What can I say about “The Villages”? It is the world’s largest retirement community. Here is a little about what they say about themselves:
The Villages® community in Florida is one of the largest age-restricted active adult communities in the state. What started as a small neighborhood in 1978 became a sprawling community that will eventually be home to an estimated 70,000 households of 55+ residents. The Villages® in Florida spans three counties, three zip codes, and over 20,000 acres. The entire community is connected by over 100 miles of golf cart legal streets and trails. This 55+ community is an entirely self-sustaining town complete with retail establishments
I knew it was big, but I had no idea just how big was big until I got there. I was looking for a particular village, but since GPS was no help, I ended up driving about 15 miles and 30+ circles to get there where I wanted to be. It became obvious that golf was the major theme. There are 28 golf courses there surrounded by 70,000 homes styled around seven village centers. Since I was driving and there was literally no place outside the restricted areas to pull over and take a picture, I can’t show you a picture.
I am not particularly interested in getting another house so all those golf courses and houses didn’t appeal to me. I want an apartment and only one of the villages offered that option. Just before I got to what I wanted to see, I was totally convinced that this place didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. But then I finally came to Brownwood Paddock Square and the Loft Apartments to change my attitude.
The Loft apartments were precisely what I wanted and its short walking distance to the Paddock Square village was fantastic. The Square had a half a dozen upscale restaurants and many specialty shops and such all within a short walk of the apartments. I got there in mid-afternoon and spent about an hour pursuing the area, but decided to check into my hotel about 10 miles away and take a shower and a nap and come back in the evening for the nightly activity on the square.
I found a way to get back to where I wanted to be without all the circles and such and arrived about 6pm. The town square was empty during the afternoon, but it was a beehive now. There was a band and many people dancing and socializing. I spent some time watching all this stuff and then decided to try the seafood restaurant. It was delicious, and pricey.
One of the themes for this trip is to get out of my comfort zone. Paddock Square is not someplace I would naturally be drawn to, but I could see myself as a resident there. Long story short, there is over a one-year waiting list to get an apartment. I’m just not sure if I want to wait that long? Probably not…
Here are some pictures: