Since 2014, 55places has annually chosen an active adult community that we consider the best in the nation. Past communities honored with this title include renowned developments such as The Villages in Central Florida, Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona Beach, and, for the last two years, On Top of the World in Ocala.
As 2021 comes to a close, the time has come to name a new community of the year. So what community has impressed active adults the most and earned the sought-after title?
In a year that has posed unprecedented challenges to active adults and 55+ communities across the nation, the 2021 55places community of the year is Laguna Woods Village located in Southern California.
The largest community on the West Coast earns the distinction as the 2021 Community of the Year for numerous reasons. Not only does the development make constant improvements and additions, but the community has a clear commitment to safety that provides residents with comforting peace of mind.
Find out more about the reasons why Laguna Woods Village deserves recognition as the 2021 Community of the Year.
World-Class Amenities & Lifestyle
Built between 1964 and 1985, the well-established Laguna Woods Village development consists of a whopping 12,736 single-family, attached, and condominium homes across three neighborhoods. The expansive development spans more than 90% of the city of Laguna Woods, a Southern California town with a pleasant, warm climate.
With such an impressive size comes an abundance of amenities. Laguna Woods Village boasts sprawling resort-style amenities which feature seven clubhouses, a community center, state-of-the-art fitness centers, arts and crafts studios, and an 814-seat performing arts theatre, just to name a few. The outdoor amenities feature a 27-hole golf course, an equestrian center, five swimming pools, dozens of athletic courts for outdoor sports, and miles of walking and biking trails.
Residents can also spend their time exploring and participating in more than 250 hobbies and interest clubs that meet throughout the year. With one of the most extensive social calendars across the country, residents can enjoy arts and crafts clubs, lifestyle clubs, and fitness programs and classes that ensure that any homeowner can find a welcoming group to join. With so many amenities and activities to choose from, residents have ample opportunities for an active physical and social lifestyle.
The ideal location in Southern California puts residents just 10 minutes away from Laguna Beach and miles of scenic shoreline along the Southern Pacific coastline. When homeowners want to get out and explore the surrounding area, they'll find that the area is full of museums, theatres, restaurants, cultural attractions, shops, and parks to enjoy. Located 20 minutes from Irvine and about an hour from Los Angeles, the community offers ample opportunities for traveling to nearby metropolitan areas for fun day trips.
The price range for different home styles extends over an impressive range, from the high $100s to the mid $1Ms, which offers both affordable and luxury homes for active adults. Interested buyers can choose from more than 90 floor plans that suit any need, preference, lifestyle, and budget.
Recent Additions & Improvements
In addition to maintaining an already impressive lineup of amenities, Laguna Woods Village seems to always look for ways to improve and modernize its facilities. The community always looks to the future and prioritizes ways to expand the amenities. The development announced this year plans to revamp Clubhouse 1, a spacious clubhouse with amenities such as a fitness center, ballroom, three dining rooms, a game room, and multipurpose spaces.
To work on improving amenities, The Golden Rain Foundation provided a total of $1,250,000 in funding for renovations. The original plan involved using the funds to update the structure and utility systems up to code, but no issues were found in those areas when the building was inspected. Instead, the funds will be used to beautify and modernize the meeting spaces, bathrooms, and ballroom. The renovations to the clubhouse will begin in 2022 and will improve the clubhouse for both current and future residents.
Laguna Woods Village also continuously listens to feedback from its residents and makes changes accordingly. Pickleball is a popular pastime among the residents, and one improvement the community has approved are overhead lights for their pickleball courts. The Village Community Fund has raised $25,000 to install the lights in hopes that it'll facilitate more post-dusk play.
COVID-19 Response and A Commitment to Safety
The COVID-19 outbreak has swept the nation in the past two years, making life especially challenging and dangerous for 55+ active adults. Throughout these testing times, Laguna Woods Village has maintained its mission to uphold residents’ best interests and safety by adhering to CDC and OSHA guidelines.
Before the vaccine rollout, the community closed its indoor facilities and amenities to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. After vaccine distribution began, the community partnered with local health care centers to provide the vaccine to all of its willing residents through an organized vaccination plan that allowed entire households to get vaccinated at once. The community’s advocacy for the vaccine and resident safety allowed it to slowly begin reopening its facilities earlier this year to the relief of many homeowners, starting with partial reopening and limited-occupancy events.
Now, at the end of 2021, the community still has a focus on the wellbeing of residents. The staff at Laguna Woods Village wear masks while they're optional for residents. The community also hosts events online, such as the upcoming ‘Let’s Celebrate’ Zoom Musical Holiday Show that residents can tune into at home.
Community of the Year Methodology
To determine the 2021 Community of the Year, we considered three major factors:
- Data: We looked at internal and external data to determine initial rankings. Those include median home price, 12-month total sales, community reviews, and more.
- Awards placement: Communities received points for their placement in previous awards handed out by 55places.
- Updates and renovations: Communities that made upgrades to amenities or lifestyle options received additional points.
- COVID-19 Response: From there, we analyzed the top community's response to the pandemic and local lockdown mandates.