The great state of Florida is not only home to native Floridians but also permanently transplanted residents from around the world. It is easy to see why. Miami and Gainesville are home to the great University of Miami and University of Florida respectively. Beautiful beaches on the east and west coasts include the famous Daytona Beach and South Beach in Miami. Quiet inland communities also sprawl throughout the state.
Farmlands blend with aquatic life and the high-tech entertainment of Orlando’s theme parks and resorts draw millions each year. It is no wonder Florida attracts the second-highest amount of retirees in America, next only to Maine. People seeking retirement communities in Florida have no shortage of options from which to choose. High quality communities with excellent amenities exist all around the state. There are even affordable options for low-income retirees.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging Florida as bad or worse than many other states in the U.S. during 2020. This has an obvious impact on the influx of new retirees, as travel and moving are both more complicated and limited during the pandemic. Retirement communities and senior apartment complexes are all taking action to combat the pandemic and keep their residents safe, however. Read ahead to learn about some of the best retirement communities in Florida, options for low-income retirees and how Florida communities are staying safe during COVID-19.
What Do Florida Retirement Communities Provide to Their Residents?
Retirement communities provide a wide variety of amenities for their residents. Recreational centers, swimming pools, private/covered parking, security details and ground-floor building structures are all normal features. In Florida, those amenities also include palm trees and great weather almost all year-round.
Retirement communities are frequently located near medical centers and shopping areas for additional resident convenience. While many Florida retirees are still independent and driving their own vehicles, some are unable to do so. To accommodate residents unable to drive, many retirement complexes are located on or quite near to public transportation.
All of these amenities are appealing and part of what draw people to retire in Florida communities. The benefits go beyond physical and convenience-based perks, however. Retirement communities have a literal sense of community because all residents are of similar age groups and have similar needs. Most of all there is a shared sense of responsibility for keeping the neighborhood clean, positive, and safe.
Choosing Where to Retire in Florida
There are two main aspects to research when considering relocation to Florida. The first is the actual geographical region of the state. The second is the specific retirement communities available in your preferred region of choice.
Florida is a big state. North and south Florida have different climates, cultural diversity and economic strengths. There is also central Florida, which is known mostly for Orlando, and the panhandle, which includes Pensacola, Tallahassee and Panama City.
The diversity from north to south and east to west is significant. Northern Florida experiences colder temperatures and frost. Southern Florida has a more temperate winter. The panhandle feels more like an independent part of the Deep South than it does part of a famous, tourist-attraction beach state. Each region offers something unique for retirees.
The most popular retirement community in Florida, and perhaps nationwide, is The Villages®. The Villages® is centrally located north west of Orlando, north east of Tampa and a one-hour drive south of Gainesville. Do not let the name fool you. The Villages® is much larger than a literal village. It is a sprawling age-restricted complex spanning more than 20,000 acres and including approximately 70,000 households.
More than a gated community, The Villages® stretches through three entire counties, offering hundreds of groups, activities, centers and amenities to its residents. There are also fifty exclusive golf courses and eighty-nine swimming pools, making The Villages® more like a retirement region than a community. Monthly expenses to residents range from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on a variety of factors such as:
- Homeowners insurance
- Amount of time spent golfing
- Pest control
- Home Owners/Property Owners Association dues
- Optional house-watching services/security
Best Retirement Communities in Florida
The Villages® wins as the best overall retirement community in Florida but the Del Webb active adult communities are a close, popular second. Del Webb communities exist in Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Palm Beach, Naples, Treasure Coast and more. Prices for Del Webb homes range from $200,000 to above $400,000. Additional fees vary based on location, add-on features and amenities. Amenities include flexible floor plans, resort-style living, smart home technology and a ten-year limited structural warranty.
The GL Homes Valencia-Bonita retirement community offers resort-style bright, beautiful senior living. Home prices range from approximately $250,000 to just under $1 million dollars. Locations exist in Boca Raton, Tampa, Bonita Springs, Port St. Lucie, Boynton Beach, Naples, Fort Myers and Wesley Chapel. Amenities include a 45,000 square foot clubhouse, fitness, dining, gaming and more. The Valencia Bonita retirement community makes retirement feel like the stress-free, permanent vacation it should be. A few more of the best retirement communities in Florida include:
- Vi at Aventura (Miami)
- The Meridian at Waterways (Fort Lauderdale)
- Mathison Homes Independent and Assisted Living (Panama City)
- Lexington Place (New Smyrna Beach)
Affordable Low-Income Retirement Communities in Florida
Florida retirement communities focus on providing a resort-style living experience. This can be expensive but many affordable low-income retirement communities in Florida do exist. Scottish Highlands in Leesburg, Florida is one such community. Lakes of Carriage Hills (Tamarac) and Solivita (Kissimmee) are other low-income retirement residences.
Florida Retirement Communities and COVID-19
COVID-19 hit Florida hard and owners of retirement communities and senior apartments are taking precautions to combat the pandemic and keep their residents safe. Group social activities are limited. Dining halls are not filled to capacity and social distancing and masks are both required inside.
Intake of new retirees is also limited and staff is regularly tested for COVID-19. Positive tests result in quarantine. Appropriate COVID-19 safety gear is made available to residents in some communities, and additional cleaning protocols implemented. Finally, residents of Florida retirement communities are asked to stay inside their respective communities as much as possible. Those who do go out are asked to return to precautionary self-isolation when applicable.