The Villages is a mega-retirement community in North-Central Florida that’s gotten a lot of attention in recent years. From 2010 to 2017, it was the fastest-growing small city in the U.S., earning it national attention.
There are many reasons why you might decide to follow the trend and move into The Villages and a few reasons why you might hesitate.
We’ll cover all of the pros and cons of living in The Villages below, but first, let’s cover a few basics. That way, you’ll know exactly what The Villages is and why you might want to move in.
What is The Villages, Florida?
As we mentioned, The Villages is a retirement community, but it’s not like any retirement community you’ve seen before. This gated area stretches 32 miles and features multiple neighborhoods with various housing styles.
It has shops, restaurants, entertainment facilities, lakes, parks, and all sorts of amenities, just like any town, except almost all of the residents are seniors, and you can use a golf cart to get around.
Where is The Villages, Florida?
The Villages is in North Central Florida, about 45 miles northwest of Orlando. It spreads across Sumter, Lake, and Marion counties.
Do You Have to be 55 to Live in The Villages?
Most of the residents of The Villages are over 55 years old, and developers list the age requirement as a community rule. However, there are a few exceptions.
There are three “family subdivisions” that accommodate older residents who live with younger children. Otherwise, younger family members can only visit.
15 Advantages of Living in The Villages, Florida
Now that you have a general understanding of what The Villages is let’s look at some of the many advantages of moving in.
If you’re tired of snow, sleet, and freezing temps, then moving to the Villages has a major advantage. The weather in the Villages rarely drops below 47 degrees Fahrenheit. In this land of eternal sunshine and endless summer days, you can participate in outdoor activities year-round.
Golfing, fishing, tennis, and swimming are all possible even in January. And, unlike other tropical regions that sit closer to the equator, it doesn’t get that hot in The Villages either. You can expect it to stay below 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the majority of the year.
That’s probably why The Villages website always lists the current temperature front and center. At the time of this writing, though the majority of the U.S. is decked in snow, The Villages boasts a balmy 81 degrees Fahrenheit with gorgeous sunshine and blue skies.
2. Cost of Living in the Villages, Florida
When considering a move to The Villages, many prospective residents ask, are homes in the Villages overpriced? The answer is no.
In fact, one of The Villages’ biggest selling points is its relatively affordable housing. At the time of this writing, the median home price inside The Villages is $359,940. That’s low compared to many other states that tout warm weather and near-constant sun, like California, which currently has a median home price of $626,170.
Plus, Florida offers retirees several money-saving benefits. For example, the state doesn’t levy taxes on social security, IRAs, 401-Ks, or pensions.
On top of that, the monthly amenity fee inside The Villages is more than reasonable. At a mere $164 per month, residents get access to most of what The Villages have to offer, including miles of parks and trails and their executive golf courses.
3. Recreational Amenities
One of the top reasons to move to The Villages is almost certainly the community’s abundant recreational amenities.
Numerous recreational facilities feature tennis courts, swimming pools, and fitness centers. Inside, residents can participate in numerous classes, including everything from martial arts to music theater.
Beyond that, there are hundreds of miles of trails and parks, including dog parks, paved paths, and hiking options. Whether you want to walk, jog, cycle, or simply take in the views, abundant green spaces await you.
4. Golf Courses
If you like to golf or are interested in learning, The Villages offers fifty different courses and three instruction academies. Of the fifty, there are 12 championship-length courses with their own country clubs. There are also 40 executive golf courses that residents have access to with their monthly amenity fee.
On top of that, The Villages features two specialty golf courses, a practice center, and several golf shops. So, you can find top-notch clubs and gear to better your game. If you’re a golf fanatic, The Villages is practically paradise.
5. Arts and Culture
The community boasts multiple movie theaters, performing art centers, and three town squares with regular, free live entertainment. There’s even a black box theater where you can catch modern and interactive stage shows.
The live entertainment varies from local artists to big names like Merle Haggard, The Drifters, and Kenny Rogers. There’s also a polo club that offers golf-cart tailgating as well as grandstand views.
Plus, there are hundreds of resident-run social clubs that revolve around arts and culture.
Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Winter Haven, Florida
6. Plenty of Shops, Restaurants, and Services
Within the community’s gates, you’ll find tons of national and locally-owned shops and restaurants. There’s a Target, Wal-Mart, Panera Bread, and a Bonefish Grill, among many other well-known brands.
There are also plenty of exceptional, locally-owned gems. Red Sauce, for example, features fantastic Italian cuisine that residents rave about. Or, for something a little different, there’s the VKI Japanese Steakhouse which serves up delicious sushi.
If you enjoy shopping, there are several specialty stores, including a chocolatier, a gourmet olive oil shop, a tea and spice market, and several boutiques. There’s no end to the treasures you’ll find inside The Villages.
Plus, all the services you need are within the gates, including doctors, dentists, and other medical specialists. There are dog groomers, beauty salons, and barbershops too. Basically, you won’t have to leave The Villages unless you want to.
7. Developer Reputation
When moving to a 55+ community, you’ll want to keep the developer’s reputation in mind. Some communities look nice but aren’t regularly updated, leaving residents stuck with the same services and little variety.
With The Villages, that’s far from the case. The Morse family, which owns the community, is known for making constant updates. They’re always looking for new and innovative ways to provide value to residents.
For example, in 2019, they launched “The Villages Grown Project,” which delivers farm-to-table produce throughout the community. Some of this produce goes to restaurants within The Villages. The rest is delivered via a specially equipped airstream trailer to drop-off points throughout the grounds.
Residents love having access to fresh and nutritious produce. Plus, the stylish delivery fits beautifully with the community’s aesthetic. It’s innovations and upgrades like this that make The Villages what it is.
8. Activity Level
Studies show that inactivity puts seniors at a higher risk of developing chronic illness, while habitual physical activity has huge benefits. When seniors stay active, they can combat common health issues like strokes, certain cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.
However, it’s hard to stay active in a community that doesn’t promote it. Studies seem to suggest that you’re more likely to remain active when outdoors, in green spaces, and amongst friends or the community.
Perhaps that’s why The Villages boasts such a high activity level. With over a hundred miles of trails, paths, and parks, plus multiple recreation centers, there’s no lack of green space and friends to enjoy it with. So whether you want to golf, hike, or fish, it’s not hard to stay active in The Villages.
9. Socialization Opportunities
Cognitive abilities tend to decline with age, but staying social seems to slow mental degeneration down. Plus, social activities seem to improve longevity and reduce stress. So, when looking for a place to retire, finding a community you want to interact with should be a vital part of the equation.
The Villages boasts three thousand resident-led social clubs with a range of interests. So, whether you’re a fan of fiction books, quilting, or pickleball, you can find a group of people that also enjoys your favorite hobby.
Plus, The Villages offers multiple town pubs where you can get together with friends, competitive and just-for-fun sports leagues, and regular live entertainment. That means there’s always something to do, and the risk of ending up isolated as you age is very low.
10. Clean and Maintained Community
Many residents of The Villages were drawn to it for its aesthetic. The community is well-maintained and clean. You don’t have to worry about a neighbor leaving trash on their front lawn or otherwise devaluing the area.
That’s because there are rules for living in The Villages, Florida.
The Villages has a strict community standards department that relies on “Restrictive Covenants” that you sign off on when purchasing a home. These covenants include rules on everything from keeping your property free of rubbish to ensuring your house gets a regular paint job.
Each neighborhood within The Villages has its own list of regulations. Some go as far as to prohibit lawn ornaments, but others are less strict. By reviewing them before purchasing a home in the area, you can ensure you want to abide by the rules the community sets.
11. You Don’t Need a Car
The vast majority of The Villages is accessible by golf cart without a problem. All of the stores and restaurants have golf cart parking, and there are golf cart tunnels and bridges that cross local highways. So, you probably don’t need a car if you live inside The Villages.
Plus, there’s a village shuttle that runs the length of the 32-mile community. It also connects to Amtrak-run buses that regularly travel to Jacksonville and Lakelands.
On top of that, there are plenty of safe, public transportation options that connect to the Orlando International Airport. So, if you’re heading out of town, you still won’t have to worry about a car.
12. Proximity to the Beach
One of the first questions most prospective residents ask is, how far is The Villages from the beach? Given that beaches are one of Florida’s main attractions, that makes perfect sense.
Luckily, in The Villages, you’re a mere forty miles from West Coast beaches and 70 miles from East Coast beaches. So, you can easily visit either for a day trip or a weekend stay.
13. Proximity to Other Florida Attractions
The Villages are about an hour’s drive from Orlando, Florida. So, if you want to take the grandkids to Disney World or visit any of the other Orlando attractions, you can get there easily.
14. Aging Services
Good 55+ communities offer services that are helpful as seniors age. The Villages is no exception. There are two highly-rated hospitals within the community, as well as numerous doctors and specialists.
The Villages also offers several home-care services. Or, for those who need a little more help, there are four nursing homes within the community.
On top of that, the residents of The Villages are known for being supportive. As you develop relationships with neighbors, you’ll find that they’ll come to your aid in times of need.
Whether you’re recovering from surgery or dealing with an injury, you can count on community support. Friends and neighbors are almost sure to be at your door with food and assistance whenever they perceive you need it.
15. Low Crime Rates
It probably comes as no surprise that The Villages is a very safe area. They deal with approximately 693 crimes per year, and only about 90 of them are considered to be violent in any way. Compared to the rest of the United States, that’s very low.
We’ll put it this way: in the state of Florida, your odds of being a victim of a violent crime are about 1/258. Inside the villages, those odds drop to 1/879. So chances are, if you live in The Villages, you’ll never experience serious crime.
6 Disadvantages of Living in The Villages, Florida
Living in The Villages has a ton of advantages, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides. There’s no perfect place to live, after all.
Florida is a sunny state with exceptionally mild winters, but that’s because it’s tropical. And with a tropical climate comes humidity. August in The Villages can bring humidity upwards of 70.5%!
Oppressive humidity does more than ruin hairstyles, unfortunately. It can also influence heart attack rates. For seniors with high blood pressure or heart disease, going out in high humidity isn’t recommended. That means if you live in The Villages, golf games, fishing trips, and other outdoor activities may need to be put on hold in the late summer months.
2. Lack of Diversity
Most of The Villages’ residents are from the same demographic background. They’re mostly affluent and generally have similar interests.
This lack of diversity feels boring to some. It means there aren’t many new ideas or differing perspectives, and the risk of what psychologists label “groupthink” is very real. Unfortunately, groupthink isn’t simply boring; it can also be dangerous because it tends to lead to poor community decisions.
3. Lack of Civic Power
Developers own virtually everything in The Villages. So, as some residents put it, you have a corporate suggestion box instead of a ballot box. Residents can certainly voice their opinions if they want to see change, but the developers have the final say, and you can’t vote them out.
So, if you disagree with a policy or plan, life in The Villages can become frustrating fast. That’s not to say residents have zero say. After all, the developers want to keep residents happy, so they continue to sell new property, but if you find yourself disagreeing, the lack of civic power can feel disheartening.
Heat, humidity, and near-constant sunshine tend to attract bugs. These pests are a constant annoyance to The Villages residents. There are mosquitoes, lovebugs, and palmettos to deal with.
Of course, this is going to be the case in any tropical environment. Still, it’s something to consider before moving to The Villages.
Lately, The Villages have reported several confirmed sinkholes. Though the community claims these are natural and unavoidable, that may not be entirely true. Some scientists believe that over-irrigation of the many golf courses within the community contributes to the problem.
That said, sinkholes are a growing issue in Florida and many other areas of the U.S. Unfortunately, repairs are costly, and sinkholes themselves are obviously dangerous. This is an issue the developers are aware of and are acting on as quickly as they can.
6. Corporate Vibes
Fans and critics both refer to The Villages as “Disney World for Seniors,” and depending on how you feel about Disney, this is both a pro and a con. For some, the safe, clean community, full of amenities, is exactly what they want. For others, it feels too corporate and almost fake.
One critic described it as having “Stepford Wives” type vibes, and others point out that it feels a bit like living on a film set, as though you’re separated from the real world.
Of course, there’s a reason Disney World has so many avid fans. There’s a certain magic within its gates. The Villages feature the same sort of feel, and many residents can’t get enough of it.
So, Are The Villages in Florida a Good Place to Live?
When you weigh out the pros and cons of living in The Villages, Florida, it seems that the pros win out. The Villages in Florida has great weather and is a great place to live if you’re 55+.
Inside The Villages, you’ll find everything you need to thrive. There are endless shops, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. There are plenty of green spaces, and everything is well-maintained. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, The Villages fosters community.
You can join a competitive sports league, meet your neighbors at the local pub, or join one of the many resident-led social clubs. Whether you like golf, tennis, or making macrame, there’s a community for you to participate in, which is vital as you age.
That said, no place is perfect, and The Villages does have its cons. If you’re seeking the diversity of a major metropolitan area or can’t stand humidity and bugs, The Villages might not be your ideal retirement locale.
In the end, we think The Villages in Florida has a lot to offer and is a good place for most to retire. Whether or not it’s right for you is a matter of personal opinion. Only you can determine the best place for your retirement.