Today let's take a head-to-head look at two of the biggest 55+ communities in Florida, The Villages and Sun City Center.
Sun City Center on the West Coast of Florida near Sarasota has actually been around longer than The Villages.
Del Webb Florida began Sun City Center in 1961, about a decade before Orange Blossom Gardens which would later become The Villages started, and it has been through a number of developers over the years.
As The Villages continues to grow today under the leadership of the original developers family, Sun City Center also continues to grow with several new areas of homes being developed by The Minto Group.
It’s interesting to note though that essentially modeling the Sun City concept of plentiful, well-maintained amenities and nearby golf cart accessible commercial development is what helped turn things around for The Villages. It was by most accounts a struggling mobile-home development before implementing the changes to be more like Sun City communities.
Despite having started earlier, Sun City Center is much smaller than The Villages.
The Villages is home to more than 130,000 residents and Sun City Center is home to around 20,000.
For some this is a positive, for others its a negative.
More people in The Villages means more potential friends, more clubs, and a bigger social scene.
Sun City Center has all of those things, just on a much smaller scale.
One complaint we always hear though about The Villages is that its known to get pretty crowded during the busy season when all the snowbirds come south for the Winter.
The Villages is the biggest golf community in the world, so there’s no competition there, though Sun City Center does have a few hundred holes of golf spread across multiple clubs and courses.
Just like The Villages, Sun City Center has multiple clubhouses, swimming pools, tennis courts, pickleball courts, softball fields and more, but again, just on a smaller scale than you would see in The Villages.
It’s tough to find anyone who says they moved to The Villages because of its location. In fact most wish it were a little closer to either coast.
Sun City Center on the other hand is minutes from Tampa Bay and just a short drive to the Gulf of Mexico, which should keep retirees with salt in their veins perfectly happy.
For the most part, the sizes and types of houses are similar between The Villages and Sun City Center.
However, in addition to single-family homes, Sun City Center also offers what they call “paired villas” … essentially a townhome or duplex. These are basically “maintenance-free” and offer “lock it and leave it” convenience.
There are a few very limited areas in The Villages where you can find townhouses like this, but its something a lot of people wish there was more of in The Villages.
Another important difference to note is that there are no CDD fees in the areas of Sun City Center currently being developed.
Which community should you choose?
The decision here really comes down to your personal preferences.
Do you want to be near the coast or is being in the middle of the state fine by you?
Do you believe bigger is better, or do you think you'd prefer a more intimate setting?
Whichever way you choose, we don't think you could go wrong with either Sun City Center or The Villages.