In previous articles I've compared The Villages to several other popular communities such as On Top of the World, Latitude Margaritaville, the Villages of Citrus Hills, and others, but the more I think about it, as big as The Villages is getting, it's almost not really fair to The Villages or these other communities to compare The Villages to individual communities.
I think it makes more sense to compare The Villages to other popular Florida retirement cities, so that's what I'm going to do starting with this article.
While The Villages is by far the most popular 55+ community in the state, Port St. Lucie is home to several smaller 55+ communities and is among the most popular Florida retirement destinations.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at how The Villages and Port St. Lucie match up on a few important criteria.
This article is a work in progress and I look forward to reading your thoughts on items of similarity and differences between these two great places. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Villages is located in north central Florida, about an hour or so from Orlando. The nearest major roadways are the Florida Turnpike and I-75. The closest major airport is Orlando International, but some people choose to fly in and out of Tampa instead.
Port St. Lucie is located on Florida's east coast but it depends on who you're talking to as to what region it's actually in. Some say it's in southeast Florida, and some say it's really central east. I say it's kind of between the two 😉 It is right off I-95 and the closest major airport is Palm Beach International which is about 45 minutes away.
The weather in The Villages is typical of central Florida, characterized by hot and humid summers and mild winters. Snowbirds flock to the area during the colder months to enjoy the comfortable winter temperatures.
Port St. Lucie has a coastal tropical climate, with warm temperatures year-round. The Atlantic Ocean influences the weather, making it slightly milder and a little less humid than central Florida. Hurricane season is a consideration, but the city is well-prepared for such events.
The occasional winter cold snaps are going to hit you a little harder in The Villages than they will in Port St. Lucie.
Lifestyle and Amenities
The Villages is the epitome of an active adult community. It boasts a wide range of amenities, including golf courses, recreation centers, swimming pools, and over 2,000 clubs and organizations catering to various interests. Residents enjoy daily live entertainment at the Town Squares, where you can dance the night away, dine at a variety of restaurants, and shop at boutique stores.
Port St. Lucie offers a more relaxed and diverse lifestyle. While it may not have the concentrated amenities of The Villages, it features great beaches nearby, parks, and a pretty strong arts and culture scene. The city is also home to the New York Mets spring training facility and several world-class golf courses.
Cost of Living
According to our friends at the website BestPlaces.net, the cost of living in Port St. Lucie is slightly (about 2%) higher than it is in The Villages.
One area where there seems to be a big difference is in transportation costs. I guess it makes sense that it would be cheaper to drive around town in The Villages via golf cart than it is to drive around town via automobile in Port St. Lucie.
Housing costs are maybe slightly higher in The Villages, but that's mostly because Port St. Lucie has a more diverse housing stock. The homes you see in most Port St. Lucie 55+ communities will be on par with what you see in The Villages price-wise.
Florida's lack of state income tax is a major financial perk for retirees, and you'd get to enjoy that perk in both places.
The Villages is home to the golf cart-accessible Villages Regional Hospital, but sadly its poor ratings are well documented. That may not matter to you so much when you're 55 and healthy, but when you get to your 70s and 80s and things start to break down, having a good hospital nearby can be a lifesaver.
That said, most people seem happy with the numerous medical clinics and specialists available within the community through The Villages Health.
Port St. Lucie has several healthcare facilities, including the Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital and St. Lucie Hospital. There are plenty of medical clinics and specialists to choose from throughout the city.
Social Life and Community
The Villages is well known for its strong sense of community and an abundance of organized social activities. The multitude of clubs and groups makes it easy for residents to meet like-minded individuals and form lasting friendships. The Villages promotes an active lifestyle and community engagement.
Port St. Lucie offers a more diverse population and social scene, with opportunities to engage in cultural events, art exhibitions, and outdoor activities. While the city as a whole may not have the same level of structured social activities as The Villages, if you settle in one of the many 55+ communities you'll likely find a good amount of social activities and organized clubs, just not as many as you'll find in The Villages.
I touched on real estate a bit in the cost of living section, but again, I don't see too much difference in housing prices in The Villages and housing prices in Port St. Lucie 55+ communities.
What you do get if you were to choose Port St. Lucie though is variety. As I mentioned there are several 55+ communities to choose from, and those are from a wide variety of builders, so it might be easier to find something that suits your personal housing tastes.
That said, most people will tell you that in The Villages, you're not buying a house, you're buying a particular lifestyle that comes with a house. They're not wrong.
If you make it down to Port St. Lucie to explore though, your first stop should be Valencia Walk at Riverland.
Valencia Walk at Riverland is one of the newest 55+ communities in Port St. Lucie. Valencia Walk brings together GL Homes’ famous 55+ resort-style living with an amazing master site plan to create a Florida lifestyle that’s second-to-none! At this new community, you’ll find a million ways to have fun. Walk to nearby shops and restaurants, spend the day at the beach or simply enjoy all the amenities right within your own neighborhood.
You can request more information prior to visiting right here:
Ultimately, the choice between The Villages and Port St. Lucie for your retirement destination depends on your individual preferences and priorities. The Villages excels in providing a meticulously planned, amenity-rich community designed for active retirees, while Port St. Lucie offers a more relaxed coastal lifestyle with a broader range of cultural and recreational opportunities.
This was a fun one to ponder and write, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on it in the comments below.