Spotlight on The Villages, Florida


New England author Andrew Blechman spent a month in The Villages several years ago, and out of his experience came Leisureville, a book that many Villagers are eager to discuss. Blechman pointed out, among other things, that nearly everything about The Villages—from its government to its media—is controlled by developer Gary Morse. A lot of Villagers seem to agree with Blechman’s observation, but far fewer seem to care. What I found during several visits to The Villages—some lengthy—over the past dozen years is that the majority of Villagers seem to accept that they’re living in what is essentially a privately-owned city and just want to be left alone to enjoy the numerous activities available to them … from ballroom dancing to golf to baseball with that extra home plate.

In the words of New York Times book reviewer John Leland, Blechman notes toward the end of Leisureville that “retirees may in fact be losing interest in golfistans like The Villages, which makes Leisureville perhaps less about the vanguard of a cultural shift than a parting glance at a fading consumer vision. Baby boomers say they want to work in retirement and stay where they are.”

In the interest of disclosure, I’ll reveal here that my parents resided in The Villages until moving to another Florida city a couple of years ago. I’ll also admit I enjoyed certain aspects of visiting The Villages … especially cruising with my wife and children on a golf cart, using some of the sports and game facilities, and visiting the buffalo pasture less than a mile from where my parents lived. While I agree with the assessment that The Villages may not be sustainable as an age-restricted community over the long term, I can say that I met more than a few people who loved living there. The Villages certainly wouldn’t be on some people’s lists of the best places to retire—and it’s probably not a place where I’d choose to live—but some residents seem very happy there, and with housing options ranging from inexpensive mobile homes in the Orange Blossom area of The Villages to higher priced homes in other areas, The Villages is a retirement community option some readers may want to consider.

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Spotlight on The Villages, Florida© 2012

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