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Discover and Stay Is the Way – to Retire

Category: Active adult communities

You, and perhaps your significant other, might be obsessing about how to find your best place to retire, and what you might do once you get to the state of retirement. The process is fun for many folks, but an intimidating hassle for others. Wherever you come out on this spectrum, this article, in which we will discuss Fly and Stay packages, will be a help.

Fly and Stay packages (also called Discover and Stay, Play and Stay, Weekend Getaway, etc.) are the fun and low risk way to check out various best places to retire. You can usually purchase them at low cost from active adult communities, or you can make up your own for the towns you might be considering. The offers are so attractive that you just shouldn’t pass them up (but hurry, the high season is starting in the Sunbelt).

Active Adult Communities
Many good marketers often make it a point to offer Stay and Play packages. The theory being that if the community is really that good, nothing will sell it better than a fun-filled visit of a few days. Indeed if you ever visit the Visitor Center at a community like The Villages in Florida, your head will spin with how many people come in and pick up their keys and orientation packets. Some of our friends take advantage of these subsidized stays over and over again they are so much fun. Often, but not always, they end up buying in the communities they sample. One problem is that smaller communities usually don’t have the resources to offer these packages, so they are harder to sample.

Some of the packages we have encountered cost $199 for 3 nights, others charge more or less. Some stays are for longer or more flexible periods. The Villages charges $179/night. Most of these packages are a genuine bargain because they typically include bonuses like free golf, tennis, access to all recreational facilities, use of a golf cart, some free meals, even discounts at shops. The attraction for the community is that by making you feel like a resident, you get to sample the lifestyle, and you might just decide to purchase. For you, the package offers an inexpensive vacation and a very low risk way to try out a new lifestyle and location.

Here are some of the active adult 55+ communities we were able to identify that offer Stay and Play packages, but there are many, many more out there:
(Important: It doesn’t hurt to ask! If you are interested in a particular community call them up and ask if they offer a Discover and Play package -they might just make one up for you! Just be aware that these packages typically will not be available once the community is fully developed and the sales office closes up shop).
Southern Dunes, Haines City FL. Play 10 Orlando golf courses.
Mariner Sands,Stuart FL. Available Jan 20 – April 20.
SunRiver, St. George UT. Packages starting at $99.
The Villages. $175 per night Jan 1 – March 31.
Pebble Creek, Goodyear, AZ. Most if not all Robson Ranch properties offer a peak season, 3 night package for $199.
Talking Rock, Prescott AZ. Package available for $450.
Wild Wing Plantation, Myrtle Beach SC. Choose from 3 different packages from $99 to $249.
Golden Ocala, near Ocala FL. Live like a resident. Play like a member.
The Settlement at Powhatan Creek, Williamsburg VA. Choose from $99 or $149 packages.
Hot Springs Village, Hot Springs AR. Weekend Getaway packages.
Porters Neck, Wilmington NC. Weekend Getaway Package.
Hampton Lake, Bluffton SC. Their “Sneak a Peek” program even offers a $1500 travel rebate

Touring Retirement Towns (not 55+ developments)
You say you are not interested in a 55+ or active adult community? Well go ahead and make your own stay and play package to sample the retirement towns you have been considering. If you are flying, pick out a few towns in a manageable area. If you are driving, select some retirement towns a day’s travel apart and visit them. Stay in B & B’s or motels (use to find the best ones). Make a date with a realtor and tour a few homes – you will learn a lot. Use the National Directory of towns and active communities at Topretirements to identify the towns and active adult communities you want to pursue further.

Bottom Line
Fly and Stay packages are too good a deal to pass up. They are cheap, fun, and educational. You will at some point during your visit meet with a sales representative, but you can also view that as part of your learning process about the community. The New York Times just ran an article, “Like a College Visit, Minus the Kegs“, in which they profile several successful “Fly and Stayers” and their journeys to a host of more communities offering these visits. Most important of all – a Stay and Play package can save you from making a terrible and expensive mistake. If a community isn’t for you, a short stay like this will probably help you find that out…before you make a big purchase and difficult move.

Have you been on a Stay and Play visit?
Share your experiences in the Comments section below.

For further reference:
25 Best Active Adult Communities of 2009

Posted by John Brady on January 18th, 2010


  1. Looking at trying an adult 55 community for a month to see if we like it or not. Looking at Feb. 2020 as a trial. We are a couple years from retiring and just checking things out. Thanks Jim

    by Jim Calvert — September 3, 2019

  2. Where are you headed Jim ?

    by Billy — September 4, 2019

  3. I have always worried the meeting with sales person would be a hard sale. What has been people’s experience?

    by Steve — September 5, 2019

  4. My wife and I were looking hard at Trilogy at Vistancia in the northwest valley of Phoenix. It was easy to be intoxicated with the beauty as you drove in the main entrance and toured the clubhouses, all with a representative in tow. The key for us, during the stay and play, was to spend time outside of this ‘supervision’. We ate the free meal at the on site restaurant, observing the residents and interacting with the staff. We stayed in a home that helped me start to understand the differences in home building – midwest vs southwest. The AC was too loud overhead, the water is super hard, leaving spots, the garage was tool small, etc…..which helped as we were in the design center prior to building our house. The KEY was when we got to the pool, and floated around a bit, and got onto a few conversations with current residents. You need to weed out, but there were some common themes that they talked about. You absolutely NEED to talk to locals. All in all, the stay and play was an important key in our decision process.

    by Greg C — September 5, 2019

  5. Greg C, we did a stay & play there. And at Robson Ranch. Also Picacho in Las Cruces NM( so beautiful). In Oct we are headed to Nevada, 1 S&P in Pahrump, 1 in Mesquite. Then into the Vegas/Henderson area.
    It is so important to meet the people and figure out if you fit in.
    We have 3 more yrs and hopefully find a place. Want to get out of the ONE rain

    by Tomi Huntley — September 5, 2019

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