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The Villages, Florida
The Villages is a reputable adult-friendly community in Sumter County, Florida. It is one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States – ranked the fastest-growing "city" back-to-back in the two years to July 2014 by the U.S. Census Bureau. Lying in central Florida and 45 miles northwest of Orlando, The Villages is the principal community in The Villages Metropolitan Statistical Area, which comprises the entire Sumter county. The name of the census-designated places (CDP) is shared with a larger, planned age-restricted community, which spreads into both Lake and Marion counties.
The history of The Villages is traced back to Michigan businessman Harold Schwartz, who operated a mail order real estate business with partner Al Tarrson selling tracts of land in the area in the 1960s. Following a Federal ban on real estate sales via mail order, the partners decided to develop Orange Blossom Gardens, a mobile home park, with the significant amount of land still at their disposal. But things didn't go as expected. Schwartz decided to bring on son H. Gary Morse in 1983, after buying out the stake of Tarrson. It was Morse who came up with the idea of The Villages, inspired by successful retirement communities such as Sun City. He officially changed the name of the real estate development to the current one in 1992.
One of the most popular retirement communities in America, The Villages has experienced a population explosion of sort over the years. It had a population of 8,333 as of 2000 census, but the number jumped to 51,442 in the 2010 census. The resident count stood at 157,000 as of April 2016, made possible by further expansion to South SR 44. The retirement community, whose residents are known as the Villagers, is under the control of quasi-governmental Community Development Districts, which are overseen by its founding company. An important requirement in this highly-safe, gated community is that at least 80 percent of households must have a minimum of one individual aged 55 years or older. Persons younger than 19 years are not allowed to live in The Villages, except when granted an exemption.
The community boasts an impressive highway system. Major roads around the area include U.S. Route 25, U.S. Route 441, U.S. Route 301, County Road 42 and County Road 466A. Shuttle service is provided by Sumter County Transit. The CDP is also served by Amtrak which provides connection to Jacksonville and Lakeland. City developers also operate a trolley-style bus tour around. Being a community targeted at older individuals, The Villages have tunnels in almost all areas where a highway may have to be crossed. It is located just about an hour and half drive from the Orlando International Airport.
One of the benefits of living in a planned retirement community like The Villages is access to a wide variety of recreational facilities. It is home to numerous golf courses where complimentary golf may be enjoyed. This explains why some of the residents may be seen traveling around in golf carts when you are here. There are also numerous recreation centers spread across the community, providing access to great swimming pools among other facilities.
The Villages boasts of all you could hope to find in a hometown. It offers amazing facilities that guarantee comfortable and healthy living, especially for older citizens. Significant efforts have been made to make meeting new friends easier as well.