Youngtown – The First Active Retirement Community

black and white aerial of community homes with road winding through

In the last 50 years the popularity of active adult retirement communities has boomed across the country. In 2010 the famous Del Webb’s Sun City Arizona will celebrate its 50th birthday. Del Webb has been praised as the founder of 55+ active adult living.

There are over 50 Del Webb age-restricted communities currently under construction across 21 states. Plus, there are a couple dozen Del Webb communities that were built in the last several decades that are now filled with happy 55+ aged homeowners. Surprisingly, Del Webb weren’t the ones who originated the concept of 55+ age-restricted living — they just perfected it.

Youngtown History

Unbeknownst to many people, age-restricted communities started six years before the 1960 grand opening of Sun City. In 1954 a real estate broker named Ben Schleifer purchased 320 acres of farmland west of Phoenix, AZ. Schleifer cleverly named his new community Youngtown and started promoting it as a new living concept for senior citizens.

Within a couple years, the town became increasingly populated with retirees seeking a low cost of living, warm climate, minimal taxes, and no crime. Even though very few people around the country knew of Youngtown, it was evident from the beginning that Schleifer was on to something.

An age-restricted lifestyle meant the residents could enjoy a socially active lifestyle surrounded by like minded individuals and that they could avoid heavy tax burdens from local school districts. Additionally, residents of Youngtown relished the social activity and freedom they had.

At that time, most elderly people were relegated to moving back in with their kids or going to a nursing home. The idea that one’s older years could be the best years of their life was picking up steam and it wasn’t long until Del Webb took notice of this.

Already an experienced developer of casinos, hotels, and military bases, Webb was accustomed to large scale building projects. Del Webb applied many of the concepts of Youngtown towards their new venture and began marketing the “Golden Years” towards older adults as an opportunity to live a carefree retirement lifestyle filled with golf, leisure, and social activity in a warm climate.

The response was overwhelming and on New Years Day 1960 when over 100,000 people showed up to the grand opening of Del Webb’s new Sun City community northwest of Phoenix. Meanwhile, down the road, Youngtown suddenly found itself in the shadow of Sun City.

What Happened To Youngtown?

Despite the popularity of Sun City, Youngtown continued to thrive as an age-restricted community where at least one occupant of a home had to be 55 and no children under the age of 18 were allowed to live in the community for more than 90 days a year.

Then, in 1996, a sixteen-year old moved in with his grandparents who lived in Youngtown. The boy sought refuge from a physically abusive stepfather. Due to the extenuating circumstances, the boy’s grandparents requested leniency on the age-restriction from town officials, but were turned down. After pleading their case to the state attorney general, the case made international headlines and challenged the concept of 55+ living.

After some investigation, it was surprisingly determined that Youngtown was not an age-restricted community and legally had never been one. Therefore, the community’s attempts to enforce the age-restriction policy were determined unlawful. Oddly, despite all of the marketing and promotion towards adults, Schleifer never actually placed an age-restriction on the deed status. Apparently, he must have assumed that such a community designed for older adults would never appeal to younger generations.

Today, Youngtown is now an all ages community. While still heavily favored by older adults, many families with children now call Youngtown home. The community still enjoys a tranquil, small town atmosphere where residents can enjoy five parks, a library, a clubhouse and lake.

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