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The Villages
Sumter Landing in The Villages
Sumter Landing in The Villages
Official logo of The Villages
Florida's Friendliest Hometown
Location in Sumter County and the state of Florida
Location in Sumter County and the state of Florida
Country United States
State Florida
County Sumter
 • Total 33.95 sq mi (87.94 km2)
 • Land 32.65 sq mi (84.57 km2)
 • Water 1.30 sq mi (3.37 km2)
75 ft (23 m)
 • Total 79,077
 • Density 2,421.89/sq mi (935.08/km2)
Demonym(s) Villager
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
32159, 32162, 32163, 34731, 34785
Area code(s) 352
FIPS code 12-71625
GNIS feature ID 1828956

The Villages is a census-designated place (CDP) in Sumter County, Florida, United States. It shares its name with a broader master-planned age-restricted community that spreads into portions of Lake and Marion counties. The overall development lies in central Florida, approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of Ocala and approximately 45 miles (72 km) northwest of Orlando.

Between 2010 and 2020, The Villages was the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States, growing 39 percent, from about 93,000 in 2010 to about 130,000 in 2020. The Villages covers an area of approximately 32 square miles, an area larger than Manhattan, and is expanding mostly to the south of the current community.

The Villages is made up of 17 special purpose Community Development Districts (CDD), which are controlled by a board of supervisors (BoS), five individuals elected by the landowners of the district. H. Gary Morse, the son of the original owner, transferred most direct ownership in the company to his three children in 2006; Morse died in 2014.

The community is the center of The Villages, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of all of Sumter County; Lake County is included in the Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area; and Marion County is included in the Ocala, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Harold Schwartz, a Michigan businessman, began selling land tracts via mail order in The Villages area in the 1960s. He and his business partner, Al Tarrson, were forced to close the mail-order aspect of the business due to a 1968 Federal law banning sales of real estate by mail order.

Stuck with considerable portions of Florida land, in the early 1970s Schwartz and Tarrson began development of a mobile home park, Orange Blossom Gardens, in the northwestern corner of Lake County. By the early 1980s, the community had sold only 400 units. In an attempt to improve the business, Schwartz bought out Tarrson's interest and brought his son, H. Gary Morse, on board in 1983.

Morse noted that the successful retirement communities (such as Del Webb's Sun City developments) offered numerous well-maintained amenities to the residents. They also had diverse and nearby commercial development. Morse began to significantly upgrade the development. Their sales improved in the mid-1980s. Schwartz began to buy large tracts of land in nearby Sumter and Marion counties for future expansion. In 1992, Morse officially changed the overall development name to The Villages. The development is still controlled in all major aspects by descendants of Schwartz and Morse.


A Declaration of Restrictions has been created for each individual neighborhood, which regulates design and operational aspects, such as landscaping, repairs and maintenance, placement of satellite dishes, hedges, etc. An Architectural Review Committee controls the composition and consistency of the exterior of the residential properties within The Villages. The committee, which consists of Villages residents, reviews and approves alterations and modifications to the properties and homes built by the developer. Committee members serve for three years and are selected by the sitting committee.

To qualify for an exception to the Housing for Older Persons Act prohibitions against discrimination, at least 80% of the homes within The Villages must have at least one person 55 years of age or older residing in the home. Persons under the age of 19 years are not permitted to reside within The Villages unless an exemption is granted. Three subdivisions have been designated as "family units" and are not subject to this restriction. Otherwise, persons under age 19 (such as grandchildren) are permitted to visit for no more than 30 days within a calendar year.


The Villages is located at 28°56′16″N 81°58′16″W / 28.93778°N 81.97111°W / 28.93778; -81.97111 (28.937803, −81.971220).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP (Sumter County only) has a total area of 5.6 mi² (14.5 km²), of which 5.2 mi² (13.4 km²) is land and 0.4 mi² (1.0 km²) (6.99%) is water. The Villages is located approximately 45 miles northwest of Orlando and 75 miles northeast of Tampa.


5K run in the Villages Florida
The finish line of a 5K run in Lake Sumter Landing in 2018.

As of the census estimate of July 1, 2016, there were 123,966 people and 49,362 households residing in the CDP (Sumter County). The population per square mile in 2010 was 170.8. There were 68,199 housing units as of 2010.

Historical population
Census Pop.
2010 51,442
2020 79,077 53.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

The racial makeup of The Villages CDP was 98% White, 0.4% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 0.5% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 1.2% of the population.

As of 2019, persons under 5 years accounted for .1% of the population, persons under 18 years accounted for .8%, persons 65 years and over accounted for 81.6%, and 53.6% of the population was female. Median household income in 2019 was $63,841.

In 2018, the median age for both sexes in The Villages metropolitan statistical area is 67.4, with this being 29 years older than a typical American, and five years older than the median age of residents in the next-oldest county in the United States, which is on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

The Villages is the home of the largest veteran population anywhere in the United States that doesn't have a military base.

The Villages was ranked number 53 in the Forbes 2017 list of The Best Small Places For Businesses And Careers.

Circa 2014 large groups of residents are from the Midwest and Northeast, with Staten Island supplying many of the residents.

Home ownership

According to the data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, women purchased 468 homes while men purchased 406, this means approved mortgages for women as a percentage of approved mortgages for men was 115%, making The Villages the highest rate of the 400 metropolitan areas in the United States.

According to a November 2021 article on, the average down payment on a home in The Villages is 27.1 percent, which is the highest in the U.S. and the median home list price is $366,950.

Recreational activities

The 18th green at Tierra Del Sol, one of the nine country club golf courses at The Villages

As a master planned retirement community, The Villages offers numerous forms of recreation. The majority of the costs are paid for via the monthly amenities fee assessed to residents (the facilities are owned by the centralized CDDs discussed above).

Golf courses

The centerpiece of The Villages is its numerous assortment of golf courses. The ability to play "Free Golf for Life" is a key component of The Villages advertising campaigns (though technically the statement is inaccurate as the costs are covered by the mandatory monthly amenity fees assessed on each residential lot). As of February 2017, The Villages operates 48 courses.

The majority (36) of the courses are executive golf courses, all of which are 9-hole layouts. It is these courses at which residents of The Villages can play "free golf for life" (i.e., no greens fees) and can walk the courses for free as well; fees are charged for riding a golf cart on the courses. These courses are owned by the Villages residents and managed by the Villages Community Center Development District (VCDD)

The remaining 12 courses are country club championship courses. Among notable course architects are Arnold Palmer and Nancy Lopez. The Orange Blossom Hills and Tierra Del Sol clubs are 18-hole layouts; the other eight clubs are 27-hole layouts. Residents of The Villages are automatically members of these clubs; however, unlike the executive courses residents must pay greens fees to play the courses and the clubs charge for priority tee times. These championship courses are owned by the Villages Developer and through an agreement with the VCDD, are managed by that entity.

On October 15, 2013, The Villages officially opened executive courses Sweetgum and Mangrove. The most recent championship course (Belle Glade) was opened for public play on November 26, 2014.

By final buildout, The Villages will operate 12 country-club championship courses (the last two will be 27-hole layouts; there are no plans to expand Orange Blossom Hills or Tierra Del Sol beyond their existing 18-hole layouts) and 35 9-hole executive golf courses, for a total of 621 holes of golf.

The Villages also operates a golf instruction academy for all skill levels.

Recreation centers

In addition, The Villages operates numerous recreation centers. There are three classes of centers (the number shown are as of March 2011 and are based on the types of swimming pools offered):

  • "Neighborhood Centers" (32; these centers offer local adult-only pools as well as bocce, horseshoe, and shuffleboard courts)
  • "Village Centers" (17; these centers offer family pools (except for Silverlake, which has no pool), facilities with billiard meeting rooms and full kitchens, bocce, horseshoe, and shuffleboard courts, plus tennis and pickleball courts)
  • "Regional Centers" (eight; these centers offer resident-only sports pools (except for Paradise, which offers a family pool), larger venues with stages for theatrical and musical productions, and many of the same features as the village centers; all but two also operate fitness centers for which a membership must be purchased)

The Villages operates 11 parks, dog parks, and fitness trails, which are separate from the recreation centers.


The Villages has become a popular spot for many artists. In April 2015, The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center, a venue with over 1,000 seats, opened to much fanfare. The Sharon has featured many popular artists including former teen idol Frankie Avalon, comedic legend Jerry Lewis, singer and songwriter Felix Cavaliere, ARIA Hall of Fame artists Little River Band, former teen idol Bobby Rydell, comedic singer Ray Stevens, Motown legends The Spinners, saxophonist Kenny G, and singer Chubby Checker, among others.

Other activities

Beyond the golf courses and recreation centers, The Villages also operates numerous softball fields, a polo stadium (The Villages Polo Stadium), and a woodworking shop, plus the Lifelong Learning College. The newest softball complex, Soaring Eagle, opened on January 16, 2015.

Nightly activities are held in The Villages three town squares, Lake Sumter Landing's Market Square and Spanish Springs Town Square. A third town square, Brownwood Paddock Square, opened on October 12, 2012.


Villages FL golf arch03
Golf cart bridge over US 27/US 441
Bridge over SR 44 at Brownwood
Golf cart bridge over SR 44 at Brownwood Paddock Square

Highway system

The Villages development is bounded roughly by US 27/US 441 to the east, US 301 to the west, County Road 42 to the north, and County Road 468 well south of 466A with the development of several new villages, Fenney, and the Brownwood town center in that area. On December 10, 2013, The Villages of Lake-Sumter Inc. agreed to an $8 million deal to purchase Pine Ridge Dairy tract in Fruitland Park, Florida with a planned construction of 2,038 new Villages homes. Although County Road 466 previously served as the main east–west corridor, the addition of homes and facilities south of County Road 466 and in the city of Fruitland Park, Florida has turned County Road 466A into a secondary east–west corridor. Buena Vista Boulevard and Morse Boulevard serve as major north–south corridors.

A second overpass, crossing Florida State Road 44 near Brownwood Paddock Square, is currently under construction. In August 2019, the 232-foot-long bridge was lowered in place. Construction is set to finish sometime in 2020.

Plans are in place to construct three other overpasses, one crossing Florida State Road 44 near Rohan Recreation Center, with the other two spanning Florida's Turnpike.

Public transportation

Sumter County Transit operates The Villages shuttle. They provide various weekday loops through the Villages.

The Villages developers operate a trolley-style bus tour of the community which operates from the sales and information center located at The Market Square in Lake Sumter Landing.

Until 2004, when the train was shortened to Savannah, Georgia, Amtrak's Palmetto (then on a New York - Tampa itinerary) served adjacent Wildwood. Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach bus service makes a stop in The Villages. The bus travels from Jacksonville to Dade City, and is timed to meet arrivals and departures of the Silver Star train in Jacksonville.

Autonomous vehicles

In early 2018, The Villages was chosen for a pilot program offering autonomous taxis in the area of Lake Sumter Landing. In the early stages of the program, the vehicle will have a safety driver in the driver's seat and later the driver will be removed and the automobile would be monitored from a control station. The technology-rich Ford Fusion Hybrid and Chrysler Pacifica minivan taxis will be operated by Voyage Auto, a San Jose, California startup company. The Villages has 0.5 per cent stake in Voyage Auto.

The Villages became one of the first cities in the United States to offer paid taxi service using autonomous vehicles throughout the community.


IRS audit of CDD bonds

In January 2008, the Village Center CDD was notified by the Internal Revenue Service of the IRS' intent to audit several recreational bonds issued in 2003 to determine compliance with tax regulations (mainly due to their status as municipal bonds which are exempt from Federal income tax). The IRS sent three "Notices of Proposed Issues" in January 2009 challenging the tax-exempt status of the bonds on three grounds:

  1. the Issuer does not qualify as a political subdivision or "on behalf of the issuer" of tax-exempt bonds pursuant to Section 1.103-I(b) of the Internal Revenue Code regulations,
  2. the opinions of value do not support the price paid by the Issuer to the developer for the Series 2003 Facilities and the payment of the sales price for the facilities to the developer by the Issuer is not a governmental use of the proceeds of the Bonds, and
  3. the Bonds are private activity bonds, the interest on which is not excludable under IRS Section 103.

The position stems in large part from the interrelationship between VCCDD and The Villages developers (since VCCDD has no residents, the Board of Supervisors consists solely of individuals who work for or have an affiliation with The Villages developers, and VCCDDs infrastructure was purchased by the developers-controlled board from the developers). Essentially, the IRS position is that the VCCDD is an "alter ego" for the developers.

After an IRS settlement offer was rejected by VCCDD, the IRS further expanded its audit in July 2009 to include all recreational and utility revenue bonds issued by VCCDD as well as similar bonds issued by Sumter Landing CDD, on the basis that Sumter Landing CDD is also an "alter ego" of the developers. However, the 10 district CDDs were not included in the expanded audit, since as shown above the District CDDs Boards are elected by the residents.

VCCDD opposes the position taken by the IRS, and in January 2010 it formally requested technical advice from the IRS as to the position it has taken. On June 14, 2011, VCCDD (after discussions with the IRS) submitted its final Request for Technical Advice, outlining its position on the matter. In June 2013, the IRS ruled that $426 million in bonds were not tax free since the bureaucracy running The Villages could not be considered a real government. The IRS found that the bureaucracy was not structured to represent the residents. On April 30, 2014, the IRS Office of Tax Exempt Bonds issued a negative response in lieu of The Villages requests for tax relief on the grounds of qualifying as a political subdivision under IRS regulations.

From March 2008 until October 1, 2013, it is estimated that through the Amenity Authority Committee and CDD government, Villages' residents bore approximately $750,000.00 in legal fees in defending against the IRS audit.

In a memo dated July 11, 2016, the IRS, noting that the remaining Village Center municipal bonds had been redeemed in 2015, stated, "We have concluded that closing this examination without further IRS action supports sound tax administration. The IRS had tried to settle the case in November 2016 for $1.5 million dollars. However, the Village Center Supervisors unanimously refused that settlement offer. Now the IRS has closed the examination with no penalty.

    • Today's The Villages, Florida front page at the Newseum website
  • 28°56′35″N 81°56′54″W / 28.94318°N 81.94820°W / 28.94318; -81.94820 The location of the golf cart overpass over US 27-441 in the center of The Villages


Primary and secondary education

The following school listings are primarily for tax base purposes only, as The Villages does not allow full-time residents under age 19 except in the three family unit neighborhoods of Bison Valley, Spring Arbor, and Oak Meadows or by exception granted for hardship cases.

  • The portion of The Villages located in Marion County is zoned to Lake Weir High School of the Marion County Public Schools. There are no family unit neighborhoods in the Marion County portion of The Villages.
  • The portion of The Villages located in Sumter County is zoned to Wildwood Middle High School of Sumter District Schools. There is one family unit neighborhood (Bison Valley) in the Sumter County portion of The Villages.
  • The portion of The Villages located in Lake County is zoned to Leesburg High School of the Lake County Schools. There are two family unit neighborhoods (Oak Meadows and Spring Arbor) in the Lake County portion of The Villages.

Although children cannot legally reside in most neighborhoods of The Villages under most circumstances, The Villages Charter Schools is a kindergarten to 12th grade charter school in unincorporated Sumter County. Children are eligible to attend the charter school if one or both of their parents work directly for The Villages or one of its direct subcontractors, or if a parent works for a business located within The Villages. Children of residents who reside in a family unit neighborhood or by granted exemption do not automatically qualify for attendance based solely on their residence.

Post-secondary education

Enrichment Academy

In the fall of 2017, The Villages launched The Enrichment Academy with more than 140 fee-based, lifelong learning, noncredit courses on topics such as scuba diving, literature, philosophy and psychology, culinary arts, technology, foreign language, photography, and more. The academy is part of the Recreation and Parks Department and take place at designated Recreation locations, and other approved locations throughout The Villages.

Continuing education in the area

Sumter District Schools operates the Sumter County Adult Community Education Center in unincorporated Sumter County.

For residents of Lake and Sumter counties, Lake-Sumter State College provides adult education at the South Lake Campus in Clermont, the Leesburg Campus in Leesburg and the Sumter Campus in unincorporated Sumter County.

College of Central Florida serves residents of Marion County, operating the Ocala Campus and the Hampton Center in Ocala in Marion County and centers and campuses in adjacent counties.

Notable people

  • Megan Boone, American actress
  • Nancy Lopez, retired American professional golfer
  • Ray Knight, American former Major League Baseball player

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: The Villages (Florida) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Contemporary Hispanic artists
Firelei Báez
Coco Fusco
Diana Guerrero-Maciá
Harmonia Rosales
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