Chances are by now that you’ve had some advertising for local and even nationally known age-restricted communities.
Many of these communities focus on recruiting and catering to residents who are 55+ and claim to offer a great experience with a lot of activities, community, and even dating opportunities for those in their Third Age.
But are those age-restricted communities really worth it?
While we know that’s a really personal decision, we’re taking a deeper look at two of the bigger destination-retirement communities: Latitude Margaritaville and The Villages. Both have their main campuses in Florida, but offer other locations. For the sake of this article, we’re going to take a closer look at those Florida locations because they’re the flagship for both.
From the cult of Jimmy Buffet, Latitude Margaritaville is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. Consistently growing (they’re now in their sixth phase of building), Latitude Margaritaville features a variety of single-family homes in their residential community.
While it’s not on the beach, they do offer constant shuttle services to their exclusive Beach Club that’s just outside Daytona Beach. This private beach club offers a large swimming pool with plenty of patio seating, a bar and open air pavilion with cabanas, and a wheelchair accessible path to the water. You can grab a shuttle at almost any time so there’s no need to worry about parking to get out and enjoy the beach.
It’s not all about fun in this retirement community, though. Just across from their main entrance is Latitude Landings, a 200,00 square foot Margaritaville-themed retail center. With a Publix, golf cart friendly parking, and even a golf cart repair center, you almost never have to leave the community.
And of course, it’s all styled after Jimmy Buffet and his lifestyle (who even owns a home in the community himself).
Latitude Margaritaville has overwhelmingly positive reviews. In fact, we found it hard to find anything negative about the community. Reviews mention the friendliness of their neighbors and their community over and over again. Many say they feel like they “hit the lottery” and that their minds were made up as soon as they met other residents. Across the board they get a high 4+ star rating. (And it’s not because they’re all Jimmy Buffet fans)
Their own marketing calls The Villages “Florida’s friendliest, active adult 55+ retirement community”. Touted as a collection of quaint retirement neighborhoods nestled in the heart of Florida, The Villages gives you the ability to create whatever new story you want.
Their community offers lots of golfing opportunities, shopping and dining options (right in The Villages), entertainment, bustling town squares, trails and parks, and healthy activity options like racket sports, cycling, swimming, and even music and theatre.
Their home options range from an affordable $180,000 to the more luxurious $600,000 options. All tout low-maintenance living options, outdoor living spaces, and friendly neighbors.
Unlike Latitude Margaritaville, The Villages has a reputation for its dark side to retirement community living. With higher than average hidden costs for some amenities and services, privatization of the community with little residential control, sales pressure for new-build homes, and a Conservative leadership, it’s not known for being as friendly as they claim. In fact, many of the ratings we found were in the average 3+ star range. While many residents like living there, it doesn’t quite match up to expectations.
While this is certainly not the last time we’ll be looking into the nuances of retirement living, we know that our answer may not match up to your own. And that’s kind of the point. Whenever you’re considering a community like this, we highly recommend you take a look at multiple reviews and experiences of actual residents so you’ll know if it’s the right fit for you.
We found it interesting that so many were happy with Latitude Margaritaville while The Villages had such a negative reputation. Our thoughts? It’s a lot about the people that move into these communities and how they mesh with each other, but it’s also about the leadership. If the people moving in don’t mesh well with the companies running the community, it’s not going to work.
Do your due diligence on any community you might consider and make sure you meet the neighbors and get to know the business behind it. After all, this is supposed to be your home you thrive in! Don’t shortcut that decision.