Guides to Retiring

Pros and Cons of Retiring in Ocala, The Villages, and Orlando

Author avatarTeam @ Explore55Plus
5 minute read
The pros and cons of retiring in Central Florida.

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Pros and Cons of Retiring in Ocala, The Villages, and Orlando

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Join Nicky and J Michael as they dive deep into the heart of Central Florida! 🌞 We're exploring Ocala, The Villages, and Orlando like never before—covering the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly.

No one ever said that choosing the perfect retirement spot is easy. With so many wonderful options in Central Florida, it can be tough to decide where to settle down. That’s why we're breaking down the good, the bad, and the not-so-ugly of retiring in Ocala, The Villages, and Greater Orlando. Let’s dive in and see what each of these fantastic locales has to offer!

Retiring in Ocala

Natural Beauty of Ocala

Nestled in the northern part of Florida, Ocala is a rural paradise. Think horse farms, the World Equestrian Center, sprawling acres of undeveloped land, and the breathtaking Ocala National Forest. It's a nature lover's dream come true. Unlike bustling Orlando, Ocala offers a serene escape where you can enjoy the natural beauty off the beaten path. Plus, with fewer lakes, you won't have to worry too much about gators lurking around.

View of the spring in Ocala, Florida.

Ocala's Affordability

Ocala is the most wallet-friendly option among our three contenders. If you're looking to stretch your retirement dollars, this might be the place for you.

Curious about the cost of living in Florida in 2024? We did the research so you don't have to—read our article here!

Outdoor Activities in Ocala

From biking and hiking to camping and walking trails, Ocala is your gateway to outdoor adventure. The town’s smaller size means less traffic and a slower pace of life, perfect for those who enjoy the great outdoors.

Couple biking in a scenic area.

Retiring in The Villages

Accessibility in The Villages

The Villages is a true anomaly in the world of 55+ communities. Here, you can get everywhere on a golf cart—whether it's to the grocery store, doctor’s office, or from one town center to another. It's a fun and convenient way to get around, especially if driving isn't your thing.

Yellow golf cart driving through The Villages.

Entertainment in The Villages

When it comes to entertainment, The Villages is unmatched. It's the Disney of 55+ communities, with a variety of activities and events happening all the time. Each town square in The Villages offers its own unique charm and activities, making sure that residents can experience a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment. Whether you prefer the Spanish flair of Spanish Springs, the coastal charm of Lake Sumter Landing, the rustic vibe of Brownwood Paddock, or the modern amenities of Sawgrass Grove, there's something for everyone to enjoy. And the meticulously maintained landscaping just adds to the charm.

Spanish Springs Town Center in The Villages.

Considering The Villages? Check out their Event Calendar!

Golf in The Villages

Golf enthusiasts, rejoice! The Villages boasts a dense concentration of more than 50 golf courses, all accessible by golf cart. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just picking up the sport, there's always a game to join.

Aerial view of a golf course in The Villages.

Retiring in Greater Orlando

Orlando Entertainment

While the 55+ communities in Orlando aren't smack dab in the city center, they offer easy access to a plethora of entertainment options. From the Doctor Phillips Performing Arts Center to the Amway Center, you’ll never run out of things to do.

Photo Suggestion: A concert or event at one of these venues.

Transport and Travel in Orlando

Orlando makes travel a breeze. You can skip the infamous I-4 and take toll roads or back roads to your favorite spots. Plus, with Orlando International and Sanford International Airports nearby, getting in and out of town is a cinch.

Want the inside scoop on the top 55+ communities in Central Florida? Click here to explore more!

Orlando's Theme Parks

Love Disney or have grandkids who do? Orlando’s proximity to Disney World and Universal Studios makes it a fantastic spot for family visits or indulging in your own theme park adventures.

Cultural Diversity in Orlando

Orlando’s cultural scene is as diverse as it gets. From vibrant Asian markets to Egyptian restaurants, you'll find a melting pot of cuisines and cultures. It’s a major draw for foodies and those looking for a taste of the world.

55+ Healthcare in Orlando

Orlando takes the cake when it comes to healthcare facilities. With top-notch hospitals and specialized medical centers, including the impressive VA Hospital in Lake Nona, you're in good hands. Local, Rich Martz, was featured in our YouTube video on these areas and gave us his review of the VA hospital:

“They are right on top of things. It is the best VA hospital I’ve been to. I’ve been to California, Colorado, and other places and they just seem to have it all together there. The facility is so new, it is full of advanced equipment and people which you need with the VA…They really take care of us.”
New VA hospital in Central Florida.

Orlando Job Opportunities and Education

Retirement doesn’t mean you have to stop learning or working. Orlando offers a myriad of educational opportunities and job prospects, perfect for those looking to stay active and engaged, or those who aren’t quite ready to stop working.

Similarities of Ocala, The Villages and Greater Orlando

Entertainment is a common thread among all three locations. Whether it's the 24/7 buzz of The Villages, the laid-back charm of Ocala, or the diverse options in Orlando, there’s something for everyone.

Drawbacks of Ocala, The Villages and Greater Orlando

Hurricanes in Central Florida

Central Florida is relatively safe from the brunt of hurricanes, and this safety is reflected in lower insurance prices compared to coastal areas. Still, it’s not exactly cheap.

Specific Drawbacks

  • Ocala: If nightlife and cultural diversity are your jam, Ocala might feel a bit sleepy. And yes, it can get a tad chilly in the winter—think light jacket weather.
  • The Villages: The lack of cultural and age diversity can be a dealbreaker for some. Plus, it’s not the cheapest option once you tally up all the costs.
  • Greater Orlando: Living in Orlando can be pricier than Ocala, and some areas experience heavy tourist traffic, especially during Spring Break.

Wrapping It All Up: Which Central Florida Spot is Your Perfect Fit?

Deciding where to retire is deeply personal. What one person sees as a drawback, another might see as a bonus. We encourage you to explore Ocala, The Villages, and Greater Orlando to see which suits your lifestyle best. And remember, our Explore55Plus agents are here to help you find your perfect spot!

Ready to find your dream retirement home? Connect with an Explore55Plus agent today and let us help you navigate the possibilities!

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