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It’s like an adult Disney World
June 30, 2014 9:42 AM   Subscribe

The most rapidly expanding U.S. metro area is a Manhattan-sized retirement village – with more golf carts than New York has taxis. “They own everything,” said Andrew D. Blechman, author of “Leisureville,” a book about The Villages and other retirement communities that ranks Morse’s as the biggest. “You basically have a city of 100,000 people, owned by a company.”
posted by Strass (188 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 

Now I want to check the damn place out. Sounds like my kind of deal to be honest. A nice little house, each of my friends would be there, and I'll just go to the pool, the gym, some cards in the afternoon...I could easily get behind this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:53 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


As the baby boomers start to turn 70 this year, this makes a lot of sense.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:54 AM on June 30


The affect of the place is so creepy. Reminds me of parts: the Clonus Horror.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:55 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


I can't go 55
posted by stbalbach at 9:56 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


It regularly hosts Republican politicians.

hmmm


About 97 percent of the residents are white, according to census figures.

oh who ever could have guessed
posted by elizardbits at 9:57 AM on June 30 [80 favorites]


Well, I don't love the Republican or mostly white aspect, but I do like the idea of a little place, that's no maintenance, with all my friends around.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:58 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Warning to Mefites thinking of moving there: Glenn Beck held a rally there a couple of years ago, if my memory is correct.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:59 AM on June 30


They have fled from the true America, the America of atom bombs, scalpings, hip-hop, chaos theory, cement overshoes, snake handlers, spree killers, space walks, buffalo jumps, drive-bys, cruise missiles, Sherman’s March, gridlock, motorcycle gangs, and bungee jumping. They have parallel-parked their bimbo boxes in identical computer-designed Burbclave street patterns and secreted themselves in symmetrical sheetrock shitholes with vinyl floors and ill-fitting woodwork and no sidewalks, vast house farms out in the loglo wilderness, a culture medium for a medium culture.
posted by steveminutillo at 9:59 AM on June 30 [53 favorites]


Working with older retirement age folks, they LOVE the Villages. There are so many activities down there (pickleball, golf, etc) that folks actually get thinner and in better shape after they move. It's a odd place, but the folks there are really happy with their decisions for the most part.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:00 AM on June 30


Good grief, the moment I saw the "more golf carts than cars," I immediately thought, surely they're not talking about The Villages! But they ARE!
posted by mittens at 10:01 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


The affect of the place is so creepy. Reminds me of parts: the Clonus Horror.

...so that's where Michael Bay's The Island came from?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:02 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


It's so weird to me that this is the dream. Work hard your whole life, save money, hope your health holds and this is your valhalla. 15, maybe 20 years of bland pleasantness.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:03 AM on June 30 [20 favorites]


My mom moved down here. It's extremely pleasant for visits and I go several times a year. Disney World for retirees is a wonderful way of putting it. There's 3 town squares and each one has a made up history, fake second floors with mock businesses, and tons of chains in the ground floor. It's pretty, it's an hour away from Disney and there's always a pool close by.

But my mom's closest friend down there got nasty with me about politics in our first conversation.

The idea of a seemingly bucolic town with lots of nastiness underneath is SOO obvious that I reject it when my other Brooklyn friends bring it up. These people are people too, and a lot of them are good hearted. But every time I'm down there now, I know. I know that they and I wouldn't see eye to eye and we'd be aghast and angry at each other immediately. So I nod my head and dodge conversations and sit on the lanai and hope that it doesn't drag my mom in too deeply.
posted by Brainy at 10:03 AM on June 30 [16 favorites]


Sounds like the start of the Burbclave's from Snow Crash...now if only I could order a pizza from Costa Nostra for delivery....
posted by Captain_Science at 10:04 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]


I think it's about time I started smoking again. That way I won't have to slowly decline and be unable to escape from a place like this.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:05 AM on June 30 [12 favorites]


Yeah, all the quoted comments about how "safe" and "clean" it is really struck me as insidiously dogwhistley in the same way that people going on about "urban gun violence" do.
posted by elizardbits at 10:06 AM on June 30 [39 favorites]


A friend of mine photographed Arizona's Sun City pretty extensively over a few years. The resulting photos are a great look into a similar community.
posted by msbrauer at 10:08 AM on June 30 [7 favorites]


The Stepford Grandparents
posted by hangashore at 10:09 AM on June 30 [12 favorites]


And in twenty years, it will be the largest tomb in America.

I mean it's not like their kids are going to be able to afford to retire in a place like this. I really think they'll just turn it into a huge necropolis with picket fences around mausoleums and the only sound will be the wind, murmuring of the last days of the post-war American middle class.
posted by Naberius at 10:09 AM on June 30 [71 favorites]


Wait, did you say The Village?
posted by webmutant at 10:13 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


murmuring of the last days of the post-war American middle class

Good setting for a tabletop RPG dungeon tho.
posted by postcommunism at 10:14 AM on June 30 [17 favorites]


And in twenty years, it will be the largest tomb in America.

I mean it's not like their kids are going to be able to afford to retire in a place like this. I really think they'll just turn it into a huge necropolis with picket fences around mausoleums and the only sound will be the wind, murmuring of the last days of the post-war American middle class.


It'll make a great artificial reef in another 20-50 after that.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:15 AM on June 30 [47 favorites]


where's JG Ballard when we need him?
posted by philip-random at 10:18 AM on June 30 [8 favorites]


Sounds nice. Me, I'm probably looking at a tent under a bridge for my retirement. Showering once per month, scavenging trash bins, bedbugs, etc. But as long as I have my Wi-Fi so I can do my online rpgs, it'll only be pretty miserable.
posted by happyroach at 10:22 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Well I mean you'd always know where the bathroom is.
posted by angerbot at 10:23 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


It's so weird to me that this is the dream. Work hard your whole life, save money, hope your health holds and this is your valhalla. 15, maybe 20 years of bland pleasantness

Makes me wonder, what's the "cool" retirement plan?
posted by smackfu at 10:25 AM on June 30 [7 favorites]


Don't need Ballard. The all inclusive compounds from Atwood's Oryx and Crake series would suffice. They do make enticing ruins.
posted by honestcoyote at 10:28 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


My grandparents recently moved to a retirement facility (they live independently but get check-ins and cleaning), and it IS beautiful. Like a brand-new hotel but you get to bring your own stuff in, too. My Grammy took me all around, showing me the towel closet where they bring fresh towels every day and such. Forget retirement, I want to move there NOW.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:28 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


The Villages IS my retirement plan: stay in shape and go down there at age 55 and be a kept man.
posted by surplus at 10:28 AM on June 30 [12 favorites]


I'd rather die than retire.
posted by mike3k at 10:31 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Here's a slightly different perspective from a UK tabloid:

Ten women to every man, a black market in Viagra, and a 'thriving swingers scene'
posted by HillbillyInBC at 10:31 AM on June 30 [7 favorites]


The town squares, golf courses and other amenities in The Villages were financed with tax-free municipal bonds, issued under a provision in Florida law via community-development districts established by Morse’s company. … The Internal Revenue Service ruled last year that the bonds shouldn’t have been given tax-free status, which is generally reserved for public projects. … The district, governed by a board made up of Morse and his employees, was “organized and operated to perpetuate private control,” the IRS said in a 2013 memo.
Oh, Florida …
posted by scruss at 10:31 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Never before have I been so pleased and entertained by a Daily Fail article.
posted by elizardbits at 10:33 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


The Blechman book is actually pretty interesting, if you want to learn more about The Villages. Most reviews of it understandably tend to focus on the sex and drugs element, but the genesis of the book was his inability to understand why his New England neighbors, pillars of the community, would completely withdraw from their old lives. It certainly isn't a rigorously researched scholarly effort, but the anecdotes are interesting and fun and it's a lively read.
posted by cheapskatebay at 10:38 AM on June 30


Yeah, I thought the dailymail or similar article had been posted to the blue before, but wasn't seeing it right away. (Maybe couched as a review of the "Leisureville" book)
posted by k5.user at 10:39 AM on June 30


Jokes aside, and ignoring issues I personally have with the described culture, governance, and general implementation, this is a darn sight better than nursing homes or standard suburbs.

You have people living more densely than they otherwise would, which is good for community, health (more likely to walk, golf carts aside), and general sustainability. Density means you're close to your friends and close to amenities; recreation is geared towards the social and physical. You have (fake) town centers designed for pedestrian use. Jobs, if they were present, I assume would be similarly in walking distance.

It may be a tacky-posh right-wing old people version of village life, but it's not like the aesthetics or politics somehow obviate all of the benefits. It sounds to me like a version of life which is actually fairly scarce in a car culture. I have no problem with how these people have decided to live, only that their decision isn't one that everyone can make.

Forget retirement, that's how I want to live most of my life.
posted by postcommunism at 10:40 AM on June 30 [29 favorites]


My in-laws live there. It's (surprisingly?) pleasant, if a little bland. Most of the residents are really friendly, though the golf-cart road rage can get a little out of hand. My main problem with it is that I always get "Little Boxes" stuck in my head after visiting...
posted by charmcityblues at 10:41 AM on June 30


So this is what life in a post-work society looks like. At least for the affluent, if you make enough money to retire and still have 20 years of life to look forward to... What do you do?

I always wonder about LGBT people in places like this. Turns out there's a robust-looking group for them in the villages, the Rainbow Family & Friends. So that's something.

Leisureville on Amazon.
posted by Nelson at 10:46 AM on June 30


Am I the only one who read every anecdote from a resident in that article in the voice of Bob Belcher's mother-in-law?

Those people should learn to have a potluck without popping all those balloons.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 10:47 AM on June 30 [12 favorites]


I can't imagine anything more horrifying, but the people need to live somewhere.
posted by waving at 10:48 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I'd rather die than retire.

Corporate America feels precisely the same way about your future.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:54 AM on June 30 [25 favorites]


Fascinating. And the municipalities that contain this monstrosity love it, because they get to collect property taxes from dense-ish residential construction, and don't have to pay for schools to go with it.

This only works, of course, because the titanic costs of providing medical care to senior citizens were socialized decades ago, so the cost of building all the hospitals needed to support a hundred thousand densely-packed geriatric residents gets absorbed by everyone else in the country.

It's downright impressive when entire CITIES can privatize the profit and socialize the risk.
posted by Mayor West at 10:55 AM on June 30 [19 favorites]


"rules governing everything from how long children can visit to how many pet fish residents can keep" do the residents get to vote on these rules in any way or did the owners decide on them?
posted by macrael at 10:56 AM on June 30


My FIL lives in The Villages.

If you get him talking, he won't stop gushing about how big, fast-growing, and well-appointed it is. He also spends huge amounts of conversational energy convincing anyone who would listen that he and his fellow residents were still active, exciting, hale and hearty people. This sort of "justifying my decision to move here" thing was the main topic of every conversation my wife and I had with him for some years. When we met some of his friends they seemed only too happy to have exactly that sort of conversation, over and over.

There was some sort of creepy propaganda coup happening there. I've never seen so many people wrap so much of their personal identify up in a product. They weren't proud of the real neighborhood they had nurtured and grown and become a part of, but of the ersatz neighborhood they had purchased, after all.

Ten women to every man, a black market in Viagra, and a 'thriving swingers scene'

If only. The most exciting thing that happened on our Christmas visit was watching people line up outside the liquor/lottery store before it opened on Christmas morning. Because nothing says "Christmas" like a pile of scratch-off cards.
posted by Western Infidels at 10:58 AM on June 30 [9 favorites]


none of these will bring disaster: "Those people should learn to have a potluck without popping all those balloons."

Go read your Maxim, none of these will bring disaster.
posted by boo_radley at 10:58 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I mean it's not like their kids are going to be able to afford to retire in a place like this.

I have news for you...Most of us who get lumped into the Baby Boom can't afford to live there, either. That said...I can totally understand the attraction of a place like this. You've lived a long life, but you've slowed-down and probably have a few health issues now, and these make trying to survive in a normal city or town a bit daunting. Doubly-so, when you consider trying to get around in most American cities, either by driving yourself (in itself an iffy proposition as you age) or by public transit (if it exists). Given all that, a place like The Villages looks really damned attractive.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:58 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I've long been against The Villages in principle, and I sure as hell don't want to wind up there, not does my wife. But my wife's parents bought a house in The Villages a few years ago, and they adore it down there. And I don't begrudge them their enjoyment; they both watched their respective parents waste away in rural Wisconsin, so I completely get why they enjoy having a community of vibrant, active peers around to golf, play cards, an drink wine with.

I end up spending Christmas in the Villages every year (unless something weird happens, it looks like I will also turn 40 in the Villages, which I am less than wild about), and while it's surreal (MAN, do their volunteers enjoy checking to make sure your visitor papers are in order), I can see the appeal for a certain type of people. Hell, my athiest, very liberal in-laws even enjoy the political culture down there, just for the feeling that they're fighting the good fight in enemy territory.

Aaaaand in closing, allow me to present two of my favorite clips from the Villages newspaper, which is the best unintentionally hilarious paper you will ever find:

Danger!

Learn!
posted by COBRA! at 10:59 AM on June 30 [10 favorites]


Western Infidels: "If only. The most exciting thing that happened on our Christmas visit was watching people line up outside the liquor/lottery store before it opened on Christmas morning. Because nothing says "Christmas" like a pile of scratch-off cards."

Parents don't want to swing with their own children. This is not rocket science.
posted by boo_radley at 10:59 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


"It's funny- there are pictures of penny-farthing bicycles everywhere, but I never see anyone riding one."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:01 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


Aaaaand in closing, allow me to present two of my favorite clips from the Villages newspaper, which is the best unintentionally hilarious paper you will ever find

Oh my god, the Bulletin has a WHOLE PAGE for golf cart crashes? I am so happy right now you don't even know
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 11:02 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


And in twenty years, it will be the largest tomb in America.

What do you think managed-care and assisted-living facilities are?

Between shopping for a memory-care home for my mom, and visiting my father-in-law at his assisted-living home, it's shockingly clear that these are all just nicely-decorated holding pens where seniors get put to wait for the end. And, the way our society has been structured, we're all going to end up in one or the other eventually. The Villages is just the top-of-the-line holding pen.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:03 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


How are the prices of the houses? One of the big appeals for moving to Florida for my dad was that they could sell the 30-year old house in the Northeast and spend half that buying a brand new house a few miles from the ocean. Granted, he took advantage of the real estate bubble bursting, but it really worked out for him.
posted by smackfu at 11:03 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I'd rather die than retire.

You have obviously never visited the Villages - because it is pretty sweet living over there.
posted by Flood at 11:05 AM on June 30


And of course the traditional approach where the youngest daughter was put in charge of the aged parents, works so much better.

Seriously, what better alternative do you propose?
posted by happyroach at 11:05 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


* shudder *

I think I'll just fast to death like Scott Nearing, tyvm.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:06 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


We have found a place in Northern California that we are dead set on moving into when the time comes. It's an LGBTQ facility called Frosty Pines Fountain Grove Lodge. It's all vineyards and swimming pools, chef-prepared meals and cabana boys and girls. We're saving all of our nickels.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:07 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


smackfu: And, the way our society has been structured, we're all going to end up in one or the other eventually.

Truthfully, I think most people below about ~35 will be worked until they can't anymore, and then kicked out on the street and deprived of health care in the hopes that they'll find a quick end.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:09 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


Seriously, what better alternative do you propose?

Encouraging the aging to take up blood sports?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:11 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


It's all vineyards and swimming pools, chef-prepared meals and cabana boys and girls.

Um, what's the lower age-limit on that, because I want that life like yesterday.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 11:11 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]


What do you think managed-care and assisted-living facilities are?

One of the elder care places near me writes the tenant's name on their door in dry-erase marker. When the person dies, they wipe it clean and re-sell the room promptly. Then they write the new name in the same space. Rooms seldom stay vacant for long and "occupancy" is a frequent topic for managerial discussion.

I'd be interested to see if the management company that runs The Villages does anything to make sure that homes get turned over quickly when someone passes, in the interest of keeping the community vibrant and occupied. Or if, as I suspect, the fact that the home is already sold and paid for is sufficient enough, and they don't give a shit beyond that.

If it's the former, yeah, the comparison is apt. If it's the latter: yup, tomb.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:12 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to see if the management company that runs The Villages does anything to make sure that homes get turned over quickly when someone passes, in the interest of keeping the community vibrant and occupied. Or if, as I suspect, the fact that the home is already sold and paid for is sufficient enough, and they don't give a shit beyond that.

After someone buys a house, they own it and it's just real estate, albeit real estate in an unusual community. So it sells on the standard real estate market, and the management company doesn't have anything more to do with getting new occupancy in there than, say the city of Minneapolis does in terms of encouraging occupancy in my neighborhood.*


*I suppose that's not quite true, and it's true in a telling way: Minneapolis, and I assume other cities, do have grants to encourage first-time buyers to buy houses in the city. I'm positive nothing like that exists in the Villages. But still, the relationship is municipality/developer - residents, not elder care management - residents.

That said, I know that some neighborhoods in the Villages have a reputation as being "old" neighborhoods, where all of the residents bought in early and are now in their 90s and dying off. But the expectation is that the market will absorb this, as these houses are cheaper to buy and theoretically should fill up with a new crop of new Villages residents looking to get in cheap.
posted by COBRA! at 11:17 AM on June 30


Meh, seems pretty nice to me. A bit hot for my New England blood, maybe, but I can definitely see the appeal. Everybody around you is retired, nobody shoving you or cutting you off in traffic because they have to get to their all-important job, leave all that shit behind, just hang out and do whatever the hell you feel like for the rest of your life.

Not too bad, although I've always thought those retirement villages that are adjacent to big universities and let you audit classes without charge are pretty sweet. (Penn State has one, naturally.)

I'd rather die than retire.

If you're under 40, I've got some good news for you, then!
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:23 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]


their volunteers enjoy checking to make sure your visitor papers are in order

oh god imagine being forced to share a community with a bunch of elderly george zimmermans
posted by elizardbits at 11:28 AM on June 30 [27 favorites]


I can't imagine living in this kind of place, without younger people, without children, without diversity.
posted by beagle at 11:36 AM on June 30 [6 favorites]


brighter take: Papers, Please DLC!
posted by postcommunism at 11:36 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


this is a darn sight better than nursing homes or standard suburbs

I would totally retire to a left-of-center Village. Replace the golf courses with hiking trails, bring in more diverse residents, replace the vintage bands with EDM, locate it closer to a major city ... it could work.

I still have a couple decades to go, but those days are coming. And I don't know what the good options for retirement are in the USA. I want dynamic neighborhoods where I can walk everywhere, good transportation, and safe streets (and by safe, I mean it in the literal & not coded sense). And I will not be able to afford the American cities that meet even those simple criteria.

Not that I could afford the Village, probably ...
posted by kanewai at 11:37 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


So how long before they replace the golf carts with self-driving cars? Places like this seem perfect for them.
posted by Small Dollar at 11:41 AM on June 30


DISCLAIMER: Many of my best friends are elderly white people.
However the thought of living in a community of elderly white people sounds like purgatory. What makes life grand isn't dressing up like a chicken (although that's pretty cool in its own way) - it's interacting with people of all ages, varying ethnicities and enjoying the chaos we live in.
I'm glad for them if they're happy but that's truly skin crawling ghastly...
posted by speug at 11:44 AM on June 30 [8 favorites]


I've worked with people living in some really nice retirement/assisted living communities that struck me as being like college dorms for old people, in a good way. Sounds awesome, but I don't anticipate having the money for anything like that when I'm that age.
posted by asperity at 11:47 AM on June 30


I mean it's not like their kids are going to be able to afford to retire in a place like this.

My folks spend two months each winter in south Florida, and that's what I think about every time I visit: what, exactly, is going to become of the massive retirement communities down there once their generation dies off?

Abandonment and slow reclamation by the swamps seems entirely likely.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:47 AM on June 30


How are the prices of the houses?

Zillow will help you out with that.
posted by achrise at 11:47 AM on June 30


what, exactly, is going to become of the massive retirement communities down there once their generation dies off?

My parents live in the vast old-people exurbs around Tucson, and I've thought the same thing, many times. But it looks like we've got at least another 40 years of the old-people population growing, both in absolute terms and as a percentage.

Which is sort of extra horrifying, because it probably means that we'll keep building these communities in the middle of nowhere at the current rapid clip for at least another 20-30 years, so there will be that many more of them to dry up and blow away when the demographic pendulum swings back.

Of course, Tucson's exurbs are radically unsustainable for water and A/C reasons, so I do sort of expect my parents' community will be a ghost town in 30 years, anyway.
posted by gurple at 11:53 AM on June 30


So how long before they replace the golf carts with self-driving cars? Places like this seem perfect for them.

The best part is that they can be solar powered with no batteries because their owners will never use them at night or if it's raining.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:54 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Zillow will help you out with that.

Is that an unusually high number of foreclosures or is that pretty much the norm these days?
posted by elizardbits at 11:54 AM on June 30


You shouldn't worry about the future of Florida communities once the old people go, because that future is "underwater."
posted by emjaybee at 11:55 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I just did a quick search of zillow for prices, and there are plenty of foreclosures. After a quick glance about 170k seems to be the lower end there for a 2br 2 bath type place for the ones that are for sale. They go up into the 500's.

don't know what the property tax and "association fees" situation looks like for all these places but typical cheaper house looks like 2k a year in taxes, 150 a month for "ammenities" fees, which isn't too terrible.

http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/The-Villages-FL-32162/71831_rid/priced_sort/29.010092,-81.866684,28.8352,-82.126923_rect/11_zm/1_fr/
posted by freq at 11:56 AM on June 30


So is this place serviced by an army of those Japanese old-people-carrying-robots


Or is it just the usual people who work for minimum wage
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:56 AM on June 30


Wait, did you say The Village?

My thoughts exactly.

Several of my immediate family worked at a assisted living/retirement facility for many years that had the full spectrum of living conditions, from simply a gated community to hospital care. These places all seem fairly pleasant places for those that choose to be there, but in the section that has just a bit more security and tries, in a well-intentioned way, to keep people from becoming a bit confused and wandering off, there was one guy who has a naturally rebellious personality combined with a mischievous and a strong independent streak but always a perfect gentleman, not unlike Number 6 in the Village, and hasn't yet lost all his marbles and finds the challenge of 'escaping' the best way to keep his mind sharp. Every few months I'd hear stories of his latest cunning escape, where he watched and memorized keypad codes, duty schedules, created distractions, and when he succeeded, would simply go to a nearby store and get some junk food or hang out with a few of the assisted living people for a while, but never for more than an hour or two as to not worry the staff too much. Some of the other assisted living residents would help him evade 'capture' while others would call the offices on sight, so he had himself quite an adventure every now and then. He loved just walking back through the front entrance just before dinnertime and smugly walk up to the front desk and ask for the time, and the nurses would just be baffled about how he did it again, and over time developed quite a reputation.

The game went on for several years, but one day, after returning to the front desk again with a couple of tiny airplane-sized bottle of whiskey, which was surprising as he often stated he never liked alcohol, announced to the staff that his days of 'The Great Escape' were over and he was retiring, and told them he realized it was getting harder for him to keep his intricate plans together, and didn't want to trouble them too much if he really got lost. He requested that the nurses take a shot with him before he officially came back inside, and never tried to escape again.

I'd hear all those stories over the years and think of Number 6, and think to myself "right on, old man!" I hope that if I were in the same situation, I would do the same.
posted by chambers at 11:56 AM on June 30 [44 favorites]


I'd like to think that if things get on track and my generation ever manages to have a stable retirement in its future, there will likely be farm-adjacent niche-interest retirement communities popping up in places like, oh, say, Colorado or Washington. It'll basically be college for old people, just with no homework, low-sodium options at every restaurant, and considerably less awkward sex.
posted by griphus at 12:06 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I live in a 55+ community on the gulf coast made up of ~1500 manufactured homes. It was a temporary thing in between moves that has turned into 2 years now. I'll be out soon, but will definitely return when I'm of age (they allow a small percentage of us under agers to live here). Never would I have thought this would be my dream retirement before I lived here, but it really is. It just makes aging easy.

No. It makes "aging in place" easy. Large senior communities attract a lot of services geared towards seniors. The goal is to keep folks as independent as possible for as long as possible. Nursing homes are expensive and they can be incredibly demoralizing. I'm sure it's not too difficult to find various senior services in most large cities & better off suburbs, but they are everywhere down here and include everything from medical care to people who will run errands to respite volunteers (folks who come in and spend a couple hours with your spouse who has dementia or other needs so you can get a break).

Plus, there's something to be said for the activities & socialization. When my grandfather first moved down here it was all shuffleboard & bridge. Now it's cornhole & kayaking & trivia & wine tastings (and dozens of other things). I'm not a big joiner, but could see hanging out, drinking beer & tossing around a little beanbag on a Wednesday afternoon. And then there's the random & not so random neighborly gatherings. My mom's street has a weekly cocktail party (Flamingo Fridays) where those who come bring an appetizer to share & a drink (or 3). They've gotten to know each other and have a great network should they ever need any sort of help.

Of course, one of the mantras down here is "We're not The Villages!" Mom's friends really enjoy making fun of The Villages... I dunno if it's jealousy or what.
posted by imbri at 12:10 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


it's shockingly clear that these are all just nicely-decorated holding pens where seniors get put to wait for the end.

Actually, a most emphatic FUCK NO.

They are indeed nicely decorated. I currently have 4 family members in 2 different ones and a 5th family member died in another one 4 years ago.

Let me share some stories with you.

Grandma T, after 25 years of widowhood and living alone got "put" in one of those places. At 90, she met a sweet man 10 years her junior who she fell in love with and they got married so that they could do it, because, god forbid, they do it without the benefit of marriage. She went to a singing group every day and did exercise every afternoon and had ice cream socials once a week, which she freaking loved!

My grandma B lives in one now. She is Queen of the Red Hats. She plays bridge and pan and mah jongg. She has a boyfriend. She gossips and gets her nails done and they want her to be the head of the resident's council, or so she told me yesterday. I have to check with her before I visit to make sure she's available.

MIL and FIL live in another one. MIL has started back in her yoga practice. She is gaining back the flexibility she had lost. She eats three nutritious meals a day and doesn't have to wash dishes. They go on outings to museums, to the beach and on ladies lunches. They have a fitness instructor that takes them on leisurely walks every Sunday. FIL can go to the movies every day, twice a day and not know that he has seen the same movie twice, but man he loves going to the movies. He gets popcorn. Someone helps him find his way home. He goes to a men's luncheon once a month. He sings at Shabbat services every Friday. They have giant barbeques for memorial day and 4th of July and huge birthday celebrations. The overnight front desk lady brings treats for their dog. My MIL, who was macrobiotic and terrified that sugar caused cancer now has a root beer float once a week and at least one ice cream sundae at dinner per week. She still weighs about 98 pounds.

Do any of these sound like holding pens to you?
posted by Sophie1 at 12:16 PM on June 30 [20 favorites]


and considerably less awkward sex.

Hahahaha, oh lord, have you heard about the STI rates in nursing facilities? It's a large, concentrated population of people of the same age group thrown together suddenly, many of them recently single. It's just like the dorms, although one hopes the sex might be a little less awkward, given people have had a few decades to practice.

That being said, I hope I can afford a more-diverse version of this if I live that long. I just moved into what feels like a young-people version - planned mixed-use development, close to transit, lots of organized activities funded by the developer and tenant businesses - and for all the cracks about fake neighborhoods, it's really, really nice. I would love to age in a place that has the things I need nearby without needing to drive, especially socialization and recreation opportunities.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 12:19 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


considerably less awkward sex.

"Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope." - George Burns
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:21 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]


Those houses are pretty close. I wonder if the check-your-papers volunteer would rat you out if he sniffed some medical marijuana.
posted by surplus at 12:32 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


My Grandpa and my Aunt Selma (his sister-in-law) shared a condo at Leisure World in Seal Beach, CA.

I have to say, I liked it. They LOVED it. Yeah, the place looked like the old Wheel of Fortune blew up in their unit, ceramic dalmaition anyone? But, it had everything they needed and made life easier for them as they got up there in age.

Grandpa's last day was a fairy-tale. He got up, felt pretty good (He was fighting cancer at the time) so he met his friends for a round of golf. Came home, ate lunch and laid down for a nap, and died peacefully. Can you think of a better exit from this world?

My parents are living in a townhouse in Dallas about a mile away from my sister. They have friends I guess, but no one super close to them, like I am with my friends.

I guess it's a matter of what you like. I unapologetically like Disney World, and an integrated version of The Villages would be ideal for me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:34 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


My FIL lives in The Villages. If you get him talking, he won't stop gushing about how big, fast-growing, and well-appointed it is.

Consider yourself lucky he went willingly! My father (in his 60s) is already swearing up and down he never wants to go to any sort of retirement living, to which I want to respond: well then you better be able to take care of yourself until you die, because there is no way you are moving in with me. He wouldn't even want to! He'd bitch endlessly about everything! I don't know what would please him. If only he could be satisfied at a place like that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:42 PM on June 30


Peyton Place?
posted by infini at 12:42 PM on June 30


Can you think of a better exit from this world?

Well, I can, but it involves a couple of 20 somethings, a bottle of tequilla, and a dune buggy somewhere interspersed between the golf game and the nap.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:51 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero - before he needs it, you'll AskMeFi and there are a crap-ton of us with a wealth of experience. Trust me when I say, you'll get him there if it needs to happen.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:02 PM on June 30


I have the same mindset a lot of people do about old people they don't know personally, which is that young people are all different and diverse in their own way but somehow past 60 people all are alike -- politically conservative, extremely litigious, golf-loving slots-playing early-bird-eating child haters, and very very uncomfortable with any deviation from a flat norm whether aesthetically, socially, culturally, etc.

I know this is an idiotic young person's prejudice, and as I'm 53 and surprisingly getting older all the time, I'm sort of losing it. But these places seem to self-select for that type of person, and that's my biggest dread of being 70+ (other than all the doctors) -- that I'll wind up living among the church of sameness. But by then will I be a willing congregant? Or will some developer come up with a Leisure Village type concept that acknowledges and celebrates differences, and pushes them in your face in order to keep your life interesting and stimulating?

Who knows. It's not like I'm Hunter S. Thompson right now, I guess. I do like to go to bed kind of early.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:03 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]


I've visited the Villages several times and it's definitely a trade-off. The lack of diversity (in people, environment, etc) and the Disney-World esque "sameness" every day are really weird and off-putting, especially I think to younger people. But I can totally see the appeal if you want to make and keep some close friends and have easy access to a lot of low-key things to do. And feeling like a "normal age" instead of a geezer everywhere you go does have to have some cognitive benefits.
I don't think I could handle my own guilt of knowing the specific kind of capitalism that leads to this kind of "village" being possible... but I'm also not going to tell everyone else that they are terrible for choosing it, especially considering the horrible state of a lot of other elderly living options in the US.

PROTIP: if you are a lady of fertile age that ever visits the Villages, for god's sake keep an emergency stash of tampons on you at all times because if you get a "surprise" you will not find a kind soul who can give you a tampon for miles.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:05 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


When I retire I want to wear a fez and drive a dune buggy. Not a golf cart.
posted by bukvich at 1:09 PM on June 30


Interesting to note the diversity issue. Grandma B is in a Jewish place, so everyone there is either your bubbe or zayde. But MIL and FIL are in a for-profit place and it is pretty freaking diverse. It's one of the reasons I really liked the place, no one is a token there.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:22 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


In fact, if you ask for a tampon, the residents will point and scream!
posted by Mister_A at 1:26 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Mister_A: "In fact, if you ask for a tampon, the residents will point and scream!"

"It's like watching Logan's Run in reverse!"
posted by boo_radley at 1:27 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Gray Flight.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:29 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


lady of fertile age

Ahem, menopause != senile dementia
posted by infini at 1:36 PM on June 30


A couple years ago, my wife's parents rented a unit in Mesa's Leisure Word for a month, and we spent a week out there with them. Aside from having both a conspicuously high amount of white, white people and green, green grass, it was pretty damn appealing (A lovely library! Pickleball! A neat woodshop! A pool area where I was, relatively speaking, one of the pretty people!), but then again, I was the kind of kid who wanted to live in an old folks' home when I grew up.

The Villages IS my retirement plan: stay in shape and go down there at age 55 and be a kept man.

That was my plan, too. My wife was unimpressed.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:37 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Makes me wonder, what's the "cool" retirement plan?

I mean, the nicest thing would probably be a solid NORC with a wide cross-spectrum of different types of people.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:08 PM on June 30


Maybe it's mentioned in the article, but I'm surprised no one in this thread has yet to compare The Villages to the nightmare for a slightly younger demographic, Celebration, USA, which is a mere 77.7 miles away.

I'm not sure which purgatory I'd pick.
posted by item at 2:13 PM on June 30


Makes me wonder, what's the "cool" retirement plan?

Moving to a 2nd world country and running the local horseback, dune buggy, ATV, putt-putt, canoe, pyramid excursion, distillery, fly-fishing rental/outfitters.
posted by wcfields at 2:31 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


First you grow up in Celebration and then they transport you to The Villages to die.
posted by daninnj at 2:32 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


imbri: "It makes "aging in place" easy. Large senior communities attract a lot of services geared towards seniors. The goal is to keep folks as independent as possible for as long as possible. Nursing homes are expensive and they can be incredibly demoralizing."

Yeah, my grandparents moved a "retirement community" after they'd been retired a few years and they were just kinda lonely in the big house they'd raised kids in and a lot of their friends had moved and the city they'd been in had changed. We had trouble imaging such active, vibrant people moving to a "retirement community" but off they went. This was a community with free-standing homes, apartments, assisted living, etc. Not so Disney-theme-y as The Villages (the stores were just ... stores, owned by people who own stores, not by the retirement community company). They bought a house and moved down there.

Well. Immediately they were playing bridge four day a week, tennis seven days a week, golfing twice a week, taking a bus into a nearby big city two hours away to catch musicals (including a naked production of Rent for reasons that remain somewhat unclear). Constant. Drunken. Parties. with their 8 zillion best friends. When they took off to travel the world every year for a few weeks, the retirement community mowed their lawn and monitored their burglar alarm and stuff. When there was a big storm, the retirement community checked on everybody to be sure they were okay. When we'd go to visit and we'd go to lunch at "the club" (which was like a country club but I think was just for old people who lived there?) all the servers already knew us and our life stories because they spent every day talking to all these grandparents about their grandkids.

When I brought my baby down to visit -- and I truly think this is TRUE GENIUS -- the community had Pack 'n' Plays, high chairs, bins of infant toys, strollers, etc., all available from a lending library! Because you've got all these grandparents with grandkids visiting, but who don't want to keep a ton of baby stuff around ... so they just had a lending library where (first-come, first-served) you could borrow all the baby stuff for a week and your relatives didn't have to schlep it all into town! They also had (small) playgrounds with fences and lots of benches, so older people could sit and watch their grandkids play and the grandkids couldn't run off from the playground. It was just so NICE how it was geared towards them.

They lived there like 25 years and when my grandfather got sick, they sent home health aides and he could get all his physical therapy, etc., right there in town. They could drive him once he couldn't drive. When they decided keeping up the house was too much, they were able to move into an independent living apartment right nearby and keep up their social life and activities as they always had. When my grandfather went downhill, they were able to provide expert hospice care right there in the apartment so neither of them had to move during a rather traumatic time and -- this is weird to say but true -- they were so expert at handling death. Really, really excellent hospice care, funeral arrangements, religious care, outreach to family, counseling and support for my grandmother, and ongoing care for my grandmother. The social workers who check on her to make sure she's not getting depressed after my grandfather's death are women she's already known for 10 years. She's got friends around her she's had for 25 years. She's been at the same church, the same hospital, the same medical practice, for 25 years. (I mean, they even have social workers who help widows sort through what stuff they want to keep and get rid of!)

I think I'd rather live in one like the place that is literally two blocks from me, a four-city-block campus of semi-detached bungalows and a four-story, multi-wing apartment, assisted living, and hospice building, which is right next to a school and a family neighborhood ... I'm not sure I'd want to be quite so much AWAY from young people and families as a lot of these retirement communities are. But man, the good ones can relieve a lot of the isolation and difficulties of aging.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:38 PM on June 30 [24 favorites]


what, exactly, is going to become of the massive retirement communities down there once their generation dies off?

Letting history be our guide, we find that they will turn into "normal" cities and once about half of the old folks have died off, it will become filled with recent immigrants and working class folks. As long as a critical mass of old folks remain, the services will be maintained, but after a while longer they will be left to rot and eventually be built over because the young people don't care as much for the tennis courts and swimming pools and golf courses.
posted by wierdo at 2:39 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


infini: Ahem, menopause != senile dementia

What???? This is a discussion of an active adult condo community, not a nursing home! Just being over 55 (the only requirement for living there) doesn't have anything to do with "senile dementia." I'm having trouble seeing any implications of dropping this little ... gem ... into this context which aren't ugly, so probably I'm just being dense.

There are a lot of active adult retirement areas nowadays, starting with the great wave of Del Webb's Sun Cities in the late 1960s. The people who move to these places are healthy enough to be "active" (thus the name), and the neighborhood is structured like your typical HOA, with higher-than-usual HOA fees going to support the gym, activity centers, and maintenance. People own their own houses and do their own things, which often includes forming neighborhood clubs and societies. The corporation in charge of The Villages isn't responsible for looking after the residents like a nursing home is.

For weird reasons I have ended up visiting a lot of these active adult communities over the last few years, and it is strange being 40 years younger than many of your neighbors there. But in most of them, I've met plenty of classic mid-century American liberals, the sort of that love nature, travel with Elderhostel, birdwatch, and vote Democratic -- even in Phoenix, AZ.

The Villages is famous for being really conservative, and it's the butt of a lot of jokes even among the Republicans in those other places.

Whoever compared it to college is right. Socially it feels like freshman/sophomore year (without the drinking); people making efforts to form big social groups, lots of activities and interests, a bit of a walled garden, kept going by a lot of unrecognized support services (how often did you talk to the janitors and administrators when you were a college student?). I've definitely thought a lot about how our Millennial/Gen-X crowd will retire, or at least that 20% who are doing "all right Jack." There'll be goth and grunge instead of Benny Goodman at the dances, and more educational opportunities, but maybe less interest in taking part in collective service organizations.

I think responders in this thread are idealizing a past-tense mythology of aging in America. Nowadays, working people move where their jobs are, children grow up and move across the country, and there's very little keeping a retired couple in place. And even in the olden days when your Bubbe and Zayde aged in their little ethnic borough of New York, the small world that surrounded them was pretty monocultural and monochromatic.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:39 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Moving to a 2nd world country and running the local horseback, dune buggy, ATV, putt-putt, canoe, pyramid excursion, distillery, fly-fishing rental/outfitters.

So the plan is to retire for fifteen years and live like a king in Patagonia?

It might seem creepy from the outside, but The Villages and these other retirement villages are a damn sight better than spending your senior years in the house you raised your family in, living on cat food as old friends gradually die off. That seems to be the default condition for retirement in the western world.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:44 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I am torn between thinking that this place is some sort of corporate Stepford nightmare and thinking that it's a really nice option for retirees. I guess if people are happy with it, and they are moving there willingly, and it's almost exclusively white due to self-selection/wealth and not discrimination, then hey, more power to ya.
posted by radioamy at 2:55 PM on June 30


I guess I can sort of get why some people would like that sort of thing, but I can't get past the "fuck you, I got mine" aspect of people removing themselves from their community tax base once their kids are grown.

For a whole lot of these people, other people paid for schools and playgrounds and community resources for them and their kids, but once they don't need that stuff anymore, they bail?

I know they don't all do it for those reasons, but I have talked to people from Sun City whose reasoning was exactly that. They were so completely self-involved they literally didn't understand how anyone would have a problem with them just pulling up the ladder behind them like that.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:56 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


"You basically have a city of 100,000 people, owned by a company.”

"You basically have a city of 100,000 people owned by a company.”

Huh. Works either way.
posted by MrBadExample at 3:20 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


First off, I think those of us who visit the Villages at Christmastime ought to have a meetup - preferably at Katie Belles (if we can get in) or in one of the various squares - because this place really needs to shared.

Secondly, my wife and I have decided that when she turns 30, one of the things we're going to do to celebrate is go into one of the adult pools in the Villages, because as a nefarious late 20s-year-old she is not yet eligible to go in. This is the source of much amusement every time we visit.

That is all.
posted by DingoMutt at 3:59 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


First off, I think those of us who visit the Villages at Christmastime ought to have a meetup - preferably at Katie Belles (if we can get in) or in one of the various squares - because this place really needs to shared.

I LOVE THIS IDEA

...if nothing else, the idea of trying to explain it to my in-laws just fills me with laughs.
posted by COBRA! at 4:02 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


First off, I think those of us who visit the Villages at Christmastime ought to have a meetup - preferably at Katie Belles (if we can get in) or in one of the various squares - because this place really needs to shared.

Yes please. Although my personal favorite is Cane Gardens and their herbed whitefish.
posted by Brainy at 4:05 PM on June 30


To sum up the thread:
-Retirees seem to like living in these kinds of places.
-But they are owned by corporations.
-And a world consisting of only old people seems weird.

The problem isn't that these are bad for the people in them. It seems like corporations have been doing a good job of catering to retirees needs. Anyway, since you've excluded all of the have-nots already, truly democratic institutions like a real city would have are probably not so important.

The problems are:
-It's a private place where only rich(ish) people get to live. Not every old person is getting catered to. But this has been true for a while...
-Intergenerational transfers are probably a shitty deal in general for younger generations?
-People are amusing themselves to death? If they weren't isolated in amusement parks would they be making the world a better place?
posted by ropeladder at 4:18 PM on June 30


I dug up an interesting look at the Florida laws that led to the legal structure of The Villages, written by some folks from one of the competing property owner's associations there. It covers a large class action lawsuit they settled against the developer a few years ago.
posted by zachlipton at 4:26 PM on June 30


My parents moved there in January 2014. My mother died there in February. Note to all: if your parents (or you) are Old Persons thinking about becoming Fit Persons, make sure everyone visits their doctor before undertaking a new exercise regime. A piece of cholesterol broke loose and killed my mother. She had just turned 62.

That's the saddest piece of advice I can give you. A less-sad item: COBRA!, you don't have to show the volunteer gatepeople your papers. The roads down there are public access -- it's how they still get city services for trash and sweeping -- and so the guardposts there are entirely, ridiculously for show.

Drive in via the visitors' lane. They'll wave at you and expect you to stop. Just wave back and keep going. Screw 'em.
posted by harperpitt at 4:36 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Screw all y'all. I plan to retire to a Culture orbital.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:38 PM on June 30 [7 favorites]


If you really want to retire, move to Southern Europe (Spain and Italy are fucked economically, and thus cheap), or Latin America.

I'm not interested in retiring (I think I'd be bored out of my skull), but if I did, I'd either move back to Norway (services and great and free), or move to the beach here in Mexico. Although Spain or Italy might be attractive too, I guess.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:50 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


The Villages isn't for the rich only* The Villages' website lists 16 pre-owned homes for sale at $150,00 and below, compared to only six at $1,000,000 and up. While the sweet spot is houses in the $200,000 - $500,000 range. I can imagine there are a lot of Villagers who did well flipping high-priced Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic real estate to pay for their retirement homes.

Like all good Long Islanders, my father and his three sisters have all retired to Florida. He bought a house in the Villages and one sister moved in with him, while their oldest moved to an assisted care residence just outside the Villages -- it's just outside the golf cart zone. The third sister moved in with one of her daughters near Fort Lauderdale.

Visiting the Villages can be a bit surreal - especially if you're "underage". It was fun, however, to take a golf cart to run errands - hitting up the CVS and using the golf cart underpasses to cross the major roads on the way to the nearest Wal-Mart. I definitely think some of the residents would be safer in Smart Cars than in tricked-out golf carts with rear view mirrors, head lights, turn signals, and in-dash CD players…

(*depending on your definition of "rich".)
posted by Ranucci at 4:52 PM on June 30


For a whole lot of these people, other people paid for schools and playgrounds and community resources for them and their kids, but once they don't need that stuff anymore, they bail?

I don't really understand this comment. Presumably they were paying taxes to their community for the whole 30-40 years they were living there. And if they weren't then, they won't be in a position to pay taxes now, either, especially since they're retired.

I will agree that it's messed up that the US public school funding is not fairly distributed within the whole state. The quality of schools should not depend on the tax base of the local area/municipality.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:55 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


It does seem like a tall order to ask people to stay and live somewhere where they don't want to live in order to mitigate the effects of weird tax policy. Public school funding should be distributed across bigger areas than local districts.
posted by the jam at 5:06 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


COBRA!, you don't have to show the volunteer gatepeople your papers. The roads down there are public access -- it's how they still get city services for trash and sweeping -- and so the guardposts there are entirely, ridiculously for show.

Drive in via the visitors' lane. They'll wave at you and expect you to stop. Just wave back and keep going. Screw 'em.


Yeah, worked that one out after a few visits. The main papers-checking that sticks out in my mind was the time my wife and I were pulled out of one of the 30+ pools to have our IDs examined (I'll grant them that my wife looks young as hell, but woe betide the person under 30 with my hairline).

For a whole lot of these people, other people paid for schools and playgrounds and community resources for them and their kids, but once they don't need that stuff anymore, they bail?

I don't really understand this comment. Presumably they were paying taxes to their community for the whole 30-40 years they were living there. And if they weren't then, they won't be in a position to pay taxes now, either, especially since they're retired.


Yeah, that's the thing. I do understand where the tax-bailing complaint comes from, but the Villages residents that I know paid local taxes in Wisconsin for a good 20 years after their youngest child graduated from high school. I honestly tried to imagine presenting them with the argument that they should stay in a place they'd grown to hate just so that they could continue to contribute to the tax base, and shook my head. Even if there's some moral heft to that argument, it's not something you could ever actually use to persuade someone.
posted by COBRA! at 5:09 PM on June 30


I find it interesting that most (though not all) of the people deadset opposed to this place have no actual first-hand knowledge of them, but seem really goddamn confident that these places are hell.

Like many other folks, my grandparents lived in a community like this, though not in Florida. It was great. Even as an elementary school kid visiting, I thought it was great. It was clean (and no, that is not a goddamn dogwhistle, it means, literally "there was no garbage on the ground" and nothing more), it had crafts centers and pools and an arcade. It was beautiful. My grandparents spent their time hanging out with friends who lived within strolling distance, played mahjongg, and really seemed to enjoy life. I imagine myself staying where I live now, and what my life would be like at age 70. Not horrible, but not good in any way, either. All you folks who say that retirement villages sound like hell must be living in fucking paradise right now.
posted by Bugbread at 5:15 PM on June 30 [6 favorites]


other people paid for schools .... , they bail?

Huh? They moved.

They now live in Orange County, Florida. This may surprise you, but we collect taxes here too. The people in the Villages pay property taxes too, some of which supports the schools in Orlando and the rest of Orange County.
posted by Flood at 5:17 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


This thread supports a cliche I read some time ago (perhaps even here.)

Young people are assholes because they think the world revolves around them.

Old people are assholes, too. They do know the world doesn't revolve around them, they just don't give a shit anymore.

My personal bias is reflected by the lyrics of the old tune: "Go, Granny, Go, Granny, Go Granny Go."
posted by CincyBlues at 5:27 PM on June 30


I don't see any problem with a place like The Villages. Not my cup of tea, but who cares?

I do, however, find it ironic that the generation that ditched walkable cities in favor of prefab suburbs are essentially re-creating the walkable cities they fled in the first place.
posted by evil otto at 5:28 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Also, the homes the old people move out of? Are going to be moved INTO by young people, with children and the ability to keep up those homes so the value doesn't dive, which means MORE property taxes, not less.
posted by KathrynT at 5:29 PM on June 30


evil otto: "I do, however, find it ironic that the generation that ditched walkable cities in favor of prefab suburbs are essentially re-creating the walkable cities they fled in the first place."

Wait, which generation? Because these communities started with Sun City in 1960, and I'm having a hard time reconciling a person who moved into a retirement community last week as being in the same generation as someone who moved into a retirement community 50 years ago.
posted by Bugbread at 5:32 PM on June 30


I don't really understand this comment. Presumably they were paying taxes to their community for the whole 30-40 years they were living there. And if they weren't then, they won't be in a position to pay taxes now, either, especially since they're retired.

You should read the whole thing, then. It's pretty short.

I totally understand that probably most people move to these communities for other reasons, but I am telling you firsthand that I have met people for whom avoiding those taxes was a major factor. It was how they brought it up. They didn't like paying taxes on something they were not currently using, so they moved there pretty much as soon as they were able, for maximum meanness. I'm sure it wasn't their only motivation, but it was the one they were bragging about. They thought they were pretty clever, figuring out a way to get out of paying back into the system that benefited them when they needed it.

I don't begrudge people living somewhere they'll be happy. But the system is messed up, and there are people who move to places like that specifically to take advantage of that fact.

If The Villages residents pay their fair share of school and other taxes that support the whole community, though, I totally take back the accusation of bailing.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:39 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I'm a little baffled by the back and forth on taxes where people live vs. where they move to and the concept that people are "bailing" on their tax obligation. I only have one data point - my mom - but here are my observations and reasoning on taxes after keeping an eye on her finances for a decade or two.

First, she isn't working anymore, so no taxes there. Second, she draws social security benefits, which are taxable after a certain cap, which she isn't hitting. Third, she has investment income, but her investment advisors have steered her into a capital preserving strategy involving a heavy dose of (tax free) municipal bonds. What is being taxed is mostly at the long term capital gains rate. Fourth, there is a property tax exemption for senior citizens where she lives. This seems like a politically popular thing to do these days; I don't live in the same state as my mom, but many counties in my state offer exemptions for senior citizens and seem to compete with one another on this issue. Fifth, she is too busy trying to give stuff away to buy anything new, so the sales tax she was paying was pretty much just on groceries. Consequently, her tax burden was very low, mostly federal, and, considering the property tax exemption, pretty much geography independent.

Your mileage may vary on the property tax exemption, but I would think everything else would be common anywhere in the U.S. And if the retiree were going to stay in their community, and there was not a property tax exemption, I would expect them to use the one-time-only capital gains exemption on real estate to downsize into a smaller place (with a commensurately lower property tax).
posted by BlueTongueLizard at 7:03 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Oh, dear god. I'm a Boomer, I'm nearly 54, and I would shoot myself before I'd live someplace like that. Me, I want an apartment in Greenwich Village, where I'm going to dress all in black and keep on raising hell well into my 90's and beyond.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:40 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Weird. Somehow I left most of my point out of that last post a couple up. I either deleted actual words, or just elided it in my head.

The point being: You are a part of the system your whole life, giving and taking as needed. You don't just pay for x amount of time and then opt out of the system, especially when you're continuing to benefit from parts of it.

Kids and their families depend on the support of the community for schooling, appropriate recreation, and various other services that are geared toward them. The taxes to support those systems come from everyone in the community, (ideally) depending on their ability to pay.

Older people whose kids are grown don't have as much personal use for the schools and playgrounds and things like that. What they do use disproportionately are federal programs such as social security and Medicare. Everyone pays for that. Young families who aren't using those services--many of whom never will--don't get to move to a housing development without old people to evade those taxes. You don't just pay into programs you personally use, and especially you don't just pay into programs you actually use only when you're using them. (Except, well, sometimes it is, and that sucks.)

This isn't about people who don't owe taxes in the first place, either. It's about people who would be paying local taxes and who bail on those obligations once they aren't personally benefiting from them anymore.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:01 PM on June 30


It seems like they are having all sorts of fun at The Villages.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 8:09 PM on June 30


ernielundquist , I don't understand your argument. Village residents aren't paying taxes in their old home towns, sure. But they are paying Florida sales taxes and Sumter County taxes - including Sumter County school taxes. No different from any other retiree who moved from the rest of the country to any other place in God's Waiting Room. Are you saying that empty nesters have an obligation to never move away from the places they raised their families? What about the non-retirees who now own and are paying taxes on the houses they bought from people who moved to The Villages or any similar development - aren't they "picking up the slack"? (not trying to pick a fight, just don't understand where you're coming from.)
posted by Ranucci at 8:32 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I mean, the nicest thing would probably be a solid NORC with a wide cross-spectrum of different types of people.

Thanks, Itaxpica, I just learned that there's a name for what I've assumed the Castro (SF) is turning into.
posted by psoas at 8:35 PM on June 30


Ranucci: "No different from any other retiree who moved from the rest of the country to any other place in God's Waiting Room."

That's not true. Two thirds of Sun City (the unincorporated part) pays no school taxes.
posted by Bugbread at 8:37 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Ranucci, lowered or eliminated school taxes are enough of a motivation for some retirees that here's a recent article about the issue, and here's Sun City West bragging about how they skunked out, like Bugbread just said:

Sun City West is unincorporated and Maricopa County maintains the streets, provides police protection and other services. The cost of these is a part of the property tax paid by each homeowner. Local school taxes can often be a major part of property taxes but most of Sun City West was removed years ago from the surrounding school district. As a result, a typical property tax on a $150,000 home is less than $575 annually.

I don't know how much, if at all, this applies to The Village, but I'd really like to see statistics on the relative tax burden of the communities retirees raised their kids in vs. the ones they retired to, and what those local taxes went toward.

If they're paying rates similar to those that retired people were paying in the communities they raised their kids in, mea culpa.

That's a big if, though.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:28 PM on June 30


The Villages is another example of how seniors are being encouraged to spend as much as possible, as fast as possible so the family fortune gets Hoovered up by big business instead of getting passed on to their children and grandchildren.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:52 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Some casual googling turns up a few things:

- The Villages is actually spread across three counties: Sumter, Marion, and Lake.

- Florida works like my state (and many others): majority of the K-12 budget is paid for by state revenues, and there is a local required match, which comes mostly from property taxes

- The Florida education budget is about $20B a year. About $10.4B of that comes from state revenue. Another $7.8B comes from local taxes. The remainder comes from the lottery and a long list of other sources of revenue.

- The Villages is in the Sumter school district (but maybe more districts, too? It touches three counties). At any rate, the Sumter millage rate is 6.357 and there is about $8.4B in appraised property, so Sumter is collecting about $54M a year in property taxes. It looks like about 2/3 of that goes to the "local effort" match for education.

- A $200K house in the Villages that falls into Sumter county would pay a total of $4,985 in property taxes It isn't clear what fraction of that is going to education; the mill rate quoted in this link is 14.43, but the Florida DOE minimum local effort is 5.91, and there are also capital projects mixed in with the education.

- The Villages also lies in Marion county, where the property tax on that same $200K house would be $3,819, and in Lake county, where the property tax would be $2,529.

- I live in a big metro county with a reputation for high taxes (but not in Florida). I just got my tax assessment in the mail. I'm doing rough and ready math here, ignoring homestead exemptions and other local things, but if I just divide my tax bill by the appraised value of my house and then multiply by $200K, I would be paying $3,836. Almost exactly half of that goes to education, the rest is for other services like hospitals, fire, police, and sewer. I'm not a senior citizen; if I was, there are a bewildering array of exemptions and caps depending on my age or income (seriously, I just googled it, and there are 11 different possible exemptions a senior might be eligible for in my county).

I think the conclusion is very clear: if you move to the Villages and live on a street in Sumter county, you are getting screwed. If you move to the Villages and your street is in Marion county, you did OK. If you moved to the Villages and live on a street in Lake county, you are totally bailing on your tax obligation. Right?
posted by BlueTongueLizard at 10:13 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


anemone of the state: "The Villages is another example of how seniors are being encouraged to spend as much as possible, as fast as possible so the family fortune gets Hoovered up by big business instead of getting passed on to their children and grandchildren."

Have you got any evidence to that effect?
posted by Bugbread at 10:25 PM on June 30


Also, why would big business care if seniors gave their money to big businesses as opposed to passing it on to their children and grandchildren, who would then give it to big businesses? Is money somehow better when received from older people than younger people?
posted by Bugbread at 10:27 PM on June 30


Getting mad at people from moving away from high-tax/high-service jurisdictions when they no longer need those services is pretty bizarre. One of the central assumptions of our entire government, arguably the linchpin of the whole 'Federalism' thing, is the free internal movement of people and lack of internal borders.

If you want to have some particular municipal service, you need to find a way to fund it that doesn't assume that everyone currently living in the tax district is some sort of serf, tied to the land until they keel over.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:34 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I don't think people are upset that seniors are moving away and not paying school tax specifically to the place where they once lived, but that they're moving away to a place where they don't have to pay school tax to anywhere.

And I'm sure some people are upset that school tax is levied at a local level instead of a state or federal level, but that, given that that's how school tax is levied, are upset at people using that as a means to avoid paying any school tax.
posted by Bugbread at 10:46 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Also, why would big business care if seniors gave their money to big businesses as opposed to passing it on to their children and grandchildren, who would then give it to big businesses? Is money somehow better when received from older people than younger people?

1. Inheritances are taxed.
2. People who inherit money save, on average, about 50% of it.
3. Big businesses are, generally, more interested in the money they can get now rather than the money they can get later, for fairly obvious reasons.
4. People are, in general, living longer and working longer, and the balance of the population is going to noticeably shift towards seniors and stay there for a few decades as the baby boomers grow older.

I'm not saying this as a moral judgement or anything--capitalists gonna capitalize--but yeah, there's definitely real reasons why big business is aiming to snap up that sweet sweet elder money as much as it can.
posted by kagredon at 10:46 PM on June 30


As people have commented, safe, pedestrianised town centres with a sense of community and electric vehicles that are limited to 20mph are desirable to the elderly. Probably also desirable to families, pregnant women, women, men, anyone who is in any way disabled (whether permanently or temporarily), in fact everybody. This is what city living should be about.
posted by asok at 2:09 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]


These places are more than just that, though, and that extra bit is precisely as a result of the fact that they aren't homes to infants, children, teens, young families, etc.
posted by Bugbread at 2:41 AM on July 1


Inheritances are taxed.

Not in Florida. There is NO estate tax in Florida.
posted by Flood at 4:06 AM on July 1


I didn't know that. Interesting, and adds a new wrinkle to the "moving to avoid taxes" thing.
posted by kagredon at 5:13 AM on July 1


Florida also has no income tax and one of the lowest capital gains tax rates in the country.
posted by winna at 5:27 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


A $200K house in the Villages that falls into Sumter county would pay a total of $4,985 in property taxes

The property tax lines get a little blurry because of this CDD thing. Like, if our condo complex was considered a municipal entity, than I guess the condo fees would be considered property taxes?
posted by smackfu at 5:52 AM on July 1



I'm not going to feel guilty about taxes in Florida.

1. I paid property taxes all over these United States, including in Florida, I don't have children, so I never used the educational system.

2. I taught in public schools in Florida.

People make these decisions for all sorts of reasons. Sure, there are assholes in the world who move to retirement communities to avoid taxes. There are also assholes who drive loud motorcycles on the cul-de-sac on Saturday mornings. Give a little, get a little.

I've never liked living in a homogenous community, and I don't live in one now. I do like the idea of a stress-free community, with activities and lots of folks my age to do things with.

I'm in my fifties, and I'm starting to think very earnestly about this because in about 20 years, I have to live someplace.

My Dad, who is/was a therapist always said, "I'll never retire." Weirdly enough, at about age 72 he decided that he did want to stop working. He still paints, does crossword puzzles, travels, volunteers with my Mom at the hospital, works out at the JCC, watches TV with the volume WAY up and putters around bugging my mother while she's doing her shit.

Personally, I really hope I CAN afford to retire. To make way for younger people to move up in the workforce, and so I can loaf around in the sun, with my friends. It doesn't mean that I'll stop doing things, it means that I'll start doing different things.

As for the arguement, "these people are evil for wanting this because other people can't have it too," well, that's the world as it exists today. I don't want a mansion, I want a comfortable villa, in a community with my friends. I've worked hard in my life, and it's perfectly okay for me to spend the money I've earned to live a comfortable life.

There will always people who, for whatever reason, are poor. Thankfully there is Section 8, Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicare, etc. I've paid into all of that as well.

I've been planning for the time when I'll get off the corporate treadmill for awhile now, and that includes paying into Long-Term Care insurance, squirrelling away my dough in retirement funds, planning the types of jobs I might have in retirement and considering diffferent places that can support us on what we're able to afford.

It's very easy at age 25 to make pronouncements about what you think your retirement will look like, but I'm here to tell you, your priorities and your desires change as you age.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:11 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


People also tend to think, "why would you do that in retirement, I would do X," where X is a thing that might be fun for 6-12 months. 15-20 years is a lot longer than that.
posted by smackfu at 7:21 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


It's very easy at age 25 to make pronouncements about what you think your retirement will look like, but I'm here to tell you, your priorities and your desires change as you age.

I'm long past 25, but I could have told you then as I do now that I would rather jump off a bridge than slowly (or quickly even) physically and mentally decline, possibly alone or with an even more infirmed spose and children at great distance, in the Sunbelt.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:30 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]


Inheritances are taxed.

Not in Florida. There is NO estate tax in Florida.


Except for the federal one.

No state taxes normal sized estates anyway, so your average snowbird won't be moving to avoid them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:52 AM on July 1


KathrynT: "Also, the homes the old people move out of? Are going to be moved INTO by young people, with children and the ability to keep up those homes so the value doesn't dive, which means MORE property taxes, not less."

Is this true of The Village in particular and these sorts of communities in general in Florida and other states? I ask because here in Canada the first of oh so many rules and regulations of retirement communities is an enforced lower age limit on home owners and residents. A regulation unlikely to be revoked until changing demographics start imploding the resident base 50 years from now.
posted by Mitheral at 8:02 AM on July 1


Given that people in my family tend to pop off early, I'm mostly going to be surprised if I have a long old age (so far 80 is the upper limit on my grandparents; my parents didn't make it that far. But they all smoked like chimneys and I don't, so here's hoping). But if I do, I'd like it to include someplace with arts events to attend and good food. Absent a personality-changing bout of dementia, I will never be a person who says "Yay, pickleball!" I have a hard time imagining myself being thrilled at being around a bunch of other people my age; I don't like that now. My friends have always been younger or way older.

I mostly don't want to be isolated and uninvolved, wherever I am. I'm worried that I'd feel awfully cut off from the rest of the world in a retirement community.
posted by emjaybee at 8:03 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


I would absolutely detest living, at any age, in a community that was made up of people just like me. Or even full of people I already know. Yuck. I like new things, new people, new music, new ideas, new places. Assisted Living/Retirement Homes/Nursing Home combos are just like this. Full of tired, old people, just waiting to die.
posted by Kokopuff at 8:34 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]


Mitheral: Is this true of The Village in particular and these sorts of communities in general in Florida and other states?

KathrynT is referring to the homes that sneiors move out of to move into communities like The Village.

On the whole, a place like this seems pretty neat. There are some negatives to it, and it's obviously not for everyone (or available to everyone), but based on the related experiences of the people who have family members there and at similar communities, it seems really positive.

Some posters up-thread mentioned something like "feeling normal" and I think that is probably a big part of it. Being in a community where you arent "that old lady" or "that old geezer" and having a bunch of friends of a similar age with tons of activities that are specifically oriented towards your age group has to be a wonderful experience.
posted by grandsham at 8:35 AM on July 1


Assisted Living/Retirement Homes/Nursing Home combos are just like this. Full of tired, old people, just waiting to die.

There's a huge difference between a 65 year old and an 85 year old. Grouping them all in as "waiting to die" is silly. Or even grouping them in as "all the same."
posted by smackfu at 8:41 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


I would absolutely detest living, at any age, in a community that was made up of people just like me. Or even full of people I already know. Yuck.

couldn't agree more. Ever since I was quite small, my friends have tended to be of various ages. I trust that won't change.

Assisted Living/Retirement Homes/Nursing Home combos are just like this. Full of tired, old people, just waiting to die.

I remember reading that in "one of those Scandinavian countries", when a new seniors specific residence is built, it always shares its physical plant with a pre-school, so you immediately have the eldest and the youngest in the community in regular contact ... which I can't help but feel is very, very good for the whole community, particularly those old folks who hate children and are "just waiting to die".
posted by philip-random at 8:46 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


Nope, I stand by my opinion, smackfu. And I know you don't mean to, but some of you who are describing how much fun your grandparents/parents are having in these places make them sound like pets at a kennel. Or, at best, precocious toddlers at a really nice daycare.
posted by Kokopuff at 8:47 AM on July 1


Florida also has no income tax and one of the lowest capital gains tax rates in the country.

On the other hand, sinkholes.
posted by elizardbits at 8:58 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


but some of you who are describing how much fun your grandparents/parents are having in these places make them sound like pets at a kennel.

I don't quite get your point. These aren't people who are getting put into a nursing home by their children against their will. They are active seniors who choose this way of life. Are you saying they are chumps who are being fooled, or what?
posted by smackfu at 9:06 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


I came in here expecting to marvel at how OMGsurreal and phony this all is, but after reading about some of the services provided for the residents, I think that I would seriously consider something like this for young working families. There would be lots of playgrounds and libraries, a cleaning and errand-running service, babysitters on call, grocery delivery, healthy takeout and doctor's offices and post offices that don't assume that you're around between 9 and 5. Yeah, I know it's not a good idea to fragment the tax base like that, that we gain empathy by living around people in different life circumstances from ourselves, but if you're in a group that isn't served well by either our modern "you're on your own" culture or the "daughter/wife takes care of everything for free" culture that it replaced, it's really tempting.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 10:29 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


I want to clarify that The Villages are NOT pedestrian friendly in the way most people think. Yes, the three planned "town centers" are a walkable cluster of shops, restaurants etc., but you can't walk there from your house, for the most part. It's at least 2-3 miles from most of the houses to most of the "town centers". I know this isn't a huge distance to walk, even for a fit old person, but we've seen a whole lot of cars or golf carts in the town centers, more than you see people walking there.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:42 AM on July 1


And I know you don't mean to, but some of you who are describing how much fun your grandparents/parents are having in these places make them sound like pets at a kennel. Or, at best, precocious toddlers at a really nice daycare.

Here's the thing. My grandparents and in-laws were dying a (not very) slow and (very) lonely death before they moved to their places and just so we're clear, all of mine are/were in assisted living, not active lifestyle communities.

They were far away from our families. They were not being visited. They were becoming malnourished. They were anxious and felt like they were trapped by their own limitations. If you feel like it's a kennel, well, you have every right to feel that way. They, on the other hand, despite their protests prior to going, are ALL fucking thrilled that they have some access to the world that they didn't before, friends to hang out with, classes to take, and activities to do every single day. So do with that what you will.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:00 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Full of tired, old people, just waiting to die.

I will stop after this.

Kokopuff, I don't know how old you are or if you've ever had elderly family members. Perhaps you are from a culture that takes in its old people, but here's my experience. When your physical or mental limitations keep you from driving or figuring out how to take the bus (or walk up the steps to the bus) and you would like to do something other than die slowly in your own filth, there are places that you can go and actually have a more independent life than eating tuna fish out of a can trapped in the home you raised your children in because of some antiquated view of what assisted living is.

When my husband asked my grandmother if she liked living where she is, she said "If I was living with my children or grandchildren, I'd be alone all day while you were at work. I wouldn't have any friends."

If I make them sound like precocious pre-schoolers, you are making them sound like walking corpses, and I promise you, they are not.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:14 AM on July 1 [8 favorites]


I also wonder how many of the women in these communities were able to retire -- from cooking and cleaning for their husbands -- when that otherwise wouldn't have been possible for them.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 11:42 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]


Kokopuff: "some of you who are describing how much fun your grandparents/parents are having in these places make them sound like pets at a kennel."

No, we're not making it sound that way, you're just dead set on assuming that's what it must be like. If people said "It's so dreary. People just do their groceries and watch TV. The only fun thing is a bingo tournament once a week", you'd interpret that as "pets in a kennel". People say "It's fun and they hang out with friends and do all kinds of different things and have a load of fun", and yet you're still interpreting that like "pets at a kennel". Articles are describing some of the places as drunken sex-filled dens of debauchery, and yet you're seeing "pets at a kennel". The problem isn't in what's being described, the problem is that you just assume that if old people live near other old people, that automatically it's like "pets at a kennel" and "tired old people, waiting to die".
posted by Bugbread at 3:20 PM on July 1 [4 favorites]


"some of you who are describing how much fun your grandparents/parents are having in these places make them sound like pets at a kennel."

Golf? Are we going to do golf? Oh boy! Golf! We're going to do golf! Ohboyohboy! Golf!
posted by happyroach at 3:38 PM on July 1 [5 favorites]


I find that I like the idea of a retirement community where there are services available and I can walk to everything. In practice, I do not think I want to live in a monoculture of older retired people. Even if older people are perceived to all be a lot alike (as Stupidsexyflanders notes above) they aren't, just as schoolchildren are not all alike. I'd hate to be thrown in with a bunch of older people and all of us expected to get along just because we're all the same age. I hated that mindset when I was in school.

Being forced to live with a bunch of drunken, promiscuous Republicans sounds like the ninth circle of hell to me. If that Daily Fail article is in any way accurate it sounds like living on Fraternity Row, only with golf carts and Viagra. I'd rather die alone and gnawed by cats.

OTOH, a community of nerdy introverts, perhaps with an on-site cat shelter, where we all beta each other's fanfics and watch Game of Thrones marathons - that I would move into. I think the future of assisted living is going to be much more individualized in the sense of people wanting to live with like-minded folks instead of an undifferentiated mass of "older people" who play golf and bridge and vote Republican. (And I think a lot of us would like to have younger people around as well.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:40 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


But if we move all the people like that into isolated communities across the country, the Republican Party will never again be able to gerrymander majorities in Congress OR State Legislatures... hmmm?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:46 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


This could be a wonderful way to spend the sunset years.

On the other hand it also sounds like the beginning of a terrible science fiction novel. Herd all the elderly into one town and as they die off The Corporation turns their bodies into Soylent Green to feed the other residents.
posted by qi at 4:01 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Rosie M. Banks: "In practice, I do not think I want to live in a monoculture of older retired people. Even if older people are perceived to all be a lot alike (as Stupidsexyflanders notes above) they aren't...

Being forced to live with a bunch of drunken, promiscuous Republicans sounds like the ninth circle of hell to me.
"

The good news is: older people are not all alike. So while there will be people like that, there will also be nerdy introverts. There will also be outgoing artists. There will be active leftists. There will be crazy religious people. There will be strident atheists. You don't want to live in a monoculture, and, as all old people are not alike, you wouldn't be living in a monoculture, surrounded by drunken promiscuous Republicans.

Rosie M. Banks: "OTOH, a community of nerdy introverts, perhaps with an on-site cat shelter, where we all beta each other's fanfics and watch Game of Thrones marathons - that I would move into. I think the future of assisted living is going to be much more individualized in the sense of people wanting to live with like-minded folks instead of an undifferentiated mass of "older people""

Wait, didn't you just say that you do not want to live in a monoculture?
posted by Bugbread at 4:46 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Ralston McTodd: "I also wonder how many of the women in these communities were able to retire -- from cooking and cleaning for their husbands -- when that otherwise wouldn't have been possible for them."

When I talk to neighbors who live in the retirement home that's two blocks from me (who are often strolling the neighborhood in the evening), that is the NUMBER ONE reason the women say they decided to move there -- usually one partner has a health problem that makes them a little concerned about what happens if they fall, etc., and they start debating a retirement home, and then the wife is sold on it by the idea that she NEVER HAS TO COOK OR CLEAN AGAIN. The units at this place HAVE kitchens and they CAN cook (and do their own cleaning) if they want, but most of them prefer going to the dining room for most meals and having the cleaners in once a week.

I know one lady there who moved there at 85, when she broke up with her 87-year-old boyfriend because he didn't like to drive at night anymore and he liked living out in the country, so she could never come into the city for concerts that went on until after dark. So she dumped him, moved out, and moved into the retirement home. She said, "Good riddance -- I don't have to cook, I don't have to clean, I don't have to listen to him snore, and now I can stay out with my girlfriends as late as I want." WINNING. AT. LIFE.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:21 PM on July 1 [6 favorites]


I guess I wonder whether those of you who feel so uneasy about this 'kenneling/monoculture' have the same objections to college dormitories. If anything, that whole process is so much more coercive, since we ship 17-18 year olds there with barely any life experience, who are not paying their own way, who generally do not have the financial wherewithal to make a different living choice even if they wanted to, where all of cultural expectations are supporting the dorm lifestyle/culture, etc. And there you have an age range of 4-6 years max, much less than the 20-40 year age range in a retirement community. If anything, we're kenneling our privileged young people.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:07 AM on July 2


College has a finite end and doesn't usually involve the slow decline of the individual until they are no longer physically or mentally able to make decisions for themselves.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:13 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Counter-example.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:43 AM on July 2


College has a finite end and doesn't usually involve the slow decline of the individual until they are no longer physically or mentally able to make decisions for themselves.

Graduate school, on the other hand...
posted by kagredon at 9:28 AM on July 2 [9 favorites]


I would rather jump off a bridge than slowly (or quickly even) physically and mentally decline, possibly alone or with an even more infirmed spose and children at great distance, in the Sunbelt.

I agree with you on the first part but I think it's important to realize that people move to these sort of communities in very large part to stave off exactly that sort of physical and mental decline.

Being trapped in your house in the 'burbs, not being able to go anywhere because you can't drive, or because there's a foot of snow outside and you're not up to shoveling it, or whatever, watching TV all day... that's the shit that rots your brain, and makes you unable to deal with change. And that means when something does change, it's a lot more likely to be catastrophic on your quality of life.

The true "active adult" communities that live up to their name, where you can get around even if you can't drive or walk slowly or whatever, and where there are lots of activities and stuff going on, and where the weather is decent, that's pretty much exactly what you want if you want to keep your brain going. Particularly if you get into one of those communities early enough so that you're still mentally flexible enough to adapt to the change and take advantage of the activities and new lifestyle.

What I have seen absolutely destroy elderly people is when they stay at home right up until they are perceived to not be able to manage it anymore (e.g. fall and break their hip, cause a small kitchen fire, forget to take their meds and have EMS show up, whatever), and then get sent to some roach-motel hell of a Medicare nursing home. For a lot of people, the perception that they "can't live independently" is a self-fulfilling prophecy once you check in to one of those places late in life. All the little tricks that people use to cope with memory loss, which mainly depend on being in very familiar surroundings, don't work anymore. Best hope the pneumonia gets you quick.

That's the default. That, or something pretty close to it, is what happens in our society unless you plan something else for yourself in advance.

And retirement communities with various levels of care, golf carts, bingo on Thursdays, etc. — that's a pretty sweet alternative. Even if some of the activities don't seem exactly like scintillating entertainment, they and the associated active lifestyle will keep you going and out of some MRSA-magnet hospital bed for a lot longer than a sedentary, low-stimulation life will.

It's easy to say, when you're young, "meh, fuck it, I'll just kill myself and no worries about any of that shit". I used to think pretty much the same thing, after watching a few family members succumb to the slow zombieism that is Alzheimers. But then I've watched my dad's hands get arthritic, and wondered: what if that happens first? What if, by the time my mind starts to go, I can't manage to get the .357 JHP that I've always planned on putting into my soft palate into the cylinder? Or the plastic bag around my head? Or evade the well-meaning bystanders long enough to get to the bridge railing? There are a lot of ways that plan can get fucked up. I bet there are a lot of people rotting away in nursing homes who always figured they'd off themselves but just never quite got around to doing it while they had the chance. I'm not sure it's something you want to depend on being able to do: the circumstances that would make you want to kill yourself also seem likely to make you unable to do so, perversely enough.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:36 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


there is a lot between A. old folks withering away alone in forgotten suburban dead ends and B. old folks all piling into a shiny happy ghetto (which may have the best medical support etc, but it's still a discrete community defined by the advanced age of its residents, and consciously or not, a carries a sort of out-of-sight-out-of-mind load).

Like I suggested already, the way they're dealing with it in "some Scandinavian country" is to make sure that whenever a new senior's residence or center gets built, they also build something for kids of preschool age. Talk about keeping the greater community together.
posted by philip-random at 10:58 AM on July 2


As a person who has lived in Florida, who has purchased a number of homes, who has been on the HOA board (Lord help me) and as a person who is now seriously thinking about what my life is going to be like as I age, especially since I don't have children, here are some things worth noting.

1. In over 55 communities, the houses are designed for folks who are 'empty nesters.' So I can get the luxury I want, without having a shit ton of rooms, that I don't want. Villas are exactly the thing I want. Single level (no stairs), just enough space to spread out, a guest bedroom, and upscale.

2. Families need very different things in a community than older folks. I like kids plenty, but sometimes you want to be able to hang out in the pool without splashing and Marco Polo.

So that's why these places exist. At different phases of our lives, we need different things. Both of my parents grew up with a grandparent in the house. At first blush you think, "aw, how nice, Bubbe and Zayde are around to help out." Except in both cases, the grandparent in question really was a burden to the household.

My parents live in a villa, and the house itself is perfect for them. Their community is mostly adults not because it's restricted, but because most families would find the houses too small.

My dream is still we all settle on a place and we either buy or rent contiguous units/houses. That way we can all watch out for each other and have fun together. It might be Florida, it might be Las Vegas. It might be the Moon, but as long as I'm around my friends, it'll be great.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:49 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


My previous comment certainly hinted at the politics and pointed to the comfort, but the more I think about it being a Kennel, the more other facts leap to mind.

The last time I was in the Villages, my mom's neighbor had the whole neighborhood over to watch a slideshow of her trip to Machu Pichu and the Galapagos Islands and my stained glass practicing uncle (who just moved down) was taking a glass fusion course so he can make different styles of crafts to sell. We ate on the terrace at the restaurant and watched the sun set.

You certainly CAN go down there and hide in your house, but nobody wants you to.
posted by Brainy at 11:59 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


You know, to be optimistic about the future of urban planning and population dynamics for the first time in ever, there's a lot of factors lining up to encourage people to push for denser, pedestrian-friendly, intelligently zoned communities--the senior population is expanding, young people are having smaller families at later ages, the price of oil is making both driving and air travel increasingly become luxuries instead of middle-class expectations, etc.

Or we can continue to model middle-class life on the increasingly unsustainable suburbs of the mid-20th century until no one can afford it anymore and turn cities into playgrounds for rich people and wage slavery for the poor, like we've been doing. That's also an option.
posted by kagredon at 12:03 PM on July 2


OTOH, a community of nerdy introverts, perhaps with an on-site cat shelter, where we all beta each other's fanfics and watch Game of Thrones marathons - that I would move into. I think the future of assisted living is going to be much more individualized in the sense of people wanting to live with like-minded folks instead of an undifferentiated mass of "older people" who play golf and bridge and vote Republican. (And I think a lot of us would like to have younger people around as well.)

So you're saying, the Metafilter Retirement Community?
posted by emjaybee at 1:01 PM on July 2


ugh imagine how hellish the HOA meetings would be

picture the worst MeTa ever but now it's live and in person and everyone is in uncomfortable metal folding chairs
posted by elizardbits at 1:46 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


...and when someone demands a pony, they mean a pony.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:47 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


ugh imagine how hellish the HOA meetings would be

It's probably the closest one can ever come to being in one of those offhand bits from Hitchiker's Guide or one of Kilgore Trout's stories. In this case, it would be about some bizarre society on a distant planet that spends 80% of every meeting fiercely debating the temperature of the thermostat in the meeting room.
posted by chambers at 11:40 AM on July 3


Our HOA (condo board) is already dominated by retirees, and we live in a Northeast condo complex.
posted by smackfu at 11:59 AM on July 3


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