Moving to The Villages, FL? Read Our Ultimate Moving Guide
Florida has long been a haven for retirees and they’ve had plenty of options to choose from throughout the state. One destination, however, stands above the rest: The Villages, the largest active adult community in the nation. Its 20,000 acres spreads across three zip codes and three counties, and additional growth is always being planned. A few years ago, The Villages was the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S., with an estimated 128,700 residents, including all of Sumter County.
So, what do these numbers mean to you if you’re planning to move to The Villages? In a word: choices! Read on for a preview of what awaits you, then get in touch with Suddath® for a free estimate on The Villages moving services.
“Florida’s Friendliest Hometown”
The Villages is billed as “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown” and, based on the reviews, thousands of people agree. Maybe that’s due to all of the fun activities that give everyone several chances a day to gather or maybe it’s just a population that’s happy to live without snow shovels. Either way, the community is frequently ranked as one of the nation’s most popular places to retire. (Forbes included The Villages on its 2018 list of 25 Best Places to Retire.) If a full social calendar that lets you mingle with neighbors in your age group sounds like the perfect way to spend your retirement years, a residential move to The Villages may be just right for you.
Getting Around The Villages
Even if you don’t plan to ever step on the golf course after you move, you may want a golf cart. By unofficial estimates, there are more than 60,000 golf carts in The Villages, and for good reason: The community has so many amenities and conveniences that you may not crank up your car very often, and cart-friendly paths and bridges are everywhere. When the golf cart won’t do, you can hop on The Villages shuttle, which loops throughout the community every weekday.
Interestingly, The Villages was chosen in 2018 as a testing ground for autonomous vehicles. The driverless car program is run by Voyage Auto, and plans are in place to expand it to larger areas in the community.
For more traditional transportation, your choices include:
- Sumter County Transit for transportation to medical appointments, employment, shopping and more.
- Workman Transportation for service to and from the airport, point-to-point pickups, and corporate luxury service rides.
The Villages Neighborhoods
An important thing to know about The Villages is that it’s comprised of three communities centered around town squares and that it has dozens of individual neighborhoods. Each neighborhood offers housing in a range of prices and styles, from low-maintenance patio villas starting in the $160,000s to large, luxurious single-family homes starting in the $600,000s.
Here’s a list of the communities and the neighborhoods within each:
Lake Sumter Landing (31 neighborhoods):
- Bridgeport at Creekside Landing
- Bridgeport at Lake Miona
- Bridgeport at Lakeshore Cottages
- Bridgeport at Lake Sumter
- Bridgeport at Laurel Valley
- Bridgeport at Miona Shores
- Haciendas of Mission Hills
- Liberty Park
- Mallory Square
- Sabal Chase
- St. Charles
- St. James
- Sunset Pointe
- Tall Trees
- Tamarind Grove
- Virginia Trace
Spanish Springs (31 neighborhoods):
- Belle Aire
- Briar Meadow
- Calumet Grove
- Country Club Hills
- De Allende
- De La Vista
- Del Mar
- El Cortez
- Harmeswood of Belle Aire
- La Reynalda
- La Zamora
- Mira Mesa
- Orange Blossom Gardens
- Palo Alto
- Palo Ridge
- Rio Ridge
- Rio Ponderosa
- Rio Ranchero
- Sano Domingo
- Silver Lake
- Tierra Del Sol
- Valle Verde
Brownwood (14 neighborhoods):
- Alden Bungalows
- Antrim Dells
- La Belle
- Lake Deaton
- Osceola Hills
When the Grandkids Visit
The Villages’ population gets a little larger and a lot more lively during spring, summer and holiday school breaks. If you have grandchildren or other young relatives coming to spend some free time with you at your new home, here are a few things you can do to keep them entertained:
- Stay up to date on shows, events and festivals at TheVillagesEntertainment.com and The Villages News Network channel.
- Take advantage of the many town square events and movie theaters.
- If it’s summer, every age group will find fun things to do, see and learn at Camp Villages.
- Swimming pools are located throughout The Villages—some are adults-only, so check before heading out with the floats and water wings.
- Play pickleball at the Sea Breeze Recreational Center.
- Fish in the stocked lake at the Sharon Rose Weichens Preserve.
- Head to Ocala for a cruise at Silver Springs or a day at the Petting Zoo Ocala.
Weather in The Villages
Florida’s summers and early fall weeks can be even hotter and more humid than you may expect if you’re moving here from a place with mild summer weather. The good news? The rest of the year is great, so you can get out and enjoy all of the outdoor activities that The Villages has to offer. Plus, you’ll get a kick out of sending photos of yourself enjoying a round of golf in January!
There is another weather-related downside other than uncomfortable summers: hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. While the central part of the state is threatened much less frequently than coastal areas, Hurricane Irma did some damage in 2017 as it cut across the state from its landfall on the Gulf Coast. The Villages saw gusts near 100 miles per hour and sustained winds of 70, and had nearly 15 inches of rain. The result was flooding, damage to homes and businesses, and downed powerlines and trees. With the possibility of more such storms, every Florida resident should maintain a hurricane kit and take other safety measures if a storm is approaching.
Education in The Villages
Schools aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you’re researching retirement communities with no full-time residents under the age of 19, but there are educational opportunities in The Villages. These include:
- A charter school that’s mostly attended by children who have a parent who works for The Villages itself or one of its businesses
- High schools that are available in the handful of family-unit neighborhoods
- The Enrichment Academy, which offers diverse extra-curriculum courses in technology, foreign languages, crafts, the culinary arts and more.
Things to Do in and Near The Villages
You will never have to go very far from your own front door to find fun and interesting things to do: Each town square within The Villages offers shopping, dining, movie theaters, and free live entertainment every night of the week from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Anytime you’re looking for something to do, The Villages News Network on Comcast will keep you up to date on all of your options.
There are also the 1,000-seat Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center where you can see Broadway offerings, concerts and more, and the more intimate Studio Tierra Del Sol 100-seat theater.
More entertainment choices to keep you busy include dancing, happy hours and more at one of area’s bars, restaurants or country clubs.
Popular and well-attended annual events are scheduled throughout the year, including:
- February: Art and Craft Festival in the Spanish Springs Town Square
- March – May: Weekend polo matches at The Villages Polo Club
- April: Art and Craft Festival at the Brownwood Paddock Square
- May: The Villages Balloon Festival at The Villages Polo Club; The Villages Cruise-In; the Villages Shrine Club Charity Golf Tournament
- July: Independence Day celebration
- September: Pinellas Plaza Craft Festival
- December – January: Several holiday events on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve
If you’re up for a day trip, you have some great options:
- Ocala is an easy 40-minute drive from The Villages. Ocala and Marion County is Florida’s undisputed horse country, with more than 600 farms where thoroughbreds are raised and trained. It’s also home to the 500-acre Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park, where you can attend international and Olympic-level competitions and see the U.S. Equestrian Team train. Another Ocala-area don’t-miss is the 350-acre Silver Springs theme park and national landmark.
- Orlando is an hour and 15 minutes away. It’s best known, of course, for being home to some of the world’s best theme parks, but there’s more to do than Disney. Orlando offers great shopping, dining in restaurants run by some of the nation’s top chefs, and cultural options everywhere. Visit the Orlando Museum of Art and make a day of browsing your way through the art galleries and artists’ studios found throughout the city. Good to know: If the theme parks are your destination, Florida residents can get several special discounts on passes and tickets.
- Because The Villages is nearly centered in the state, you can choose a day at the beach on either the west or east coast. Head east for 70 miles to reach the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean or go west for 40 miles to get to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
If you love nothing more than to compete, you’ll find fun competition at The Villages. There are more than 100 men’s softball teams, dozens of ladies’ teams, and even co-ed teams competing in several leagues. There’s also the Senior Games, which include events in archery, volleyball, basketball, and a dozen more. Prefer tennis or pickleball? There are more than 100 courts for each.
For more outdoor fun, you’ll be just minutes away from the Ocala National Forest, one of the state’s true natural treasures. This southernmost forest in the continental U.S. has more than 600 bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, first-magnitude springs and more. There are hiking trails, wilderness areas, a scenic bi-way, camping, horseback riding, bicycling, birding, fishing, picnicking, canoeing and kayaking, and more throughout its 387,000 acres.
Lastly, there’s always golf, 648 holes of it! Retirees come to live in all parts of Florida for its year-round golfing opportunities, but The Villages and surrounding areas is a golfer’s paradise. Championship courses, executive courses, golf school, and driving ranges—it’s all here.
The community has been served by The Villages Regional Hospital since 2002. Expansion plans are in the works, and it’s one of the nation’s fastest-growing acute care hospitals, currently with 307 patient beds. The hospital is part of the Central Florida Health healthcare system.
The facility has earned a long list of awards and recognition, including:
- Gold Seal of Approval Core Certification for hip replacement and knee replacement from The Joint Commission
- The Jean Byers Award for Excellence in Cancer Registry
- The Center of Excellence Award and President’s Circle of Honor from Healogics, Inc.
- Best Practices for Supporting Workers 50+ from the Alliance for Workplace Excellence
- High Performing Hospital in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Heart Failure from U.S. News & World Report
- Advanced Primary Stroke Center Certification from The Joint Commission
There are also specialists and primary care physicians conveniently located throughout The Villages. Keep in mind that some physicians are in great demand and there can be long waits to get an appointment with them. If you can, select a primary care doctor before you move to The Villages, and also check to see which insurance plans they accept.
Dining, Shopping, Arts and Entertainment
The community’s town squares are the centers of activities, with shopping, free entertainment every night, restaurants and more. Here’s just some of what awaits you.
Shopping in The Villages: You’ll find all of the retail therapy you’ll ever need without ever leaving the community. Shops include boutiques and clothing stores, and national brands such as Tommy Bahama, Pier 1 Imports and Chico’s. Multiple salons, jewelers and bicycle shops are nearby, as are food standbys such as Dunkin’ for donuts and Five Guys for burgers.
Grocery stores: Groceries are always just around the corner. Start up the golf cart and choose from The Fresh Market, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Target, a Walmart Supercenter, seven Publix stores, and three Winn-Dixie stores.
The Villages Restaurants: Need a pizza fix or would you rather relax over an elegant dinner? You’ll have those options and more, including 200 restaurants in and near The Villages that offer everything from sushi, seafood and steak, to Asian, Thai and barbecue. Favorites such as Olive Garden, Panera Bread and Outback Steakhouse are also here. Be sure to check out The Rose Plantation’s upscale offerings (and mind the dress code) and a new choice at the Wolfgang Puck Restaurant. Lastly, don’t forget the dozen country club dining rooms.
Arts: The Villages’ three performing arts center make it easy to take in award-winning Broadway shows, both local and national performers, concerts, comedy shows, dance troupes and more. If you prefer your arts hands-on, there’s almost no art form you can’t learn in one of The Villages many classes. For some big-city options, head to Orlando for hundreds of galleries, museums, theaters and cultural events.
The Villages Important Links
Moving to The Villages? Make note of these helpful links:
Driver’s licenses: There is a Florida Department of Motor Vehicles office within The Villages where you can get a driver’s license or identification card, register your vehicle, get your plates, and more. There are also several services available online.
Voting: Depending upon your address in The Villages, you will need to contact one of these offices for information on registration, polling locations, voting by mail, and more:
- Lake County Supervisor of Elections
- Sumter County Supervisor of Elections
- Marion County Supervisor of Elections
Water and trash services: The Villages are comprised of official Community Development Districts that provide utility and other services. Because The Villages communities span more than one Florida county, utilities are provided by different service areas. Check the CDD website for specific utility service information.
Electric and natural gas service: Electric service is provided by Sumter Electric Co-Op or Duke Energy, and natural gas by TECO Energy.
Cable TV and internet providers: Choices include Spectrum, Comcast, and CenturyLink.
Good to Know
Here are some interesting facts about The Villages:
- There are eight fire stations with medics and EMTs.
- More than 25,000 members run The Villages Homeowners Association.
- The Villages has four dog parks.
- It’s estimated that there are more golf carts in The Villages than there are taxi cabs in New York.
- All businesses in The Villages can be reached by golf cart.
- The Villages has three libraries.
- With more than 90-plus miles of golf cart paths throughout The Villages, there are a number of rules governing the use of golf carts. Cart drivers must be more than 14 years old, and carts cannot be modified to exceed the 20-mph speed limit.
- The Villages has a half-dozen animal hospitals and veterinary clinics.
- There are more than 2,500 social clubs.
- People under the age of 19 may visit for a total maximum of 30 days in any calendar year.
Moving to The Villages? Call the Pros.
Suddath has been serving customers in Florida for nearly a century and residents of The Villages for a decade. If you’re making a residential move to The Villages, we have everything you need to get there. Our comprehensive services including packing and transportation, and even storage services that can make moving simpler. Whether your move will be local, cross-country, or international, we make sure that your household goods are safe and secure. Get in touch today with our Ocala and The Villages moving team for a free, no-obligation quote.
Moving to The Villages, FL: FAQ
In some areas, you get a lot for your money, such as the monthly amenity fee of less than $160. It includes free golf, tennis and swimming; waterfront parks and fishing lakes; fitness trails; thousands of weekly organized activities; and a 24-hour community watch service. The average monthly costs total a little more than $1,000 according to this cost of living breakdown.
Note that if you’re new to living in Florida, there are no local or state income taxes. Another plus are the various homestead exemptions, which can help keep your property taxes under control if you are a full-time resident. (The exemption is not available if your home in The Villages isn’t your full-time home.) When you file for homestead exemptions for the first time, you’ll need proof of residency, such as a Florida driver’s license, voter registration card, or Florida state identification card. Homestead exemption automatically renews each year.
With its central location, The Villages puts you within easy driving distance of several great Florida destinations:
Ocala – 24 miles
Silver Springs – 24 miles
Universal Studios – 55 miles
Sea World – 59 miles
Disney World – 64 miles
Tampa – 93
Cape Canaveral – 107
The Villages residents are mostly retired, but if you choose to work you’ll find some good opportunities. Within the community, there are a lot of opportunities for teaching and coaching one of the hundreds of classes offered, and a few opportunities to have your own business, such as a restaurant or entertainment service provider. Commercial space is at a premium, though, and it stays almost fully occupied.
Outside of The Villages, there are jobs in the retail and health care sectors that serve the burgeoning population.
Since financial advantages such as homestead exemptions on property taxes depend on proving legal residency, here’s what you need to know:
• You must show that you spend more than 183 days (half the year) in the state.
• Actions that can help you prove residency are opening a bank account and renting a safe deposit box at a local bank, getting a library card, get your car registered in the state, getting your Florida’s driver’s license, and registering to vote.
• Make sure you don’t claim homestead exemptions in more than one state.
• Use your Florida address for your credit cards, passport, insurance company and Medicare.
Every place has its good side and bad, particularly when you’re weighing your options on retirement destinations. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering moving to The Villages:
• The network of golf cart paths throughout The Villages will help you save gas money, particularly if you have an electric model.
• Restaurants, grocery stores, drug stores and more are all within cart-riding distance.
• Community centers are located in every neighborhood, giving you access to swimming pools (including separate pools for visiting grandkids).
• You’ll have a very broad range of home types and prices from which to choose.
• The crime rate in The Villages is lower than most other locations in Florida.
• Because getting around by golf cart is so popular, you’ll probably experience some cart traffic jams. And, although carts capable of exceeding 20 miles an hour are officially prohibited, not everyone follows that rule or the speed limit.
• Florida recorded 32 sinkholes in 2017, and the central Florida area is a particular hotspot for them. All insurance companies licensed in the state to do business must include Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse coverage, so make sure you obtain your homeowners insurance from a licensed company.
• The Villages is a deed-restricted community, so you’ll have to follow a long list of rules about what you can and cannot have and do, and consult the Architectural Review Committee before you make any changes to your home. You’ll also need to pay an HOA fee.
• The Villages is a conservative stronghold, so if you lean left, you may not enjoy the local political atmosphere, especially around election time.
• There are bugs of all shapes and sizes (particularly large sizes). Because of the mild climate, pest populations thrive.