Neighborhood Styles

One of the most important decisions you need to make revolves around the format of Florida neighborhood you choose to call home.  Although home shoppers often rush to focusing on the home they will live in, it is the type of community that is by far the more important decision.

Living in a home in a neighborhood that doesn’t fit leaves a void in your lifestyle.  It’s the spirit of your community, neighbors and how you personally view your immediate surroundings that influences the way you’ll feel about the life you are living.

There are 6 basic residential community types to consider.  Each offers its own distinctive characteristics and style of living.


Traditional Neighborhood

A traditional format community offers the greatest number of options you’ll find and for many seeking a Florida lifestyle it mirrors the type of community with which they are most familiar.

Traditional neighborhoods offer a setting with like-style and caliber of single-family homes in a conventional community configuration.   The subdivided lots in such a community typically range up to a maximum 1/4 acre and are placed in groupings of blocks that range from classic grid pattern to communities planned with streets that curve and bend through the neighborhood.  Sizes of traditional neighborhoods vary considerably with number of residences typically ranging from under 50 to over 2000 homes.

Although traditional communities are most often designed for single-family residences some communities do blend an offering of multi-family homes such as condominiums or townhomes.

Traditional communities can vary in resident profile depending on its specific location. Proximity to employment hubs and schools can impact household profile. Some traditional format communities will be heavily comprised of families while others can be weighted toward empty-nesters and retirees.

As a rule such communities do not have a central recreation facility devoted to the exclusive use of residents. However, on occasion you will find traditional communities that offer a tot-lot playground or central swimming pool. This is a trend found in more recently developed communities.


Country Club Communities

As its name implies a country club format community offers residents a central hub of recreational amenities weighted toward golf and tennis.  Like traditional communities, your typical Florida country club style neighborhood is not age-restricted and can have different resident profiles with varying percentage of households with children.

Homes in a county club community can be comprised of a single type or can be comprised of a variety of styles including a mix of single-family homes, condominiums/townhomes and patio style homes.

In addition to the lifestyle emphasis on golf and tennis, country club communities often offer residents other onsite amenities.  Club dining and lounge facilities are almost always found with larger communities containing multiple golf courses and more than one onsite restaurant.

Also found is a central swimming pool and increasingly demanded are fitness facilities. Baby Boomer trending toward greater concern over health and fitness has resulted in increasingly more elaborate fitness facilities in many country club communities.  Spa services often complement the fitness offering at larger, upper-scale country club communities.

Membership in club amenities takes on a number of different variations.  In some country club communities membership in the club is mandatory while in others club membership is optional.  Under a mandatory membership program non-golfers will often be obligated to maintaining a social only member status and not be obligated to golf fees.

Virtually all clubs obligate new members to an initial lump sum fee to acquire membership.  Depending on the format of a club this fee can range over a wide spectrum from under $2000 to in excess of $100,000.

Some membership programs are “equity” based clubs where members own stock in the club, which is capable of being transferred in accordance to guidelines, established by the club. Under this arrangement members pay for the membership “stock” at a club established amount. When a member relinquishes membership the “stock” is sold or passed on to a new member and the existing member has the ability to recover the fee paid for the stock.

Another very common format is a classic membership program where members pay an initial membership or initiation fee.  Unlike an “equity” club this membership fee may or may not be recoverable when membership is relinquished. This varies by specific club policies.

Regardless of what up front payment exists for membership, all club golf memberships carry annual “green fees” which members generally pay to the club monthly or quarterly.  In many instances there is also a “food minimum” where members are required to spend a predetermined amount at the club restaurant to support the food service operation.

The concept of ownership of the actual country club amenities is another variable, which can vary by community. Most often the actual country club operation including golf courses and restaurants are owned by a firm specializing in the country club business.

In the case of “equity” courses members rely on a professional management staff or outsource service to operate the club facilities.

In some instances the country club amenities are actually owned and operated by the residents via a community’s Homeowner Association.  However, this option is rarer and generally confined to select retirement formatted communities.


Retirement Age-Restricted Community

This is a very popular community in Florida designed to accommodate a retiree profile.  Under the federal age-restricted community guidelines residents must generally be 55 plus years of age or older.  A legally provided buffer to the strict age restriction compliance allows for a small percentage of permanent residents to be below the age of 55. This provision works to accommodate spouses and older children living at home who are below the 55 age threshold. Community established guidelines vary for minimum age requirements for permanent household members within the community.  This minimum age typically varies from 18 to 21 years of age.

The appeal of the lifestyle offered by Florida retirement communities centers on an active lifestyle supported by a variety of recreational and social oriented amenities.  The community amenity package can include traditional country club sports such as golf and tennis as well as extensive fitness facilities, swimming pools and clubhouse centers that cater to everything from specialty interest clubs to entertainment events. Amenities also commonly include provisions for computer rooms, a library and craft rooms for the likes of woodworking, painting and ceramics.

The recreational and social orientation of a retirement community tends to be more widespread than a country club community.  This promises retirees an active Florida lifestyle that fosters vibrant social interaction and a full schedule of structured activities.

Housing options in such retirement communities include the full spectrum of styles outlined in this website.


Retirement Non-Age Restricted Community

Such a community has the same basic lifestyle orientation as an age-restricted retirement community without the legal 55 year of age requirements. Residential developments created for this market niche are often referred to as “age-targeted” communities.

Residents of such communities wish to enjoy the recreation and social lifestyle benefits that retirement communities provide while avoiding adherence to the strict 55 age legal restriction. This format of community continues to be overwhelming oriented to retirees but do not exclude family oriented households.  Frequently cited as a reason for preferring this style of community is a desire to avoid the restrictive rules effecting visiting grandchildren found at 55 plus Florida retirement communities.


Large Lot Communities

This format of community caters to people wanting a more spacious residential setting. Homesites in these communities typically range from 1 acre to 10 acres.

To maintain affordability such neighborhoods are in outer suburban or rural locations where land prices are reasonable. Although such Florida neighborhoods tend not to have central recreation amenities, some are themed as equestrian communities with provision for paddock and riding trails or pilot communities with private runway.


Neo-Traditional Neighborhood

This trend in community development represents a rebirth of classic neighborhoods with tree lined streets, parallel street parking, sidewalks, front porches, rear alley access to garages and community park squares.  Often a “town center” amenity offering community services, restaurants and specialty shops is incorporated into the community planning.  The combined result of its design is a old style neighborhood that fosters a family-friendly, pedestrian oriented environment.

The architectural styling in today’s neo-traditional communities are patterned on early 20th Century Americana design. The style of homes found in such communities are predominantly single family with a sprinkling of condominiums at times found above office and retail space in the town center.

Two prime examples of such a community format is Celebration in the Disney World area of Orlando and the waterfront village of Seaside located near Destin in Florida’s Panhandle.