In the community of 130,000 retired people planned under a master plan in Sumter, Lake and Marion counties in central Florida, many have fixed incomes. Many residents, known as villagers, won't hear a bad word against their hometown. And the administration certainly doesn't encourage dwelling on the disadvantages of the suburb. But those outside the complex are much less in love with him.
Sinkholes aren't just a problem for The Villages, but they're also found elsewhere in Florida. But over the past decade, more or less, it seems that The Villages has seen more than its fair share of sinkholes after long periods of very dry or very humid weather. You can read more about sinks here. There isn't much that The Villages or anyone else can do to prevent sinkholes from occurring, so I think you'll see them in The Villages's issues column pretty much forever.
One of the last missions of the founder of The Villages, Harold Schwartz, was to see that a hospital was built in the community before he died. Year after year, for the past decade, The Villages ranked among the fastest-growing regions in the United States. Later, they announced a partnership with USF Health called The Villages Health, a unique healthcare concept designed to redefine the way villagers interact with their doctors and treatment centers. I don't think anyone has a count of those under 55 living in The Villages, but if such a count existed, I think people would be surprised at how big the number actually is.
The owners even went so far as to install barriers on the roads leading to The Villages to give the appearance of a gated community. However, the Villages continued to push, and company officials explained that they expected the size of the complex to double over the next two decades, approximately. Strangely enough, Blankenbyl said, this optimistic side of The Villages was one of the most worrying, according to a gerontologist, an academic who studies aging. The Villages is a bubble, created specifically to make boomers, in particular, feel comfortable and happy.
But there are also some people who shopped here thinking that The Villages would be one-size-fits-all once finished, only to discover that they could be dead and missing before it was completed. He compared The Villages to Jim Carrey's film The Truman Show about an impeccable but ultimately false city. Some of these problems The Villages is working hard and will improve, while others may never go away. I don't know many communities, retired or not, that have a real hospital within the community, so The Villages could have stayed there, but that's not in their DNA.
In fact, he was so confident in the mission that he erected a billboard with a photo of him pointing to a vacant lot with the words “I will live to see The Villages Regional Hospital (TVRH) right here. More than 7 out of 10 of those residents are 55 or older, the largely inflexible minimum age required to own a home in one of the villages. As the number of homes and the number of residents grow, it makes sense that it will become more difficult to enforce the many restrictions that make The Villages so attractive. The concept of The Villages began in the 1960s, when Michigan businessman Harold Schwartz saw an opportunity during one of Florida's agrarian booms.