World’s Most Infamous Retirement Community (The Villages, Florida)

May 13, 2023 7.4M Views 11.6K Comments

Down in Central Florida is the largest retirement community in the world. The Villages is called everything: from a mega-swingers community to The Truman Show, to an STD superspreader event. Many of the locals call it pure paradise. Join me today to see what everyone’s talking about.

♪ upbeat jazz ♪
Good morning, guys, here we are
outside of The Villages, Florida.
The largest 55 year-old-plus
community in the world.
From what I’ve been told
it’s Villages on this side of the highway,
that side…
Takes up a huge amount of land.
Over 100,000 people living here.
So today we’re gonna get in with the locals
and get an understanding
of what this lifestyle is like.
Let’s do this.
♪ upbeat jazz ♪
[woman laughing]
PETER: All right, we’ve landed
here in The Villages.
Heather, you’re showing us around today?
-I am. I am excited.
-Your neighbor Jim
has something to show us.
I was gonna show you
my golf cart if you feel like it.
PETER: Let’s do it.
I’ve noticed your golf carts
have some bling, they have the nice rims.
-[Heather laughing] Of course.
[garage door opening]
HEATHER: So here it is,
believe it or not.
JIM: It’s a ’34 Ford.
It’s got a 16 horsepower motor in it.
I got a ’22 CVO Road Glide
and then I’ve got a 2019 Street Glide,
and then I got a lifted 2012 Jeep.
PETER: So what I’m gathering here
is you’re not enjoying retirement.
-No, never home to enjoy it.
[both laughing]
It’s a luxury of love and I’ve worked
all my life to do what I want to do now.
So it’s like I moved down here,
got out of the cold weather,
gave up my five acres,
and a zero turn, and a snow blower,
and traded in for a pair of shorts.
PETER: So this is the rat pack
over here, the gang?
JIM: Uh, this is…
MAN: Our little village.
-This… The best village in DeLuna.
Like 35 houses here and…
PETER: Something tells me every village
is gonna say they’re the best.
JIM: Well, of course they will.
I mean you gotta have pride.
-Okay, okay.
But Heather, we’re gonna get out
and see a few of them today, right?
-Yes, we are.
HEATHER: There’s a variety of people
from all different backgrounds.
WOMAN: Well not only that,
so many documentaries about The Villages
is all the negative
and I don’t see any negatives.
Just a couple people,
and if they’re negative
it’s because they’re unhappy
’cause they don’t do anything here.
I mean, I do so much.
PETER: So a lot of stereotypes
in The Villages.
There’s truth to many stereotypes, right?
PETER: But today we’re gonna
get into your guy’s life here.
‘Cause it’s not what you think?
-It’s not what you think
and it’s frustrating.
It’s frustrating to me.
-Yeah, I’m frustrated.
-Uh, people just have a preconceived idea
of what The Villages is about.
You know, my sister-in-law
does this thing where she…
When people ask her where she lives
she says she lives in Central Florida.
She won’t say The Villages
because people just assume
that there’s a real negative thing
going on here and it’s not.
-Okay, what’s the negative thing
for those that don’t know?
What is being put out there, let’s say?
-[chuckling] Well we’re not all swingers.
We don’t all have STDs.
-You guys aren’t swinging here?
-We don’t have STDs.
WOMAN: I don’t know of anybody.
HEATHER: I don’t know a swinger.
PETER: He’s not swinging?
HEATHER: No, we’re not swinging.
PETER: Okay.
[all laughing]
HEATHER: You know,
there’s 145,000 people here.
You know, we’re not all…
-Okay, I said 100,000.
-No, 145,000.
-Wow, and growing?
-And growing, yeah.
PETER: I came through a gate…
-But the guy just had a stop sign
and he opened the gate
without asking anything.
-What is that?
-It’s more for just the perception,
you know? Right?
That it’s secure and so people
just don’t come in off of the street,
but it’s very, very secure here.
There’s no crime to speak of.
-No crime?
We just moved here from Indiana
and my Husband’s from Hawaii.
We’ve lived all over the United States
and we love Florida.
That’s always been our goal.
-Even over Hawaii?
Just because the cost of living.
You know, Florida, it has gone up I think
but it’s just really affordable to be here.
I think the homes are real comparable
to just a normal Midwestern town.
Like where we’re from in Indiana.
-Okay, so one of these homes here
on average, what do you think the price is?
-You could probably
find something in the low 200’s.
-It’s gonna be smaller.
It might have,
like, a one car garage or a car port.
People move here
from other parts of the country.
I mean I think there’s somebody
from every state
plus several countries here represented,
and people come here with, say,
like, maybe their California money.
They sold their house in California,
and made a good profit,
and they come here, and it’s…
They can take their pick.
They could have whatever they wanted.
-Right, but it is
the mode of transport, huh?
The golf cart?
-Oh yes, absolutely.
All the neighborhoods have regular streets
and they all have a golf cart path,
but when you get on the main roads
the golf carts have
a whole own road on the side.
Like, they have
an entire road to themselves.
HEATHER: These bridges are
a real value to us.
They’ve been adding them recently
and it helps connect you.
PETER: Right, so I came under this highway.
-Yes, you did.
-So do you feel like you’re in a separate
bubble, a separate town, country?
What is it like?
-It’s funny you said bubble.
Because that’s what people call it.
They talk about being in the bubble.
-And when you have to go someplace
outside of the bubble, say, to shop,
um, you know, it’s kind of a…
It’s different, you know?
You go outside of the bubble
maybe to go to dinner someplace
or maybe to go shopping,
but there is a lot of that here.
There’s so many restaurants and shops here.
You really don’t have to leave
but some people do.
PETER: This is great.
HEATHER: And they call them
golf cars not golf carts.
I slip back and forth.
-Okay, so that’s some inside lingo.
-Golf cars?
-Golf cars.
HEATHER: Each of the village has a name.
So we started in…
We’re in the village of DeLuna.
Um, but this is Richmond.
There are probably hundreds.
-Hundreds of villages?
-Oh yeah, they’re all over the place.
And it’s all built around,
like, a postal center,
or a swimming pool, that sort of thing.
PETER: So Heather, you’re…
and maybe some delicate language here…
You don’t want to call it
retirement community, right?
Because you’re not retired?
-No, absolutely not.
-And you’re not
the stereotypical Village resident, right?
You’re above 55. I’m not gonna ask
but you have to be, right?
-Slightly, I’m slightly above 55.
I think there’s an 80/20 rule.
So there are younger people that live here.
Now you can’t have young kids here.
Like a few…
If I wanted to have grandkids,
the most they could stay is 30 days.
And so 30 days at a time.
-Would you want them any longer?
-Well, yeah, exactly.
-So this is a weekend.
Is it busy like this every day?
-This is pretty standard.
I would say this is pretty standard.
It depends on what’s happening and so
everybody’s traveling somewhere, right?
We have a destination
but some people may be going to lunch.
They may be going to shop.
A lot of times you look
and you see the golf clubs.
So they’re probably playing golf.
There’s, I don’t know,
around 60 golf courses here.
-[surprised] 60? Six zero?
-Six zero, and again, 57 square miles.
-57 square miles.
-That’s bigger than San Francisco.
-And it actually touches three counties.
I think that’s a gator. [giggles]
-A gator? You see a gator?
-Yeah, you can see a gator right there.
-No way.
-Let me pull over.
[both laughing]
-You see it over there?
-That’s the first gator I’ve seen.
-Oh, what?
-All right, guys, we got a gator up there
hanging out near the golf car path.
Golf car.
-Yes, golf car path. Yes.
-And a home. And so do those gators
ever go up near the homes?
-Some people do have a gator,
like on the front porch on occasion
but it’s really rare.
They usually just stay
right there in the sun.
Don’t walk your little dog near the ponds
because that’s asking for trouble,
but they usually leave you alone.
-Gators love pocket dogs?
-They do. [laughs]
-I’ve seen the videos.
HEATHER: So we’re coming into Brownwood,
it’s one of the town squares.
I would say it’s probably
one of the popular ones around here
because it’s the closest one
to the southern part of The Villages.
There’s one really far north
called Spanish Springs
and then there’s one, Lake Sumter,
which I’ll take you to,
but this one’s Brownwood.
They’ll have a theme.
I’m gonna show you
this gas station up here, it’s super cute.
-It’s just for golf carts.
See “The Villages Filling Station”,
where it says golf car?
-That’s great.
PETER: Darryl, how much does it cost
to fill up a golf car?
PETER: So this is only for golf carts?
HEATHER: Yes, only golf carts.
-No cars can come in here?
-It is Disneyland.
-[laughs] Yeah.
You see the facades of the building?
-They have sort of like a barber shop…
-So how old are these buildings here?
-They’re new.
This is maybe… You know…
I would guess 10 years maybe,
I don’t know for certain.
-Maybe 5 to 10 years old.
-They put some craft into this I gotta say.
HEATHER: We have our own
EMS, EMTs, The Villages
but we use
local law enforcement.
And the law enforcement
that we do have is great.
We’ve used the Sheriff’s department.
We have very low crime here
but if you ever have to call anybody,
the Sheriff’s department,
they’re very responsive.
HEATHER: So this is one of
the larger rec centers.
Eisenhower is well-known for The Villages
particularly because we have
a lot of veterans here.
-This really honors the military service…
…of a lot of Villagers.
It’s really beautiful.
I love to take people in to see.
PETER: Oh, wow.
HEATHER: It’s just incredibly decorated.
Really honors the vets.
So if you go down the sides here you see
all the memorabilia people have donated.
When they build a rec center
they call for donations and..
For example, they just did
a first responder rec center
and so they called for donations.
Fire and police.
But this is all military.
-So are they doing this
to bring in veterans?
They want them to move here
or it’s just because…
-No, it’s just each of
the rec centers has a theme.
-And so there are
all different kinds of themes.
There’s one… There’s a rec center
that honors the state parks.
-Or the national parks.
There’s one that has a lake theme,
and everything is canoes,
and cabin-looking,
and they just all have different themes.
But this particular one
is really nice I think.
-Yeah, it’s beautiful.
PETER: Hello, sir.
HEATHER: How you doing?
MAN: Hi.
HEATHER: Usually you can see
what’s happening and like here it’s yoga.
So they had yoga this morning.
PETER: So all of these community centers,
there are different events going on.
-And so people can live a very active life.
-Oh, very active.
-Endless amounts of things to do?
-Endless, endless.
I saw today there’s fabric fun.
I don’t even know what kind of
craft that is but anything from cards,
to crafting, to I think glass
or stained glass sort of things.
People play table tennis.
MAN: Oh no, I’m in there.
HEATHER: [laughs] That’s okay.
So this one is housing
a Kentucky connection.
So this is just a gathering
of all people that are from Kentucky.
So if you want to find people
that have something in common with you
like, there’s different, you know,
clubs like that.
So Kentucky people get together
and talk about their home state.
PETER: Hello.
PETER: Kentucky only, right?
WOMAN: Yeah, it’s the Kentucky club.
We’re getting ready for it.
-Kentucky Derby party.
HEATHER: Oh, a Kentucky Derby party.
WOMAN: Yes, it’s derby day.
HEATHER: Oh, it is?
PETER: Derby day.
HEATHER: So is everybody wearing a hat
and they’re all decked out?
WOMAN: Mine’s in there.
Yeah, a lot of people are very decked out.
PETER: I drove through Kentucky once,
does that count?
[all laughing]
It was a nice drive.
All right.
WOMAN: Kentucky people are friendly.
HEATHER: I’m from Indiana, it’s close.
MAN: It’s close.
HEATHER: Close enough, right?
We can peek in?
PETER: And you’re going casual
and all business up top.
I like your style.
-That’s right, see that there.
[all laughing]
HEATHER: Oh, this looks great.
PETER: Oh, wow.
HEATHER: They said we could peek.
PETER: Barb, what did we miss out on?
What did we miss out on here?
-We’re gonna have the derby.
PETER: “We’re just getting going.”
is what you’re saying?
HEATHER: That’s exciting, I like it.
PETER: What is this here?
BARB: That’s where the horses run.
PETER: What do you mean by that?
You have, like, little horses?
MAN: No, we have big horses.
[all laughing]
PETER: I’m confused.
It’s a Kentucky thing?
-Like here’s the horse.
PETER: You got a horse here?
HEATHER: Oh, wow.
PETER: So what are you gonna do?
You’re gonna go to a square here?
-You get assigned to a number
and then they roll the dice, right?
Then your number comes up,
you move him.
HEATHER: And then you move it, right?
WOMAN: That’s right.
PETER: Hello, sir. Good afternoon.
You know, I love the Southern accent.
-Oh yeah, I know.
-That guy had it.
-Yeah, it’s just like a classy…
-Growing up in the Northeast
they sort of looked down on it.
-Oh right, it’s like uneducated or…
-Right, and now I really… I love it.
I mean it sounds so cool.
-Yeah, it’s classy. Yeah.
HEATHER: So the funny thing is…
Okay, this looks really amazing.
Imagine this everywhere.
Like, they’re doing things
all over the place, all the time.
Pardon me.
PETER: Hello, sir.
MAN: How are you?
PETER: Good luck tonight.
MAN: Thank you.
WOMAN: It’s 10 a person.
PETER: Now we’re talking money here, huh?
HEATHER: Yeah, how much?
PETER: What’s the name of your horse?
WOMAN: Um, Belinda…
Oh my God.
WOMAN 2: You named it.
WOMAN: No, uh, Kentucky Derby Bourbon.
Belinda Bourbon.
HEATHER: Oh, she’s got bourbon.
PETER: Belinda Bourbon?
-Yeah, that’s her name.
We gotta fix it.
[all laughing]
HEATHER: This gator’s big.
He’s pretty famous.
Everyone likes to take his picture.
PETER: So that gator just
comes up here onto shore and hangs out?
HEATHER: Yep, he stays here generally.
-How far will a gator
run away from the water?
-You know, I don’t know.
I don’t want to find out. [giggles]
-You just have to run faster, right?
-All right, while The Villages feels
very pleasant, nice and calm…
There are threats.
That’s a serious animal
you do not want to mess with.
And then a nice game of golf
in the background.
PETER: What do you think these homes cost?
HEATHER: Okay, those are
probably 600, 700.
-So do people stick to their villages?
-Not necessarily,
there are a lot of communities.
We’re really big on driveway parties.
They have food trucks coming,
they have a live band.
Like yeah, they go all out.
-So it’s not a lonely place out here?
-Oh no. Oh no.
We have so many friends all over and um…
-And you’ve only been here three years?
We’re gonna go under a tunnel now
because we’re going under a main road.
There are tunnels all over The Villages
to get you from one side
to the other safely.
PETER: Okay, there’s a similar theme here
from the last place we were at, yeah?
-Right, right, these are both
the larger rec centers
but you’ll notice an entirely different
theme when you go inside.
-So do you pay a massive HOA fee
to be part of this?
-No, it’s…
Well, some would argue it’s massive.
It’s less than $300 a month.
And I get unlimited golf
and all these activities.
-Are you serious?
-That pays for all of this infrastructure?
[Peter perplexed] Huh.
-That’s way cheaper
than I thought it would be.
HEATHER: Now there may be some things,
like we just saw the derby party,
and they, you know,
maybe pay $10 for your food or something.
-But generally all these activities
are all baked in.
-Okay, this sounds serious.
[Heather giggles] They’re playing…
[chattering and dice clacking]
-What’s Bunko?
-It’s supposed to be, I think, a dice game.
I don’t know how to play it actually
but it’s a real social game,
and so you can…
-There’s a lot of focus here.
-Yeah, there is a lot of focus.
There’s probably a big prize.
[dice clacking]
HEATHER: See it’s an entirely different
sort of vibe in here.
-So each one of these
community centers has a different feel?
-Yes, and The Villages
really goes all out to decorate.
I mean you can tell.
-Okay, so let me understand
the business model because I don’t.
-So the developers,
whomever started this bought a ton of land,
and they made a lot on each plot sold.
-And they keep buying, right?
So it started in the ’80s.
It’s family-owned.
-This family, the Morse family started it.
I should say I’m not
a representative of The Villages.
-Okay, sure.
-So I’m telling you what I know.
But they started in the ’80s
and it started with mobile homes,
and so the northern part is all…
Well not all because some of
the mobile homes have been pulled off
and regular homes have been built.
Now the new homes
like where our home is, we have to pay,
I don’t know what it’s called
but we do pay a fee.
It’s a bond. That’s what they call it
when you buy your house.
-So our house had roughly a $25,000 bond.
You pay it over the life of your mortgage
or if you pay cash
then you pay it over X number of years.
So it’s, you know…
-So there is something extra in there?
-Something extra.
-Now a lot of these homes up here…
…have already paid that off.
-So if you buy a home that’s preexisting,
you’re not paying that.
-You just pay the $200-something a month.
We have an app and so if you’re interested
in trying to find what’s happening
you just go to calendar
and then, okay, so I wanna know today.
What’s happening today?
So there’s just
activities constantly, you know?
Swimming starting at 7:00 AM.
But I want to, say, what…
I want to know at Brownwood
Paddock Square, what’s happening today.
There was a farmer’s market at 9:00.
-And tonight,
Rocky and the Rollers are performing.
So everything’s on the app.
You can find out where
you can play pickle ball…
where you can do crafts, anything.
Just so you guys know, this is not
a promo video for The Villages.
Nobody paid me.
-[Heather laughing] No.
-You don’t work for The Villages.
-I’m not an official spokesperson, no.
-You’re just fired up on living here.
-You bet.
-And you reached out and said,
“Peter, I want to show you The Villages.”
Because it gets a lot of bad press, right?
-It gets a ton of bad press.
A lot of people think we’re all, like,
hardcore conservatives, or Trumpers…
…and we’re not either.
-I mean there’s there’s
a variety of people that live here.
All walks of life.
I can tell you what I feel so far.
I feel a very happy environment
energetically, people seem very happy.
-And to see old people like that…
…together, smiling, doing something,
using their minds with the dice game…
-I can’t see what’s wrong with that.
-Like what’s better that or living
in a home alone like my grandmother?
-She was alone in an apartment.
A dark apartment.
-Right, yeah.
-Without anyone around, you know?
-Right, exactly.
I think COVID really opened our eyes
to being able to live some place like this
and still work or even buy into
a community like this for the future.
-You’re not retired, Darryl?
DARRYL: We’re that close.
PETER: That close, okay.
-Maybe by the time the filming ends.
-By the time this video is posted.
DARRYL: But like Heather said,
there’s 140,000 people here,
and probably 100,000 of them
feel like they’re on vacation.
Living here?
Everybody’s just having
a great time, everybody’s friendly.
-Is it because you’re sort of
all in it together in a way?
Like everyone’s sort of
bought into this life
and you’re here for each other
maybe in a way?
DARRYL: One thing I did, I was
looking up something on the forum,
they have a Villages forum where you can
go ask questions about different things,
and there’s things like
on the Facebook where we live,
different communities
where they have Facebook groups,
and on that you’ll find
people just post something,
“I need a ride to the hairdresser.”
or something.
And people will just come, and pick you up,
and take you wherever you need to go.
They’re just like
the friendliest people here.
-So is it almost like the US
you would think of, like in the ’50s?
Where the neighborhoods
were super tight and everyone would help?
I mean that’s just my thought
of what it would be like…
-No, I think it’s true.
I think it’s true.
You know, when we bought our house,
just like maybe would have happened
years ago, people brought us cookies,
and came and greeted us,
and invited us over.
I don’t have that where I lived before.
I mean it is sort of like
a step back in time.
All right, guys, the camera is
definitely not covering the distances
that we’re traveling.
‘Cause I have it off a lot of times
but we are, I don’t know, an hour…
Hour and constant cruising
from where we started
and so it’s just community center,
after pool, after golf course.
And I guess we’re going
to a town right now.
The town we’re going to has a full-on bank,
and Starbucks, and everything?
-Oh yes, absolutely.
-In The Villages?
-In The Villages.
-Oh, you don’t really want for much,
it’s all here.
It’s all contained within the villages.
-Yeah, I was just saying
we’ve probably been on that golf path for
an hour, hour and 20 minutes.
-Probably, yeah.
and we’ve seen a fraction of it.
-A fraction of The Villages.
So we’re gonna come up on a town,
and there are a few towns.
We call Town Square,
the one we’re going to next
is probably in the northern part.
What I call the northern part
of The Villages.
More of… Not the original
but pretty much one of the original.
But then there’s so many more
down south and they’re changing the style.
Like the one down south that they
just built has a food court, you know?
Like, they didn’t have
a food court in the ’80s…
…when they built here, right?
-Yeah, yeah.
Let’s do a test here, we have to go
through our separate doors.
-[giggling] That’s right. We gonna race?
-And we’ll see… We could race,
but we’ll see if the mics work.
I’m gonna keep talking to you.
My question is this before you go…
-Does it change, the older places,
older people, and the newer places, newer?
-A little bit. A little bit.
Not necessarily, but yeah.
-Keep talking, Heather.
-Ready? Here we go.
-All right, we’ll see
how good these mics work.
[Heather’s voice echoing]
The more north you go
in the older communities
you’re gonna find older individuals,
but as a younger person
I could buy a pre-owned home.
-Can you hear me? [giggles]
I can buy a pre-owned home
up in the older areas if I want.
So as a 57 year old,
I looked at pre-owned homes up here.
-Just because I like
some of the activities in this area.
So I might have chosen to live up here
even though probably stereotypically
it’s a little bit older community.
-Now is there ever a tension
between the true OGs
that have been here for a long time
and you newbies coming in?
-And especially since you’re a lot younger.
-Yes, well…
-Some tension?
-A little bit of tension.
They want The Villages to stop expanding.
-People say…
“I thought The Villages
was going to stop building at this point.”
“I thought they were gonna stop
when they had 100,000 people.”
“I thought they were gonna stop
when they hit 44 but they keep building.”
and so some of the original folks
are, like, a little grumpy about that.
How big does it need to be, you know?
Because we do share restaurants
and we share doctors.
-It’s the mentality like,
“I came here now no one else.”?
-Which you see in all sorts of communities.
That’s a problem all over the country.
-Really, I think that’s pretty common.
But, you know, you’re sharing.
Like I said, everything’s here
in the villages, your bank, your doctor,
everything is right here.
So if you keep adding people
then you gotta share…
-Your doctor’s offices are in the villages.
-Oh, sure.
-Yes, The villages has a hospital, yes.
And it’s associated with
the University of Florida.
So it’s a quality hospital.
-So do you think there are people
that actually never leave here, ever?
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Now back to the video.
-You see how
beautifully manicured everything is…
…and the flowers are gorgeous.
-Well those are annual flowers,
and so when they get a little tired,
they’ll come in and they take them all out,
and they plant all new flowers.
So everything always looks perfect.
If you see a branch, a palm leaf down,
it doesn’t sit for long
before it’s picked up.
-Where do all the workers live
that keep this place together?
-That’s really one of the…
That’s kind of the rub, and that is why
The Villages is building
their second school.
In order to attract enough workers
to service all the residents
they really have to have other amenities,
and so there are neighborhoods
you can live in
if you work in The Villages.
So there are special…
Like my niece lives
in a neighborhood that’s for people
associated with The Villages.
She’s in her 30s.
-So there are, wait…
There are worker neighborhoods here?
-Yes, in the surrounding…
Outside of The Villages
but very close surrounding
and they’re actually building
a multi-generational community.
So right now everything you’ve seen is
a 55 and older master plan community.
There’s a charter school
up here near where we are
and it’s very popular,
and you can only attend there…
My understanding,
and again, I’m not official word on this,
but my understanding is
you have to work in The Villages
or have a certain service level of a job.
Like maybe you’re a cop
and you support The Villages.
Then your kids can go there.
It’s very sought after.
And so now they’re building a second one
in the southern part of The Villages.
It’s called Middleton.
It’s beautiful.
But in addition to the school they’re
finally building multi-generational.
So family-style homes.
And that will be interesting.
So it won’t just be 55 and older.
-Do you ever see any golf cart…
Sorry, golf car crashes?
-Yes, my understanding is there was just…
There were two in the same day
maybe like a week or two ago.
So it doesn’t happen very often.
We’re not wearing them but we have
seat belts if we wanted to wear them.
So at top speed I’m going
21 miles per hour right now.
That’s about normal.
-I bet you get a lot of
drunk drivers out here.
-You do.
One of the ponds, the retention ponds,
or little lakes that we passed today,
after a night at the town square,
I’m told when the bars closed down,
somebody was driving home
in a golf cart, and missed their turn,
and ended up in the pond.
And then she couldn’t really tell…
She called 911
but she didn’t know where she was.
She missed the stop of a golf cart path.
She was in the water
but she couldn’t tell them where she was.
[both chuckling]
So it happens.
-Villages life…
-Oh yeah, oh yeah.
HEATHER: A lot of this is newer.
PETER: It’s like a Hollywood movie set.
-It feels like a little bit.
-It really it. It really is.
But you’ll find restaurants, gift shops,
furniture stores.
-Can someone from
outside of The Villages come here?
There’s some live music going on.
PETER: Is that where
all the swingers hang out?
[Heather giggles]
-No swingers, there’s no swingers.
Well there might be but in my experience…
-You think these guys are swingers?
-Thank you…
[both laughing]
HEATHER: I don’t think so. [laughs]
So we have, you know,
obviously AT&T, we’ve got Starbucks.
-Oh, wow.
-We have all of the normal things here.
-This is a bit like The Truman Show,
you ever see that?
-Yes, I have heard it
described that way before.
-So you don’t have
a lot of the problems cities have?
No homelessness obviously, right?
-Definitely not. Definitely not.
-No, no crime.
I mean I’m sure…
-Maybe some domestic stuff happening.
-Perhaps, and, you know,
maybe some drinking and driving,
but I have heard people
accidentally take a golf cart
because the keys sometimes are universal.
So people will take home
the wrong golf cart.
-And so then it gets reported as stolen.
But we’re gonna go
to this little lake over here.
There’s a parking style.
So if you’re in a golf cart
you do double park in a single car spot.
So two cars if you go in like this.
-Wait, I feel like you got
a bit too much space there. No?
-It’s a little bit.
Little bit but it’s okay.
-You gonna get called out?
-I might. [giggles]
It’s very possible.
Villages also has their own radio station
which is right…
It’s a house right there.
Of course…
PETER: “FM 102.7”?
HEATHER: They play oldies.
You can hear it playing out here right now.
-Oh, the speakers?
-It’s playing, the speakers everywhere.
♪ soft rock playing on speakers ♪
HEATHER: So there’s some gorgeous
high end golf course homes over there.
-Okay, out there?
Really beautiful homes.
PETER: There he is.
[Heather giggles]
PETER: Looking highly stressed-out.
[both laughing]
-Oh yeah, there’s
an ice cream shop right here.
-How are the costs with, say,
ice cream shops or the restaurants?
-It’s pretty normal, you know,
you’ll hear people complain.
We have different grocery stores,
Publix, Winn-Dixie, the usuals.
Sometimes people complain
the groceries are high
but I think it’s just relative, I mean…
♪ Electric Slide playing on PA ♪
PETER: Oh, there the ladies are.
[Heather giggles]
He’s hitting on ’em.
This guy might have the moves.
DARRYL: He’s got it.
PETER: You guys aren’t retired are you?
MAN: No, still gotta work.
We live in The Villages but…
-I think you’re the one people
I’ve found younger than me.
[all laughing]
-Yep, there ya go, there ya go.
-You never know, we might just look young.
-That’s true, that’s true.
[all laughing]
MAN: I saw something on Facebook
today about the loofas and all that.
Most people who live here,
we just laughing
because, man,
I don’t know about all of that.
I suppose people do whatever they do,
but for us, everybody’s so nice, man.
The neighbors here, my neighbors are cool.
-So I came in today thinking
it was only a retirement community.
-Oh man, I got people on my block,
we live in Richmond.
Which is the southern end
of The Villages, right?
I got 40-year-olds on my block,
50-year-olds on my block,
and then you got
70-somethings on the block.
So it’s a good mix of people.
I’ve got neighbors
that are 75, 80 years old.
-And last night we had them over
to our house with a couple other couples
that are older than us, you know, all that,
and they were texting me this morning,
“We had a blast.”
We’re drinking wine, we’re having snacks.
You know, all that,
sitting out on the back Lanai.
Four hours, just having a blast.
So definitely a sense of community.
You cannot be bored.
My 23-year-old son, he’s convinced
that he needs to move here, right?
-[Peter laughing] Really?
-He’s 23 and he’s like,
“Man, I need to move there, dad.”
He absolutely loves it.
So, nah…
What’s not to love?
People are smiling all the time.
If you’re not happy here,
you can’t be happy anywhere.
It’s not the most
diverse place in the world
in terms of racial ethnic diversity,
but when I came in here
on a lifestyle visit
and I started talking to
some of the minorities that were here
they all said the same thing,
“Where they been
hiding this place?” right?
And so nobody said a bad word about it.
And so, you know, we just fit in.
If you’re nice, I don’t care
what your racial ethnicity is.
That doesn’t matter to me
as long as you’re just good people,
you’re smiling and enjoying the life.
People talk about red, blue, whatever.
It’s whatever, you know what I mean?
We still gotta live life no matter what.
So I don’t care…
-Does it matter when you’re
out here like this? Look at these ladies.
-Yeah, like…
-All that stuff seems stupid at this point.
-All that stuff don’t matter.
I’m always having my camera out videoing
just because I love to see
people having a good time.
So I guess it allows you
to be free in that sense.
To be old and feel okay to get up
in the middle of the day,
and start dancing?
-And there are people
that live for that, you know?
-Oh, I bet.
-They live for it.
-Imagine if you can’t really drive anymore
but you can handle a golf cart.
Sorry, golf car.
-Golf car.
-And so that just opens up your life.
-Oh, yeah.
-Come down here
with your friends for a restaurant.
-So there will be a band here
in just a couple hours.
People… You can see some people
already have their seats.
It’s probably their favorite band.
Some people bring lawn chairs
but this will be a dance floor here.
-It’s gonna be packed?
-Oh, it’ll be packed.
-And so with the bands, it’s all free?
-It’s all free.
And so one of the things that people…
You know, you’re reminded
that people can come in from the outside.
They’re not all Villagers…
-…that will come here for the band
because “Why not?”.
It’s a free band and you can go out.
♪ Kid Rock ♪
PETER: I wouldn’t have thought
at The Villages they’d be playing
Kid Rock on the radio.
[Heather giggles]
-You know, there’s a lot 50-somethings,
40-somethings still down here, yeah.
-I can imagine the 80 year olds
just having trouble with that. No?
They don’t seem to.
I think that everybody that’s down here
is young at heart.
-Oh, there we go.
I like it.
So what is this, “McLin Burnsed”?
-So interestingly enough
you have a lot of retirees.
So you have a lot of financial planners
and those sort of things.
-Law firm?
-Yeah, attorneys, insurance.
So this bank down here
is The Villages Bank.
-The Villages Bank?
-So my understanding is it’s owned
by the family that runs The Villages,
the Morse family.
-And so it’s a little bit different.
-We worked with them in
purchasing a house and it was really smooth
because, again,
they’re part of the community.
Within The Villages you can find
a B of A, and Chase Bank,
but this is actually a Villages-owned bank.
-So Citizens is The Villages bank?
-Yes, Citizens is The Villages bank.
So if you buy a home here…
♪ “Rockstar” by Nickelback ♪
[Peter laughing]
Okay, if I hear Slipknot, then I know
something’s going wrong in the Matrix.
-Okay, so I was saying,
some of these are original buildings.
-This is an original building?
So there’s, like, a preservation society.
Some of the buildings around here
are original.
-So do they have better interest rates?
What’s their deal?
-Well I think their
customer service is better
and I found them to be
a little easier to work with.
-Buying a house here,
you have to get two realtors?
-It’s recommended, yeah,
that you get two realtors.
So you get an MLS realtor
because some houses are in the MLS.
The typical systems,
-But you need a Villages realtor too
because some houses
are just listed through the villages.
So they’re realtors
that are employees of The Villages
and they have certain listings.
So you can’t see…
They can’t show each other’s houses.
-Okay, that’s a little clunky.
-It is.
-So as a buyer…
-…you’re dealing with two realtors.
-If you want to get the full view
of what’s going on here.
-If you’re buying a pre-owned home.
If you’re buying a brand new home
and a lot people are.
There’s tons of construction right now.
We had some flooring installed and our…
The flooring guy told us
that he just signed a contract
to floor 5,000 more houses
that The Villages is building.
So they’re building like crazy.
Those new homes, you can only buy
through a Villages realtor.
PETER: Do you think after year 10
you’ll step up to something like this or…
The Bel Air?
-I would love something like this.
Oh, I think that’s got a back seat too.
Oh, that’s great.
♪ disco ♪
-[woman on PA speaker]
Taking out the disco, let’s go.
PETER: So now you feel like
you’re in a suburban town
as far as businesses, right?
Barnes and Noble.
HEATHER: Oh yeah, everything you need.
Right, Barnes and Noble.
-Like, a big one too.
We have Walmart in The Villages.
-[Peter intrigued] Huh.
PETER: And these carts out there.
-So this is a golf cart store.
So you can buy…
-Did we pass this earlier?
-This is a different one.
-It’s a different one? Wow.
This is the third one we’ve passed.
-Oh, yeah.
Oh yeah, it’s a big business.
You can custom order your golf cart.
A lot of people do that.
-How much does a nice golf cart cost?
-Um, if you were to get a decent new one,
brand new one, probably $12,000.
Some of the ones you see
are more tricked-out are 35.
-Like that Bel Air one we just saw?
-Oh yeah, that was probably 25, $30,000.
♪ mellow jazz ♪
HEATHER: So this is back
where we started with the gas station.
But we only turned and went this way.
So you haven’t seen any of this up here.
Is this the town we’re going to?
-This is the town.
-This is just like the one we came from…
…only again, different theme.
That was all, like, Key West theme,
this is all Western.
PETER: So Heather, bit of your back story,
you just took a job in Daytona Beach…
…in education.
-Yes, in higher education.
-What university in Daytona Beach.
-Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
-Oh, very cool.
-Yeah, it’s a really highly ranked
world famous university.
[live band playing in the distance]
-This is every weekend night or what?
-Every night.
-Every night?
PETER: So in a way it’s come across
as a puff piece today.
It’s been very positive.
-What are the drawbacks?
There have gotta be some drawbacks…
…or you haven’t felt them yet?
Yeah, no, I’m pretty content here.
I… You know…
We need to meet some more people
as a part-timer.
We’ve met our neighbors but we haven’t
been able to get involved with
a lot of clubs and things yet.
So I’m looking forward to that.
♪ live band playing oldies ♪
Okay, now we either need to find a seat
or we have to go to the dance floor.
PETER: Dance floor.
♪ band playing “I Fought the Law” ♪
PETER: She’s here every night, and she,
like, usually dances towards the crowd.
Like, kinda puts a show on.
PETER: Transgender, yeah?
[song ends and applause]
♪ “Worst That Could Happen”
by Brooklyn Bridge ♪
WOMAN: Is it what you thought
it was going to be?
-No, I thought it was pure retirement.
There’s an awesome, like, positive,
vibrant energy here that I didn’t expect.
Yeah, because
the first time I saw it I thought,
“This is too Disneylandish.”
-But then, like you said,
once you are here
and you get the feeling of,
“We’re here to enjoy
and not care what everybody thinks.”
-I hear criticism.
People say, “You guys are hedonistic.”
It’s most people here have worked
their entire life
and it’s just that you’re now relaxing.
That’s all it is.
You’re just relaxing and enjoying life.
Tons of volunteer work goes on around here.
A ton of it.
People are still giving back
but you’re just trying to relax.
My job was very 24/7
and so to not have to…
Although it is difficult to slow that down,
once you do, you find out,
“Oh, life is not so bad.”
WOMAN: Have you been to Indiana?
HEATHER: Oh yes, he’s been to Indiana.
-Just checking, I’m from Indiana too.
-Of course.
MAN: That’s not what
your name tag says.
-Well I was born in Louisville.
PETER: You were trying to get in
with the Kentucky club earlier.
-But you’re from Indiana?
-I’m from Southern Indiana.
Born in Louisville, Southern Indiana
is right across the bridge.
Back, forth, back, forth,
back, forth my whole life.
Especially today when they’re singing
“My Own Kentucky Home”.
And I’m down here
listening to Rocky and the Rollers.
[Heather laughing]
PETER: Are we gonna get you
on the dance floor?
-Only if I get fired.
[Heather giggling]
♪ band playing oldies ♪
[music slows down]
[music fades]
-All right, guys.
Few final thoughts here from The Villages.
When I told some friends
I’d be coming here last week
one of them said,
“Isn’t that just
a swinger’s cult out there?”.
Another, I won’t name who…
Laughed and looked down
upon the place as if,
“Ugh, those people down there.”
So what I’d like to leave you with
in this video is
we all get used to making labels on things.
Say, Villages is this or…
Whatever is that.
And then onto the next bit of information.
But really there is usually
a lot more to it than we think.
So take any form of media.
My form of media here for what it is.
I met one person, a few people today
and that’s the story I ran into.
Are there problems here? I’m sure.
Is there all sorts of things going on?
Well, you have 140,000 people.
Of course.
Humans are messy.
But take this story today as…
Well, maybe things aren’t
always what they seem.
This could be your nightmare
living in an area like this, or your dream.
We’re all different.
But understanding
where people come from is…
Well, in my opinion, number one.
That was a lot of fun today.
I enjoyed it and it definitely
opened my eyes up a bit.
‘Cause I didn’t think it would be…
Well, this positive,
this great of an energy.
A happy vibe out here, and I think it’s
ticking some boxes for people.
Such as security, community,
entertainment, happiness,
and I can definitely see the draw to here.
All right, guys, thanks for coming along.
Until the next one.
♪ upbeat jazz ♪

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