Sun City: The Original 55+ Community Turns 55

About 100,000 people showed up for Sun City\'s grand opening in 1960.
About 100,000 people showed up for Sun City's grand opening in 1960.
About 100,000 people showed up for Sun City’s grand opening in 1960.

In 2015, age-restricted active adult communities are common, you can find them in almost any price range or location. But in 1960, when Del Webb opened Sun City Arizona, the idea of a 55+ community was a new one. Called “the great social experiment,” Sun City opened its proverbial gates on January 1, 1960, and has since maintained its status as one of the largest communities of its kind in the country.

Bill Pearson, a resident of Sun City for the past 16 years, says the community has grown far beyond initial expectations.

“The experts said Sun City would never survive,” Pearson says. “Little did anyone comprehend what a pivotal role Sun City would play in changing what the word ‘retirement’ would mean in years to come.” For Sun City, changing the landscape of retirement is all about lifestyle. The experts of the 1960s predicted Sun City’s failure because it was hard to believe adults would enjoy “playing their life away,” as Pearson says. But that problem just caused Sun City to evolve, adding in elements of philanthropy and self-governance to the resident experience.

With over 130 clubs available, residents at Sun City don’t have to be content with just play (although there is plenty of that as well, from bocce ball to mini golf to bowling, and everything in between). Homeowners can give back to their own community in the Newcomer Hospitality club, or the nation around them, joining one of the political organizations.

Additionally, retirees looking for renewed purpose can hold a number of positions on various boards at Sun City. From the homeowners’ association to event planning committees, there is no shortage of ways to get involved.

“Our infrastructure is beyond anything you’ll find in the country, and exactly why we have begun marketing it to people who like the idea of giving back,” Pearson says.

Evolving with the times is part of what has kept this 27,000-home community competitive for over five decades. In 1999, the board of directors started a Preservation and Improvement Fund, which is a point of sale amount on every home sold in Sun City. The funds from that have allowed the community to regularly renovate and add amenities while remaining entirely debt-free.

Sun City is the most well-known 55+ community in the nation and set the stage retirement living.
Sun City is the most well-known 55+ community in the nation and set the stage for retirement living.

Additionally, because of the community’s age, homes have been and continue to be renovated to varying degrees, meaning there is a home for every budget within the community. From original single bedroom and bathroom homes going for $50,000 to freshly updated lakefront properties edging up to half-a-million dollars, the variety of homes available in Sun City is staggering.

But, as Pearson notes, it’s the tradition just as much as the improvements that give Sun City its character.

“As much as we are evolving, we are working hard to hold on to our values, the ones that were built into the community from the very beginning.” 

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

Share this post:

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

Call us to speak with a customer service representative.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Updates

I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting [email protected] Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to 55places.com’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Best Places to Snowbird in 2021

We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

A group of older adults socialize within their 55+ community.

Top 10 FAQs About Living in 55+ Communities

We’re here to answer all of your questions about joining a mature living community, so you can feel empowered in your decision. This is the next great adventure of your life, and we’re firm believers in leaving the stress out. Check out these top 10 FAQs about living in 55+ communities.

A senior couple takes a hike in a low-humidity state they chose for their retirement.

Retirement: What Are the Top 5 States With the Lowest Humidity?

There are many factors in deciding where to retire, and the weather can be one of them. Luckily, many of the states with nice weather also offer additional benefits for people over 60 and have several exciting active adult communities. Here are the four best states for a low-humidity retirement.

Lake view during autumn at dusk of Table Rock Mountain in Pickens, South Carolina.

5 Reasons To Consider a South Carolina Retirement

What does South Carolina have to offer active adults? A selection of over 80 active adult communities is just the beginning. These five reasons to consider a South Carolina retirement just might convince you that this southern coastal state has everything you’re looking for in a 55+ community.

The Best Places to Retire in South Carolina

South Carolina is known for having some of the best golf courses in the country, but that’s not all it has to offer active adults. The state has a rich history and culture, a wide selection of entertainment and recreation, and miles of beaches and coastal living.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina

The Carolinas are a power couple when it comes to maintaining an active lifestyle in an amazing climate, but they’re separated by more than just a border. A side-by-side comparison of the two can quickly show which is better for you when it comes to your interests and needs.

Exterior view of a model home at Del Webb Carolina Gardens, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina on a sunny day.

55+ Communities With New Homes for Sale Near Raleigh

If you’re in the market for a new construction home in Raleigh, North Carolina there are plenty of options to consider. We’ve put together a list to help you start your search for the perfect neighborhood with new homes.

About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

Scroll to Top