Pros and Cons of The Villages Florida - Moving To Florida

Pros and Cons of The Villages Florida

The Villages is the World’s Largest (and Best?) Active Adult Retirement Community in the World.

Before we learn the advantages and disadvantages of the Villages in Florida, lets make sure we’re talking about the right place…

Where are The Villages located in Florida?

The Villages are located in central Florida about 30 miles south of Ocala and about an hour northwest of Orlando.

There are over 100,000 residents that live in the self contained community filled with golf courses, along with more goods and services than you’d find in a regular city of that size.

That’s a good thing too, because it’s kind of stuck out in the middle of rural no-where.

Which Airport is Closest to The Villages?

The closest major airport is in Orlando, about an hours drive away. There are flights to and from just about anywhere in the world.

Must You be a Certain Age to Own in The Villages?

The Villages in Florida is an age 55 and older community. Although originally designed for retired seniors, there are now some newer “separate” villages that allow families.

Is “The Villages” a Good Place to Retire?

Trying to decide if The Villages would be a great place to retire or not, can be difficult.

Part of the reason is that any retirement community you try to use the internet to do research on, you’re likely to find nothing but mostly positive articles in the first few pages of search engine results created by those with a financial interest in the communities, or in promoting them.

There are plenty of critics of The Villages, mainly former residents, but they are usually older folks without websites and are limited to posting comments to articles in forums. Those negative comments can be flagged and removed by an small army of those motivated by a financial interest to keep things positive. So I’ll touch on some of the positives and negatives here.

The Villages in Florida is Unique

There are no shortage of 55 and older retirement communities in the US today, especially in Florida. What is so unique about The Villages is what you’ll find inside that you won’t find elsewhere: Almost every type of restaurant, shopping, and service such as doctors, dentist and more. Unlike other retirement communities, you may never have to leave the safety of this gated community because what ever you want or need is located right in the community.

The Villages covers over 30 square miles which is over 20,000 acres. There are over 500 holes of golf to play, and over 100 miles of cart paths. The paths aren’t just for golfing, because travel by golf cart is a main mode of transportation in the sprawling private community. You can drive them to the store or pub. It’s said you could easily live in The Villages without using a car.

The community is like a Disney World for people 55 and older. “Old” is subjective and can be misleading, I often hear my 77 year old mother say “but they’re old” and I’m thinking, at 77 you’re not? Anyway the average age of residents is said to be 60 for women and 62 for men.

Pros and Cons of Retiring to The Villages Florida

“The Villages in Florida” Big Advantage – Pro

One of the main reasons (but by far not the only) people who move to Florida, end up moving back to their home state, is they miss their family and friends back home. People moving to Florida picture themselves enjoying life going to the beach, golfing and dining and meeting new friends in the sunshine state. It’s not much fun golfing by yourself. Unfortunately, the reality for too many new residents is that they’ll find it far more difficult to meet new people than they anticipated.

Life in those manicured suburbs can be lonely with people hiding indoors from the heat, humidity and sun 9 months a year. It’s hard to meet the neighbors when they just push the button in their car to open and close the garage door and drive in and out, and never use the front door. Many people hire companies to take care of the lawn, spraying for weeds and bugs, etc., so it’s hard to meet them because they’re almost never outside of their home.

I remember selling a beautiful home to a retired couple in a golf course community. They had been living in a mobile home full-time for about 2 years that they originally had used as a vacation home before they retired. They said they felt a little cramped in the trailer and were looking forward to living in a real home again. Well, within 6 months after moving into their new home in the suburbs, they called me, saying they wanted to sell it and move back to the mobile home community. Why?

Because that’s where all of the friends they ever made in Florida were. In that mobile home community, the “homes” were close together and people waked everywhere, so it was easy to meet people because they were outside a lot. The community center always had pot luck dinners, bingo, shuffleboard tournaments or something going on. They were always busy doing something with friends, and they loved it. In their new home in the suburbs, they just sat in the house watching daytime TV.

That’s the big advantage of The Villages. You just buy or rent there and it’s impossible not to meet people, make new friends and find something to do you enjoy. There are “town pubs”, softball games and other fun sporting events and clubs for almost every interest imaginable to join. In the Villages, you just move in and almost instantly gain a social life and become part of the active community.

That’s not easy to do in Florida’s mostly transient cities and towns. Many retirement communities have a pool and community center but they’re often empty. Recent health studies have shown that being isolated often leads to depression, and it also increases your chances of premature death.

The Villages Florida Pros/Advantages

  • You don’t have to leave the community (and it’s “safety”) to go grocery shopping, dine out, go to the doctor, etc. like you have to do in almost all other retirement communities. The Villages is a “city” of 100,000+ people with all of the goods and services you’ll need located within its borders. There is no other 55+ retirement community anywhere in the world that come close to providing this.
  • The Villages has more of those goods, services and other amenities per capita than most places in Florida. This means you’ll have a better variety of places to shop, dine, be entertained, etc. than most cities and towns in Florida. Most retirement communities in Florida have none of this, you have to get in the car and drive, too often to some city far away that has crime rates far higher than where your home is located.
  • The crime rates in The Villages is lower. Florida’s overall crime rate is higher than most other states. The Villages is far safer than the national average and most Florida cities and towns.
  • You’ll be safer from hurricanes in Florida than most places in Florida. The Villages is located near the center of Florida away from the coasts where most of the damage from hurricanes usually is incurred. The Florida Move Guide says that hurricanes usually weaken after they move inland and they’re no longer fueled by the warm/hot water off the coast during Florida’s annual 6 month hurricane season.

“The Villages in Florida” Disadvantages or Cons

For some people, there’s a high price to pay in privacy and freedom, in return for an instant social life that can attained in The Villages. Please note that you may or may not be negatively affected by any of the “issues” below, and you’re likely to find the same thing in every other retirement community, not just in Florida but in all states.

  • How will you handle not seeing or interacting with young or middle aged people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
  • How will you like living in a “city” where the developer makes all the rules that you must live by, without having a vote like you would in a real town?
  • Will being told what you can and can not do with your own property bother you?
  • The cost to purchase a home in The Villages Florida is considerably higher* than in most other places in the state.
  • The cost of utilities is higher than Florida’s and the national average*.
  • If healthcare quality is important to you, check the ratings of local hospitals. Ocala Regional Medical Center is rated below average by Medicare, at only 2 stars out of 5.  Florida Hospital Ocala is also has just a 2 star rating. The Villages Regional Hospital gets just 1 star from Medicare. This was as of the time this article was written. You can check current ratings here.
  • Sinkholes (or are they just “depressions”?) have open up in the Villages. This has some quite concerned, since it happened while they are still recovering bodies (95 found dead as of this writing) from the condo collapse that happened in Surfside Florida July 2021.

So will the possible disadvantages of living in The Villages Florida be a problem for you, or will you be too busy enjoying life in this community to notice? These are just some of the questions you must ask yourself when considering The Villages or almost any other retirement community.

florida move guide book cover and discription

Former residents have complained that they felt like they were living in a artificial bubble filled with nothing but old people or that the rules were too strict for them. If you buy in a private community, it can be challenging to sell your now “used” home if the developer has brand new homes, and he makes all the rules. How will you sell your “used” home for roughly the same price he has brand new homes for? Remember, they make the rules and may not even allow you to put a for sale sign in the yard (too many for sale signs would spook potential new buyers, why is everybody selling?) The truth is, you can sell anything in Florida, even if it’s overpriced, during good economic times. During recessions, buyers are nowhere to be found in Florida and prices drop like a boulder.

So, is the villages right for you?

Here’s a “pro” promo video that presents The Villages Florida is a very positive light.

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Living in The Villages has negatives, like Florida. Here’s a video of just another “con” to be aware of.

PLEASE NOTE: The Villages in Florida Is Qualified to Be On Our Best 55+ Active Retirement Communities in Florida List Because of Low Crime Rates and Other High Quality of Life Scores, Compared to Most Places in Florida.

The bottom line? If you are considering moving to an active adult community in Florida, The Villages is a place you should visit. Many people use The Villages as the Florida retirement community to judge all the others.

Decision tips

  1. If you are planning to retire to Florida and are considering a 55+ adult community to live there full-time, I would suggest visiting The Villages. Use it as a place to compare all other communities to.
  2. Visit during the winter months such as January to see it at its most active time (crowded?) of year when all of the “snowbirds” are in the state.
  3. Visit during the summer when there are no snowbirds and more of the people that are there stay inside with the AC, to see what the place is like most of the year.  August would be ideal for this.
  4. I also suggest you visit all of the other retirement communities you’re considering during these times also, all within a short period of time to make comparing them easier. Good luck!

* Source: Home price and utilities cost information derived from the Council for Community and Economic Research and may be higher or lower when you read this article.

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Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

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22 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of The Villages Florida”

  1. ” How will you like living in a “city” where the developer makes all the rules that you must live by, without having a vote like you would in a real town?”

    This was the top complaint from my parents who sold and moved to a regular house with a fenced yard and now actually feel like they own their house not living under faceless / nameless ” board ” that can not be voted out .

    Reply
  2. in your opinion, would The Villages endure a real estate decline better than most other areas of FL? If yes, are you aware of stats to bear this out?

    Reply
    • Hello C S,

      In my opinion, The Villages would likely weather a real estate decline better than areas with a higher mix of people dependent on income from employment, but it’s complicated. Here’s why…

      Real estate prices are determined by supply and demand.

      Huge numbers of people move to Florida everyday creating demand for real estate. Huge numbers of people (who previously moved to Florida) also move out of Florida everyday, creating supply when they put their homes up for sale.

      During downturns, whether the downturn is caused by economic factors, successive bad hurricane years, etc., that huge number of people who want to move to Florida everyday plummets (less demand). This happens because people change their mind about moving to Florida when they see longer term negative hurricane/flooding coverage in the news. Or they can’t sell their home during an economic downturn so they can’t move to Florida, etc (less demand).

      However, the huge number of people who want to move out of Florida (for all the reasons mentioned in the Florida Move Guide) does not change (same supply). In fact, the number of people wanting to leave the state can increase during bad hurricane seasons. Florida is usually a leading job creator among states during good economic times, however it often loses more jobs than other states during downturns as people “staycation” rather than travel to FL, Florida home building slows to a crawl, restaurants and shops lay people off or close because there’s less tourist and resident shoppers and so on. Residents who lose their jobs often need to sell because they can’t afford to pay their mortgages (even more supply).

      The advantages The Villages has over other areas of Florida during downturns is…

      1) A higher percentage of the folks in The Villages have fixed income streams such as social security and pensions, and will be less affected/unaffected by economic downturns and less likely to need to sell.

      2) Residents of The Villages will be less affected/unaffected by hurricanes and therefore less likely to sell. It’s even on this special list

      3) Residents of The Villages will be less likely to be affected by isolation and other causes (as described in the Florida move Guide) of eventually deciding the move to Florida was a mistake and wanting to move out.

      The demand for real estate in The Villages will decrease similar to other areas in Florida during downturns, but because of the 3 above reasons, the supply is less likely to balloon/increase quite as bad as most of Florida. So in my opinion, The Villages would endure a real estate decline better than most, but no place in Florida escapes unscathed. To answer your other question, I am not aware of any studies that specifically compares how home values in different areas in Florida fare when compared to The Villages during real estate downturns. But, you may gleam what you are looking for here, in the the red circle with a “2” in the center, under “The Villages Appreciation Rates”.
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

      _____

      Reply
  3. Thank you for this blog, it has some great information on moving to Florida. We have considered The Villages for many reasons – the main one being the ability to bike the inter-modal paths (aka golf car paths) – and have visited several times, so I just want to make one correction. The Villages is NOT gated and you do not have to be a resident or work there to shop, dine or attend events that take place in the Town Squares – it is completely open to the public. My husband and I have even parked at the various Town Squares, hopped on our bikes and ridden the paths all around. In fact The Villages is a destination for hundreds of people who live near or even several miles away and want to go someplace fun. You can also come and go freely from the gated sub divisions – the gates are there for traffic flow only and so we have been able to drive around looking for homes. You DO have to be a resident or guest of a resident to use the recreation centers, golf courses, pools, and other amenities.

    Reply
    • Hello Anna,
      Thanks for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts. Most people who are familiar with Florida communities either think of communities as gated with restricted access, or not gated with unrestricted access. The brilliant developer of The Villages in Florida put together a hybrid of the two.

      The roads inside the The Villages in Florida are actually public roads. Yet there are over 90 gates that people must navigate to enter The Villages, just like you do to enter the “gated” communities we are familiar with. The gates, attendants and the security cameras serve very similar functions to the standard gated communities we are more familiar with.

      The unique hybrid system likely made developing The Villages easier and less expensive. It also probably benefits residents through lower costs in relation to repair and replacement of the “public” roads, sidewalks, etc., because once built, they are transferred to the county who is responsible for upkeep.

      In your comment, you said “The Villages is NOT gated”. A couple of sentences latter, you said “You can also come and go freely from the gated sub divisions”. You are right to say The Villages is not gated, because they say that right on their “government” website. You are also right to call them gated, because there are over 90 gates separating The Villages from the outside world.

      The following pages, straight from The Villages Community Development Districts website can provide more insight.

      http://www.districtgov.org/departments/Community-Watch/positionGateAttendant.aspx

      https://www.districtgov.org/departments/Community-Watch/intro.aspx

      http://www.districtgov.org/faq.aspx
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

      _____

      Reply
  4. No one told us that medical care here is seriously lacking. As one gets older, that becomes more important than pretty new houses, lots of activities and entertainment. The Villages Health system only accepts Medicare Advantage plans (HMO) NOT original Medicare with traditional medigap plans. If you can find a doctor who accepts your plan, he isn’t accepting new patients. In addition, over 155,000 seniors and growing with only ONE hospital????? Need I say more? We are planning on moving back home solely for the medical issues here. Wish we knew this before moving here.

    Reply
    • Hello P. C.

      You wrote “No one told us that medical care here is seriously lacking.”
      I hope this doesn’t come across too harsh, but I’d be willing to bet no one ever told you because you didn’t bother to ask Who was supposed to tell you, the salesperson who was working for the builder and representing his best interest, not yours? She was just doing her job. It’s our job to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

      On this blog, we continually stress the need to thoroughly investigate any place before moving moving long distance. I have written many times how the Healthcare quality in Florida is among the bottom half of all states according to the US’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Unfortunately, most people moving to Florida never think of all the changes that will take place once they move to another city in another state. The full extent of what most buyers moving to Florida research is checking home prices and how close to the beach they can get. Moving to Florida requires more research than booking a 1 week vacation, if you want to prevent a big mistake. It’s only after people move that they get realize all the things they should have thought about, but didn’t. It’s not easy (or cheap) to reverse an a 1000 mile relocation.

      However, don’t make the sanme mistake all over again. I don’t know how long you have lived in Florida or where you moved from. but healthcare in this country has changed drastically in the past few years in many places. If I were you, I would:

      1) Verify that my healthcare options are indeed still better where I want to return to. They may have changed and could be the same or worse than where you are now.
      2) Calculate the cost of selling, moving long distance and buying again. That may burn more of your cash (not to mention the disruption to your retirement enjoyment) than finding better healthcare options (insurance and/or doctors outside of the gates of the community) right where you are now located.

      Thanks for commenting, I think sharing your experience will likely lead to others avoiding the same pitfall. Good luck P. C.
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      _____

      Reply
  5. Does this community have housing for snowbird rentals? If not, do you have suggestions for this type housing? Thanks in advance for your reply. Any info. appreciated

    Reply
    • Hello LaWanda,
      “Does this community have housing for snowbird rentals?”
      Yes, for people over 55 years of age, there are owners in “The Villages” Florida retirement community that do rent their fully furnished homes to snowbirds for the winter. Not too long ago I saw a place in there offered for just $1000 a month, however it’s rare to see a place offered that cheap.

      “If not, do you have suggestions for this type housing?”
      The Florida Move Guide and How to Retire Happier both advise that if you are snowbirding, (escaping the cold northern winter by going south for just a few months, then leaving the south before the heat, humidity, heavy bug season, hurricane season, etc. starts) renting the cheapest smallest place you can stand seems to work best for most people because if you’re doing it right, you will be out and about having a great time enjoying the beautiful winter weather, not sitting inside. These articles may provide more insight:

      The best places for snowbirds to spend the winter in Florida

      If you are specifically looking for retirement communities in Florida, you can try these places (“The Villages” is also on this best places list)

      Good luck LaWanda
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

      _____

      Reply
  6. please let me know if a renter can have a motorcycle at the house he is renting

    Reply
    • Hello Mike,
      The best thing to do, whether renting in The Villages or anywhere in Florida, is to ask the landlord because even if a community allows something, the landlord may add additional restrictions in the lease. As far as motorcycles in the community of “The Villages” in Florida, this video will answer your question…


      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

      _____

      Reply
  7. We would like to visit your community & consider it in our retirement. Do you allow owners to have a golden retriever dog ?

    Reply
    • Hello Gail,
      The Villages in Florida is not “my community” nor am I a paid promoter for the community. I just rate places in Florida and provide information. Dogs are permitted in The Villages. In fact, they have dog parks and there are even pet pet friendly businesses there including some restaurants. There are no size restrictions on dogs. Dogs riding “shotgun” (in the passenger seat) of golf carts, a main mode of transportation in The Villages, is a daily occurrence.
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

      _____

      Reply
  8. I have heard that the Villages has a significant rat problem, due to constant construction, and that the people living there don’t want this out….Yes, big rats, not tiny mice…

    I believe one of the news channels covered this…

    Reply
    • Hello Elle,
      I don’t believe this rat problem in The Villages in Florida rises to the level of “significant”. The truth is, rats, other rodents, snakes, bugs, etc. are a common issue throughout Florida. The problem is, most people moving to Florida aren’t aware of what it’s really like to live in the state until after they move. Of course The Villages in Florida and everyone else selling the Florida lifestyle don’t include pictures of giant rats in their brochures. I believe the structure of The Villages Florida and the residents have the resources to correct this or any similar problem, long before it becomes significant.

      Here’s a fairly recent news story and video concerning the rat problem in The Villages. Is the problem significant?

      Here’s another article on Giant rats in Florida
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

      _____

      Reply
      • History repeats itself. In Europe in the Middle Ages, there was a “war on cats”, and hundreds of thousands were killed. This caused an increase in rats, which led to the spread of the “Black Plague”. Perhaps “The Villages” should consider allowing cats freedom to be indoor/outdoor pets, as that would allow the cats to “live free”, and would help to alleviate the rat problem. That would be a win-win for the cats and the residents. Just a thought…..

        Reply
    • You know what? All of Fl has a rat problem!

      Reply
  9. I have a confirmation to come and visit October 5 for seven days I like to know if there is any activities for single people in the villages.
    Are there meet up groups for single people?
    What is the population of single people that live in the villages?

    Reply
    • Hi Cosmo D.
      Did you visit The Villages and what did you discover in relation to singles activities? I am single and am considering a move to The Villages and would truly like to hear about your experience.

      Reply
    • I would love to know the answer to your question too–I am single and want to visit–is it easy to meet single people in The Villages? Are there group activities??? and yes what is the population to single people and is there a particular area where it is most prominent? thanks!

      Reply
  10. send hard copy promotion material on the villages to *******************removed***************************************

    Reply
    • Sorry Jim, we don’t send promotional material of any kind. Please contact someone from The Villages in Florida directly. Thank you.
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

      _____

      Reply

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