What to know about The Villages, Florida?
The Villages is an age-restricted retirement community that offers retirees to enjoy a quality retirement life. It is located in central Florida and has convenient access to most major locations.
Tampa is 75 miles, and Orlando is only 45 miles away from The Villages. The Villages encompasses a land area of about 32 square miles (83 km2) as of 2018 and has about 750 miles (1.210 km) of mainly private roads.
It consists of 17 specific function Community Development Districts (CDD) controlled by a board of supervisors (BoS), five persons elected by the district's landowners.
H. Gary Morse, the original owner's son, inherited much of the company's ownership to his 3 children in 2006; and Morse passed away in 2014.
The retirement community offers well-maintained amenities for its residents. Residents can practically benefit from nearby supermarkets, restaurants, golf courses, nightly dances, etc.
The Villages ranked many years in a row for its sustained growth. According to the US Census Bureau, there were only 8,333 residents living in the year 2000. This number reached the record 122,460 by 2019 which is an expansion of about 15 times.
The Villages is an adult-only community and wants to stick to its original starting idea.
Therefore, homes in the community must be owned by a resident 55 years or older. Individuals younger than 19 years old are not allowed to live within. However, they can stay up to a month in a year.
There are three subsections assigned as family units, and these units are exempt from the age limitation we just mentioned.
Most people who live in The Villages come from the other states that are considered politically and socially conservative. There are not a lot of locals (Floridians in this case) living in The Villages.
Yes, there will always be people not thinking the same way.
There are many neighborhoods in the Villages, each clustering around one of 50 different golf courses. Among those courses, 38 are 9-hole executive layouts, and the remaining ones are 18-hole championship courses.
One of the perks of living in the Villages is “free” golf on the 9 hole courses for the rest of your life. Your golf membership is covered in the general fees a homeowner pays in local taxes to a Community Development District.
There are over 200 Community Development Districts in Florida. They allow the developer the right to fund his development with bonds and pass the infrastructure costs on to the district's eventual residents.
What about the lifestyle?
Lots of people living in The Villages have a golf cart. In May 2011, CBS' TV program “Sunday Morning” mentioned that there were 50,000 carts. As you can expect it there should be much more today.
Shops, restaurants, health clubs, and most other facilities can be accessed by driving a golf cart. You can rent a golf cart at a number of locations if you think that option would work better for you. However, you will likely not survive in The Villages without having a golf cart.
In The Villages, there are three town squares. To name a few: Brownwood Paddock Square, Spanish Springs Town Square, and Lake Sumter Landing Market Square.
There is a bandshell and live music in every town square. These squares are the powerhouses of activity at community evenings. Hundreds of golf carts queue up while their residents enjoy live music and the companionship. Once it is over everyone turns back to their homes happier than before.
The Villages have literally hundreds of miles of golf cart trails. For many locals, including those who are not interested in golf, golf carts are the primary form of transportation.
Residents in the Villages cherish more than 2,400 clubs covering just about every hobby or interest an individual may possibly have. There are also sports events and team games organized, and all sorts of other free activities for residents.
Traveling back roads in Florida is fun if you continue your ride from The Florida Villages. If you begin elsewhere in this thriving city, you won't find a lot of back roads.
If I'm driving in Central Florida I try to skip The Villages. There is significant noise if you just drive by. However, even if you don't stay there, it's a perfect destination for having fun, gourmet eating, and shopping.
Many of the original Floridians who had lived in the counties of Sumter, Lake, and Marion prior to the establishment of The Villages have a deep love-hate relationship with the community.
They seem to appreciate the employment opportunities and money flowing into the area while they feel a little discriminated by the community residents.
It is said that The Villages is so good that its residents want it to be a gated community to stop “outsiders” frequently visiting their lovely community.
I've heard people already living there resenting it as new people move in. It seems to be the truth whether the newcomers are Floridians or not. Most people after moving Florida want to smash the door shut, and I can fully relate to that sentiment.
There are many hotels and bed and breakfasts in The Villages and in the neighboring Florida towns of Leesburg, Lady Lake, Ocala, and Wildwood.
If you move a little further, yet within easy driving distance, you will find Mount Dora, Gainesville, and several other urban areas that offer plenty of lodgings.
Tips buying a house from The Villages
If you have made your mind and want to buy a house from The Villages here are some tips you may want to consider.
Choose a house facing either east or north. Doing that will help your house stay chill during the summer, and you will pay less for your utilities.
There are 660 golf holes and many pickleball courts. Sound from the pickleball courts is very likely to bother everyone who purchases a house near these courts.
There are also always some people playing pickleball. There are also houses next to the shuffleboard courses if you cannot avoid any courts try buying from next to the shuffleboard courts.
It is noted that the villages have a kind of weird lawn cutting routine starting at 5:30 AM or even earlier. Especially during the summer grass grows faster and this may be a particular problem if you can’t sleep in a noisy environment. Homes next to golf courses are more likely subject to this problem.
Driving a golf cart on Morrison Boulevard be very careful. It is a quite busy area and there is no dedicated golf cart lane. If you want to pick up your mail from one of the centers around, this area can be very busy especially during the winters.
Whether you're buying a brand new home or a pre-owned one, buy one with the fans or install them immediately. Fans are very important and they will drastically cut down your utility costs of the air conditioning.
Sun is intense at The Villages during the summer months. Any kind of shading will help you to have a more comfortable time there. It is always a good idea to have a house with more trees in the yard since they help to keep your house stay cool.
Some residents reported gas carts can be a better option for electric carts. The villages are expanding, and it is about the size of Manhattan today. There are tunnels, bridges, baseball fields, polo grounds. Therefore don’t think of the villages as a small town you can drive everywhere with an electric cart conveniently.
Also, batteries are not cheap and electric cart maintenance costs much higher than a gas one. There are gas carts as quiet, and environmentally friendly as electric ones.
I also recommend renting for 3 months before buying. There may be a lot of things that you may don’t like but you cannot notice right away.
Finally, there is definitely so much to do in the villages. Renting at different parts can give you a great idea which part can be the best fit to live the dream retirement life you have always wished.
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