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Facts, Fiction, and the Fast Life at The Villages, FL

Category: Active adult communities

In 2006 Central Florida was shocked and titillated to read this headline in the Orlando News: “STDs Running Rampant in Retirement Community“. The community in question being The Villages, the sprawling active adult enclave spanning several towns and home to over 60,000 people. Dr. Colleen McQuade, a gynecologist, was quoted that she “treats more cases of herpes and the human papilloma virus in the retirement community than she did in the city of Miami.” The patients, as old as 80, are “very shocked (to hear the diagnosis)”. Viagra, no risk of pregnancy, and lack of sex education were viewed as the culprits.

That bit of press was a source of merriment to talk show hosts around the country. On the other hand, it is probably a minor activity in a community obsessed with golf and non-stop activities of all types.  Indeed, if you lurk on “Talk of the Villages“, a popular Forum for residents of The Villages, you will find that life there is more typical than sensational.

Topretirements has just reviewed 2 books that discuss The Villages.  In “Leisureville”, Andrew Blechman follows his 55+ neighbors to the active adult community. It is a fascinating read but tends to show life there through a (much younger) prism than his former neighbor’s. Here’s how our Topretirements Guide OldNaussau described the book: “Repeatedly, the retirees with whom he speaks, or who speak to him, quite clearly contradict him. He tries to present the Villages, and several other retirement communities, as sterile, lock-step, isolated, vacuous – like the towns in the movie “Pleasantville” or the novel “Fahrenheit 451″ – but the Villagers praise the activities, security, economy, and socializing around them.”

Do you Know The Villages? If so, report on what you think, either in the Comments section below, or in the TR Forum – Is Leisureville on or off the Mark

For Further Reference
The Villages CDDs get Proposed Tax-Free Bond Settlement from IRS
The Villages – Facts and Opinions

Posted by Admin on May 24th, 2009


  1. […] free municipal bonds as a way to finance infrastructure. Topretirements readers may recall in our recent story about The Villages that its complicated ownership structure was a great concern to Andrew Blechman in his book about […]

    by » Villages CDDs Get Proposed IRS Settlement Topretirements — June 2, 2009

  2. We know 10 couples who own homes in the Villages, FL and they absolutely LOVE it–very affordable and endless things to do–1300 clubs, sports teams/leagues, and activites, all free to homeowners and renters.

    Regarding the RUMOR about rampant STD’s:

    The free, promotional DVD on the Villages includes about 30 seconds showing visits there by Jeb Bush, Ollie North, and Pres. G. W. Bush. Also, Sarah Palin campaigned there, and so of course, endless ridicule and mockery followed.

    This INFURIATES Hollywood-liberal followers of Obama, Pelosi, Ried, Franken, etc., and of course, total destruction of character of ANYONE embracing a conservative idea must ensue. (Just as all McCain voters had to be labelled “racist” for not voting for Obama “because of his race”–the disciples of Hollywood liberals were not about to be hindered by the reality and truth of it being because of his policies and agenda.)

    And so, Village residents and management must be punished with the rumor, that I was told at first was HIV and AIDS “being the highest number in the state”. Later, I read the Orlando Sentinel article quoting a gynecologist saying it was a high number of herpes and HPV cases amongst octegenarians who’ve reactivated their sex lives, (and HIV AIDS was not mentioned).

    Bottom line is the same for ANY community in America — don’t mess around outside of marriage or your committed, blood tested partner, and you won’t get STD’s.

    What is totally DIFFERENT from most American urban centers is The Villages’ CLEANLINESS everywhere, friendly, law-abiding people who know it’s safe to leave your golf bags on the cart in the parking lot at Publix or Target, and it is safe to walk the streets day and night. That, too, infuriates the urban freeloaders who vote for a living instead of work for a living.

    by Ellen — August 5, 2009

  3. Ellen seems a bit over the top, but isn’t it so typical…… A high rate of veneral disease among Republicans becomes the fault of liberals,urban freeloaders (who don’t live at The Villages)and somehow Obama is involved. Failure to use condoms and keep their pants up might have more to do with sexually transmitted disease than trying to scapegoat a political philosophy.

    by Terry — May 26, 2010

  4. 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

  5. I don’t know about the STD aspect of The Villages but can share with you some of my experience with the Villages.
    Once they have you they don’t want to let go,.. ever. If you like Stepford Wives, you will love the Villages. It’s one big plastic playground where everything gives the illusion of perfection. My parents lived there for 6 years. They bought a medium priced home and started out with $250,000 in savings. My parents are not extravagant people and you would think that would be enough money to live out their retirement, but it wasn’t. For starters, the additional $15,000 bond on their house was not disclosed to them until after the fact. From that point on month by month they were drained of their finances at alarming rates.
    And if you have a medical condition or handicap don’t expect to be “treated” at the doctor’s office either. When my Mom began showing some warning signs of beginning dementia I explained to the doctor my concerns and told him that she had begun to be forgetful but at first I had dismissed it due to her age since she was 81 years old. He stopped me in my tracks and said “you can’t say that”. I was bewildered and asked what he meant but he just repeated it “you can’t say that” and refused to continue the conversation. I asked him “what you do mean I can’t say that,.. that she’d 81 years old?” He said “yes, you can’t say that. There is no Age here. This is a robust vibrant retirement community and no one is old here. You will have to rephrase your statement if you want to continue this conversation”. I was totally shocked and dumfounded but managed to say “okay,.. A person of her advanced years.” He nodded and said “yes, that is acceptable,.. you may continue”. He also denied her a wheelchair even though she could barely get around from room to room. His reasoning>>? “It doesn’t fit the imagine that the developer wants to portray.” These are exact quotes by the way. This doctor is located on Villages property and obviously would rather be a PR man for the developer than uphold his hypocrite oath of being a doctor who puts his patients first.
    So when we all decided it was no longer in the parent’s best interests to live in The Villages, we put their home up for sale. The Villages realtors convinced us that they could do a much better job at selling the home than an outside realtor could so they signed a 6 month contract with them. Six months later the home had still not sold and I made an unpleasant discovery. The Villages Realtors are not realtors in the way you would expect. They are not part of the Realtors Association and are merely sales reps for the Developer. So they don’t have to abide by the same code of ethics that actual realtors are sworn to uphold. Instead they work for and represent the developer, not the seller. The Developer had mandated that they make selling NEW homes their priority because new homes are costing them money every month that goes by unsold, and the homes already owned,.. Well those are the owner’s problem. At the end of six months we listed with an outside realtor and the home sold in two months.
    So a word of caution to all those wanting to live in The Villages Paradise. Think long and hard and get all the facts. There are pitfalls and it is not always what it is promoted to be.

    by Tara — April 25, 2011

  6. In reference to Tara’s comments:

    My in-laws moved to the Villages 15 years ago. For them, it was the best thing they could have done. My father-in-law was not doing well in upstate New York and was not very active. After they got to the Villages there activity level increased and so did their health. Sadly, my father-in-law developed cancer and died last year, but was very active until the last couplee of months.

    As to the comments on the bond. All of the paperwork I have see clearly shows and discusses the bonds. It was in all of the purchase info when my in-laws bought there villa 15 years ago. The bond is not a one time payment, but is financed and included in the monthly payment. You can pay it off at any time, but the interest rate is very low, so why would you.

    You said that your parents had $250,000 in savings when they moved in, and that after 6 years they were drained financially. Considering there age, they must have been receiving at least social security payments monthly. My in-laws lived very well on there social security payments and never had to dip into their savings.

    Did they have health insurance? Did one of them end up in a nursing facility? I know that these situations can put a large strain of savings. If that is the case, that is regretable.

    The doctor who talked to you should be reported to the Florida Health Dept. and he should be investigated. He has know business treated patients of your parents age, let alone anyone. My in-laws have not had that problem, but they did have to shop around for doctors they were comfortible with.

    As to the real estate, I can only state that my wife and I are moving into a new house in the Villages that we are having built. We did look at existing homes. I have been told by other people that the Villages “real estate” concentrate on new homes. However, if that is the case it is short cited, since the Villages will be built out in a few years. At that point, re-sales will be the name of the game.

    Finally, where you live is very personal. We have developed a lot friends in the Villages since my in-laws moved in. We like what the Villges offers. Nothing is perfect, and the Villages has its warts. But we think to positives far out pace the negatives.

    by Chris — June 12, 2011

  7. The Villages is awesome! There is so much to do and just wait until Brownwood (the 3rd town square is built) there won’t be another community like this in the world!

    by Gary — June 15, 2011

  8. @Gary: the only good thing about The Villages, and Brownwood is the fact that they will be that much closer to my home, where they will no doubt offer me some ridiculously low amount for the removal of my family (considering we are nowhere near the age requirement they have) and I can move far away from this “Hell Hole” known as the Villages!

    by LittleMissRESENTMENT — June 22, 2011

  9. Tara- The Bond info is upfront and often discussed in any forum or literature about The Villages. The Doctors do not work for The Villages and act as any other doctor does. You can go to the next town, as some do, to find your doctor. You make it sound as if The Villages control the doctors. I can live here just on my Social Security so there must be more to the story about the $250,000 savings account that is missing. Our costs are known just like in any other HOA and BTW, I was paying over $250 for my last HOA fee and all I got was two tennis courts and a basketball court. Here I pay $137 and have all the pools, golf courses and about 2000 activities for my money.

    As for the sales people, they are required to be licensed in Florida and are therefore subject to the same laws as any other realtor. My wife is a realtor so I know. They have daily open houses for resales that are published in the paper and annouced on the radio and if the resales do not sell it is the market conditions and not the fault of the TV agents. Sure they would rather sell the new homes but as our vistors found out, all you have to do is ask and they will limit the homes they show you to the resales and do so gladly. The problem is the same as it is all over the country. People are trying to sell their resales for the same or more than they paid for them an the price of the new homes was going down for a while to adjust to market conditions and lets face it, for a few thousand more you can get a new home so why buy a resale? We have moved 13 times and this is our 9th home and best place we ever lived. Lots of friends (30 showed up at my recent birthday party), very quiet neighborhoods and everyone is so polite and helpful to one another. There is a great spirit of community and the desire to enjoy the remaining years of our lives among our residents. I have been working since I was 14 non stop and I think I am entitled to live the rest of my life for me rather than for the profits of some company that will fire you to preserve the bottom line.

    I do not golf nor join clubs and I have never had a busier social life. I know a few people who left soon after moving here and they seem to fall into two categories. The first are those used to living in uncrowded areas with a lot of land and cannot cope with the density of homes here. The others fall into two sub categories. Those who want every home to look the same and cannot tolerate even the slightest infraction of the rules like placing a gnome on your lawn. The other sub category goes to the other extreme and wants to be able to paint their home purple if they want, smoke anywhere they wish, blast a radio at the pool, and pretty much do as they please like they did in the last place they lived in.

    The Villages makes no secret that you are buying a Lifestyle. If you just want a home you can get more for your money outside of TV. If you do not want to buy into the lifestyle and abide by its rules (which are about the same as all other HOAs I have lived in) then do not move here and complain.

    by Vinny — August 2, 2011

  10. I have read the book “Leisureville” and I think the Author spend more time closing down the bars than enjoying the many wonderful activities available in The Villages. regarding some of the other comments I have read: I don’t know how anyone could buy a home in The Villages and not be aware of the bond! It is discussed openly and should not be a surprize. I agree there must be more to the story regarding the missing 250,000 in savings because the cost of living in The Villages is low compared to a lot of places. The 137.00 a month HOA fee is a deal considering all the golf, swimming pools, recreation centers etc. you get for your money! On our visits to The Villages the Sales agents eagerly showed us both new and re-sale homes that matched our critera. I know The Villages is not for everyone, most people (like Me) love it but there are always those few who will hate it and that’s OK.

    by Doug — August 30, 2011

  11. We are living in Palm Harbor now and are looking at TV. We were surprised to see the home prices there have really stayed up and are really more than other areas even the beach areas. Any thoughts to the prices when the developer finishes and is gone? Also, was it hard to leave the beaches and to move inland?

    by Nancy — December 5, 2011

  12. When I interviewed single women about where they chose to relocate for my upcoming book, several cited The Villages specifically for the multitude of activities geared toward singles.

    Jan Cullinane

    by Jan Cullinane — December 6, 2011

  13. As a CPA semi retired in TV I find most of the negative statements outlandish. One example is certainly the (inferred) bilking of $250k. Another is the bond. The bond is and has been very well published. Secondly, it pays for infrastructure. If you are a homeowner ANYWHERE you pay for the infrastructure one way or the other. It could be (and often is ) within he cost of your land . Why do you think that $3000/acre farmland cost you $50,000 when you buy it with your residence? Other times the infrastructure is included in local real-estate or other taxes, or “metropolitan” charges added to water and sewage, et etc.
    in TV most costs are segregated and billed separately, so instead of being buried, you know what you are paying for – and with the “bond” the cost actually has an ending!

    by Ken — September 7, 2013

  14. Would like to know more about the suicide rate seems very high in the villages ?

    by Joe — February 2, 2018

  15. This is the reality, the Villages, Florida is growing so fast.

    by The Villages Florida — May 9, 2018

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