Far and away the most frequently asked question I get is some variation of
What does it cost to live in The Villages?
The answer is not as straightforward as many would like, because everybody’s situation is different, and figuring out one’s cost of living is not at all like, say, inquiring about the price of a hotel room. But some folks seem to think it should be so easy and sometimes I wish it were.
In order to find out what YOUR cost of living in The Villages will be, it’s going to take some serious effort and thinking on your part. I know…the nerve of this guy, right?
But I’m hoping that the information and resources below can at least help you arrive at a fairly accurate estimate of your potential cost of living. A few disclaimers…prices are averages based on what I’ve heard, seen, experienced. Assume we’re dealing with a $350,000 home when discussing housing related stuff. Prices change all the time, etc., etc.
Let’s jump right in shall we?
Cost of Living Spreadsheet: On page 79 of my book I share a link to an Excel spreadsheet with a list of all of the expenses featured in this article. You’ll want to plug in your own numbers of course, but this will do a lot to get things started for you. Order your copy today.
I’d say well over half of the people posing this cost of living question have received their “Lifestyle Portfolio” (information package) from The Villages and most of them question the accuracy of the monthly cost of living figures presented there.
If you’ve not received the package containing this sheet it totals up the estimated cost of the amenities fee, sewer, water, power, trash, phone and cable, insurance, average taxes, and the CDD assessment and shows you a grand total of $1,010.17 per month to live in The Villages.
While I’m sure that coming in at or close to this monthly budget number could be done, and you will no doubt hear some people say, “oh yeah, that’s pretty accurate”, it would mean living a fairly Spartan lifestyle, at least by Villages standards.
Let’s take a closer look at figuring out your monthly cost of living and decide for ourselves whether this is doable for you. What I’m going to do is present you with a list of costs that you might incur. Some of these might be ongoing monthly or yearly expenses (eg: lawn care) and others might be one time purchases (eg: buying a golf cart).
Again, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these costs are not going to apply to everyone, I’m just trying to get it all down on paper and you can pick what’s applicable and what’s not. Also, assume the figures below are for a $350,000 home. Buying a million dollar home in The Villages? Your costs will undoubtedly be higher.
This to me is a glaring omission from The Villages’ own monthly cost of living breakdown. I know many people pay cash for their homes, but many choose to carry a loan, even if it’s just for tax deduction reasons. If you visit Bankrate.com you can calculate this one using your own figures but I used a $350,000 house, with 20% down, and a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 5.5% and came up with $1885 per month.
This cost alone exceeds the seemingly attractive monthly cost of living estimate provided by The Villages, but again, a lot of people buying in The Villages do pay for their homes in cash and never get a mortgage, so a mortgage payment may or may not apply to you.
I think The Villages estimate of $100/month here is a little low, considering the current state of Florida’s property insurance market. I’d call it $200/month instead. Of course you can adjust this up or down based on how much home you intend to buy accordingly. But, even though it likely won’t be required that you carry it, I always tell people to get flood insurance too just in case. So let’s call that an additional $400/year or about $33/month to be safe.
This one is pretty straightforward. At $189 a month currently for new buyers, this covers much of what makes The Villages such a draw. Things like golf on the executive courses, swimming, tennis, organized activities, 24-hour neighborhood watch and more.
The Villages estimates this at $240/month, which I would consider to be the low end for this price home. The actual will depend whether you qualify for homestead, and which county it is located in. But for a $350,000 home count on paying between $3,000 and $4,500 per year, which works out to between $250 and $375 per month.
You’ll learn more about this in my book, but you’ll likely have a CDD infrastructure assessment and a maintenance assessment. The infrastructure assessment can be paid off, and many homeowners choose to do that. You’ll see some resales advertised with the statement “Bond paid” or “no bond”. But regardless you’ll always have the CDD maintenance assessment to contend with.
The Villages estimates this at $191, but they can range from below $100 to more than $500. Again, this is going to depend on what type of home you ultimately end up with, where its located, if the bond is paid, and so on.
In my opinion utilities are tough enough to estimate, let alone when you estimate them individually. You’ve got people that never set the thermostat below 80 thus they have a consistent power bill, but maybe they love their 30 minute showers leaving them with a higher water bill than others. So for simplicity’s sake lets lump them into two groups.
For water, sewer, power, and trash collection The Villages estimates $258. I’d go a little more conservative here and estimate $300-$350 AND add another $100-$200 if you have a pool to cover the costs of running a pool pump. Add even more if you have an electric or gas pool heater.
Basic cable is estimated at $60 by The Villages, but phone and internet are noticeably absent from their estimates. Of course most companies will let you bundle cable, phone, and internet but if you do this, in my experience it will cost more than $60.
And of course some people may forgo a landline in lieu of using cell phones exclusively. But no matter which route you choose, I’d budget between $150 and $250 for phone, cable, and internet.
You might think cutting your own grass and trimming your trees and shrubs sounds like a good idea at first, but most people eventually agree its either too dang hot or they are just too dang busy to keep up with it all. So most opt for a lawn service to come.
I’d estimate $50-$75/month for this amount of house.
Of course its going to depend on the size of your lot and other factors, but we’re shooting for averages here. Note that while you will get cut more in the summer and less during the winter, most services will charge you the same each month. It just helps them keep a steady cash flow and I think it helps the homeowner too so its pretty easy to remember what to pay.
Trimming of trees/shrubs is usually additional. I think if you budget $40-$50/month here you’d be pretty safe.
Most people especially those coming from up north never think of this one. You’re going to want to have your yard sprayed for pests, as well as the inside of your home too. Some companies recommend monthly service, others say you can get by with quarterly. In either case, expect this to set you back $80-100/month.
No matter what type of home you buy, do not go without a termite bond. Count on paying at least $100-$200/yr. for this.
You might want to budget for having the outside of your home pressure washed once or twice a year, and painted every 5-7 years. Pressure washing will probably run $100-$200 per visit, and painting for a 1,800 sq. ft. home should be between $2,000 and $3,500.
I’d say grocery store prices in The Villages are pretty average for Florida. There’s quite a bit of choice with Publix, Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart, etc., so the competition helps keep prices in check.
Drinks and Eating out
Same for restaurant and drink prices. There are lots of choices, and the competition keeps the prices in line. You don’t have to look too hard to find coupons and deals enticing enough for just about any budget.
BUT, because of the amount of choices, many just a short golf cart ride away, most residents find themselves eating out and/or socializing with new friends more than they ever have in the past.
So to be safe, add 20-30% on to whatever your budget is now for drinking and eating out, not because prices are higher, but because you will likely be doing it more often.
“Free golf for life” might just be the very thing that got your attention and attracted you to The Villages in the first place. But, it’s not quite that simple.
You do get free golf for life on the executive courses if you walk.
But, there is a small fee for golf cart rental. You can also use your own cart and pay a trail fee either daily, semi-annually, or annually.
You’ve got several options as it relates to Priority Championship Course Memberships, too many to list here. But on the high end they are currently $925 per couple (rates are less for singles) and this includes use of the Country Club pools, your executive trail fee and tennis at Hacienda Hills.
You also have to pay greens fees on top of this, though you do get a slight discount with this priority membership.
This will likely be one of the first purchases you make after buying your home, and many even complete this purchase BEFORE buying their home! Prices, styles and options for golf carts are almost as varied as for homes. You can find used carts in the classifieds or in some stores for less than $2000 or you can spend more than $20,000 for a tricked-out custom cart. The choice is yours but don’t forget to budget for this expense.
You’ll also need golf cart insurance. Like anything else its good to shop around. Ask your cart dealer or salesman for a recommendation. I’ve seen rates range between $60/year to more than $200/year.
Like cars, golf carts get flat tires, dead batteries, etc. A couple companies offer roadside assistance for yearly fees ranging from about $30/yr. to $60/yr. depending on the level of service you’d like. Check out Kartaide and 24 Hour Cart Club for more details.
Entertainment and Movies
You’ll never be short on entertainment options in The Villages. You’ve got nightly entertainment in the town squares which is free. There are also ticketed shows, musical acts, Polo matches, etc. with ticket prices ranging from just a few bucks to $30+ depending on the act and the venue.
The Villages now has three movie theaters and ticket prices are currently $8.50 for residents showing a resident ID.
The Villages Daily Sun is currently about $70/year. I say “about” because the price varies slightly based on where your home is located. While you should probably subscribe just to keep up with daily events/happenings you’re not going to see much hardcore news reporting. Because of this, many also get the Orlando Sentinel which is about $80 for 13 weeks if you want 7-day delivery. Less expensive options are available for Thursday and Sunday delivery, or Thursday through Sunday delivery.
Another option, if you’re only interested in the highlights and most important news coming out of The Villages, is my monthly Villages newsletter which is available for a one-time fee. A lot of part-timers and snowbirds find this the most convenient way to keep up with what they need to know, from wherever it is they spend the rest of their time when not in The Villages.
You can get golf tee times by phone, but some want the convenience of doing it online. If that’s you, you’ll pay $8/month for TheVillages.net. This also includes 2 @thevillages.net email addresses.
I’m a strong proponent of joining these two organizations. After a while you’ll notice they have different aims and viewpoints in many cases but both are worth being a member of. The Villages Homeowners Advocates (VHA) is just $25/household for 2 years, and the POA is $10/household for 1 year.
If you’re going to be a seasonal resident you’ll probably want to look into a housewatch service and these range from $35-$50/month depending on the level of service you want.
Various “One-Time” Costs
A lot of people fail to consider the many “one-time” costs they might incur when first moving to The Villages. Prices vary greatly for things like adding gutters, screening in your lanai, buying new patio furniture, adding decorative curbing, interior painting, and much much more.
Resident Parker Sykes, author of 50 Things to Think About Before Moving to The Villages says that you can plan on at least $5,000 worth of this type stuff needing to be done at a minimum, and I’d agree. Just remember to take these into account when doing your budgeting/financial planning.
What did you come up with?
When I plug in some of the numbers above into a spreadsheet, I come up with a monthly cost of living (for me) of more than $4,000.
But don’t let my number scare you. Maybe I factored in a little too much for golf, or maybe I plan to spend a little more on things like groceries and eating out than you.
Adjust your figures accordingly!
Thank you very much for the information as I feared much more expensive than living in your own home in a regular community
You help me make my decision
What is a CDD and what does it pay for? Is the charge monthly or annually? Also $97- $448 is a huge difference….how is the cost figured?
Clay Schaefer says
What you don’t mention is that you need to compare your current living expenses with those in the Villages. We have been here for 8 years and are seasonal residents. We have a lake home in Wisconsin.
Our living expenses are much less in the Villages, groceries, no state income tax, property taxes are less than half on comparable values, gasoline, movies, entertainment, dining, etc.
300 new homes and more than 100 preowns are sold each month. 40.000 have moved here since we came in 2006.
Why is this the fastest growing community around? Something must be right!
Where is the bond payment in your spreadsheet?
J. Lauer says
Thanks for the great insight. It’s not always just a matter of having to accept certain fees, but just how they are implemented, and where they derive from. I am presently looking for a 2nd home, and I absolutely will not consider any community that involves CDD fees.
Nancy krall says
I am trying to talk my husband into buying in the Villages. We will retire in three years. What I need now to convince are answers on: cost of catastrophic sink hole insurance, do most Villagers buy it, other insurance needed like hurricane and flood. We would like to rent our house until we make our move, so we need to know fees for yard work. I’d appreciate any information I could put in my bag of tricks to convince my husband. I know prices are going up and in three years, we probably won’t be able to afford a house. What an absolutely great place!
Naly D. says
I enjoyed the article and downloaded your spreadsheet. I have one, very similar. Of course the amounts are different. We too have already purchased a house in the Villages. I must say I agree in full with one reader (BoB Nelson, November 1, 2012). A budget is a budget and of course one has to adjust. Mortgage, being the most relevant cost will be paid anywhere, unless if the house is paid in full.
One point I would like to disagree is that, for a couple living in the Villages, having Groceries at $500, eating and drinking at $400 may be too much. We spend goo quality time at the Villages and the costs, even eating at country clubs are not that much… And if you prefer to eat out more often, your grocery bills will be reduced. So, budgeting is a must for everyone.
I don’t think it will cost that much if you compare with other states, and in the end, if we spend what we can on that month , there is no problem. If we play golf and spend more, I come with a good $4000, which is close to you. But I have friends that are happy and budgeting with $2000 a month… all living happily in the Villages and decently. Which is not bad. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It is all about how we are going to enjoy life and if someone thinks the Villages can offer the opportunity. I think it can and we cannot wait until we retire.
My mother-in-law lived in the Villages for 10 years and when she needed hip surgery, urgent care and other type of help, we believe she got it very well. They have very good facilities. I had a shoulder surgery and stayed at the Villages for three weeks and had my therapy there, which was very good indeed.
you can only see it for yourself, but we looked around, and I must say, we love everything at the Villages and cannot wait until we become permanent residents. All the best!
Teresa Kelly says
My mother lives in a neighboring community (Water Oak) which is a 2-3 mile drive from everything the Villages has to offer. My mother doesn’t have a mortgage payment, but her monthly cost of living is far lower than she would have in the Villages. She does pay a $450/month fee which covers the cost of “renting” your lot, property taxes, yard maintenance, water, trash pick-up, upkeep of all the public areas, pools, clubhouses, etc. Unlike the Villages, no one here actually owns their lot, you only own your dwelling (all are manufactured homes). The residents here can enjoy the amenities of the Villages except for member-only activities. I would suggest you compare costs between surrounding communities.
D. Reif says
I first visited the TV when I was 42 years old, only to see my best friends parents enjoying life to the fullest. There was no sales pitch on that Monday evening. What I saw and experienced that evening had a trememdous affect on my plans for the future. The parents have been there since the beginning of TV and my best friend about 8 years now. I have visited TV about 10 times and no one has ever complained to me about costs. It’s a healthy lifestyle change and if you do your math research its feasable to almost anyone. I have met people there that came from below average, average and above average incomes. I will now be 62 in 2013. It’s time to make my move to TV. Goodbeye PA.
MJ scott says
…..now take those spreadsheet itmes and apply them to living here in California and compare them to The Villages….you are in for a shock and should be happy to be living in Florida (especially if you are still earning an income (no state taxes)We are not only taxed to death here, but our sales tax now went through the roof.
Bob Marciano says
Interesting look at cost of living. I can only say that while it is far from cheap to live here, it is far more affordable than what I came from in CT. My taxes are half of what I paid there. My entertainment costs, to include championship golf 3 times a week, dining out at least 3 to 4 times weekly, movies etc also are far better here. In addition I find mostly all goods priced lower than up North, including fuel for the car and home. However let me say this……I hope all the naysayers can convince people to not buy here because one problem I find worst than cost of living is TV is getting too big and overcrowded.
Anna Cottrill says
Sorry, two finger checks, sell and receive.
Anna Cottrill says
Not something we are looking forward to, but if one of us has the need for assisted medical care, what is available and how easy is it to receive this type of help? Does one have to seel their home inorder to received help and what is Freedom Pointe. As someone asked, please give more informaiton on health care and expenses. Something we must consider when moving to TV. Any help would be greatly appreciated, to help us make the correct decision.
Virginia Sabourin says
Thank you for being so honest. It gave me realistic information, and may have changed my mind of moving there, unless I buy a double wide. Thanks for your trouble. Really enjoy your articles.
Glenda Wolfe says
Thank you, Ryan. This is great info for us. We are planning on moving to TV next summer and have been needing to know approximates on the daily costs of living. As some folks noted, everyone has a cost of living, but, I needed to know specifically for TV. You just did that for us and we appreciate the time involved to compile this. Thanks so much for the spreadsheet–very helpful. I have your book and you do those of us preparing to become villagers a great service.
Joe Panichello says
Thanks for theinformation. just an aside to the Lipitor gentleman–go generic@ 1/10 the cost.
Thanks for the info. It will help out alot for what to look for. Whenever people move the cost of living is also elsewhere no matter where you live.
Bob Nelson says
I have a problem with your “Cost of Living in The Villages”. Most of the things you mentioned would be cost of living anywhere. Wherever you live, you will pay property tax, utilities, recreation (movies, shopping, out to eat). House, car and medical insurance. Car payment, gas & maintenace. Home maintenance.
The cost for a movie in TV is far less than other places. Out to eat? Far less than other places due to competition. Newspaper? Far less than my mother pays in small town America. Mortgage? You will have that wherever you live.
So, I think you are doing a dis-service by saying “Cost of Living in The Villages”. Come on, it is simply THE COST OF LIVING!
Just a few things may be different here. A golf cart. Hum-m-m- I used mine nearly exclusively for 3 months (car gets out of garage maybe once a month) and only used 4.9 gallons of gas total! How much do you put in your vehicle in one week? So, using a golf cart – much, much cheaper.
90,000 residents can’t be wrong! We have loved living here for over 15 years. Have you, the author, ever lived here? Seems like the non-residents always know everything. . .
Raymond mills says
I like your numbers- I would personally just substitute health insurance for the mortgage payment. At least one of my kids will be in college for the next 8 years and definitely need health insurance.
My wife informs me hat my Lipitor runs $250 a quarter. I am going to be researching that iI can tell you.
Rosanne Hitch says
I didn’t see health insurance, medicare or life insurance figured in, that alone is about $800 a month and rising!! Then you have car insurance, boat insurance, RV insurance and storage for whatever toys you might have.
Gene Konzen says
Thanks and this is great info for those of us planning on moving in the next few years. Thanks for all your work and keep it up.
Joanne Brunjes says
I tend to agreewith your article, I might add Realtors paint a completely different picture and fail to give certain costly information. Be advised future buyers read this info Ryan provided. I also realized almost immediately the Villages are for wealthier Seniors, and the little c;iques found everywhere are further proof. Stay far away from the hospital go to Munroe this hospital has a ver questionable reputation.
Phyllis A says
Thanks. Great information and a valuable tool. I’m with you Penny, just got lights back, and ready to go now (wishful thinking). I was able to download the spreadsheet and plug in my own figures. An eye opener. I can just barely do it but did estimate high so will be certain to cut back in some areas because I’m intent on being there eventually!
John Mohler says
As a new homeowner in The Villages I found this information very interesting and useful.
Don Thompson says
Hi Ryan: I am in the process of putting a cost of living together, but the one you did is far better. Thank you very much. I expect to be coming down there shortly.
I was not able to download the spreadsheet. Is it still active?? Is it another way I can get it?
Dawn Rupersburg says
Great information and links. I’m a Realtor who specializes in over 55 communities outside the Villages in Ocala Florida. My husband and I live in Belleview and were often in the Villages for dinner and movies. The whole CDD assesments by street is really confusing to me. What does that really mean financially especially when there is more than one bond on a street. I thought each home had their own bond and once it was paid off that was it, but maybe not if it goes by street.
ED REINFELD says
tell me about hospital doctor is good?? thanks ed
dan hinkel says
you are right on…live here in the villages. you can save alot by playing golf outside the villages…villages courses are over rated and that much more over priced due to bidding out the golf courses to another group..just like country club restruants..the place is totally over priced . and just wait till it is totally built out and the morris’s pack up and go..the house of cards will fall hard
Very useful information Ryan, thank you. I am even more ready to move down now that ‘Sandy’ has hit my Central New Jersey town.