The Villages, an active retirement community in central Florida, features X,XXX houses.

The Villages, an active retirement community in central Florida, features about 56,000 homes.

The fastest-growing community in the United States is The Villages, a Central Florida haven for retirees.

According to data released last week by the Census Bureau, The Villages saw its population rise 5.4 percent during the 12 months that ended July 1, 2014. Since 2010, the population of the Villages has more than doubled from 51,442 to 114,350 in The Villages metro area — 105,000 in The Villages itself — mostly because of a brisk influx of older people moving from other parts of the country.

If you are thinking about joining the crowd, here’s what a local real estate professional and Villages expert estimates that it costs to be a resident there.

Cost of living at The Villages

Monthly expenses Estimated cost per month
Mortgage $1,013
Homeowners insurance $100
Amenities fee $145
Property taxes $300
Community Development District assessments $300
Utilities $500
Landscaping $100
Pest control $100
Termite bond $15
Exterior maintenance $40
Groceries $500
Drinks/dining out $400
Golf $500
Golf cart insurance $12
Golf cart roadside service $5
Newspapers $16
TheVillages.net newsletter $8
Entertainment $200
Total estimated monthly expenses $4,254

Ryan Erisman, author of “The Villages Florida Book,” says the first thing people interested in the area want to know is “Can I afford it?” The official Village line on what it costs to live there is $1,039 a month, well within many couples’ budgets, even those heavily reliant on Social Security. But Erisman says that number is unrealistically low. His estimate is $4,254 a month. Not outrageous, but too pricey for some.

About $1,013 of Erisman’s number is for a mortgage on the typical Villages home, which, he says, sells for $200,000 but can rise to more than $1 million. Those aren’t the only options, Erisman, a licensed real estate salesperson, says.”There are also pre-owned manufactured homes available under $100,000 and pre-owned, site-built homes available from the mid-$100,000’s.”

Erisman estimates that about 50 percent of buyers at The Villages mortgage their homes, at least until they sell another property. Only about half of the people living in The Villages are full-time residents, he says.

Average household income in 2012 in The Villages, according to Erisman, was $93,800 — high compared to the median household income of $46,956 in Florida, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Besides the monthly costs, Erisman says that most people who move to The Villages also initially spend about $8,000 on things like a golf cart and painting their new homes.

“I’m not a financial planner, but I do know how to add,” Erisman says. “And the costs to live a Villages lifestyle can add up fast.”

Here are some other interesting facts from Erisman’s newest book, “Complete Guide to The Villages”:

  • About 4,500 new people move to The Villages annually.
  • In 2012, some 55,663 Villagers played at least one round of golf, for a total of 2,546,611 rounds played.
  • The survival rate in The Villages for sudden cardiac arrest was 44 percent in 2012 — about seven times the national average.

If you don’t think The Villages is for you, check out these six theme-based retirement communities.