One of the major benefits of living in a 55+ community is not so much downsizing but “smart sizing.” It’s possible that the family home you’re selling and the new home you’re buying are similar in size but not quite in space.
Many 55+ communities, particularly new 55+ communities, have homes that are designed for what you need today, not what you needed 30 years ago. These homes open up rooms, provide multiuse space, and make it easy to entertain friends and family. Many of them replace antiquated spaces like dining rooms, family rooms, and smaller kitchens with modern appliances, offices, walk-in closets, and expanded garages.
Besides just newer homes, new 55+ communities also give homeowners a chance to shape the lifestyle they desire in their community. Whether there’s a lifestyle director present or not, the first year in a community is a great time to establish popular clubs, sports leagues, and volunteer opportunities.
With that said, we’re presenting you with the 10 best communities of 2020. This is the third time we’ve announced this award, and this year, we included more data than ever before to find our top 10. To do this we found every community in the country in which the first homeowners moved in from September 2019 to the end of October 2020, then looked at data like home sales, amenities, cost of living, taxes, and climate.
This year, we compiled our most competitive list yet, with several communities missing the cut that would have made it in previous years. Let’s take a look at 2020's best new communities.
Mid $400s - Mid $600s
Del Webb Nocatee has been a big hit among homebuyers since it was announced in 2019. One of the reasons it’s so popular is its location near Jacksonville, which offers all the benefits of Florida but with a more mild climate.
Besides location, the community promises the amenities residents have come to expect from Del Webb, including a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse fitted with a tavern and grill, an aerobics studio, a billiards parlor, and a lap lane pool. The community also has a variety of homes, including attached and single-family homes that run from 1,488 to 2,908 square feet.
Mid $200s - Mid $400s
Next up is another Del Webb Florida community: Del Webb Sunbridge in the Orlando area. It promises to be one of the largest 55+ communities in the area and will boast resort-style amenities. Upon completion, the community will have 1,200 attached and single-family homes. These span three home collections and 14 floor plans that range from 1,543 to 3,452 square feet and have two to five bedrooms.
The amenities are what really make Del Webb Sunbridge standout. They’ll include a 27,000-square-foot clubhouse with a zero-entry resort-style pool and heated spa. There will also be a tavern and grille, an amphitheater, pickleball courts, an event lawn, and walking trails.
Mid $200s - High $300s
Ever since it was announced, WaterSong at RiverTown has drawn immense interest, so it’s no surprise to see it rank in the top five here. Along with Del Webb Nocatee, the community is a big reason why there’s increasing interest in the Jacksonville area.
WaterSong is part of the RiverTown master-planned community, so residents have access to resort-style amenities in both WaterSong and the wider community. These include clubhouses, a zero-entry pool, a yoga studio, a kayak launch, and a boardwalk. All of this is ideally located right off the St. John’s River.
High $400s - High $700s
Del Webb takes their third spot in the top five with Del Webb Florham Park coming in at No. 4 The community is unique among Del Webb offerings because it’s home to condominiums as well as attached and single-family homes. Located in North Jersey and the growing borough of Florham Park, homeowners enjoy being near New York City while also having access to daily conveniences nearby.
Amenities aren’t complete yet, but they’ll include a 16,500-square-foot clubhouse, an outdoor pool, pickleball courts, and gardening plots. The community’s range of home styles means you’ll likely find a place that suits your needs, whether it’s a low-maintenance condo or a single-story home.
Mid $200s - High $400s
Naturally, we’re back in Florida to round off the top five. This time, we’re in Port St. Lucie at Valencia Cay at Riverland. The 1,071-home community not only has a big selection of floor plans but also its own racquet club. The single-family homes in the community span several collections that range from 1,355 to 3,312 square feet. They have two to four bedrooms, two through four bathrooms, and two- to three-car garages.
Amenities in the community center around the 34,000-square-foot Club at Valencia Cay, which has a cafe, hobby rooms, and resort-style pool, and walking trails. The most unique aspect of the community is its 14-acre Sports and Racquet Club, which has a fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, and bocce ball courts.
High $400s - Low $600s
There are three single-family floor plan collections on offer, mostly offering two bedrooms and boasting modern layouts and features. Amenities in the community include a clubhouse, a movement studio, an indoor saltwater lap pool, a resort-style pool, and seven pickleball courts.
Mid $200s - High $300s
Despite its popularity, the Phoenix area has seen few new communities recently, so it’s no surprise the one that did open makes this list. Heritage at Asante in the growing suburb of Surprise has three neighborhoods each with a distinct home style.
Resort-style amenities in the community include a 14,000-square-foot clubhouse with a fitness center, a resort-style pool, and a fire pit. Throughout the community, there are 12 lighted pickleball courts, a nine-hole golf course, two dog parks, walking trails, and a 50-acre park.
Low $300s - High $300s
Traditions of America have always had a big presence in Pennsylvania, but over the past few years, they’ve grown even more. The standout community among the many is Traditions of America at West Brandywine in the Philadelphia suburbs.
The community has five single-family home collections, each named after famous Americans and each consisting of two floor plans. Amenities include the 7,500-square-foot clubhouse, a fitness center, a yoga studio, a sports bar, a heated pool, and pickleball courts. Plus, all of this is located just 30 miles from the fun of Philadelphia.
Low $400s - Mid $500s
Back in New Jersey, we have Venue at Monroe coming in at No. 9. Monroe is already a hugely popular town for 55+ communities, so naturally, the newest option is becoming one of the best.
The community has carriage homes and single-family homes on offer, each presenting a great opportunity to downsize and enjoy modern layouts. Amenities include a fitness center, an aerobics studio, two pools, tennis and pickleball courts, dog parks, and a flower garden.
Mid $200s - Low $400s
Finalizing our list is the fifth Del Webb community and first in Texas to make the cut. Del Webb Trinity Falls is in one of the most popular Dallas suburbs and features resort-style amenities that many other communities can’t match.
Residents here enjoy several outdoor-focused amenities, including a canoe and kayak launch, a wooded walking path, a fire pit, and a dog park. Inside the 10,000-square-foot clubhouse, there are several hobby rooms and a fitness center. There are 10 single-family floor plans ranging from 1,305 to 2,800 square feet.
To figure out the 10 best new communities of 2020, we looked at over 3,000 communities and took several factors into account. That started by considering only communities that saw the first homeowners move in from September 1, 2019 to October 31, 2020. We then weighed and ranked the communities based on:
Home types offered in the community
The community's amenities and lifestyle efforts
The number of pageviews to each community
Community sales from both the MLS and 55places internal data