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15 Most Popular 55+ and Active Communities in the Southeast

Category: Active adult communities

September 16, 2020 — It is clear that consumer tastes are fickle, and that sure seems to apply to what retirees are looking for in an active adult or 55+ community. Certainly that is what we found when we analyzed our visitor logs from the first 8 months of 2020, looking for the 15 most popular communities in the Southeastern states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. This article complements a similar one for the Southwest: “15 Most Popular Active Adult Communities in the Southwest for 2019“.

Changes from the 2019 list aplenty. More than half of the communities on this list are new to it this year, which is pretty exciting (see links below to last year’s list). All of the top 5 are repeat winners. The review for the most popular community on this list, Amelia Island Plantation, was viewed 1,330 times during that period. As usual there are several “no-brainer” choices like The Villages and Solivita, both located in Florida. Some winners were a bit of a mystery, and that includes The Cottages at Lakeview Road in Warner, GA. Nalcrest is a speciality community that caters only to retired postal letter carriers. Florida had 9 winners with the rest coming from Georgia (4) and South Carolina (2). Note that most, but not all, of these communities are designated 55 plus. But the majority of the residents in all of these communities would probably meet that qualification.

While these are the 15 most popular active adult communities on this site for FL, GA, and SC, they might not necessarily be the “best”. There are thousands of choices that might work for you, but you won’t even find out about them unless you look around. If this list does anything for you we hope it expands your horizons.

The most popular 55+ communities in the Southeast for 2020

1. Amelia Island Plantation, Fernandina Beach, FL. Located near Florida’s border with Georgia, Amelia Island Plantation offers a unique lifestyle to people of all ages. There are tremendous beaches, a world class tennis center, resort hotels, homes, villas, and multiple great golf courses. Nearby Fernandina Beach offers a cute town to explore and find entertainment in.

2. Barefoot Bay, Sebastian, FL is a unique 55+ community made up of highly customized, upscale manufactured homes in Sebastion, FL. The location on the Indian River Lagoon (Inter-coastal Waterway), midway between Melbourne and Vero Beach, is ideally situated and within an hour of Kennedy Space Center, and Canaveral National Seashore. Just a few miles south of Barefoot Bay you will find the Sebastian Inlet for great fishing. This is a well established community with dozens of clubs and non-stop activities.

3. Abacoa – Jupiter. This new urban style development is made up of multiple active adult and all age communities. It has a downtown spring training baseball stadium, concert venue, and a slew of shops and restaurants. This area is in northern Palm Beach County.

4. The Villages, Florida By this time just about everyone has heard about this giant active community that spans 3 counties in Central Florida. Practically every amenity and club ever heard of is represented here. The people who live here tend to be active, and they love it. Golf cart friendly, here you go!


5. Nalcrest – Lake Wales, FL. No one could have predicted the popularity of this community midway between Tampa and Vero Beach, which is designed for retired letter carrier. It is a unique retirement community . The established community is made up of 500 garden-style rental apartments that are arranged in clusters.

6. The Oaks at Blue Ridge – Blue Ridge, GA. A new 55+ community with walking trails, covered pavilion, and a planned community center. The Oaks says it offers the opportunity for simplified living in a beautiful mountain community coupled with the ease of low-maintenance, compact homes offered at a sensible price point.

7. Woodside – Aiken, SC. The community offers world-class amenities; a welcoming sense of community; an inviting, year-round climate; and an opportune locale in beautiful Aiken.   The Reserve Club is the community hub, there is award-winning golf including a Nicklaus Design course, and a swim and USTA certified racquet pavilion now featuring a dedicated pickleball court.

8. Riverwood Plantation – Augusta, GA. Located along the Savannah River, this community has a clubhouse, large pool, barn pavilion, fishing,and nature trails. Within the Plantation is Amberly, an age-targeted neighborhood features easy-living townhomes. Key to the community is its many neighborhoods, exciting town center, and extensive amenities. Champions Retreat Golf Club is available for membership.

9. Sawgrass – Venice, FL. Located south of Sarasota in Venice, Florida, provides a contemporary Florida-style setting with a hint of Mediterranean. The community is home to 54 acres of lakes and natural preserves, with homesites strategically positioned for residents to enjoy the surrounding beauty as well as golf course views. The golf course was designed by Ted McAnlis

10. Cresswind Peachtree City, Peachtree City, GA. This new 55+ community is located within Peachtree City, which has amazing resources and commercial centers. Here you will find single-family ranch homes, a spacious 17,000 sq. ft. Clubhouse with indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, sports courts and more. The community is connected to over 100 miles of golf cart and biking paths that wind throughout Peachtree City. Homes priced from the upper $200’s.

11. Cottages at Lakeview Road – Warner, Georgia. Very affordable, the community has efficiently designed new single-story maintenance-free homes starting in the mid $100’s. Minutes from Robins AFB, shopping.

12. Ave Maria, FL.  The community, like Abacoa and The Villages, is a collection of developments and neighborhoods where residents of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and religions will live together. IT has been designed from the ground up to be a compact, walkable, self-sustaining town that offers a full range of residential options and commercial services. Ave Maria is also the first town to be built around a Catholic university, Ave Maria University.

13. Sandestin, Destin, FL. Open to all ages, it is located in Miramar Beach. The 2,400 acre resort offers townhomes, condos and villas both for rent and for sale. The resort is known for its four championship golf courses, beaches, swimming, tennis and beautiful views. Homes are priced from the $100’s to the $millions.

14. Solivita – Kissimmee, FL. This very large and affordable community for active adults has a wide array of amenities on land which includes beautiful lakes and streams. This  golf-cart-friendly community has a full-time activities director, dozens of classes, social clubs and interest groups. 

15. Carolina Park – Mt. Pleasant, SC. Just a few miles from Charleston, there are several neighborhoods in a park-like setting with different home choices and designs. The community is connected through a network of pedestrian walkways. The planned Town Center will include shops, restaurants, and services.

A note about how this list was compiled. To develop it we reviewed our site logs from January through August, 2020. The communities whose web pages were visited the most were the winners. Two of these communities advertise on Topretirements.com, which means they had a better chance of being noticed. Various other factors could have influenced the popularity (e.g.; when they were added or updated), but we believe the choices represent a fair example of the many different kinds of 55+ and active adult communities available.

For further reading:

Comments? Please share your Comments and observations. If you know of a community that should have been included, please let us know in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on September 16th, 2020

3 Comments »

  1. Facts many people are seeking relate to climate change, crime and diversity.
    Whether assessing beachside communities or forested areas, changed weather patterns are top of mind for many. Please supply accurate, scientific based resources for retirees to access.
    For example: building codes like fire resistance and bracing in roof. Another is building stabilization methods for foundations. Potable water resources may be a future concern. Tip grade air filtration systems.

    These factors are missing in community marketing. It is difficult to get from community realtors. It is very time consuming to attempt on one’s own.
    Thank You

    by JF Patterson — September 16, 2020

  2. In our travels throughout the Southeast my biggest realization is that there are a thousands of 55+ and active communities to choose from. The biggest ones tend to have the most amenities and clubs, which helps to compensate for their size. Those things help to make it easy to meet people, even when hundreds or thousands of people live there. Most people gravitate towards communities they know about from friends and relatives. That is how my parents found 7 Lakes in Ft. Myers, and my friends found Pelican Sound in Estero. Others find a place by deciding on a town or area and then drilling down. That is a pretty good way to do it. Going out and visiting places is the only sure way to find a place that will make you happy – whether it is super-popular or not. Good luck

    by Admin — September 19, 2020

  3. As we know from Presidential elections, the “popular” vote is not always determinative. Thus it is with rankings of best places to live; those places that are the most popular arguably are not necessarily the best. One of the most written about is The Villages, a perennial “popular” choice, but I suspect that most of us retirees would consider a better choice to be a community where its residents were not so embittered against each other over politics and social mores. For the past 15 years, I have visited and written about more than 150 communities, virtually all in the Southeast. They are all golf communities but according to most research, at least half are populated by people who never pick up a golf club. Over my decade and a half of research, I have also reviewed a couple dozen “best of” rankings in magazines and web sites and I can say, with confidence, they are all different, some are clearly tilted toward advertisers in their magazines and almost all subjectively selected. At least, a popularity contest is not subjective as some of these other rankings are, but my advice is to NEVER trust the judgment of others, even those who have found a place they say they like. We are all human, and when we plunk down a couple of hundred thousand dollars, we hunger for validation. If we were looking for a retirement location today, my wife and I would first discuss and decide on geography — mountains, lake, coastal or some inland location. Then we would identify the best local communities in that geography that meet our needs, including budget. Then we’d identify a great local Realtor and arrange for a visit to the area. I would hope we could keep to just three or four maximum the number of locations to visit. We would take advantage of “discovery packages” if they were offered, pick the community we liked the best, and ask our Realtor to put us on an automated update list for new homes that come on the market in our price range. If one suited us, I hope we wouldn’t dally; inventories in the Southeast are at historically skimpy levels, and we/you could miss out by delaying…Sorry for the longwinded note, but I am passionate about the subject, so much so that I intend to publish a book soon about the search for a community in the Southeast.

    by Larry — September 22, 2020

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