About The Villages…
It all began as a mobile home park called Orange Blossom Gardens in the 1970’s.
Who Lives Here?
- The Villages is a 55+ community located in Central Florida, about an hour north of Orlando
- The current population is just over 120,000 people
What’s the Cost?
- Home prices range from the low $100k’s to more than $1 million and includes every imaginable price point in between
- The Villages sells roughly 2,000 new homes per year. Roughly the same amount of resales sell each year
- The monthly “amenities fee” is currently $159
Can we Golf in The Villages?
- There are more than 600 holes of golf
- Residents play for free on the 38 Executive Courses,
- Or can pay additional to play on the 12 Championship Courses
- Golf carts are the preferred method of transportation, and according to most estimates there are more than 60,000 golf carts in The Villages
Is there other Stuff to Do in The Villages?
- There are more than 2,200 organized groups and clubs covering just about any interest imaginable
- There are around 90 recreation centers of various size and scope throughout the community
- There are nearly 100 restaurants in and around The Villages
The Villages is a great story, so let’s start at the beginning, Here’s a look at the history of this great community.
Harold Schwartz, a Michigan businessman, began selling land tracts via mail order in The Villages area in the 1960s. He and his business partner, Al Tarrson, were forced to close the mail-order aspect of the business due to a 1968 Federal law banning sales of real estate by mail order.
Stuck with considerable portions of Florida land, in the early 1970s Schwartz and Tarrson began development of a mobile home park, Orange Blossom Gardens, in the northwestern corner of Lake County. By the early 1980s, the community had sold only 400 units. In an attempt to improve the business, Schwartz bought out Tarrson’s interest and brought his son, H. Gary Morse, on board in 1983.
Morse noted that the successful retirement communities (such as Del Webb‘s Sun City developments) offered numerous well-maintained amenities to the residents. They also had diverse and nearby commercial development. Morse began to significantly upgrade the development. Their sales improved in the mid-1980s. Schwartz began to buy large tracts of land in nearby Sumter and Marion counties for future expansion. In 1992, Morse officially changed the overall development name to The Villages. The development is still controlled in all major aspects by descendants of Schwartz and Morse.
By the early 1990s, The Villages had more than 8,000 residents, three golf courses, the first Winn Dixie supermarket opened, just four restaurants, and nightly dances were dances held in a tent.
As of 2016, The Villages built 5.7 million square feet of commercial business space, with another 3.3 million square feet planned for the near future. Major businesses include restaurants, retail geared toward older Americans, and healthcare providers. The average commercial occupancy rate in The Villages is approximately 97 percent.
Commercial areas in The Villages include town centers, regional shopping centers and neighborhood retail plazas. The main business areas are the 500,000-square-foot town centers that feature a mixture of retailers, restaurants, entertainment and service providers. The Villages has a total of 14 grocery stores including seven Publix, three Winn-Dixie locations, The Fresh Market, Target, Walmart Supercenter, and a Walmart Neighborhood Market.
In the ten years from 2007 to 2017, The Villages metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was the 9th fastest growing area in the United States with the GDP growing 51.4% to $2.1 billion. According to state and federal jobs data, between 2010 and 2018 The Villages metropolitan statistical area added 13,893 jobs.