According to a 2013 Slate magazine article, it’s the “largest gated, over-55 community in the world.” And with a footprint the size of Manhattan and over 100,000 residents, 2,500 social clubs and 2,000 recreational activities, that superlative doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.
Founded in Florida three decades ago to make “retirement dreams come true,” The Villages is exactly what most people spend years dreaming of while stuck behind a desk. Click on the community’s website and you’ll see videos of happy retirees playing tennis, golf and volleyball; dining, dancing and doing yoga; riding around in “golf cars,” and just plain having fun in the Florida sun. The Villages is the “only place in the world where you can play complimentary golf for the rest of your life,” boasts the site.
The community is so large that it spreads into three counties—Sumter, Lake and Marion—and is an actual city. Within The Village’s borders, residents have everything they need, including shops, restaurants, churches, recreation centers, a hospital and healthcare centers. There are also three town squares hosting nightly entertainment, movie theaters and multiple venues for concerts, plays and other performances. And the Community Calendar is mind-boggling, with 105 events—from color pencil drawing to badminton—on a single day!
People have dubbed the retirement community an “adult Disney World” or compared it to a cruise ship. The big difference is residents get to live this vacation-like existence 365 days a year.
Before purchasing a home at The Villages, interested seniors can even try out the lifestyle, living like a resident and enjoying all the perks for up to seven days. But fair warning: Once you’ve had a taste of the community, you might not want to go back home!