Six Wildly Surprising Retirement Communities Where You Can Create Your Own Happily Ever After

by Garcia Chris
11 minutes read
Six Wildly Surprising Retirement Communities Where You Can Create Your Own Happily Ever After

What kind of life do you hope to lead when you retire?

By 2031, 75 million Americans will surpass the age of 65—nearly double the number from 2008, back when the youngest baby boomers first reached this milestone. Many will no doubt be wondering where to spend their golden years. And already, real estate listings are rising up to meet this demand.

According to data for the first quarter of 2024, 2.9% of all U.S. listings were tagged as “senior community” listings, up from 2.3% last year. Among the 100 largest U.S. metros, Florida boasted the highest share, starting with Tampa (15.6%), Miami (14.7%), Lakeland-Winter Haven (14.5%), Northport-Sarasota-Bradenton (13.7%), and Tucson, AZ (13.4%). Among all U.S. metros regardless of size, The Villages, FL (48.1%), Monroe, LA (36.7%), and Ruston, LA (21.5%) had the highest concentration of listings selling to seniors.

Yet, many of these retirement communities might not be as quiet or sleepy as you’d expect. Instead, numerous 55+ or 65+ communities that cater to active lifestyles or specific interests are cropping up.

“Each community wants to ante up, offer more, and go the extra mile to get business,” says Desiree Avila, P.A., Realtor®, with Charles Rutenberg Realty Fort Lauderdale, FL.

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The reason? Many baby boomer homebuyers have “money to burn,” she says. “They can afford to play golf all day if they want, or indulge in any leisure activity they prefer.”

And golf is hardly where the options end. Here’s a look at some of the most surprising niche retirement communities where retirees are likely to feel right at home.

1. Dying to take it all off? 

Cypress Cove Resort

(Cypress Cove)

Cypress Cove Nudist Resort

Kissimmee, FL

This gated community offers villas, an RV park, and a campground for nudists on vacation. But living the naked life year-round in one of their 232 single- or double-wide mobile homes is also an option. Set on nearly 300 acres, Cypress Cove has promoted “family-oriented nudism” since 1964.

The perks: You’ll save a fortune on clothes. Plus, residents enjoy access to a freshwater lake, tennis and pickleball courts, and a golf course.  There are classes ranging from line dancing to Tai Cheng (that is, tai chi meets 21st-century fitness science).

No gawkers allowed. All interested buyers must establish a history of visiting Cypress Cove and pass a background check.

The cost: Currently, homes for sale range from $150,000 to $375,000. Residents also pay a resort membership and monthly lot rent, which ranges from $450 to $700.

2. Wish you were back in college?

Lasell VillageLasell Village
Lasell Village

(Lasell Village)

Lasell Village

Newton, MA

The first “educational retirement community” in the U.S. sits on the grounds of Lasell University, which also manages the development.

The perks: Lasell Village’s 260 residents agree to spend 450 hours each year sustaining their intellectual and physical well-being. That means taking courses, attending lectures and events, and doing research projects about topics that incorporate literature, history, art, music, and travel. Courses are offered directly through Lasell Village or through the University.

Lasell University students often serve as waitstaff, lifeguards, and interns, cultivating intergenerational friendships with Village residents—one of the community’s selling points.

“Some retirement communities may be near educational institutions or have programs that foster interaction between elderly folks and younger generations,” says Sal Dimiceli, Sr., owner of Lake Geneva Area Realty in Lake Geneva, WI. “This provides possibilities for learning, mentoring, and socializing across age groups, increasing the retirement experience for residents.”

The cost: Aside from an entrance fee, monthly fees for one- or two-bedroom apartments range from roughly $4,750 to $11,200.

3. For toy lovers

Lake Weir Preserve

Ocklawaha, FL

This active-adult neighborhood of 300 individual homes refers to itself as America’s Toy-Friendly Community®, since the majority of its residents own an RV, a classic car, fifth wheel, boat, or motorcycle (or maybe one of each).

The perks: The more-than 400 acres of moss-draped oaks and ancient pines are stunning. Even more beautiful: all the space you’ll have for toys. Most of Lake Weir Preserve’s 300 homes are built with an extra-large garage (we’re talking 2,000 to 3,000 square feet). Even if you don’t have an RV, that space is perfect for a studio or workshop.

The cost: Individual homes currently range from $200,000 to the upper $900,000s.

4. For creative types

NOHO Senior Arts Colony

(NOHO Senior)

NOHO Senior Arts Colony

Los Angeles, CA

For the artistically inclined 62+ crowd, NOHO offers 126 one- and two-bedroom apartments in North Hollywood.

The perks: Residents get access to amenities like a visual arts studio, digital arts room, and a stadium-style performing arts theater, which is the second home of the professional Road Theater Company. They can also volunteer to work on the stage crew, build and paint scenery and props, design or sew costumes, and serve as ushers or docents.

NOHO partners with a nonprofit called EngAGE, which takes a whole-person approach to creative and healthy aging. On-site programs are designed like college courses, operate on a semester basis, and are available for no extra cost.

The cost: One-bedroom, one-bath units rents range from $1,660 to $1,980. Two-bedroom, two-bath units run from $2,350 to $2,625.

5. Paradise for parrotheads

Latitude MargaritavilleLatitude Margaritaville
Latitude Margaritaville

(Latitude Margaritaville)

Latitude Margaritaville

Daytona Beach, FL, Panama City Beach, FL, and Hardeeville, SC

These three “55-and-better” communities are inspired by the music and lifestyle of the late Jimmy Buffett. The four pillars of Latitude Margaritaville: “fun, food, music, and escapism.”

The perks: Each community features amenities that blur the line between “retirement community” and “resort vacation.” There’s a lagoon-style pool, tiki huts, a fitness center, Latitude Bar & Chill Restaurant, arts and learning opportunities (including a pottery studio and woodshop), and the Barkaritaville dog park.

And yes, there’s live entertainment. Each community’s Town Square boasts a thatched-roof bandshell with a full-size concert stage and dance area.

The cost: Single-family homes start in the low $300,000s. (There’s also an HOA fee.)

6. For the LGBTQ+ community

Living OutLiving Out
Living Out

(Living Out)

Living Out

Palm Springs, CA

This resort-style apartment community, nestled against the San Jacinto, Santa Rosa, and San Gorgonio Mountains, was recently built for the active 55+ LGBTQ+ community and allies.

The perks: You’ll find 122 one- or two-bedroom apartments in a “contemporary interpretation of midcentury modern design.” Residents have access to a pool, spa, dog park, professionally designed bocce ball courts, community garden, fire pit, screening room, and a real-grass putting green.

As Living Out’s website notes, Palm Springs has long been a mecca for the LGBTQ+ community, with events like the Desert AIDS Walk and LGBTQ Film Festival.

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The cost: Apartment rentals are available for between $4,699 and $7,999 per month.

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