August 17, 2021 — There are active adult communities everywhere, and most have all kinds of great activities and amenities. And then there are the really large active communities, those with almost 10,000, or even over 130,000 residents. As for the popularity of really large communities, The Villages, the grandaddy of all, just showed up (again) as the fastest growing Metro in the U.S. So obviously, they are doing something right for a certain segment of the population.
These super communities offer a truly amazing variety of amenities and lifestyle options. Many have hundreds of clubs and a dizzying number of choices for non-stop activities every day. The problem there is not finding something to do on a given day, rather it is narrowing down the choices.
Exact figures are hard to come by, but we estimate that there are at least 10 active communities in the eastern U.S. with more than 10,000 residents. If you know of some that we have overlooked, please let us know about them! 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 are open to residents of all ages and even have schools for the children that live there. But some have distinct 55+ neighborhoods within them.
Lakewood Ranch, Florida is just above Sarasota with its own exit from I 75. A master-planned community, Lakewood Ranch has a town center and is made up of at least 14 separate communities spread out over 48 square miles. It also has farmland, golf courses and medical facilities. The visitor center is a great help in describing what the separate communities offer. It is estimated there are more than 35,000 people who live here.
Sun City Center, located in Ruskin near Tampa, is one of a handful of active 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.
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.
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 how many people get around in golf carts on the many roads built especially for them. Like The Villages, customized golf carts seem to be the preferred method of transportation. There are swimming pools, athletic fields, a huge library, a 2,000 seat amphitheater, etc.
Solivita Another community in nearby Kissimee that might appeal to younger retirees is Solivita with its 5,900 homes. 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. There are eight amenity complexes to choose from.
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.
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 has about 130,000 residents. Its 3 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.
Viera, Florida. Jan Cullinane suggested another very large master-planned community. It is all-ages, but it does contain five active adult communities within it including Heritage Isle and Bridgewater at Viera. Viera East and West have a population over 16,000 according to Wikipedia, and 76 neighborhoods. Viera is 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.
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 the $200,000s to over $1 million.
Holiday City Silverton in Toms River, NJ is one of two Holiday Cities there totaling over 13,000 residents. Other areas of New Jersey like Manchester Township also have some other very large active communities.
Sun City Hilton Head – Bluffton, SC. The community of 8,000 homes has 14,000 residents. There are plenty of amenities to choose from in this Pulte development in the low country of South Carolina.
Find what you are looking for. 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. 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.
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