- The Florida Villages – a massive retirement community – was the fastest growing metro area in the US.
- The city is largely made up of white, Republican retirees, despite America overall becoming more diverse.
- The growth in The Villages could signify a rising prominence in living outside of big cities.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The US census reflected how America has changed in the past ten years. America’s white population dropped 8.6%, rural populations declined, and the multiracial population increased significantly by 276%. But even as America’s diversity has increased, a Republican, largely-white retirement community proved to be the fastest-growing metro area: The Villages, Florida.
According to the census data, the population of The Villages – which requires at least one member of the household to be 55 or older – grew 39%, from 93,000 in 2010 to 130,000 in 2020. And in just one year, from 2019 to 2020, 5,000 new residents joined the retirement community.
The massive growth of the retirement community illustrates a broader trend of many Americans leaving the biggest cities.
Insider's Ben Winck previously reported on why so many people are moving to "exurbs," or districts outside of a city. Exurbs offer cheaper housing than urban areas and suburbs, for one, and are much less dense than cities while still being close enough to cities for commutes.
While The Villages is a metro area, smaller cities like it could see even more growth in coming years.
The surge to The Villages, though, has pushed median home prices there up 18.8% year over year in July, according to Redfin.
The Villages has also played an important role in the nation's politics. As CNN reported, it has become a battleground area in recent elections, favoring President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden by 33,420 votes, with Biden only receiving 36.7% of the residents' votes.
But The Village's role in politics isn't its only distinguishing factor. Insider's Taylor Borden reported on the unique makeup of the fastest growing metro area in June, describing it as a place where residents get around by golf cart, party in piazzas, and tan by the poolside.
"This is nirvana," one resident said in a 2021 documentary about the community.
The golf carts have also made headlines for less-positive reasons. In 2020, a Trump-supporting resident shouted "white power" while driving his golf cart during a rally to support Trump, after which the former president called the participants of the rally "great people."
With the rate The Villages grew in the past decade, retirement to exurbs and smaller metros could be a growing trend in years to come.