Disclaimer: Links and mentions of Florida 55+ communities in this post do not constitute an endorsement. Price ranges, services, and amenities can change — please visit a community’s website for the most up-to-date information. HomeLight always recommends doing your own research to determine which community destination is best for your situation.
Deciding where to retire can be one of the most significant financial decisions you make. Florida is a natural choice for many, with affordability, a mild climate, and diverse culture as top factors working in its favor. In addition, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine also reports a high population at retirement age and no state income tax as appealing lifestyle considerations for those seeking a comfortable place to spend their senior years.
Last year, 329,717 retirees or older Americans migrated to The Sunshine State. This influx of mature residents plays a role in the demand for 55+ communities for seniors looking for a lifestyle that fits their golden-year goals and financial resources.
Retirees make up 21% of Florida’s total population or about 4.5 of the state’s 21.7 million residents.
In this post, we’ve consulted with top-performing real estate agent Brenda Bianchi, who has extensive experience — nearly 40 years — in the market, helping seniors relocate. We’ve also researched some of the best 55+ communities in terms of lifestyle, location, affordability, and safety.
To compile this list, we considered the following:
- Location and amenities (proximity to beaches, golf courses, airports, and other points of interest)
- Nearby access to quality healthcare
- Established and enforced age restrictions (55+)
- Ratings and reviews (55places.com, Niche.com, Yelp, Google)
- Living options available (floor plans, housing types, and price points)
- Homebuyer interest (popularity)
- Security and surrounding crime rates
What is a 55+ community?
A 55+ community is an age-restricted community that may not necessarily be exclusive to retirees. These developments require residents to be over the age of 18, and they often require full-time residents to be over the age of 55; younger visitors are welcome for certain portions of the year. 55+ community members often enjoy convenient hobbies and amenities, including access to outdoor and fitness activities, social life infrastructure, and provided transportation to nearby places for shopping, entertainment, and healthcare.
These communities are a popular choice for Americans making a move to retire, downsizing as they prepare for retirement, or just simplifying their lives after reaching the age of 55. Housing options may include everything from single detached houses to duplex- or condominium-style units.
What are the most popular retirement cities in Florida?
According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the most popular or best cities in Florida for retired or older Americans include:
- Sarasota (population 803,709)
- Naples (population 371,453)
- Daytona Beach (population: 646,288)
- Melbourne (population 585,507)
- Tampa (population 3,097,859)
- Fort Myers (population 737,468)
- Port St. Lucie (population 472,012)
- Pensacola (population 488,246)
- Lakeland (population: 686,218)
- Ocala (population: 353,526)
Why do seniors choose Florida to retire?
There are many reasons why Florida is an appealing destination for Americans making a move to retire or to downsize in anticipation of retirement. Some of the most notable include:
- No state income tax (helping to stretch retirement savings income)
- Large number of adults aged 55+ (lifestyle geared toward an aging population)
- Favorable cost of living
- Mild winters
- Outdoor activities to stay active (beaches, parks, golf, pickleball, etc.)
- Theme parks and family-friendly attractions
- Availability of quality healthcare
Our picks for some of the best 55+ communities in Florida
There are hundreds of 55+ communities in Florida. Based on the parameters we listed above, we’ll provide information about some communities we feel are worth extra consideration. We’ll also provide a section on how you can locate 55+ communities in your area.
Please note that all prices in this post are based on active listings at the time of writing, as well as advertised price ranges provided by community sales offices.
Kings Point (Sun City Center)
About: Kings Point is a gated community within the popular retirement town of Sun City Center. The surrounding community is comprised of nearly 70% retirees, according to the latest census, and offers a lifestyle focused on affordable, healthy living. Kings Point, a gated development within the city, is packed with amenities and well-reviewed by both new and longtime residents.
Well-established homes here began construction in the mid-1970s and concluded in 2015. The community has a north and a south side, with clubhouses, pools, and security gates serving each. A packed social calendar connects residents to hobbies, including everything from dominoes and quilting to a metaphysical discussion group.
Ratings and reviews: Reviewers at 55places share the impression that this community is “a dream come true.” Writers at Neighborhoods.com give nods to “immaculate” grounds and ample opportunities to connect with others socially.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Sun City Center (SCC) is outside of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The city works hard to engage senior citizens and coordinates activities that include travel clubs, veterans’ groups, artistic performances, and pet interest groups. In addition, the SCC Security Squad provides residents with free life support and ambulance services. Per the city’s website, this town has the lowest crime rate in Hillsborough County.
On Top of the World
About: Lauded for its many amenities, On Top of the World is a staple brand for 55+ communities. Founded in 1947, this company is a proven and longtime player in the market. On Top of the World has become well known for its active social community, which includes hundreds of interest clubs. Whether your hobby is flying RC planes, playing pickleball, model trains, woodworking, or speaking Italian, there’s likely a niche group tailored to connect you with neighbors who share your passions.
For those looking to personalize their new home, On Top of the World offers a private Design Studio to residents wishing to customize or upgrade their spaces. A unique partnership with Master the Possibilities continuing education offers residents access to a lecture hall and a broad array of courses, enrolling over 25,000 students annually.
Ratings and reviews: Google reviews for this community indicate ample and diverse opportunities to get — and stay — involved. Reviewers also note numerous amenities, including shopping, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor recreation, without leaving the development. In addition, reviewers on 55places indicate that while grounds upkeep is sometimes a stumbling block, the over 200 clubs and constant activities keep residents highly engaged with their community.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: The rapidly-growing city of Ocala is well known for being friendly to retirees. Boasting beautiful parks, well-maintained historical sites, a children’s museum, and year-round civic recreation activities, Ocala is located just west of the National Forest sharing its name, and is just a few miles from Silver Springs State Park. In addition, Ocala is known as the “Horse Capital of the World” and is home to the Florida Horse Park for equine enthusiasts.
Latitude Margaritaville (Daytona Beach)
Phone number: (866) 464-7137
Location: Daytona Beach (this brand also has communities in Panama City Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina)
Price range: starting in the high $200s
About: This award-winning community is a joint venture between Minto Communities and singer Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings. Its success has resulted in two more retirement communities modeled after the original location in Daytona Beach.
Named a top community by Where to Retire Magazine, residents of this community can enjoy a private beach club overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Many features are included as the standard on homes in Latitude Margaritaville — appliances, warranties, and energy efficiency. Community amenities also include a pet spa, bandshell, tiki bars, and a resort-style pool.
Ratings and reviews: This community’s numerous award recognitions and lengthy waiting list are offset somewhat by mixed reviews online. Those on Google speak highly of the floor plans available and the neighborhood’s relaxed atmosphere, but booming demand has made some customers feel dismissed by this community’s sales team. Similarly-mixed reviews on 55places applaud the private club but note that residents must take a shuttle even to reach the beach.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Located within Daytona Beach city limits, residents can enjoy the conveniences of being near an international airport and the famous Daytona International Speedway. While homes here are not walkable to the Atlantic coast, a private shuttle is available, and the beach is a short drive from the community. Proximity to Daytona proper means easy access to healthcare, shopping, entertainment, parks, and a boardwalk.
Phone number: (352) 753-6655
Location: Central Florida, 45 miles northwest of Orlando and 75 miles northeast of Tampa
Price range: Mid $100s (manufactured home options) to $1M+ (custom designer homes)
About: The Villages, unprecedented in size and scope, is an immense Florida 55+ community with lifestyle options for almost any price point. Comprised of over 70,000 homes, The Villages area covers 82 square miles and is the largest senior living community in the state, with 50 golf courses and 230 pickleball courts on the property. This development even boasts its own hospital, operated in partnership with the University of Florida.
With ample retail and dining, residents needn’t leave community gates to access restaurants, small shops, and national chains like Target and Publix. In addition, many stages of senior care are available here, from independent and assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing units. For those who want access to senior living and an amenities-packed lifestyle without a property to look after, The Lofts apartments are also a rentable on-site option.
Ratings and reviews: “The Villages is a lifestyle,” remarks one reviewer on Yelp, and this lifestyle has both its avid fans and frustrated neighbors across the web. Overall, impressions are positive — and this development sees continued success and expansion due to its many enthusiastic residents. Constructed by many different builders spread across county lines, property age and quality range across the board. Reviewers on 55places speak to incredible convenience, whether accessing grocery stores or dinners out by golf cart or the many sites of Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa, all three of which are reachable as a day trip by car.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: As noted above, this community is uniquely situated an hour from Orlando, 90 minutes from Tampa, and under three hours from Jacksonville. Located in Central Florida, both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are accessible by day trip as well. While much is situated in The Villages community, access to the rest of Florida and the region is conveniently located.
About: While Solivita has been open for over 20 years, new-build homes are still available for those who want them. This is not the case in many communities across Florida, which have concluded the construction of new homes. Thousands of properties with many varied floorplans are available, from just over 1,000 square feet to over 3,000 square feet.
A baseball field is one unique amenity in this community. However, there are familiar features to enjoy, including a central downtown village (bank, pharmacy, art studios, and restaurants), the Palms complex houses pools, tennis courts, and more. A spa and fitness center houses a heated lap pool, indoor track, and group fitness classes for residents and guests.
Ratings and reviews: Solivita is favorably reviewed in 55places where residents speak highly of beautiful and well-maintained grounds. More than 150 Google reviews average a 4.5/5 rating, with a sprinkling of negative reviews mentioning the sales team specifically. Reviewers on both sites say “reasonable” HOA fees are a good value.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Surrounded by public parks, Solivita is convenient to the many outdoor activities Florida offers year-round. The community is also less than an hour from Orlando and even closer to the Orlando airport, just under 30 minutes away. This proximity to such conveniences gives it the benefits of a big city while retaining a calm neighborhood environment on Solivita grounds. Reviews on 55places are strongly positive, citing beautiful homes, well-kept grounds, and golf-cart-friendliness.
How can I find a 55+ community near me?
There are many other 55+ communities in Florida. One way to see your options is to search the internet with phrases such as “55 and older communities near me” or “retirement communities near me.” Check ratings, reviews, and comments posted on the Better Business Bureau, Google Reviews, and industry websites.
Another way to find a quality 55+ or retirement community near you is to consult a top real estate agent in your area. An experienced agent who knows your market can provide valuable insights into community characteristics, such as crime rates, affordability, home construction quality, and the reputation of the governing association.
12 questions to ask before you buy a home in a 55+ community
Here are 12 essential questions to ask before you commit to purchasing a home in a 55+ community.
1. Will I own the home, or is this a lease community?
This may seem obvious, but when it comes to 55+ or retirement communities, various types of property can be available. You may wish to own your home for financial reasons, or you may wish to lease a unit to maximize your flexibility in retirement. Some communities offer both; others may allow you to own and lease out your property. You’ll want to be sure to check community rules (see #3 on this list) before renting your property out if that is part of your retirement plan (for instance, if you’re out of state for part of the year). Not all communities permit renting residents.
2. What is included in your monthly payment?
Identifying all the costs of living in the community is important, not just rent or mortgage payments. You will want to consider whether various things are included with your monthly property expenses; a few to consider are:
- Landscaping and pool maintenance
- HOA fees
- Community class fees
- Admission to community features like restaurants, classes, clubs, or spas located on the grounds
- Shuttle service to amenities nearby
Be sure to get the most for your dollar, but also that you aren’t paying for amenities that will go unused.
3. What are the community rules?
Most active adult communities have a set of rules that residents must follow. These might include:
- Visitor restrictions (age, number, and duration of stay for children, grandchildren)
- Pets (limits on how many, allowable breeds and sizes)
- Parking (number of vehicles and where they can be parked; consideration for RVs, boats)
- Exterior paint colors
- Dress codes in public areas
- Lawn/landscaping maintenance enforcement
- Renting (limitations or restrictions)
- Renovation/improvement restrictions
- Noise (daytime and nighttime decibel allowances)
4. What are your new neighbors like?
Good neighbors play a considerable role in your quality of life, especially when you retire. Learn about what life is like in the neighborhood. If possible, attend some community events and get to know some of the residents in your prospective neighborhood. Many communities offer “discovery” events, including overnight guided tours of various home options and neighborhood amenities.
Many 55+ communities offer social events like book clubs, art classes, fitness activities, cookoffs, and more to connect residents. You may be looking for a community of like-minded people with shared interests or seeking exposure to diversity where you live. No matter what you’re looking for, knowing what’s in store socially will factor into your decision-making process. For example, some communities value quiet and calm, while others offer a more lively pace.
5. What plans are there for the adjacent property?
This is a crucial question for newly-constructed 55+ communities. Knowing what you can expect to find nearby can be increasingly important as your age advances (and potentially your mobility declines). Know whether properties adjacent to your own are planned for further residential development or if there are other things in store. If you plan to stay at this property indefinitely, you’ll want to know whether that vacant lot nearby is fated to become an elementary school or a regional airport. Such developments could have a long-term impact on your property’s appeal and value.
6. What type of assessments have been made?
Assessments can be expected for any community development, but for seniors living on a fixed income, being able to predict your property taxes may be crucial to balancing the rest of your budget each month. Even once your mortgage payment is a thing of the past, property tax bills will continue — and you’ll want to know what to expect. In addition, property taxes vary depending on where you are looking to buy, so be mindful of the cost and whether it has a history of fluctuating.
7. Is the community financially sound?
You will want to know if the developer and association are on solid financial ground before you commit to purchasing or leasing a home. These parties are often responsible for community maintenance and amenities, so you will want to ensure their solvency as much as you want to ensure your home is the right fit. In short: do your homework! Don’t be afraid to ask for detailed information about board governance or community financials.
8. Is the community able to keep up with future growth?
Is there sufficient infrastructure, wise planning, and expandable space to grow as needed? What if the interests of the community shift over time? If the community has been established for years, are there long-range plans to repair and replace key infrastructural components like water lines and local streets? These responsibilities may fall within the purview of your village or community rather than in the city where you reside. Be sure you know who is responsible for these decisions and their costs.
9. Is there a reserve fund for maintenance?
Also sometimes known as a sinking fund, this is a financial safety net for significant unexpected future expenses incurred at the community level (for instance, re-roofing the community center). Know whether there is a reserve fund set aside for large community maintenance projects like replacing pool furniture after a storm or facilitating an air conditioning replacement at the clubhouse. While some communities maintain funds for these expenses and address them as needed for residents, others may expect you to actively raise funds as an HOA member. Either way, how large upkeep expenses are handled may impact your decision to buy in a particular development.
10. What other projects belong to this developer?
Research the builder of your home and the larger community, and ask for references. How long has the company been in business, and have they successfully invested in similar communities in other cities or states? A company or investment group with the proven ability to drive property values upward will likely do the same for your new neighborhood. On the other hand, if the company has allowed its previous investments to decline, you may need extra reassurance that history won’t repeat itself — or you may wish to seek property elsewhere.
11. Is the governing association easy to work with?
You will want a community board with a proven track record of working together and finding solutions. If you discover a dysfunctional board led by power-hungry or inept individuals, it may cause great angst and harm the unity of the entire community. Ask several different residents; check with your real estate agent. Find out if the board and its members are competent, effective, and civil. One free resource to research your association or HOA is communityassociations.net.
12. What lifestyles are accommodated?
You will want to consider whether you’d prefer an active community of younger senior residents or a community where you can age into services like assisted living or memory/hospice care if needed. Do you want a single-family home, or are you looking to purchase a unit within a larger building? Is handicap accessibility vital to you or a family member? Do you need a community that is fully navigable on foot or by golf cart?
Check out the community surrounding your neighborhood
Vetting the 55+ community with the 12 questions above will help you uncover crucial insights into what life might be like within the boundaries of those neighborhoods, but you will want to look beyond the front gates.
To truly identify the best 55+ community, you should also research the history, reputation, culture, and amenities of the surrounding host city or town. Then, find out what the area offers that can improve or enhance your retirement years.
- How far away are the nearest hospital and other medical facilities?
- What are the safety and crime rates of the surrounding city or town?
- How easy is it to access major highways and commuting routes?
- Is it located directly on a busy, noisy highway or near other potential noise disturbances like a schoolyard?
- Are there various conveniences nearby, such as restaurants, banks, or grocery stores?
- For pets, are there parks, groomers, and veterinarians nearby?
- Is there a bus route or commuter rail that serves the area?
- Are there nearby churches or places of worship that fit your beliefs?
- Are there undesirable businesses or manufacturing facilities nearby?
- Is it near enough to an airport for convenience, or too close with excessive noise?
- Are there connecting bike paths or walking/hiking trails?
Let’s say you move into a retirement community because, obviously, you want the activities. But then all of a sudden your health starts failing, and you need to move back in with family, or you need to move into assisted living. Is there first right of refusal — can you rent [the property out]?
- Brenda Bianchi Real Estate AgentCloseBrenda Bianchi Real Estate Agent at Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty - Results Group, INC Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 39
- Transactions 619
- Average Price Point $197k
- Single Family Homes 373
In short, identify the lifestyle you want from a 55+ community
Consider how you would like to focus your lifestyle moving forward, advises Bianchi. “The first thing I would find out from you is: what do you like doing?” She says that while many communities share common amenities, not all are accommodating of something — a pet or boat, for instance — that may be a key component of your lifestyle.
“Do you want a single-family home, a townhome, or a condo? If you have pets, be aware that some of these communities don’t allow pets — so that’s big.” If you have a pet, Bianchi advises you to check the size, breed, and number of pets against community guidelines, which vary. If you have a boat or RV, Bianchi recommends looking into the specifics of where you can park your vehicle — whether in your driveway or elsewhere on community grounds. Even parking limitations on regular vehicles can limit your ability to host guests, so know how many parking spaces you will need versus how many are allotted.
Resale restrictions are something to be mindful of as well, Bianchi warns. “Let’s say you move into a retirement community because, obviously, you want the activities,” she suggests. “But then all of a sudden your health starts failing, and you need to move back in with family, or you need to move into assisted living. Is there first right of refusal — can you rent [the property out]?” Bianchi warns of these questions you’ll want to ask upfront because dealing with property hitches and health problems can combine into an unnecessary headache.
Q&A: More tips and insights about 55+ communities in Florida
What is the largest 55+ community in Florida?
The Villages is Florida’s largest 55+ community, spanning more than 138,000 residents over 71,000 units across 82 square miles. This settlement crosses multiple county lines, occupies multiple zip codes, and houses everything from its own K-12 charter school system to a hospital on its grounds. In addition, the community has over 200 pickleball courts, its own public safety department, and private lakes for fishing and watersports.
How much does it cost to live in a 55+ community in Florida?
There are 55+ communities in Florida to suit every price point, from residents with a restricted cash flow to those with a taste for top-tier luxury. From lower-cost mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities in age-restricted communities to multi-million dollar developments, there is something available for everyone.
For highly developed properties like The Villages, homes begin as low as the low $200,000s and exceed $1 million, depending on property cost, property tax, and amenities.
What is the 80/20 rule in some 55+ communities?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates that to comply with fair housing laws, age-restricted communities for residents aged 55 and up must fill at least 80% of their units with at least one occupant fitting the age designation. There are no restrictions on the age of the population in the remaining 20% of residences.
Communities wishing to market themselves as 55+ must be clear about their intent to house older populations and have a method in place for verifying resident age.
When should I visit a prospective 55+ community?
To get the clearest picture, it’s best to visit at different times of the year. You may love an area you visited on vacation in the fall, but that does not mean you will like it in the winter. Remember, you are making long-term retirement plans, so multiple visits are worth the time and investment. It’s also valuable to consider several different retirement locations and compare the benefits and drawbacks.
Are there real estate agents that specialize in helping seniors?
Yes. Agents can receive a specialty certification from The National Association of Realtors to become a Seniors Real Estate Specialist or SRES. An SRES agent will be well-versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, and more. See our post: Should You Hire an Agent Who Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Conclusion: Try before you buy
There are so many options for these types of communities in Florida. If you can, take the time to visit a few of the locations that are most interesting to you. This will help you to discern one from the next and which 55+ community might be the best fit for you.
Working with a trusted real estate agent who is well-versed in the local market can help to match what you are looking for with the many options available. In addition, connecting with an SRES agent or a top-performing agent in the area you’re looking to purchase can make the search process much more streamlined — and enjoyable. To get started, visit our free Agent Match platform to kick off your search for a great 55+ community in Florida.
- "10 Things You Must Know About Retiring to Florida," Kiplinger (June 2021)
- "2021 National Movers Study," United Van Lines (January 2022)
- "The Best Places to Retire in Florida," U.S. News & World Report (November 2021)
- "The Short List: 50 Best Master-Planned Communities in the United States," Where to Retire Magazine (July 2019)
- "What is the 80/20 Rule in 55+ Communities?," RetireBetterNow.com (November 2021)