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The Villages: An Incredible Place to Retire

Category: Active adult communities

By Jackie: (This was an unsolicited contribution by one of our Members who has retired to The Villages. It is so rich in detail we thought it had to be published on its own. See bottom of article for links to other articles on The Villages).

December 27, 2020 –

“The Villages is an incredible place to retire to”.  

Jackie

I spent the first 60 years of my life visiting family and friends mostly in Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tamarac, Boca, Delray, West Palm Beach, Naples, Fort Myers, Clearwater, New Port Richey, Sarasota, The Villages and Ponte Vedra. I knew 10 years ago I wanted to move to The Villages (TV), but my husband was keen on either Naples or Delray.  So about 4 1/2 years ago I decided to retire to Delray Beach after looking for a home to buy over a 5 year period. Then I stayed at my aunt’s house in The Villages for a long weekend for a family wedding. After that we decided to cancel our plans for Delray and move to the Villages instead. We have not regretted our decision.

When we moved here 4 years ago we brought my husband’s 92 year old mom from Ft. Lauderdale and put her in an assisted living/Memory Care 15 minutes from our home.  Last year we moved my 90 year old father from Delray Beach into an independent living community near my mother-in-law.  Several days a week we took them to some of the lecture clubs, movies clubs, theatre clubs, concerts, etc.and out to lunch, picnics, etc., which we both realized we never could have done elsewhere. We have already picked out a few independent and assisted living places we would like to move to when the time comes for us.  


Pre-Covid

Before Covid we belonged to about 2 dozen clubs and had a theatre subscription here in TV.  Our favorite clubs were the Gourmet Dinner Club (coming from New York City and Philadelphia we find most of the food in the Villages to be inedible). Fortunately there are really good restaurants in Ocala, Orlando and Winter Park and other surrounding areas within an hour or so drive. The Asian American club (where for $10 you can have a full Asian meal and a show from whichever country was featured that month), TV Nostalgia (where old TV shows and commercials were shown and Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Snowballs, etc were served for a $2 donation and a fun trivia contest), educational lecture clubs like Humanists, Civid Discourse, Philosophy, and Freethinkers (occasionally cookies and brownies were offered), World Wide Foreign Travel (where people did a 45 minute video presentation of a trip they went on followed by questions after. No food at this one though they do have a yearly dinner featuring a different country each year), and Apple Users Group (3 or 4 meetings a month with group presentations on how to use your Apple devices plus individual help but no food).  Our neighborhood has its own clubs including a once a month potluck with entertainment, chick flicks, pinochle, dine out, and weekly golf and bocce groups, etc.  We also love driving in the golf cart everywhere.  

After Covid lockdowns

We found we were as busy as ever playing golf, birding, swimming, exercising on outdoor equipment, going to outdoor concerts (the 3 Squares were closed most of the time but there are other places to go to listen to music), hiking in the nearby State Parks, strolling through gardens, walking to see the sunset, bicycle riding, and having picnics in the preserves with family and friends, all while wearing masks and being socially distant.  We also zoom some of the lecture clubs.  We tend to stay away from the more crowded areas due to the lack of mask wearers which brings me to the one thing I don’t like about The Villages (that other people might like) – 70% of the people are Trump supporters, and like the President choose to meet in large groups and not wear masks. 


Although I’ve been following Top Retirements for at least 10 years, I never wrote a comment until I saw Patricia’s comment about being single and alone.  I saw how in my Delray Beach family condo communities how women would be tossed when their husbands died.  My own parents did that to one of their friends who become a widow.  We have many single women friends and they all seem to have a great quality of life here in The Villages.  Yes, some would like to find a man to do things with and some like being on their own without a man.  All seem to feel they have a fulfilled life in a safe place.  

A Step in the Journey. Aside from The Villages being a great place for couples and singles, I think it is also a wonderful place for transitioning to an independent or assisted living community. Several of the places here are part of The Villages so you can still use all the Villages amenities without having a home to take care of. That way you can still do the same activities and see your friends, even use your own golf cart. On top of that each community has their own activities to partake in. There are about a dozen assisted living communities in or within a 20 minute drive from the center of the Villages and more being built.  Three have Villages amenities rights. 

Come on down and see for yourself

It’s hard to see why The Village is an interesting place to retire unless you come and experience it for a few days. 

Thank you so much for your website.  I refer friends to it all the time.  You have a wealth of interesting topics that I still enjoy despite having found my forever community in The Villages. 

Disclaimer:  Our parents do not live in a community that enables them to use Villages amenities so we would bring them in as guests. They are not capable of going to places on their own so we had to take them anyway. My mother-in-law passed away in May due to but not from Covid. My father’s place has been on lockdown mostly since mid March.  We did take my dad out for picnic lunches until this past week because there is a Covid outbreak in his building


Thank you Jackie! We just love the detail you put into this piece, which shows so much about the place where you have retired. If anyone else can add to her observations about Life in The Villages please do so in the Comments section below.

For further reading:

Posted by Admin on December 27th, 2020

15 Comments »

  1. Let me start out by saying that I love when people find their perfect retirement spot. A little jealous maybe, but I do love to hear after reading about all the different community types and the check lists that need to be met, that someone has found the perfect spot! And I thank Jackie for taking the time to let us know and write such an interesting article. She sounds very happy. But I did visit The Villages-three times actually in about a 10-year span. The first one was a “discovery package” of sorts and we stayed for two days in a beautiful single family home, and given the grand tour, but left feeling it was not for us. Our last two trips to The Villages were a few years later to visit friends who love the lifestyle there as much as Jackie and insisted we needed to look it over again. Although we were shown a great time, we knew for sure it was not for us. So it is to each their own. And just this week a very good friend sent a Christmas card with a picture of their new home in The Villages that they bought for themselves as a Christmas present, and they couldn’t be happier.

    by Jemmie — December 29, 2020

  2. I have to agree with Jackie the villages is an incredible place we have been here about 8 years and love it!

    by Goldie — December 30, 2020

  3. The Villages. Anyone know if there is a subdivision of TV that allows your backyard to be fenced (dog)? Note – tried the invisible fence, not a viable option for our current dog, Otto. Thank you.

    by Robert M. — December 30, 2020

  4. It’s interesting that the writer likes The Villages so much when she describes the food in The Villages as “inedible” and needs to drive an hour or so to dine at a good restaurant!

    by Lan Sluder — December 30, 2020

  5. I’ve mentioned this story before, but I think it bears repeating. When I was hunting for a retirement destination, I ultimately chose the huge 55+ Sun City near Hilton Head. I thought it had everything I wanted (including a large number of retirees and activities, improving the odds of finding “my people”). I met with a realtor to buy a home. FIRST: As we visited homes, the realtor told me that there were two kinds of retirees: the ones who constantly talked about their kids, grandkids or their prior lives, friends and communities, and the ones who were really looking forward to a new life and adventure in retirement. She felt the first group eventually moved back to be near their family or prior life. SECOND: My realtor graciously showed me her own home. She talked about how everyone on her street was a single woman, and that it was really nice that they went in & out of each others’ homes, ate together, vacationed together, etc. I realized that I was an introvert and would HATE that…which would then lead to me being on the “outs” with the close community of girlfriends.

    I surprised myself by NOT buying a home that weekend. I realized I fell into “Group 1” and wouldn’t be happy moving hours away from my family & first grandkid. As my health would deteriorate with age, I didn’t view myself as being able to travel as much — and I didn’t want my family to have to spend their limited vacation time traveling hours to visit either. I also realized that I didn’t have the personality to be a happy Golden Girl, even though Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia were so diverse.

    Even with the enormous resources of the Villages, I think my realtors’ wisdom is still worth considering. Everyone has to assess your own personality and goals for retirement, to consider if any community is going to be right for you. Best wishes to all for a healthy and happy 2021.

    by Kate — December 31, 2020

  6. For Robert–One very popular type of home in The Villages is a courtyard villa. The backyards are completely fenced in with walls and are very private. Good area for dogs.

    by Bart — December 31, 2020

  7. Robert M. If you want a home with a fence, there are courtyard villas, 2 to 3 bedroom 1 1/2 to 2 car garage homes (1/2 for golf cart) single family detached homes that are fenced in the older and newer sections of The Villages. In the newer areas there are larger single family detached homes with fences.

    by Jackie — December 31, 2020

  8. Lan, Having grown up in NYC with time spent later in life in Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, I am a self admitted food snob especially when it comes to ethnic foods, Asian, Italian, Indian, and Jewish deli. I am not, outside of my home, a meat and potatoes eater but I hear that you can find good food of that sort in one of the dozen or so country clubs or dozens of restaurants within the Villages. By the way, it could take 30 to 60 minutes to get from one end of TV to the other by car or golf cart.
    For good ethnic food I go to Orlando, Ocala, Gainesville, and Winter Park. Before Covid we had Disney annual passes and would go to Epcot for the food festivals and to see a concert and have lunch or dinner. Disney Springs also has some excellent restaurants.
    On top of all that, my husband makes better meat and potato meals than we can find in most restaurants here and I do the Asian cooking at home.

    by Jackie — December 31, 2020

  9. Kate, I think I fit into Group 2,” looking forward to a new life and adventure in retirement”, by default, as not only have we always been adventurous and love trying new things to do and see, we have over 70 aunts, uncles, cousins and good friends living less than 4 hours from us in Florida and after spending the past 60 years visiting them it seems more like home to us than where we raised our children.
    Both our son and daughter are nomadic and have little ties to where they grew up, have no plans to marry or have children anytime soon so I doubt we will move to wherever they settle down.
    I have met a few people who have moved back to be near family but many of our friends, prior to Covid, had no problem flying often to visit their children/grandchildren as air fares are relatively inexpensive from/to Orlando (an hour 15 minute drive by car or the Villages buses that go there) and Disney is a big draw for families to visit their parents/grandparents here. The Villages offered during the Winter, Spring and Summer school breaks (again prior to Covid) a program called Camp Villages where grandchildren along with their grandparents used many of the amenities in The Villages for shared activities such as archery, bocce, pool, golfing, swimming, fishing, shuffleboard, bowling, arts and crafts, horseshoes, corn hole, tennis, pickle ball, concerts, dancing, Santa and Easter Bunny visits, etc. Most of all the children love riding around in the golf carts, especially those 14 and older who can drive the carts.
    P.S. We love Hilton Head too and went for a week in October staying near Sea Pines. We wanted to do a look-see at the new Margaritaville community but ran out of time. HH seems like a really nice place to retire but not for us – hurricanes and no-see-ums are a concern as well as no family nearby. It’s less than a 5 hour drive from The Villages so visiting a few times a year is easy for us.

    by Jackie — December 31, 2020

  10. Thanks Jackie for the additional comments and insights. Sounds like your house is a good place to go for a great meal!

    Here’s to an adventurous retirement, and happy New Year to all!

    by Admin — January 1, 2021

  11. Where are The Villages? Florida? Sounds like a great community.

    by John Hutchins — January 1, 2021

  12. Hi John

    The Villages are located near Ocala in Central Florida (Sumter, Lake, and Marion Counties).
    If you go to the top of this page you’ll see the drop down menu. There you’ll find Directories where you can search for information on different towns and communities by State.

    You can also ask a question or make a comment on the city reviews (it is at the bottom – What People are Saying. You do have to be registered as a Member to do that, but that is easy.

    Hope this helps!
    Flo

    by Moderator Flo — January 2, 2021

  13. John, The Villages is in Central Florida, an hour northwest of Orlando and one hour south of Gainesville (home of The University of Florida), the two biggest cities near us. We are approximately 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes from the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The Villages is surrounded by horse and cattle farms in an area very unlike southern Florida. More like the South than South Florida.

    by Jackie — January 2, 2021

  14. Before I retired, my work took me to The Villages on occasion. I haven’t been there for a few years. My impressions were that it was a very attractive place with charming little “downtown” areas interspersed throughout. The company keeps the grounds and public buildings well-maintained. The population, though spread out, is probably now approaching 100,000. Even a few years ago, it seemed that traffic could at times be slow and somewhat frustrating with roads that maybe weren’t designed for as many people who have moved there. Over the years it has gained a reputation as generally being conservative. Many right-leaning politicians, including President Trump, have made it a point to make stops there for campaigns and similar drop-ins. Still, it appears that about a quarter to a third of the folks in the area lean Democratic. I worked all over Florida, predominantly with older people. My impressions were that the west (Gulf) coast, except maybe the Tampa Bay Area, generally drew people who were more conservative, especially in the panhandle area; they were often from the Midwest. The college towns, Gainesville and Tallahassee, were more left-leaning, and large cities like Orlando and Jacksonville, to a growing extent, are tilting left as well. The greater Miami area (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold, often giving the Democratic presidential candidate around 60% or more of the vote. Many of the retirees there come from the New York City area as well as New Jersey and a few other places in the northeast. Bottom line is that you’ll find folks of differing political beliefs everywhere in Florida, but some areas clearly have a greater concentration of people leaning either left or right. If that’s a consideration for you, research and actual visits should be important aspects of your Florida retirement decision-making.

    by Clyde — January 2, 2021

  15. We visited the Villages and said no thank you. It’s too far from either coast to easily go to the beach. Having lived in both Tampa and Palm Beach Gardens, I know I went to the beach on a regular basis, and that’s important to me. I also know the interior is warmer in the summer, buggier and has more snakes. I’m glad it works for some, but I wouldn’t live there because of its location.

    by Barbara Sprouls — January 6, 2021

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