Updated December 21, 2017, originally published February 11, 2011
This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series. Part 1 covers competitors in the West, while Part 2 discusses alternatives to The Villages in the East.
We frequently get a question just like this one – “We have visited The Villages (TV) and we love it – it is our first choice for retirement. But before we commit, are there any other age-restricted communities that are remotely the same size or offer a similar range of amenities”?
The good news is that, although no other community comes close to the mega-size of The Villages, there are least 16 other active communities with over 10,000 residents. That represents a size sufficiently large to provide a comparable range of amenities and clubs to those enjoyed by the over 100,000 residents of The Villages. In addition, there is another large group of communities with more than 5,000 homes which also have extensive amenities packages. This article highlights some of the ultra-large active communities in the West. We invite you to explore over 3500 active communities of all sizes in our State Directories at Topretirements.
A Refresher on The Villages
For those not familiar with it, The Villages, located south of Ocala in Central Florida, is one of the largest active communities in the world with over 110,000 residents. The Villages has 3 town squares (Spanish Springs, Lake Sumter Landing, and Brownwood) that provide shopping, restaurants, and open-air plazas featuring free nightly entertainment. There are 33 golf courses, 8 country clubs where residents automatically become members, along with a large number of separate family and adult recreational areas. The Polo Center and its Pavilion host international polo matches and events like BBQ competitions. There is virtually every kind of activity and athletic resource: archery, one finger painting, pickle ball, quilting, scrap booking, synchronized swimming, taichi, yoga, etc. There are hundreds of clubs for every interest, including one for just about every state in the country. The community is large enough that singles can feel at home here, since there are clubs and activities just for them. Although there are plenty of people who hate the idea of a community this large, there are many more who are attracted to the idea. See our recent article, “Why the Villages is the Best Place for Len and Ann” for more about living there.
Large competitors in the West
Sun City. The original Sun City in Peoria, Arizona is probably the second largest active adult community after The Villages. Sun City has 48,000 residents. It was founded by Del Webb in 1960, making it the original active community in the world. It boasts every conceivable activity – 7 recreation centers, 11 golf courses, 3 country clubs, 2 bowling centers, Sun Bowl, Viewpoint Lake – plus hundreds of clubs. Like many communities established long ago, at 75 the average age in Sun City is well up there. Sun City West, which is close by the original, has almost as many residents and similar amenities.
More Sun Cities. The Sun City communities developed by Del Webb and Pulte consistently offer some of the largest active adult communities in the world. We already mentioned Sun City and Sun City West. Others include: Sun City Texas (near Georgetown) with 7,500 homes, Sun City Anthem (Las Vegas) with 7,200 homes and an 86,000 sq.ft. clubhouse. Sun City has other locations all over the country, including at least 4 in Nevada alone. There are also numerous Sun City communities in the East.
Laguna Woods Village(LWV) is a 55+ age-restricted gated community located on 2,100 acres of rolling hillsides just minutes from the Laguna Beach coastline. The community has 12,736 dwellings and is considered to be one of the largest of its type on the West Coast. Laguna Woods Village is home to 18,000 residents. The average age of residents moving into the community is 67 (which means the average age of all residents is higher). Laguna Woods Village offers a wide range of social and recreational activities, including yoga, dances, shuffleboard, lawn bowling, paddle tennis, table tennis, and bridge. Facilities include seven clubhouses, five swimming pools, a performing arts center seating 814, and the community’s “living” amenity, the equestrian center. The community owns several horses available to residents and their guests. There are over 230 clubs and organizations to choose from, and a choice of more than 100 Saddleback College Emeritus courses. Unlike TV, LWV does not have any retail or commercial establishments within the community, although they are nearby.
Hot Springs Village (HSV). This community near the historic town of Hot Springs, Arkansas is open to all ages. HSV is home to 14,000 residents. It has a full range of amenities and clubs including 9 golf courses and 10 lakes with marinas for boating and fishing.
Green Valley, AZ. Located in extreme southern Arizona, Green Valley is home to several developments, 59 home owner associations, and about 20,000 residents in over 12,000 homes. Most of its residents are retired. It has 9 golf courses, 13 recreation centers, shopping plazas, dozens of clubs and volunteer organizations, medical facilities, places of worship and recreation centers. Residents share in a cooperative venture, Green Valley Recreation, Inc., which provides recreational opportunities across the many developments in the Green Valley area.
Robson Ranch near Dallas, TX is a large and well-established community of 7,200 homes. It offers the extensive amenities you would expect in such a large community. Robson also has other large communities such as SaddleBrooke Ranch in Tucson. This one has 4,600 homes and includes amenities like 2 semi-private golf courses and a 27 hole private country club. Plus many, many clubs to join.
Sun Lakes, developed originally by Robson back in 1973, has almost 6,700 homes in several neighborhoods, plus all the amenities one would expect, such as 5 clubhouses and 4 golf courses. PebbleCreek (Robson) has over 6,000 homes in Goodyear, AZ.
Rossmoor Walnut Creek (CA). This community in an afflluent area about 25 miles from San Francisco has 6,700 residential units in three cooperatives, 12 condominium and one single-family home developments. It also has its own recreation department.
By no means a complete list
This list of the largest active communities that can compete with The Villages is by no means exhaustive. There are undoubtedly others with more than 1,000 residents not mentioned here. But before you search only for the largest communities, you should decide just how large a community you want to live in. The Villages is in a class by itself – but the truth is that any community over 1,000 residents is going to offer plenty to do and many interesting people to meet. Then you can narrow you choices down to location and what the community is like. For our money, the location of The Villages isn’t that great – there is a reason why the company was able to amass that much land – rural central Florida was never developed because it was too far from the coasts. It can be pretty chilly in the winter and hot in the summer.
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. Visit them, or better yet 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? Do you know some other very large communities we should cover? Let us know your preferences using the Comments section below.