If you’ve reached the golden age of 55 years old, you might be thinking of joining an active, adult retirement community. The Villages, located in Florida, might be on your radar as it’s considered one of the top retirement communities in the United States.
The Three Best Areas to Live in The Villages Explored: With 32 square miles and more than 60,000 homes making up The Villages, choosing the best area can be tricky. The best areas to live in based on what’s available nearby are:
- Village of Pennecamp
- Village of Briar Meadow
- Village of Duval.
The Villages is a rapidly growing retirement community with a lot to choose from. The research you need is right here. Learn more about the community and the best sections to live.
Best Areas to Live in The Villages
We’re going to hop right into the villages that make up The Villages and which ones are best. Then, we’ll head into everything you can expect from The Villages, in terms of amenities, home styles, and lifestyle.
As far as the three best areas to live in The Villages, it’s almost hard to break it down with so many amenities throughout the whole community. First of all, you’ll need to narrow it down to which “village” you want to live in. Here’s how the communities are broken down:
- The Villages of Lake County
- The Villages of Marion County
- The Villages of Sumter County, North of 466
- The Villages of Sumter County, South of 466
Each of those “villages” is broken down into neighborhoods. There are so many homes throughout The Villages that you’re choosing from more than 70 different neighborhoods when you’re deciding the best section to live in The Villages.
Which Villages Are the Best?
The best section to live in really depends on what you’re looking for in your life. I’ll break it down into the three best areas to live in The Villages. Since you can find any of the homes you want and just about any of the amenities, you’ll need in any of the neighborhoods, I’ll base these three areas off of what’s available there.
Here are the three best areas to live in The Villages based on what’s available:
- Village of Pennecamp
- Village of Briar Meadow
- Village of Duval
Now, let’s take a look at why each of these is one of the three best areas to live in The Villages.
Village of Pennecamp
Pennecamp is located in The Villages of Sumter County, South of 466. It’s a good choice for those who want to have close proximity to the most amenities. It’s close to grocery stores, healthcare options, dining, and shopping. It’s just a 5-minute drive to Lake Sumter Landing, one of The Villages town squares.
On the quieter side, it’s close to Lake Miona if you enjoy water activities, and there are also a number of the most popular golf courses in the Pennecamp neighborhood.
The Pennecamp neighborhood has mostly mid-sized homes. It started in 2009 and completed around 2012.
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Village of Briar Meadow
Briar Meadow is located in The Villages of Marion County, and it’s where you want to be if you’re a big golfer. Of course, with 35 executive golf courses, you can find a golf course in every neighborhood, but you’ll find one of The Village’s championship courses here. In fact, Nancy Lopez designed the course in Briar Meadow.
If you don’t recognize the name, Nancy Lopez is an LPGA Hall of Fame golfer. The course in Briar Meadow is the first one she designed. It’s designed for all skill levels. In addition to the course, you’ll find a country club with a clubhouse, restaurant, pro shop, pool, and tennis.
The Briar Meadow neighborhood is an older one, started in 2002 and completed in 2004.
Village of Duval
Village of Duval is the best area for you to live in if you want to have the best proximity to anything and everything in The Villages. This neighborhood is the biggest in The Villages with 1,550 homes. It started in 2006, and construction was completed in 2008.
The Village of Duval is about the same distance from all three of The Villages’ town squares. Of course, this means you’re not five minutes from any of them, but you’re not more than 20 minutes from any of them either. This gives you the most options when it comes to shopping, dining, and entertainment.
As far as what’s in the neighborhood, there are three community pools and a recreation center.
We can’t stress enough; The Villages has really done a good job of spreading out the amenities throughout the whole community. So, your best bet is to look for a home you like and know that, most likely, the neighborhood will offer everything you want. So, just what does The Villages have to offer?
About The Villages
The best place to start when it comes to the three best areas to live in The Villages is to talk a bit about the background of the community and all the amenities it includes. You can’t really figure out where you want to live if you don’t know enough about the community.
History of The Villages
Despite its sprawling presence now, The Villages started as a small trailer park back in 1983. That was the year Harold Schwartz acquired the property. The property started with 386 mobile homes, but over time Schwartz, with the help of his children, expanded and improved the property located about 45 miles northwest of Orlando.
They started by adding swimming pools and golf courses and eventually began to add site-built homes instead of mobile homes. In 1993, a golf cart bridge (the primary mode of transportation for most in The Villages) was built, allowing residents an easy path from the original property to the newer expansions.
Three Town Squares
There are three town squares; each started at different stages in the development of The Villages.
- The first town square, Spanish Springs Town Square, began in the 1990s.
- The second town square, Lake Sumter Landing, opening in August 2004
- The third town square, Brownwood Paddock Square, opened in 2012.
Since its inception, The Villages has expanded into three different counties: Lake, Sumter, and Marion. It has as many amenities as a small city. In fact, it pretty much is a small city with more than 115,000 residents.
Amenities Galore at The Villages
Take a look at the amenities available to residents of The Villages:
- Town squares
- Social clubs
- Nature preserves
- Hydroponic garden and vegetable production
Let’s take a closer look at some of those amenities, so you know exactly what’s available.
We already mentioned that The Villages has three different town squares, so no matter which neighborhood you live in, you’ll most likely be in close proximity to one of the locations.
Each of the town squares has its own unique theme and provides free nightly entertainment every day of the year. Entertainment ranges from comedians to musicians to theatrical performances.
Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment.
You’ll find whatever you’re looking for as far as shopping, dining, and entertainment in any of the town squares.
- Dining. As far as dining, the town squares are home to cute cafes and popular chain restaurants, giving plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds. In fact, there are over 200 restaurants to choose from. Residents and visitors to The Villages spend over $200 million every year at the eating and drinking options in the community.
- Country Clubs. If the above dining options don’t work, you can also choose from 12 different country clubs throughout the community.
- Entertainment. Each of the town squares has an 8-screen movie theater, so you don’t have to travel far to catch the latest movies.
- Shopping. You’ll find pretty much anything you need at the town squares. There are name brand clothing stores, cute boutiques, home furnishing stores, and jewelry stores among the many other stores.
Pickleball may seem like a funny thing to mention, but it’s hard to leave out since The Villages is known as the “Pickleball Mecca.” The community has over 100 pickleball courts for residents to choose from, and of course, with Florida’s weather, they’re available all year.
In addition to open play, residents also can choose from a number of different clinics and tournaments to hone their play or show off their skills.
If you’re looking to expand your hobbies or spend more time on hobbies you already enjoy, you’re bound to find something at The Villages. There are over 2,700 social clubs available to residents.
The club options include state clubs, car clubs, horseshoes, archery, Mah-Jongg, shuffleboard, veterans’ clubs, and singles clubs, among others. Most of the clubs organize dinner events and other activity outings for their members to further enhance and grow relationships.
Of course, The Villages wouldn’t be a legit retirement community without some golf courses, but the community goes over and above just a few courses. On The Villages website, it actually says the community is the largest and most diverse single-site golf facility in the world.
Here are the golf options you’ll find in The Villages:
- 12 championship courses
- 35 executive courses
- An 18-hold island putting course
- Instructional golf academies
Needless to say, your clubs will get more than a little action at The Villages.
If golf or one of the thousands of clubs a resident can choose from isn’t really your speed, you can pick up a good book at one of the three neighborhood libraries scattered throughout The Villages.
Here are the libraries:
- The Villages Public Library at Belvedere
- The Villages Public Library at Pinellas Park
- The Mark Twain Library
You won’t have to travel far to get the healthcare you need in The Villages. It’s home to The Villages Regional Hospital, which touts itself as one of the fastest growing acute care hospitals in the United States.
In 2017, the American Heart Association awarded the hospital The Mission: Lifeline Silver Receiving Quality Achievement Award. In 2020, the hospital announced plans to add an additional hospital on the other side of The Villages.
There’s also a VA outpatient clinic, senior living facilities, and pharmacies throughout the community.
One of the perks of retirement is being able to enjoy leisurely walks, and the trails at The Villages offer you plenty of opportunities to do that. The community has a dozen nature preserves scattered amongst the neighborhoods.
The preserves all feature pathways, trails, and overlooks so you can stroll along and enjoy the natural animals and habitat in your area. You can explore the trails on your own, but the recreation department also hosts regular biking and walking events.
Hydroponic Garden and Vegetable Production
In 2018, The Villages Grown project was started. It features a 30,000 square foot plant located on over six acres with vegetables grown on a connecting 85 acres.
The vegetables are grown in greenhouses using hydroponic methods, which are growing without soil. Instead, plants are nourished with a solution of nutrients and water. This typically results in better production than normal gardening methods.
The goal of The Villages Grown project is to provide locally grown vegetables to restaurants, food stores, and retail customers.
In addition to all of the above, The Villages Recreation & Parks offers more than 2,000 organized activities every single week.
Safety in The Villages
No matter where you live, safety is almost always the number one concern. The Villages takes quite a few steps to ensure its residents feel safe in the area. The neighborhoods have gated entries, they have community watch programs, and boast one of the lowest crime rates in the area.
The community does have the Villages Public Safety Department, which includes EMS/EMT and fire services throughout the community. Local and county law enforcement agencies provide police services throughout The Villages.
Needless to say, you’ll find anything you need in The Villages, and really, no matter where you live, you’ll be in close proximity to everything because things are conveniently located throughout the community.
Homes Available in The Villages
Once you know about all the amenities The Villages has to offer, you can start thinking about the type of home you might want. The Villages offers a number of different home options that vary in floor plan, size, features, and price.
You can choose from six different series of homes and villas in The Villages. Take a look:
- Patio Villas
- Courtyard Villas
- Cottage Homes
- The Verandas
- Designer Homes
- Premier Homes
Here’s a little more information on each of those series to help you decide which home is best for you at The Villages.
You can choose from 1, 2, or 3-bedroom homes in the Patio Villas. The homes in this design are considered easy, low-maintenance living, and prices start in the $160,000’s.
The homes are simple and practical. They feature golf car garages, outdoor living spaces, island kitchens, and walk-in showers. There are nearly a dozen floor plans to choose from in the Patio Villas.
The Courtyard Villas have more open floor plans and enclosed courtyards compared to the Patio Villas. You can choose from 2 or 3-bedroom plans, and prices for this design start in the $190,000’s.
The homes are also considered low maintenance but are good if you’re looking for a little extra privacy or some extra outdoor space for a pet. There’s no yard to maintain, but the little courtyard area is perfect for enjoying. You can choose from more than a dozen designs in the Courtyard Villas.
The Cottage Homes also offers 2 and 3-bedroom plans and starts in the $190,000’s. These plans offer low maintenance homes as well as affordability and spacious living, according to The Villages website.
The Cottage Homes have screened lanais, garages, and more spacious bedrooms and dens. There are nine different designs for the Cottage Homes.
The homes in The Verandas start to get a bit larger with 3 and 4-bedroom plans. Of course, with the larger size, you’ll pay a bit more. Prices for The Verandas start in the mid $200,000’s.
Each home offers its own private courtyard has open floor plans, island kitchens, and 2-car garages. There are almost 20 designs to choose from when it comes to picking a home in The Verandas.
The Designer Homes offer the most options with 2, 3, or 4-bedroom homes and more than 34 designs to choose from for your model. Prices start in the mid $200,000’s.
You can choose the outside finish on your home as well as interior designs that feature some of the latest trends in home design. You can also choose a home site and work with the design team to build your own dream home.
Finally, homes in the Premier Homes collection are considered luxury homes. Prices start in the $600,000’s and the homes are available in either a 3 or 4-bedroom floor plan. There are 13 designs to choose from in this series.
The homes have spacious living areas and bedrooms, state of the art kitchens, and backyard lanais. You’ll work with The Villages’ professional design consultants to design and choose all the finishing touches for your home if you choose this route.
As you can see, just as it is with the amenities available at The Villages, the retirement community offers plenty of options for whatever type of home you desire.
Interesting Facts About The Villages
Such a bustling, growing community is bound to have some interesting facts about the area. Since The Villages is considered a 55+ retirement community, at least 80% of the homes must have at least one person who is 55-years-old or older living in it. This is a federal law and requirement for the 55+ status.
Meeting that quota isn’t really a problem since the median age of The Villages is 62-years-old for males and 60-years-old for females. In fact, no one under the age of 19-years-old can live in The Villages for more than 30 consecutive days unless a special exemption is given.
Bustling Real Estate Market
The real estate market in The Villages is a hot one. Back in 2011, The Villages sold nearly 1% of all new homes in the United States. That may seem like a small number but considering there were 306,000 new homes sold in 2011, that means 3,060 of those homes were sold in The Villages, one relatively small area compared to the whole United States.
The real estate pace hasn’t let up. Approximately 200 to 250 homes are sold in The Villages each month. That doesn’t account for the approximately 200 pre-owned homes that are sold each month. Interestingly, half of the people buying homes in The Villages pay cash.
From 2007 to 2010, Forbes named The Villages the fastest growing town (under 100,000 people at the time) in the United States. It grew 25% faster than the next closest town.
Relocating to The Villages
Besides the many amenities and opportunities offered at The Villages, part of the reason people may want to relocate there is because The Villages makes it so easy. The community has a free relocation service that helps ease the transition to The Villages.
The service includes connections with real estate agents across the country. Basically, the team from The Villages has already vetted real estate agents in many areas around the United States. They’ll connect you with one of these agents to get your current home sold. The team at The Villages also has recommendations on movers to help make that aspect smoother.
Mode of Transportation
Like any good retirement community, the main mode of transportation in The Villages is a golf cart. There are over 100 miles of golf cart paths throughout the 32 square mile community. This includes bridges, tunnels, and paths.
Most homes come with at least a golf cart garage, if not a full-sized garage. It’s believed there are over 60,000 golf carts in The Villages. The Villages Golf Cars is the primary seller of golf carts in the community. They have five showrooms throughout The Villages and sell more Yamaha golf carts than any other golf cart dealer in the United States.
Charter School in a Retirement Community
You may be wondering why there would be a school in a retirement community since no one under 19-years-old is allowed to live there, but with so many businesses in The Villages, many employees come to the community every day. The charter school serves the employees’ kids.
Students can attend Pre-K3 through high school at the A+ rated charter school as long as a parent works somewhere in The Villages. The school boasts some pretty good statistics. Ninety-nine percent of the students graduate, and 93% go on to higher education options.
The Villages also offers a Lifelong Learning Center with 2,000 courses each year. About 18,000 residents attend the college.
Cost to Live in The Villages
We’ve already talked about the price range for homes in The Villages, but you might be wondering about additional costs. The Villages website breaks it down so you can get the full picture of what it will cost you to live in the community.
With so many amenities available, you’ll pay a monthly amenity fee of $162. Here’s a look at what that monthly fee covers:
- Golf on the executive courses
- Full use of swimming, tennis, pickleball, and bocce courts as well as recreation facilities
- Access to organized activities every week
- Fishing lakes, parks, and trails
- 24-hour community watch service
In addition to the monthly amenity fee, the website breaks down the average monthly cost of living in The Villages. The amount is based on living in a home valued at around $250,000. Take a look at the fees:
|Basic Cable Television
|Development District Assessment
Of course, the cost of living can vary depending on the size of your home, how many people live there, and different levels of usage.
Future of The Villages
The growth of The Villages doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. With the growth projected for the community, it may eventually reach 70 square miles. The most growth is happening in the southern portion of The Villages in Sumter County.
The Sumter County Commission actually asked the community to keep building homes to continue to boost the economy. Originally, more than 49,000 new homes were approved along with 11.2 million square feet of non-residential use buildings, and 1.4 million square feet for government or office space.
Additionally, more land was purchased with room for 2,800 more homes, including condominiums and apartments. With all of these new additions, The Villages would nearly double in size. With the additions, there’s also talk of adding a fourth town square to keep up with the demands.
Visit Before You Buy
Even with all the above discussion and recommendations, sometimes it’s just best to see it for yourself. The Villages offers a great opportunity to go check things out before you settle there. Of course, you could stay at one of the many hotels in The Villages, but you can also take advantage of the opportunity they offer to stay right in The Villages at your own cabana.
This way, you can get a feel for what it would be like to live in the neighborhood. Along with the cabana, you get a golf cart and bikes to really check things out. You can plan a 4-7 night stay and work with the team at The Villages to create what they call a “Lifestyle Preview Plan.”
So, while you really can’t go wrong in any neighborhood in The Villages, the three areas we focused on are the best areas for those that want proximity to some of the best golf and the most amenities.