herself as liberal automatically labels anyone who’s conservative as “narrow minded,” and is trying to avoid all these taxes. How, pray tell, does one think that all these liberal social programs get FUNDED if not through taxes?? After moving to Ithaca, NY, from Toledo, OH, where I thought I was quite liberal, after almost 20 years here I have discovered that some of the most intolerant people I have encountered have called themselves “liberal.” Too bad we can’t just try to meet others where they are and not have us all get put into little boxes.

    by Paula — December 17, 2012

  18. Carol, I have lived on the NC coast for 22 years and yes, I am a conservative. Every state has people with “narrow minded views”, in fact, I think you have them also. There are areas of NC with “liberal leaning views” like Asheville and the Triangle. I live in Wilmington and have seen too many people from the Northeast who left because they wanted something else and then try to change Wilmington to be like their old area. By the way, I am from PA.

    by Dick — December 17, 2012

  19. Right on, Paula…..

    by Dick — December 17, 2012

  20. I am niether a liberal or an conserative I am a person who does not like labels or namecalling. I am also looking at TN and AL. Am fron AL but live in WI.

    by Roger — December 17, 2012

  21. I guess I started a firestorm. When I call myself “liberal” I mean to say that I am socially liberal – pro choice, gay marriage, gun control to some degree. I have worked hard all my life, and would never try to avoid taxes, just not pay my entire pension to them.
    Would just feel more comfortable living in an area where most people are like me.

    Editor’s note: Thanks for the clarification Carol. To echo some of the other comments in this thread, we don’t think it is helpful for folks of any political persuasion to put labels or value judgements on the others. So we will continue to make edits to any posts that seem to cross that boundary. Wanting to live near people who think like yourself is perfectly understandable, but lets leave the arguing to the politicians – no one could beat them at that game!

    by Carol — December 18, 2012

  22. Well, I think it was the unfortunate choice of the term “narrow-minded” that caused this kerfuffle. (isn’t that a great word?!)

    by cherie — December 18, 2012

  23. oops. I pressed the send button before I intended – I got too excited by kerfuffle! Anyway I understand what Carol’s intention was. Being a liberal in a strongly red area or, for me, being a Unitarian in the Bible Belt, is uncomfortable and often times it puts you in a position of being an outsider. No one wants to spend their retirement that way! So we too are considering NC but the Asheville area is considered quite liberal. They even have t-shirts that say “keep Asheville weird.” TN not so much – maybe in larger cities like Chatanooga.

    by cherie — December 18, 2012

  24. Good heavens people. If Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be best friends, maybe you shouldn’t be worrying about the politics of the people who live near you. Besides, how boring to live where everyone agrees with you.

    by Jim — December 18, 2012

  25. Comments about different “persuasions” reminds me of an incident when I first moved to Texas. I was asked by a couple of women which “church” I attended! I guess they just assumed everyone is Christian and goes to a church– I was taken aback as no one had ever asked me this before.

    by Fionna — December 19, 2012

  26. Fiona: We too have been asked this question a number of times since we moved to Texas. We had never had it asked before either. The strong religious persuasion usually denotes political persuasion as well. Thats what we’ve found. We have friends of all political views but since we are moderates we are able to have open conversations on a range of issues with those who share our same values. Not boring at all. Thats where we’re most comfortable. With friends of the other political persuasian there are topics/areas we simply don’t discuss as we have both determined it might undermine our relationship. But there are a range of other things we can talk about and do together without any concern about where we fit on the political spectrum.

    by sheila — December 19, 2012

  27. I felt the same way when I moved to Texas 14 years ago. Being from the north, there was culture shock. We live in a upscale town where many residents are professionals or executives who have relocated here from around the country and the world so it is OK where I reside. However, there is still the goofy state politicians in Austin that pass all kinds of absurd laws. Don’t think I’ll retire here for several reasons but politics and religion aren’t factors. I’ve learned to co-exist and know which subjects to avoid in conversations. It would be better if we could all do the same.

    by LS — December 19, 2012

  28. We are planning on visiting North Carolina as a possible place to retire and are looking for the most conservative part of the state.Can anyone help direct us? Where would that be?We want to spend our retirement with people who have the same interests and have found over the years that if we agree on politics it seems we are more compatible in most other areas too.Not looking for a “discussion” on liberal vs conservative instead just looking for like interests. Thank you.

    by Linda Christianson — December 19, 2012

  29. Except for things like state taxes, I do not think that a state can be generalized that well. While I think that there are general tendencies by state, please do not judge a whole state by one area. I lived in Birmingham AL and found it very diverse except maybe higher education…perhaps because of the medical school located there. Huntsville AL was also unique (space program?). The weather in the state of Washington is quite different across the state. I lived in Chapel Hill NC and it was not conservative (the university?)
    Even a county can be different in different sections. However, it does fine tune information a bit further. Do a search for the subject of interest by interactive map by county
    Want t is see how generous your neighbors are? Try
    http://philanthropy.com/section/How-America-Gives/621/
    You can find education levels, humidity, economics, temperature, dew point, religion, etc. I tried to put a bunch of my favorites, but top retirements thhought it was “spammy” I will try just one more:

    http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president

    by Elaine — December 19, 2012

  30. I’m so saddened by how this conversation degenerated beyond ordinary retirement preferences. I agree with the editor. Folks…please note how you have chased people away from conversing with the vitrolic note put forth.

    by Shari — December 19, 2012

  31. JulieG…Great insight and thanks for the reasoning. I’m from So.
    Cal as well…and I don’t care for the “flat terrain” either. We may be spoiled by having all the terrain types that could possibly be in CA.

    by Shari — December 19, 2012

  32. Somewhere along the way this particular blog changed from comparing communities to the Villages to a lib vs cons discussion. Can this conversation be moved to a more appropriate place, such as the forum? Most of us really don’t care if you don’t want to live near someone with other political and social views as you.

    by Bill — December 20, 2012

  33. Hey Bill: Wanting to live near people with the same political views is as important to many as finding ones dream community.That is only one of many criteria to look at when searching.For twenty-five years we lived in a community surrounded by University liberals and this time we will find more of our liking.So,sorry this offends you but to many this is a question that begs to be researched.

    by Linda Christianson — December 20, 2012

  34. [...] can help you find out more about life in TV. You might also enjoy our 2 part series, “Are There Any Large Competitors to The Villages?” List of clubs at The Villages (1,828 at last count!) Topretirements Review of The Villages [...]

    by » Why Len and Ann Think The Villages is the Perfect Place to Retire Topretirements — May 8, 2013

  35. I love northwest Florida, however don’t even think of looking for a retirement community here. They are non existent. One on the gulf coast near Destin that is way way above most retires income. Don’t see why affordable retirement areas have not been developed in this area.

    by Sandy — July 30, 2014

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