One of the most unique retirement communities in all of Florida is located about an hour outside of Orlando in Polk County. The community’s name is Nalcrest, and the unique thing is that with very few exceptions, all of its residents are retired US Postal workers.
The original idea for the community came from William Doherty, who was president of the National Association of Letter Carriers from 1941 to 1962. After Doherty got the project started, construction began in 1962. The first residents moved into the community in 1963.
The Nalcrest Community is comprised of 500 efficiency and one-bedroom apartments. Each of the apartments is located on the ground floor, so there are no steps for residents to deal with.
The apartments are leased to residents on a yearly basis and there is a waiting list because the rents can be as low as $500 per month including all utilities except electric. While basic maintenance and yard work are covered by the monthly rent, residents are expected to be able to care for themselves and do their own housekeeping.
The one restriction on all of the apartments is a strict rule against any pets. This might seem strange at first, but when you stop and think about how many times some of these folks must have been chased by dogs throughout their careers, it starts to make sense.
Restaurants & Shopping
Just like every retirement community in Florida, there are plenty of great places to each around Nalcrest. If you head east on Hesperides Road, you will come across a quaint little diner called Mary Ellen's. They are known for good food, reasonable prices, and excellent service.
If you head west instead, you will find Jay Bees Restaurant and Lounge. There was a fire here in 1999 that completely destroyed the restaurant, but it has since been rebuilt and is back to serving excellent food. Their patty melt is highly recommended.
For even more restaurant options, keep heading west and you will stumble onto Norbys Steak and Seafood and then Manny's Chop House. Both are highly regarded in the area. Each of these restaurants offers residents a great place to enjoy a delicious steak.
If you are looking for local shopping, there is a Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and a small shopping center located in Lake Wales, which is west on Hesperides Road.
Life at Nalcrest
The entire community has actually become one large family, and they treat each other's families as their own. This becomes abundantly clear whenever you talk a walk past the community barber and beauty shop, where residents will be chatting up a storm.
The community also has a pool, a softball field, tennis courts, a driving range for golfers, bocce and horseshoe pits, and shuffleboard.
You mean aside from the fact that the community is made up of mostly retired USPS Letter Carriers?
The name Nalcrest is actually an acronym that stands for National Association of Letter Carriers Retirement, Education, Security, and Training.
However, while the community is centered around retired letter carriers, about 10% of its 750 residents were not letter carriers. It is also worth noting that even though they have their own post office, and everyone goes there to pick up their mail. There is no mail delivery in Nalcrest because apparently none of the residents want to bother with carrying letters anymore.
Things like sending email and using services like UPS and FedEx are heavily discouraged. From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
There is heavy pressure in Nalcrest, a rambling retirement community that is its own little town, to use the U.S. mail, rather than email or competing shipping companies, to pay bills and mail parcels to the grandkids. “We say…it's got to come through the U.S. mail or we don't want it here,” said Matty Rose, 67 years old, manager of Nalcrest.
Because residents of Nalcrest have formed such a tight-knit community, they are known for going over-the-top to accommodate visiting family and friends. It is not uncommon for residents to provide an empty apartment for visiting families and then stock it with necessities. It is also common for residents to treat everyone's grandchildren as their own.
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The major street that passes Nalcrest is Hesperides Road, which is also known as Highway 60. This road runs all the way west to Tampa, and all the way east to Vero Beach. This road can also provide connections to I-75, I-4, and I-95, which are the main interstate highways of Florida.
Obviously, you need to be a member of a pretty specific community in order to appreciate or consider retiring to Nalcrest. But if you happen to be a retired letter carrier, this could be the perfect location that you have been searching for.
For information on eligibility or to make an application visit: https://www.nalc.org/member-benefits/nalcrest