Photo: The Villages
It’s been called “Disneyland for Grownups.”The Villages, Fla, is the fastest growing small town in America, according to Forbes. And what’s truly unique about this town is almost everyone living there is 65 years and older.
In 2007, 72,246 people were residents of The Villages. According to the recent 2010 census data, The Villages now has 93,420 people—that’s a 29 per cent increase.
Last year, 2,307 retirees purchased homes in The Villages.
The Huffington Post’s Ben Hallman recently traveled south to the retirement community to see what all the fuss was about. What he found was a cross between the Twilight Zone and Disneyland:
…the development’s scale and isolation make it feel more like a colony than a community. Almost everyone is old, almost everyone drives a golf cart — they outnumber cabs in New York City by a factor of four — and almost everyone is white. But retirees of Hahnfeldt’s generation, who are reshaping notions of what it means to be old, say that it sure beats the life they left behind.
Spanning 23,000 acres, The Villages boasts 513 holes of golf, 85 restaurants, 63 swimming pools, 14 medical centres and the largest softball league in the world. Every night, there’s free entertainment ranging from music to dance.
Of course, the explosive growth of The Villages is indicative of a burgeoning demographic problem: the number of seniors in the U.S. is ballooning, and the population shift could create a shortage of skilled workers to deal with ageing seniors. It could also drive up inflation, Amy Baker, director of the Florida legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research, told Hallman.
In fact, by 2030, one in four Floridians will be older than 65, up from one in six today, according to projections, Hallman writes. But as he acknowledges, walking through the idyllic community, it feels like it’s someone else’s problem.
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