> The sprawling expanse of flat emptiness in central Florida is an unlikely place for America's fastest growing metro area in the nation. Yet, just 70 miles northwest of Orlando sits 'The Villages' – the world's largest retirement community that surpasses the size of Manhattan and encompasses five zip codes with an ever-growing population.
> Spanning 32-square-miles, The Villages is a veritable boom-town for baby boomers aged 55+ who flock to the geriatric paradise in droves for its endless margarita mixers (happy hour starts at 11am), unlimited golf courses (50, to be exact), and notorious for its laissez-fair attitude towards sex, thriving swingers scene, and controversial politics.
> The rambling 33,000 acre property is made up of 78 smaller neighborhoods that range in size from 100 to 1550 houses. According to the US Census Bureau, population ballooned by 37.8% (more than any other American city) between 2010 and 2019. In order to keep up with rapid growth, The Villages is always expanding with an average of 250 new homes and 200 pre-owned homes sold per month.
> The self-contained AARPopolis has everything a boomer needs to sustain their twilight years in comfort: dozens upon dozens of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gift shops, jewelry stores, churches, movie theaters, medical facilities, a Walmart Supercenter and even a 'fountain of youth.'
> From its inception, the gated complex was meticulously engineered to simulate the rose-tinted idea of Main Street, USA– predicated on convenience, leisure and good ol' American values (even if it's an illusion). It was tailor made for a demographic that mythologized a wholesome, suburban fantasyland evoked in 'Father Knows Best' and 'Leave it to Beaver.'
> 'They were very perceptive about how Baby Boomers actually craved an inorganically organized landscape, an alternate vision of what America used to be, or how they imagine it having been,' said Oppenheim to InsideHook. 'A utopia, but a fake utopia based on an America that doesn't really exist.'
> So strong is the gravitational pull of nostalgia - The Villages were imagineered to imitate old town squares like a theme park, complete with phony histories. 'We needed to create this place not brand new. We wanted to create it old, we decided to bring the Baby Boomers to a home that they were familiar with when they were young,' said Richard Schwartz.
> Draconian rules and restrictions dictate every aspect of 'life in the bubble.' Repainting your home requires board approval, (and only then can you select from a bland pallet with 10-shades of beige). No more than two vehicles are allowed per driveway, all vehicles must be regularly used (defined as twice per week) or stored in the garage. Lawn ornaments are strictly prohibited including but not limited to: windmills, religious symbols, gnomes, animal figurines, Christmas decorations and flamingos (bummer!). Even the most tasteful decor can turn into a red button topic.
> TV antennas and satellite dishes are forbidden; as are clothing lines, window air conditioners and commercial vehicles. There is a two pet maximum policy, weighing no more than 40 pounds each. Retractable leashes are illegal, and can be no longer than seven feet. Villagers must make sure their lawns are properly edged at all times and hedges can be no greater than four feet (planting new ones will require Home Owner's Association approval).
> The most controversial rule, is also the cardinal rule: no persons under the age of 55 are allowed to live in The Villages. That decree extends to children and grandchildren, who are not permitted to visit for more than 30 days within a calendar year.