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What’s in a Name. And How Do Active Adult Communities Get Their Names?

Category: Active adult communities

December 27, 2017 — When we name something, either personally or for business, we are usually trying to accomplish some kind of purpose. In our personal lives, naming a child might include an aspirational goal- naming her after a virtue like Hope, a saint like Mary, or a big success story like Morgan. Perhaps the purpose might to give Junior a name that sounds pretty or fits well with your last name. Or it could be to hand down a family name, or reflect a likable character from a book or movie.

Naming goals are just as important when it comes to active and 55+ communities. So what goes on when developers put on their thinking caps, brainstorming for a name to fit their new retirement community? What attributes will they try to use to position their new property with their target audience (you!) While there are many that are unusual or exotic (Cantamia), whimsical (On Top of the World), or seemingly random (Abacoa) names of communities, there is a tremendous amount of repetition and commonality in active adult and 55+ community names. In this article we will explore some of the most common names we found in the more than 3500 communities in the Topretirements database. If there are patterns we will try to find them. And if we have inadvertently left any commonly used names out, please let us know!


In looking at the most popular community names at Topretirements we did find some common themes:
– Nature – birds, animals, and trees are very popular for example
– Geography and place – valleys, pointes, bays, lakes, etc.
– Respectability – tradition, reserve, tradition
– Prestige – plantation, club, estate, ranch

Most common community names
Through the miracle of search we were able to get a tally on the most popular names used in the active and 55+ communities listed at Topretirements. The direct approach does not appear to be popular – there were no communities with “55+” in the name, and only 5 that use the word “active”. Here are the most popular names in order of frequency:

Village. We have 378 communities that contain the word Village or Villages. Possibly they are trying to emulate the huge Florida community, The Villages, but since the concept of retirement villages is popular elsewhere in the world, maybe that is the drive. Whatever the motivation, certainly the idea of retiring into a self-contained village is appealing. Two examples: Village of Providence and Leisure Village.

Lake. The other most frequent name component we see is Lake, or Lakes, with 255 in that category. Walden Woods at the Lake and Emerald Lake Village are just two examples. Often an active community is built around an existing lake, but in many cases a man-made lake adds a nice focus for a community. Some are not much bigger than large ponds, while others, like Tellico Village, are huge bodies of water. Many such communities have marinas or at least a kayak launching ramp as an amenity.

Club. There are 147 communities at Topretirements that have Club in their name. Often it is Country Club, sometimes Golf (and Tennis), or some other sport is the focus of the club. Whatever the motivation, the term connotes a retirement that offers something exclusive and private.

Ranch. Ranch brings up the west, horses, or some kind of farm animals to our mind. It must be a strong image, because 107 developments in our database use that term. Most, but not all are in the west. For outdoor buffs, the term has a certain appeal. Here are a few examples…
Anthem Ranch in Broomfield, Colorado, SaddleBrooke Ranch near Tucson, Arizona, and Wolf Creek Ranch close to Park City, Utah.

Estates. This term, used by 93 communities here, implies a large and highly manicured landscape for your retirement home. Whether they incorporate estates in the name to try to make up for lack of size, or if it actually reflects something princely, remains to be seen. In many cases we see it attached to RV or mobile home estates, which normally have postage stamp sized lots. We are going to generalize that this is an aspirational kind of name.

Bay. Another popular geographic feature, bay or bay was used by 73 of our communities.

Hills. Rather than flatlands, living in the hills sound preferable to us. Some 69 developments opted for this term as part of their name.

Retirement. This straightforward approach to naming a retirement community was chosen for 69 of the properties on this site. Our bet is that they are more traditional retirement type places, and the emphasis in those communities is not on active.

Plantation. Particularly in the South this term is used frequently (64 communities in all). It connotes luxury and old grandeur. At least a few probably are on the site of an old cotton plantation. Examples range from – Palmetto Air Plantation to Albemarle Plantation.

Heritage. This was a term that surprised us – we thought it would be used more (there were only 58). Maybe developers like this name because it reflects a healthy respect for age, or maybe conservative values. Or maybe it just sounds solid. We suspect these communities are aiming for an older audience. Heritage Bay Golf and Country Club and Heritage Vineyard Creek are 2 samples.

Oaks. There are 58 communities named for this venerable hardwood tree, known for its strength and long life (both of which most retirees would like to have). Those include Vintage Oaks and Monterey Oaks.

Valley. Who wouldn’t want to live in a beautiful and peaceful valley. At least that might be what led to 47 communities to have this term as part of their name.

Harbor. Another pretty geographical feature that finds it way into active adult community names is harbor or harbour (45 in all). Harbor is also a metaphor for a safe place to arrive – a good fit for retirement! Example is Fairfield Harbour.

Pointe. The highfalutin version of Point is Pointe, and there are 41 that use either of these. Once again the image is geographic – a vantage point – probably of a body of water.

Manor. This one, used by 34 communities, seems a little old fashioned, kind of like Estates. Sounds aspirational, trying to offer more luxe than is really there?

Farm. Some 33 developments incorporate farm or farms in their names. Sounds pleasant, although possibly noisy in the morning!

Forest. Nature is the theme again here – nothing offers more peace and quiet than a good forest. Used by 29 communities.

Pines. The number 2 tree name used by communities is this familiar evergreen. There are 28 of them here. Other trees? pecan, walnut, spruce, elm, maple,

Traditions. We like this name to Heritage – it implies stability, respect, character. There are 20 of these – for some reason we thought there would be more. Examples are Traditions of America at Silver Spring and Parc at Tradition.

Pelican. Here again another surprise. It seems like when you drive through Florida or the Gulf Coast every other sign points to some business or neighborhood called Pelican, obviously a very popular bird. Yet we could only find 8 communities with pelican in the name. For the record there are eagles and gulls.

Active. This one is surprising, since so many of the communities on Topretirements would like to be characterized as active adult communities. Possibly the names got truncated, but we could only find 5 that included active in the name. Which is too bad because in our opinion, active adult community is a great way to position places to retire – it sounds younger, healthier, and much more desirable than terms that include retirement or 55+.

Bottom line
We hope you enjoyed our little bit of whimsy in exploring these names. In some cases the names will help tell you a little bit about what kind of community it is, and the people it is trying to attract. In many other cases the developers are just hoping you will like the name enough to give it a chance. Use this National Directory of Active Communities to find all 3500 communities described on Topretirements (arranged by State and City).

Comments? Do you think developers are doing a good job of naming their communities? Do some offend you, or do wish they would have chosen differently? Do they adequately represent the communities they build, and the audience of baby boomers you represent? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
Best Way to Visit an Active Adult Community
Most Desired Amenities at Active Communities

Posted by Admin on December 26th, 2017

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