Is The Villages Right for Your Retirement: Facts and Opinions

Category: Active adult communities

January 9, 2017 — When active baby boomers start investigating places to retire, sooner or later they are going to hear about The Villages (TV) in Central Florida. The big reason is that it is the largest 55+ community in the country. As of mid 2017 over 115,000 people lived in The Villages, most of them because they enjoy its mind-boggling array of amenities and non-stop active lifestyle. The population is growing fast – it was only 51,000 in the year 2000.

Clearly the lifestyle appeals to the people who live there. For folks who like to always have something to do, make instant friends, and drive their golf cart to sports, church, and shopping – The Villages is hard to beat.

Facilities and more facilities
The Villages has every kind of amenity. There are 36 executive golf courses, most of which are 9 hole courses and where residents can play at no charge. There are 10 Championship golf courses and country clubs (where owners are automatically members), plus an amazing array of other sports, amenities, crafts, and social clubs – from archery to pickle ball, polo, Tai Chi, and theatre groups. There are hundreds of clubs, including one for every state in the Union. There are 3 downtown squares (Sumter Village, Brownwood and Spanish Springs) that have restaurants, bars, and piped in music. There is a dazzling array of neighborhoods to live in,
and there seems to be no end to the expansion plans. The Villages has 32 neighborhood centers (pools for adults and other recreation), 17 village centers (pools for families and other activities like pickleball), and 8 regional centers with larger facilities including fitness centers.

Critics including the “Leisureville” book
Yet there are critics of The Villages lifestyle. One of the most famous “exposees” of The Villages came out in a book by Andrew Blechman called “Leisureville – Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias” (the book also profiles Sun City, Arizona). Blechman is a terrific writer and weaves together a fascinating story. If you are at all interested in living in The Villages (or Sun City) you should read the book. You will get a lot of background and insight into the ownership/management structure of the place, which can be a bit murky.

The Villages

On the other hand you the book will also get a lot of opinions, most of them negative, about what it is like to live in this giant community 60 miles northwest of Orlando and south of Ocala. Knowing that Blechman is not yet of retirement age, and that he likes a good conspiracy, you won’t have to look too hard to find plenty of condescension plus a big dollop of smugness in his account. Bored at night, Blechman finds the latest-closing bar (at the bowling alley) and surprise, he finds the soft underbelly of The Villages. From here he gives you a vivid tour of a the more unusual sexual activities in the community – what life is like here for a transexual; the underground homosexual community; and particularly a Viagra-fueled, aging Adonis named Mr. Midnight. The character is highly amusing, that is for sure.

By now you have probably heard the titillating story that The Villages has the highest rate of STD’s in… (pick your place). We certainly hear it all the time. The truth is that this is just an unsubstantiated rumor, one that residents of The Villages get tired of hearing. Facts from bear that out, as you can see in the chart for Sumter County (where most of The Villages’ residents live), which shows that the County’s rates of STDs are far below the state averages. The orange bars are for Sumter County and the gray bars are for FL statewide.

Sumter County STDs vs Florida statewide

One thing “Leisureville” will help you learn a lot about is the situation with the Villages Community Development Districts (CDDs) (run by the developer but which spend resident money on infrastructure) vs. the Home Owners and Property Owners Associations. The latter were set up by residents to try to protect their interests vs. the developer. The Villages’ CDDs have been in disputes with the IRS over the tax-exempt structure of those bonds.

Politically speaking, The Villages is very red (conservative), although we are sure that there are some blue folks too. Every national Republican candidate makes a point of stopping by during election time.

Scene at The Villages

A much more straightforward and helpful resource for The Villages is a useful book by Ryan Erisman, the “Inside the Bubble: Unauthorized Guide to Florida’s Most Popular Community”. Ryan has also published the “Florida for Boomers- A Guide to Real Estate”. Erisman’s book should be required reading for anyone thinking about buying in TV. You will get a wealth of resources and facts about neighborhoods, costs, amenities, contracts, Home Owners Associations, and Commercial Development Districts. Ryan doesn’t have an axe to grind about The Villages. Instead he sets out to provide all the facts necessary to buy a home in The Villages – even down to the nitty gritty of Homeowners Insurance, Property Taxes, Real Estate Contracts, New Home Walkthrough Inspection, and Florida Real Estate Closings in The Villages. He also provides helpful links to everything about the place (full disclosure, Topretirements does receive a small commission on sales of this book).

Here at Topretirements we have a nice article that explains what it is like to live in The Villages, “Why The Villages Is the Best Place for Len and Ann to Retire“. The article explains how this Connecticut couple came to choose TV, buy a home there, and what daily life is like in TV for them.

Another essential resource for anyone considering moving to The Villages is Talk of the Villages (see link below). On this discussion forum you’ll get to eavesdrop on the concerns, joys, challenges, and gossip of every day life here. Spend an hour there online, it is fascinating.

For Further Reference:
Are There Alternatives to The Villages – You Bet (2 parts, East and West)
“Inside the Bubble: Unauthorized Guide to Florida’s Most Popular Community”
Wikipedia article about The Villages
Talk of the Villages Forum

Comments? Have you visited TV or did you actually retire there? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on January 8th, 2018

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 (more…)

Posted by Admin on December 26th, 2017

Are Their Alternatives to The Villages – You Bet!

Category: Active adult communities

December 26, 2017 — Many people have heard about The Villages, the giant active adult community in north-central Florida that spans 3 counties. They know it is big (over 110,000 residents), has massive numbers of golf courses and swimming pools, and has more clubs and activities than anyone could ever even sample. But maybe they aren’t sure about the location, or don’t know if a community that big would be right for them. If you happen to be one of the people who are curious to learn about alternatives to The Villages, there is good news – there are many to consider.

To help you find other communities that are very large we have just updated two of very popular “Villages Alternatives” articles. One is devoted to very large active communities in the East, and the other to those in the West. In all we have 17 communities in the Topretirements database that have more than 10,000 residents, and another 500+ that have more than 1,000. These communities are situated in many states, but most are in Florida, Arizona, and California.

Check them out
Alternatives to The Villages – East
Alternatives in the West

Posted by Admin on December 25th, 2017

Which Is Better: An Established 55+ Community Or a New One?

Category: Active adult communities

December 6, 2017 — Which is the smarter option: buy a home in a new 55+ or active adult community, or (more…)

Posted by Admin on December 5th, 2017

Arizona’s 15 Most Popular Active Adult and 55+ Communities

Category: Active adult communities

October 18, 2017 — The allure of Arizona’s warm winters, mountains, and deserts has made it a retirement magnet for a long time. Although most people who retire here come from the midwest or west of the Mississippi, it also attracts a fair number of retirees from the East. Some retirees come here as snowbirds for the winter months only, while others move to the Grand Canyon State full time. However they come, Arizona is one of the most popular places in the U.S. for retirement. This article highlights the 15 most popular active adult and 55+ communities in Arizona, as measured by visitor interest at

We encourage you to use our Arizona Directory of Active Communities to explore the more than 150 active adult and 55+ communities we have reviewed there under 36 towns. You can also use our Advanced Search to find communities by state, size, expense, type of community, (more…)

Posted by Admin on October 17th, 2017

The 15 Most Popular Active Communities in Florida

Category: Active adult communities

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

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 (more…)

Posted by Admin on October 3rd, 2017

Are There Big Differences in West Coast vs. East Coast 55+ Communities?

Category: Active adult communities

August 2, 2017 — Last week we reported that for the first time ever, 2 towns in the Western part of the U.S. came out at the top of our “100 Most Popular Places to Retire List for 2017“. We found that to be pretty big news, particularly since: a) more people live in the Eastern part of the U.S. (58% in 2011), and b) we assume that more folks in the East consider migrating in retirement because their winter weather is worse. 2017’s winners could be a one year anomaly, or it is possible it is part of a long term trend – we are not sure.

That question brings up another aspect of the East vs. West retirement issue. We have long had an assumption, not supported by any data, that the the two parts of the country have quite different types of active adult and 55+ communities. This article will explore that question. But beyond our speculations on the topic, we are really hoping for input from our Members who have spent time visiting or researching active communities in different (more…)

Posted by Admin on August 2nd, 2017

On an HOA Board: Here’s How to Avoid Problems

Category: Active adult communities

May 2, 2017 — If you live in an established 55+ community or an active adult community there is a Homeowners Association (often called Community Associations) in charge. While often maligned, these boards are necessary – somebody has to run the place. Boards need interested and capable people to fulfill that responsibility – and maybe that person is you. This article is based on an association board member orientation provided by David Rogel, Chair of Community Association Litigation for the Miami law firm Becker & Poliakoff ( He is the General Counsel for over 200 community associations. Our hope is that our notes of his presentation will help you understand how you and your association can avoid legal trouble, and provide a positive experience for your fellow residents. Note that this article was based on notes taken along with a few minor additions made by your editor; we apologize for any errors we might have introduced.

Fiduciary Duty
If you a board member of an HOA the first thing you need to know is that you have a fiduciary duty to the Association and its members (residents). That means that you have a legal and ethical relationship of trust to the organization and its members. You are in essence responsible for their money and assets, and you must hold their interests above your own.

Avoiding problems
One of the easiest ways for an association to find itself in a lawsuit is to make important decisions with no clear trail as to how it arrived at them. Attorney Rogel covered a number of potential problem areas along with the steps associations can take to avoid them. He pointed out that your underlying condo/association documents control most activities in your association. As a board member you must read and follow those.

Proper notice needs to be given of meetings so (more…)

Posted by Admin on May 2nd, 2017

17 Largest Active Adult Communities in U.S

Category: Active adult communities

April 10, 2017 — Retiring to a very large active adult community offers a unique experience to baby boomers. Developments with over 10,000 residents almost always provide an amazing variety of amenities and lifestyle options. They often have hundreds of clubs and dizzying choices for non-stop activities every day. Populated as they are with people of all kinds of backgrounds and interests, you would have to work hard NOT to make a lot of great new friends.

Exact figures are hard to come by, but we estimate that there are at least 20 active communities in the U.S. with more than 10,000 residents, and at least 10 that have more than 10,000 homes (some communities might be below that now but have plans to go over). 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, (more…)

Posted by Admin on April 9th, 2017

Don’t Worry Retiring Boomers – You Can Retire to Margaritaville

Category: Active adult communities

March 11, 2017 — Jimmy Buffett fans, not known for worrying, can keep relaxing. In fact they can now find that last shaker of salt in their very own active adult community. The first one of many to come, dubbed Latitude Margaritaville, will go online next year in Daytona Beach, Florida. Press releases say the sales center there will be open later this year with the first models available in early 2018.

Topretirements must have seen 10 press reports about this new community – there is a lot of excitement about it. Here is what John Cohlan, chief executive officer of Margaritaville said about the new communities: “With Minto’s (the developer) expertise in creating master planned developments and Margaritaville’s inherent ability to deliver fun and escapism, Latitude Margaritaville has the exact coordinates for those looking to live the Margaritaville (more…)

Posted by Admin on March 10th, 2017