The Fastest-Growing Retirement Destinations in Florida

While most areas in Florida grew, The Villages is responsible for a large portion of its region\'s growth.

Florida is a retirement paradise, with its year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, and vibrant cultural scene. But in recent years, certain destinations within the Sunshine State have been experiencing a surge in popularity among retirees.

As the demand for retirement living options continues to grow, it’s essential to explore the fastest-growing retirement destinations in Florida to discover what makes these places so appealing to those seeking their golden years in the land of perpetual summer. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil coastal retreat or an active urban lifestyle, Florida offers a diverse array of options for retirees looking to make the most of their retirement years.

Lakeland-Winter Haven

The downtown cityscape at city hall at dusk in Lakeland, Florida.

Lakeland has a thriving arts scene. In nearby Lake Wales, Bok Tower and Gardens provides meditative walking paths, a carillon, and Pinewood Estate (a Mediterranean-style mansion). Lakeland also has a lot of golf, freshwater lakes for fishing and boating, and spring training baseball that brings the Detroit Tigers to town.

Active adults looking for a Florida retirement community have more than 20 neighborhoods to choose from in Lakeland/Winter Haven. The most popular include Traditions at Lake Ruby, a waterfront collection of new and resale homes in Winter Haven. There’s a dock and boat slips for kayaks, canoes, and smaller boats. Buyers interested in a golf course community can consider Sandpiper Golf & Country Club in Lakeland, where single-family and attached homes are available on an 18-hole golf course.

The Villages

Cars parked in a town square in The Villages in Florida.

Its popularity is due to its size and the number of amenities, resources, and opportunities that are available to residents. There’s no need to leave the community to find grocery stores, pharmacies, medical centers, restaurants, or shops. Villagers represent every state in the country, and the community has even welcomed retirees from outside the U.S.

Town squares, clubhouses, and recreation centers offer a plethora of resort-style amenities. Residents are just a golf cart ride away from pools, fitness centers, restaurants, shuffleboard, pickleball, and meeting rooms. There’s also tennis, fishing, softball, basketball, and a polo field. Woodworking, performance centers, houses of worship, and of course golf are all available.

Fort Myers and Cape Coral

A sunny day at Times Square, a popular tourist destination in Fort Myers Beach.

It’s an ideal place to live for anyone who loves being close to the beach; it’s on the Gulf of Mexico and close to some great golf courses, good shopping, and fresh seafood. Cape Coral is a hotspot for kayakers, birders, and nature lovers, and Yacht Club Community Park has a boardwalk and a beach on the Caloosahatchee River.

Residents love the River District in Fort Myers, where Firestone Grill has great steaks, signature cocktails, and a four-story view of the water. The rooftop bar is a popular place for happy hours, special events, and nightlife. The area also has historical museums that celebrate Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and other early 20th century giants who built winter homes in the area. Art galleries and festivals are also easy to find.

Fort Myers real estate includes some highly desirable and relatively affordable 55+ communities like Pelican Preserve and its ecologically sustainable homes and town square. The community of Seven Lakes has a golf course that’s free for residents, and a collection of heated outdoor pools, tennis courts, and shuffleboard courts. For buyers interested in condo living, River Towers in Cape Coral is an intimate community with low-maintenance condo homes on the Caloosahatchee River.

Orlando and Kissimmee

Sunset view of a pier in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Orlando-Kissimmee area has some outstanding hiking and wildlife opportunities. Split Oak Forest is particularly popular for horseback riding and nature walks. Twin Oaks Conservation Area is another good choice for equestrian activities and also has beautiful lakes for fishing, kayaking, and camping.

Orlando homes for sale in 55+ communities are growing in availability to meet the surging population. Solivita in Kissimmee is very popular, and buyers can find new construction or resale single-family and attached properties. With a spa, fitness center, golf course, and tons of other amenities, active adults have been moving in from all over the country. Gatherings of Lake Nona is a new 55+ condo community in Orlando, and part of the Lake Nona master-planned community.

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