Sarasota is once again ranked the No. 1 Best Place to Retire in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and where are droves of these new Floridians alighting? To the active adult communities sprouting up all over the region, places like Del Webb Lakewood Ranch, Kolter Homes’ Cresswind Lakewood Ranch and Taylor Morrison’s Esplanade at Azario Lakewood Ranch.
These new developments—and there are many more not listed here—aren’t only located in the east-of-I-75 master-planned community of Lakewood Ranch.
They can be found from north of the Manatee River in Palmetto all the way down to the south Sarasota County line.
Like the mobile home parks of old, but way more upscale, what they offer homebuyers is a readymade world of social and leisure pursuits: handsome community clubhouses with resort-style pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers and community kitchens; tennis and pickleball and bocce and basketball courts, dog parks and walking trails. Some even have their own activity directors to plan cocktail parties and holiday get-togethers. These active lifestyle communities are all designed to cater to older adults’ emphasis on wellness, and to have fun staying that way.
They all fit into a growing national trend. Metrostudy.com, for example, notes that topping the list of most in-demand amenities for older adult homebuyers are nature preserves with trail systems (check), clublike centers with Wi-Fi and workspaces (check), community gardens (check, in the master-planned community of Babcock Ranch) and full-time lifestyle directors (check, in Esplanade at Palmer Ranch and several others).
The social aspect cannot be ignored, too. When you’re new to an area, developing friendships—what the experts call social connectivity—like this is as important for older adults’ health as physical activity, as studies consistently show that lonely people are inclined to develop diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disorders.
These active adult developments are part of a growing national trend in what used to be called “55-plus” communities. Housing industry website thelegacyseniorcommunities.com (ouch; today’s older Americans don’t want anything to do with the word “senior”) calls those gravitating to these communities “Zoomers” because of their emphasis on active living.