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Two of the most popular 55+ communities in Florida today are The Villages and Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach.
In this article I’m not really trying to determine which community is better. That’s up to each of you to decide. Everyone has different preferences.
But what I do want to do is talk about some of the different factors that might play into your decision to retire in one place versus another and talk about how The Villages and Latitude Margaritaville are similar, and how they are different.
Before we begin, I’ve recently teamed up with a real estate agent that actually lives in Latitude Margaritaville to provide you with the most up-to-date information about the community. You can connect with her here.
Let’s get started!
You know the popular real estate axiom…Location, Location, Location.
A lot of people get caught up in the amenities and features of one community versus another and don’t pay enough attention to whether or not the location works for their desired retirement lifestyle.
The Villages is located in Central Florida, about 60 miles north of Orlando. Ocala is 29 miles away.
For a lot of people, The Villages is in a great location.
It’s pretty much equidistant from both the east and west coast, and a lot of people like the idea of being away from the coast, especially during hurricane season.
Most Villagers fly in and out of Orlando International Airport which is over an hour away, so if you plan to travel a lot, you might want to consider if that is close enough for you.
Latitude Margaritaville is located on Florida’s east coast, in Daytona Beach.
For retirees that love the ocean, this might be a better option.
The community itself sits just off of I-95, and just a few miles north of the I-95/I-4 interchange, so if you choose Latitude Margaritaville as your home base you’ve got easy access to wherever else you’d like to go in the state.
Daytona Beach is also home to what I consider the best kept secret as far as airports are concerned, in Daytona International Airport. It is by far one of the easiest airports to travel in and out of. There aren’t a ton of direct flights, but there are flights to Atlanta each day and from there you can connect to just about anywhere else in the country you might like to go.
Here's a clip from a video I made about a recent visit to Latitude Margaritaville:
I posted a more detailed, 34-minute video for my Florida Retirement Insider members.
The Villages is now home to more than 128,000 residents, and the developer has acquired enough land over the last few years to essentially double the size of the community over the next few decades.
If bigger is better in your book, you should make a beeline to The Villages right now. You won’t find anything else of that size and scale anywhere else in Florida.
Latitude Margaritaville is a lot smaller.
Right now the community is slated for around 3,000 homes, but there is a little bit of additional land nearby that the developer could acquire to bring that number up.
With a community the size of Latitude Margaritaville, you get just that…”a community” with a community feel.
The Villages may be called a community, and it is, but it’s also a city, and heck, a Metropolitan Statistical Area.
It has a completely different feel from other, smaller, communities in Florida.
To put things in perspective, the Villages Parrot Head Club (the largest Parrot Head Club in the world) has about 1,500 members. That’s more than the total population of Latitude Margaritaville at the time of this writing!
Again, what’s good or bad is for you to decide, but just like location, the size of a community and what you might feel comfortable with should definitely play a role in what community you decide to retire in.
Golf is the big draw for most residents of The Villages.
Right now there are 693 holes of golf spread out across 12 championship courses and 42 executive courses.
The championship courses cost money to play, but the executive courses are free for residents to play.
The Villages has around 100 recreation centers with varying levels of amenities within each spread throughout the community. As you might imagine, with 128,000+ residents, you need that many recreation facilities to keep everyone happy.
Villages residents also enjoy pickleball courts, tennis courts, softball fields, a woodworking shop with another in the planning stages, air gun ranges, dragon boat racing, and many other amenities.
While there is not a golf course in Latitude Margaritaville (there are plenty within driving distance) there are plenty of great amenities for residents to enjoy.
Latitude Margaritaville has a Workin’ N’ Playin’ Center, a Fins Up! Fitness Center, Latitude Town Square with Bandshell, the Last Mango Theater for Dances and Banquets, a Paradise Pool with Beach Entry, Tennis & Pickleball Courts, Bocce Ball Courts, a Business Center, and more.
Latitude Margaritaville also has one other amenity that even The Villages cannot top:
A private beach club.
Scheduled for completion in 2020, the Latitude Margaritaville Beach Club is located about 20 minutes from the community itself, but there will be a private shuttle to escort residents back and forth from their private beach club.
Residents of Latitude Margaritaville will never have to worry about packing up their cars and driving to the beach, looking for parking, setting up their beach chairs, and doing it all again in reverse order when it's time to go home.
The beach club will cater to their every whim on a stretch of traffic-free beach. For beach lovers like me, this is an amenity that can’t be beat.
The Villages is famous for its free nightly music in the town squares.
But in addition to that, big name musical acts also roll through on a regular basis. The majority of these big name performances are not free though.
The performing arts is also a big draw for residents of The Villages and Broadway caliber shows are staged at a number of locations throughout the community.
With Jimmy Buffett behind the brand, Latitude Margaritaville is no slouch in the entertainment department either.
There's a bandshell for live entertainment right in the middle of the Latitude town square, and some of Jimmy Buffett’s friends like Mac McAnally have already played the venue.
Homes in The Villages start in the $160k’s and go up to over $1 million, depending on size, location, options and features.
Homes at Latitude Margaritaville start in the low $200k’s while the highest starting price for a home there is currently under $400k, so a much tighter range of prices than you see in The Villages.
As far as home styles are concerned, homes in The Villages tend to look like other cookie cutter home designs you’ve seen before, while homes in Latitude Margaritaville definitely have more of a Florida coastal feel.
Because it’s been around so long, there is a wide variety of both new homes and resales in The Villages.
Latitude Margaritaville is much newer, so most of the homes for sale are brand-new homes, but there are a couple resales in there already.
If you’d like to learn more about The Villages, my book Inside the Bubble is a great place to start. I might be biased, but more than 15,000 people have bought it, read it and learned a lot from it and I think you would too.
If you’d like to learn more about Latitude Margaritaville, my friend Kelley is a real estate agent that actually lives in Latitude Margaritaville, and she has given several of my readers the VIP treatment. You can connect with her here.