Everyone wants to retire in luxury, but luxury living comes with luxury prices — right? Not necessarily.
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From coast to coast, America is packed with retirement communities where the amenities far outweigh the price tag. GOBankingRates identified a collection of villages for active older adults that deliver an impressive suite of world-class amenities that regular people can afford on fairly modest budgets.
Each and every one has earned national recognition and awards, and each and every one boasts low fees and offers homes starting in the $200,000s or less. For context, Zillow reports that the median home price in the United States is more than $308,000.
The Villages, Florida
If you’re looking to live out your golden years in luxury on a budget, you might as well start with the best retirement community in the country. Located in the retirement Mecca of sunny Central Florida, The Villages was named the No. 1 active adult community in America for the 11th straight year in 2020 by RCLCO Real Estate Advisors and John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
With 115,000 people in 60,000 households spread out over 32 square miles, the master-planned community is teeming with commercial and recreational amenities. That includes country clubs, restaurants, shopping districts, swimming pools, fishing, water sports, pickleball, libraries, cinema, lakes and golf courses — all of which are just a quick jaunt away in a golf cart.
Not only does it have its own fire department, emergency services, and hospital, but it’s affordable. Homes start in the $190s, fees are manageable and The Villages offers an impressively long list of free activities, amenities and things to do — all a quick drive from Orlando, Tampa, and Ocala.
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Rio Verde Country Club, Arizona
Situated about 10 miles from Scottsdale, Rio Verde offers all the trappings of city life, but it’s immediately adjacent to the rugged natural beauty of the McDowell Mountain Preserve and Tonto National Forest.
If endless days of golf is your idea of retiring in style, you won’t do much better than the Rio Verde Country Club, where the all-inclusive membership structure is free of cart fees, trail fees or minimum spends. Members also get reciprocal access to more than 450 courses worldwide through Troon Prive Privileges and the Private Club Network.
Although the courses provide 200 acres of green space, Rio Verde isn’t only about golf. Residents enjoy access to a brand new 2,500-square-foot fitness center, a massage room with trained therapists, an art studio, meeting rooms, billiards, a tennis club, pub, community church, pool, horseback riding, cycling, hiking trails and continuing education classes.
Homes at Rio Verde start in the $200,000s and — depending on your concept of “on a budget” — go all the way up over $2 million. Most of its 980 custom-built homes have mountain, desert or golf course views.
Sun City Shadow Hills, California
California’s Coachella Valley is known worldwide for its postcard beauty — which you can see when you look out your window every morning of your retirement if you move into Sun City Shadow Hills. With homes starting in the $200,000s and among the lowest HOA fees in the Valley, you’d be hard-pressed to find better digs for a lower price in the region or in the whole of California.
Amenities include two championship golf courses, dining, two clubhouses, sports courses, multiple fitness centers with indoor lap pools and spas, cinema, theater, comedy shows, volunteer opportunities and education classes.
Sun City Hilton Head, South Carolina
Another popular and affordable Sun City retirement village is located on the other side of the country in Hilton Head, South Carolina — and it’s the biggest active adult community in the state’s semi-tropical Lowcountry. The community’s world-class amenities have received several big national accolades and recognitions. Among the hottest draws are 54 holes of golf, indoor and outdoor pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers, arts, crafts and ceramics center, ballroom hall, sports courts and woodworking shop — not to mention the surrounding landscape of virgin sea marsh and old-growth oaks and tall pines.
At the heart of it all is the 45-acre Village Center, a campus designed to look like a quaint Southern town — clocktower and all. All that for homes that start in the mid-$200,000s.
Sun City Huntley, Illinois
Most retirement communities are located in places like Florida and Arizona, but America’s sun-drenched destination states don’t hold a monopoly on active adult villages that are luxurious but affordable.
The Sun City location in Huntley, Illinois, for example, offers homes starting in the $100,000s, making it one of the most affordable spots of its kind — but that doesn’t mean you sacrifice on quality. Nearly 5,500 homes are spread out across 41 quiet neighborhoods, and the hub of the action is the 94,000-square-foot Prairie Lodge, which is home to a high-end fitness center and areas for arts and crafts, movie screenings, theater productions, a grand ballroom, indoor and outdoor pools and a large sauna.
There are more than 80 chartered clubs and interest groups, an award-winning 18-hole golf course, sports courts, a softball field and walking and biking trails.
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