Note: This list was updated in June, 2020. Six of the winners here repeated.
October 4, 2017 — The allure of Florida’s warm winters, soft sandy beaches, and every imaginable kind of place to live has made it a retirement magnet for over 100 years. Some retirees come here as snowbirds for the winter months only, while others move to the Sunshine State full-time – lock, stock, and barrel. However they come, Florida is by far the most popular place in the U.S. for retirement. This article highlights the 15 most popular active adult and 55+ communities in Florida, as measured by visitor interest at Topretirements.com.
We encourage you to use our Florida Directory of Active Communities to explore the more than 250 active adult and 55+ communities we have reviewed there under almost 100 towns. You can also use our Advanced Search to find communities by state, size, expense, type of community, amenities, etc. – you’ll be sure to find what you are looking for.
A geographically diverse state
In many people’s minds Florida is one big swamp or runaway, cookie cutter development. But in reality it is many different areas that look and feel different – geographically and population-wise. We encourage people who are interested in a warmer retirement to spend some time exploring these different areas. Sarasota is the most popular city in Florida at Topretirements (and #4 in the entire country).
Arranged by geographic region
A development has to really stand out to make it into the top 10 in such a competitive environment. We were pleased to see the winners represent a wide variety of communities – from giants with every amenity like on Top of the World to smaller manufactured home and RV communities. Rather than list them in descending order for the whole state, we are going to list them by the geographic areas they belong to (although their rank in the State is noted). We have included the regions’ marketing nicknames, which are interesting. So here you go, FL’s top 15 communities sorted into the areas they are in.
The Panhandle and Big Bend (Emerald Coast, Forgotten Coast, Nature Coast). This area stretches from Pensacola on the Alabama border down past Tallahasee and counties east of the Apalachicola River. Some of Florida’s most unspoiled territory is here along the coast. This area is not the biggest for active adult communities, which is probably why none made our top 15 list for Florida.
North and Mid-Atlantic Coast (First Coast). This region includes Jacksonville and many beach towns along and near the Atlantic Ocean, stretching down towards Melbourne. It had 3 winners in the top 15.
#2 Latitude Margaritaville, in Daytona Beach. The idea of a Jimmy Buffet themed active community obviously captured the attention of a lot of people.
#6 Indian River Colony Club, Melbourne. This is a very unusual 55+, active adult community dedicated to those who have served in the military. It is located on 453 acres with 773 individually owned 2-4 bedroom single family homes, all with abundant wildlife and beautiful golf course views.
#14 Cresswind Victoria Gardens, DeLand. This 55+ community is part of the larger, all-ages Victoria Park. There is shopping, golf, medical offices and more in this extensive, master planned community.
North Central. This part of Florida is more like Georgia or the Carolinas in many ways. It stretches down the center through Gainesville and Orlando.
#1 The Villages – Ocala. This giant community is the one that almost everyone has heard about, stretching over 3 counties with well over 100,000 residents. There is every kind of activity and club here!
#15 On Top of the World – Ocala. Another very large community with extensive amenities, On Top of the World enjoys a great reputation as a great place to live and stay busy.
On Top of the World-Ocala
Central Atlantic (Space Coast, Treasure Coast).
#3 Barefoot Bay – Sebastian. We were a little surprised to see this modestly priced manufactured home community make the list since we weren’t that familiar with it. Amenities include multiple swimming pools, bocce, tennis, and dozens of clubs.
#11. Abacoa – Jupiter is a new urban town 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.
Central Gulf (Central Coast, Cultural Coast). Here you find the very big city of Tampa with all its surrounding towns and barrier islands, Sarasota, etc. Working people live here as well as retirees.
#4 Lake Haven – Dunedin. Located in Dunedin, one of our favorite FL towns, this RV/mobile/manufactured home community has modest amenities, an active 55 lifestyle, and affordable prices too.
#9 Tropical Palms – Bradenton. Here is another sleeper community not on our radar. Community amenities include clubhouse, exercise room, pool, library, and picnic area. Resale homes priced under $25,000.
#8 Valencia Lakes – Tampa. This exciting community has its own waterfront recreation area with a magnificent 27,000 total square foot clubhouse, pools, tennis courts, basketball, recreational paths and more. A full-time Lifestyle Director organizes a wide variety of clubs, fun events and opportunities.
South Central Florida. This area is big on retirement communities and also offers some of the most inexpensive living in Florida.
#5 Solivita – Kissimee. Another very large and extensively amenitied community, this active adult community boasts over 150,000 square feet of amenities and beautiful homes.
Southern Gulf (Lee Island Coast). Relatively newly developed and growing by leaps and bounds, this area on the Gulf of Mexico includes Naples, Fort Myers, and more.
#7 Del Webb Naples – Ave Maria. Located in the new urban community of Ave Maria, the Del Webb brand is familiar to most. There are 2,000 homes and an incredible array of amenities.
#12 Pelican Preserve – Fort Myers. This 55+ community was one of the first residential communities in the world awarded the Gold Seal of Sustainability from Audubon International’s Sustainable Development program. It is a gated golf course community.
#13 Port Charlotte Village – Port Charlotte. An affordable resident owned community where at least one person residing in the home must be at least 55 years of age. There are 435 homes on 86 plus acres with three fresh water lakes.
South Florida and Miami (Gold Coast). The Miami part of Florida is huge and includes towns and cities to the north like Fort Lauderdale, and also verges down into the Florida Keys.
#10 Wynmoor Village – Coconut Creek. This gated community consists of 5,260 condominium units spread across 133 mid-rise buildings. It offers an active lifestyle with country club-style amenities.
About how we compiled this list
To come up with this list we reviewed our site logs from Jan 1 to Sept 30 of this year. The 15 Florida communities that were viewed the most made the list. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are the “best” communities, but in this one important dimension they have succeeded in attracting member and visitor attention on our site.
Comments?. Do you have a favorite Florida active community you think should have made this list? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
For further reading:
15 Most Popular Active Communities in Arizona
15 Most Popular Active Communities in North Carolina
100 Top Active Communities for 2016
Affordable Places to Live on the Waterfront
The Southwest: 10 Great Places to Retire That Won’t Break Your Budget