According to new U.S. Census data, the fastest-growing metro area in the United States is once again The Villages, a booming retirement community in Central Florida. The area has held the No. 1 ranking for nine of the last 10 years, with 2018 being the only exception.
Once a small, rural suburb in Sumter County, Florida, The Villages has grown into a sprawling census-designated place that now reaches into neighboring Lake and Marion counties, and serves as a year-round haven for retirees. The abundant amenities and activities available in the area makes The Villages almost like a “theme park” for seniors.
Since 1990, The Villages’ total population has grown by 315% percent, while its over-65 population has grown by an astounding 922%.
Currently, 71% of the area’s population is over the age of 55 and nearly 60% is over the age of 65. The median age is 67, which is expected to rise as Florida’s population ages.
While Florida has long been known for its “snow bird” population, more and more retirees are now deciding to make Florida their permanent home rather than traveling south for only the colder months.
The Villages owes a significant amount of its recent growth to migration from the Northeast and Midwest. And with each freezing winter, more retirees flock to the area. Over the next five years, The Villages’ over-65 population is expected to grow by another 22.6%, according to Cushman & Wakefield research.
While growth in The Villages has been almost exclusively domestic, according to an article by the Orlando Sentinel, international migration has become more prevalent elsewhere in Central Florida.
“The new figures show Orange and Osceola (counties), particularly, were impacted more by ‘international’ growth than domestic, and Orange actually had a net loss of domestic migration — meaning more residents moved out than moved in from elsewhere in Florida or the other 49 states,” the Sentinel article states.
The graph below shows how population growth in The Villages has compared to its larger neighbors, Orlando and Tampa, since 2008.
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