Another summer means it’s another chance for 55places to find the best 55+ communities in the country. Every year, we look at the communities generating the most buzz, selling the most homes, or providing the most value, but what happens when we combine those all together?
This year, to find the 55 best 55+ communities in the country, we looked at more data than ever to find out where home seekers are looking and buying, what long-term homeowners think about their community, what the surrounding area provides, and what each community offers in terms of homes, amenities, and lifestyle.
To do this, we looked at hundreds of 55+ communities across the country for their median home price, amount of homes sold in the last 12 months, the variety of home styles offered, the number of amenities offered, and how many clubs, classes, and events they host. On top of that, we looked at the surrounding area of each community and what they offered, including analyzing Gallup’s Wellbeing Index.
Besides an updated methodology, this year’s list features a good mix of long-standing favorites, up-and-comers, and some big risers compared to last year’s list. As the ever-changing world of 55+ communities continues to grow and evolve, it’s always a good idea to step back and take stock of where we are and where we’re going.
Here are the 55 best 55+ communities of 2020.
Below $100k - Low $400s
If you’ve been following along with past awards by 55places, this should be no surprise. Over the last several years, On Top of the World has been consistently considered the best 55+ community in the world. It topped out at No. 1 on last year’s 55 Best 55+ Communities list, sold the most homes for 2019’s best-selling list, and claimed our Community of the Year award in 2019.
There are several reasons for On Top of the World’s continued success, including a wide variety of home styles, affordable home prices, a low cost of living in Ocala, a varied selection of amenities, and the constant attempts to improve. The last few years have seen major renovations to the community’s golf facilities and the Arbor Fitness Club.
High 100s - High $1Ms
Even if you’re not familiar with 55+ communities, you’ve likely heard of The Villages. While not everything you hear about The Villages is good, there are plenty of myths and rumors that can be busted about the popular community. As the largest 55+ community in the country, The Villages operates more like its own large town than a traditional community.
Also, there’s no need to drive a car to visit the hundreds of restaurants, shops, and other entertainment options. The Villages is one of, if not the most, golf-cart friendly towns in the country. Your only issue here is deciding each day how you want to spend it.
3. Solivita - Kissimmee, FL
Mid $100s - Mid $500s
Solivita is a perennial top 10 finisher among 55places awards, but this year, it’s really making waves. Nestled on the outskirts of Kissimmee, Solivita is surrounded by protected natural areas, parks, and lakes, but it's still just a short drive away from downtown Orlando, making it a great option for those who have grandkids visiting frequently or who just enjoy a night out.
It’s distinctly the largest 55+ community in the Orlando area, with several amenity complexes and plans for 5,900 attached and single-family homes upon completion. In a single day, Solivita homeowners can get in a game of pickleball, relax by one of the many pools, enjoy a cooking demonstration, then grab a meal at The Grille at Stonegate in the Stonegate Golf Club. Even with Orlando’s many great 55+ communities, Solivita remains the premier community in the area.
Low $200s - Low $500s
Rounding out the Florida communities in the top five is none other than Latitude Margaritaville. Since it was first announced in 2017, Latitude Margaritaville has changed what we know about 55+ communities. Inspired by the music and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett, the community doesn’t just offer residents a new home, it offers a lifestyle like none other.
Three years on from the announcement, the community has seen its first amenities open up in the last 12 months, including the Town Square which features a restaurant, bar, fitness center, resort-style pool, bandshell, and more. The community is also making headway on its private beach house, which will soon allow for homeowners to be shuttled to their own private section of the Atlantic Ocean shore.
Low $200s - Low $1Ms
The first non-Floridian community to make this year’s list is Sun City Texas. Why wouldn’t the largest 55+ community in a state where everything is bigger be the best? Located north of Austin, Sun City Texas offers a prime location and resort-style amenities. The community has several dozen attached and single-family floor plans as well as a wide price range, making it easy for buyers to find their ideal place.
There are two large amenity complexes in the community, both of them offering almost endless activities. This includes three 18-hole golf courses, four outdoor pools, nine miles of trails, six pickleball courts, gardening plots, a dog park, and so much more. That’s not to mention two of Texas’ most popular cities are just a drive away. What more could you need?
T-6. Pelican Preserve - Fort Myers, FL
Mid $100s - High $500s
We have our first tie at No. 6. First off is Pelican Preserve, which has steadily become one of the best 55+ communities in the country over the past few years, and 2020 is no different.
Like many of the best communities, Pelican Preserve offers its residents the benefits of an ideal location in a popular city and a large variety of amenities spanning several complexes. Golfers are right at home in the 24,485-square-foot Club at Pelican Preserve. It’s home to a 27-hole championship golf course, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a day spa, a restaurant, a bar, and more.
T-6. Sun City Hilton Head - Bluffton, SC
Mid $100s - Mid $1Ms
Long-time readers won't be shocked to see Sun City Hilton Head in the top 10 again. Tied for No. 6, this Coastal South Carolina community has long been the perennial age-restricted community in the Carolinas. Previously, the community has finished in the No. 1 spot due to its expansive amenity selection and ideal location.
The community boasts around 100 floor plans for its attached and single-family homes, including some just recently released. That home selection is complimented with resort-style amenities, including a 20-acre fishing lake, three 18-hole golf courses, and a 45-acre town center.
Mid $100s - High $500s
The Midwest’s largest 55+ community is next on the list. Into its third decade, Sun City Huntley remains the most popular community in Illinois. The community reached full built-out in 2013, so it’s still offering newer, modern floor plans among its 5,489 attached, condo, and single-family homes.
Amenities are spread throughout the community with a focus on the 94,000-square-foot Prairie Lodge. There’s also the 20,000-square-foot Mountain View Lodge, the 4,800-square-foot Millgrove Woodworking Shop, and thousands of acres of outdoor amenities, including a fishing lake and golf course.
8. Sun City - Sun City, AZ
Below $100k - High $800s
The original 55+ community remains one of the top options for retirees. This year marks Sun City’s 60th anniversary, and its longevity is a testament to the original and innovative plans laid all those years ago. Much like The Villages (but on a smaller scale), Sun City acts more like a town than a community, and it offers easy access to top medical care.
Besides its amenities and lifestyle options, Sun City’s variety of homes is as good as any other community. Buyers can choose between attached, single-family homes, and condos as well as hundreds of floor plans. While many homes in the community are older, plenty have been through several remodels and offer modern appliances and finishes.
Mid $100s - Mid $1Ms
Laguna Woods Village is an outlier in the world of Orange County real estate. While there are homes here in higher price brackets, buyers looking in Laguna Woods Village have plenty of options lower than $200k. The community is also large, holding over 12,000 homes and acres of amenity space.
Best of all, it’s located in the heart of Orange County. Many traditional 55+ communities are located on the outskirts of suburbs, some over an hour drive from the nearest city, some even farther. Laguna Woods Village lets residents live in the heart of the action, only a drive away seaside parks, beaches, Los Angeles, and everything else Southern California has to offer.
10. Province - Maricopa, AZ
High $100s - High $500s
There are many big-name 55+ communities in the Phoenix area, which makes the longevity and success of Province so impressive. Construction on the popular community began in 2004 and continues with plans to hold 2,217 attached and single-family homes.
Its outdoor space is truly impressive, allowing homeowners to enjoy the natural environment of Arizona. The community is home to 50 acres of scenic ponds, 125 acres of parks and natural space, and walking and biking trails. Its location on the edges of the Phoenix area allows residents to enjoy serenity but still be near the action.
Mid $200s - Low $600s
Del Webb Ponte Vedra is another community that has enjoyed a big bump over the past few years. Announced in 2007, the Jacksonville area 55+ community has really hit its stride recently. That comes at a time when several highly anticipated Jacksonville area communities have been announced, but it'll take something special to displace Del Webb Ponte Vedra.
Its located in the Nocatee master-planned community, which means homeowners have access to two separate sets of amenities, those for the age-restricted community and those for the master Nocatee community. The 37,800-square-foot Anastasia Club is a great place for those looking to stay active and get pampered, especially at the indoor lap pool, fitness room, movement studio, day spa, or sauna.
12. Sun City Anthem - Henderson, NV
Low $200s - Low 1Ms
In an area like Las Vegas, it takes a lot to stick out. That’s especially true with 55+ communities since the area is home to dozens of highly rated options. Despite that, Sun City Anthem sticks out among the rest. The Henderson community has over 7,000 attached, condos, and single-family homes in an amenity-rich environment all just a drive away from The Strip.
Homeowners enjoy access to four amenity centers: the Anthem Center, the Independence Center, the Liberty Center, and the Revere Golf Club. Between these four, there's 150,000 square feet of indoor space, dozens of sport courts, and two 18-hole golf courses.
High $100s - Mid $300s
We're back to the Phoenix area for No. 13, and we’ve landed in Mission Royale. Located in Casa Grande, Mission Royale is another community that allows for seclusion away from the city while still being near enough to get there easily (Interstate 10 is nearby). The community has plans for over 1,200 single-family homes in over two dozen floor plans.
Amenities include the 15,000-square-foot clubhouse with hobby rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center, two outdoor pools, and tennis and pickleball courts. The community is also home to the Mission Royale Golf Course, an 18-hole course that was recently renovated and received positive reviews.
14. Stone Creek - Ocala, FL
Low $100s - Mid $500s
No. 14 on this year’s list is the sixth Del Webb community and the second located in Ocala. Stone Creek is another affordable option in Central Florida, and it has plans for 3,800 attached and single-family homes.
The community is home to the Elan Spa and Resort Pool, which houses a state-of-the-art fitness center, massages rooms, an aerobics studio, and an indoor and outdoor pool. The spa was subject to a major renovation just last year, which included modernization and the opening of the cafe. The 2019 renovation was just one of several done in the community in the last five years.
Mid $200s - Low $1Ms
Back in Las Vegas is Sun City Summerlin, a combination of one of the most popular master-planned communities in the country and one of the most popular builders. The community was built throughout the 1990s and now consists of 7,779 attached and single-family homes, resort-style amenities, and a long list of activities.
Amenities available to residents are too many to list, but they span four clubhouses and three 18-hole golf courses. There are also several outdoor pools, sport courts, restaurants, hobby rooms, and so much more. Of course, all of this is just minutes away from The Strip.
Below $100k - Low $300s
Kings Point marks the first appearance of a Tampa area 55+ community on this list. Kings Point is large, hosting 5,277 attached and single-family homes, and it’s near another large community, Sun City Center. The two share some amenities but are mostly separate communities.
This year marked a step up for Kings Point, which has always been considered a top community. Homeowners can enjoy access to two exclusive clubhouses with a variety of hobby rooms and fitness options for staying mentally and physically active. Plus, the community is just a short drive from Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.
Low $300s - Low $600s
No. 17 marks Virginia’s entrance to this list. Since construction began in 2004, Colonial Heritage has received rave reviews among buyers and homeowners. Built by Lennar Homes, the community has 1,800 attached and single-family homes in scenic Williamsburg.
One big thing Colonial Heritage has going for it is the scenery, including several ponds, well-maintained grounds, rolling hills, and more. Amenities include the 18-hole Colonial Heritage Golf Course, a restaurant, and the 7,500-square-foot Athletic Club. Plus, the community is ideally located in Williamsburg near great outdoor recreation, including plenty of ways to get out on the water.
18. Canal Walk - Somerset, NJ
Mid $300s - Low $600s
New Jersey’s first community on this list is Canal Walk, an expansive development with many home styles. Being the top 55+ community in New Jersey is no easy feat because, at the moment, the state is home to just under 300 of them.
What sets Canal Walk apart from the rest is the variety of homes and the number of amenities. The community has 1,200 attached, condo, and single-family homes, and homeowners have access to a wide range of amenities seen in communities well larger. These include 8 sports courts, a full-service salon, a massage room, a wellness center, steam rooms, and a sauna.
Low $200s - Low $400s
Heritage Shores brings us to our first 55+ community in Delaware. While not the first state you think of for retirement, Delaware offers plenty of perks for retirees, including no sales tax, no taxes on Social Security, and modest income taxes.
Heritage Shores is the largest community in the state, totaling 1,816 attached and single-family homes. Amenities are split between the 28,000-square-foot Heritage Shores Club and the neighboring Fitness and Aquatic Center, which makes it easy for homeowners to get in their fitness routine year-round.
Low $300s - Mid $1Ms
Rounding out the top 20 is Sun City Lincoln Hills, located just northeast of Sacramento. The community has long been a favorite among those looking for a 55+ community in Northern California. One of the reasons for that is the tight-knit environment despite being such a large community. It’s even been noted as a friendly place for single retirees.
The community consists of 6,783 attached and single-family homes in an amenity-rich community. Amenities are located in the Orchard Creek Lodge, the Kilaga Springs Lodge, and the Sports Plaza. Throughout the three, there are several fitness centers, outdoor pools, a sports bar, 27 miles of fitness trails, and two 18-hole golf courses.