Topretirements.com, a website dedicated to helping baby boomers find the best places to live after they retire, has ranked Sarasota, Florida, number two out of the top 10 "Best of the Best" list for 2019 in the United States. Asheville, North Carolina, was number one.

Many individuals favor retirement in cities that offer a favorable cost of living, a variety of cultural attractions, reasonably priced houses, and warm winters.

Five of the top-rated retirement communities in the Sarasota/Bradenton area of Florida are the Esplanade at Lakewood Ranch, VillageWalk of Sarasota, The Isles on Palmer Ranch, the Cascades at Sarasota, and LakeRidge Falls.

Key Takeaways

  • There are many communities in Sarasota that offer amenities that target retirees, such as in-house retailers, markets, post offices, pet spaces, fitness clubs, trails, community activities, and easy access to golf courses.
  • The homes that can be bought or rented within these communities typically charge fees to cover the cost of groundskeeping.
  • For 2019, Asheville, North Carolina was the top-rated retirement location for baby boomers in Topretirements.com's "Best of the Best" list; Sarasota, Florida, was ranked second.

1. Esplanade at Lakewood Ranch

Esplanade is a retirement community for active seniors, and it is the largest green-certified community in the United States. Esplanade is located on over 200 acres in the eastern part of Sarasota. This community has more than 1,300 properties, with prices ranging from the $200,000s to the $800,000s.

Esplanade has a variety of exclusive amenities. The center of the community is the clubhouse, which houses a fitness center, a ballroom, a catering kitchen, areas for crafts, and a library.

Outdoors, the community boasts an area for barbecuing, a specially designated lawn space for formal events, and a fenced-in park where residents can bring their pets. Also outside is a heated pool, a spa, and several miles of walking trails.

All the homes at Esplanade are available for resale. They are designed to be maintenance-free, and they come in collections ranging in size from approximately 1,600 square feet to over 2,600 square feet. All floor plans have two or three bedrooms, two to three-and-a-half bathrooms, and garages.

Many of the most popular communities may have waitlists or limited availability.

2. VillageWalk of Sarasota

VillageWalk of Sarasota is a gated community. Although there is no age restriction, it is nonetheless recognized as a retirement community and is overwhelmingly populated by seniors. VillageWalk is situated on more than 500 acres of land, and it has a total of nearly 1,200 homes ranging in price from $200,000 to $500,000. These homes are available on a resale basis only, and availability varies.

The Town Center is the hub of VillageWalk's social and physical activities. The Center includes a fitness center, a multipurpose room with a television, a catering-style kitchen, game rooms, and a studio for arts and crafts. The Center also includes a gas station, a hair salon, a café, a market, and a post office.

Outdoors, the community boasts a heated lap pool and a larger, lagoon-style pool. There is also a patio with ample seating, tennis courts, and various walking trails.

Construction on VillageWalk began in 2002 and wrapped up in 2009. All homes—both villas and townhomes—are designed to need little maintenance and suit the needs of retirees. The townhomes range from 1,600 to just under 1,900 square feet. Each townhome has two or three bedrooms and bathrooms as well as an attached garage. Villas range from just over 1,500 to nearly 1,700 square feet and also include two or three bedrooms and bathrooms and an attached garage.

There are also single-family homes at VillageWalk, ranging from just over 2,000 square feet to just over 2,500 square feet. The floor plans of these homes have optional pools.

Florida has no state income tax. Additionally, retirement income and Social Security are exempt from state taxation.

3. The Isles on Palmer Ranch

The Isles on Palmer Ranch is a prestigious lakefront retirement community for retirees looking to maintain active lifestyles. There are over 650 homes in the community ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.

There are a number of amenities available to residents of The Isles. The community is built around lakes and natural reserves. Among its offerings are a heated lagoon pool, lighted tennis courts, basketball and bocce ball courts, and the lakeside Village Center, which includes a modern fitness center. There is also a playground area and a post office. There are walking and biking trails throughout the community.

Construction on The Isles began in 2006 and was completed in 2013 with 674 homes available. Buyers can pick from villas, single-family homes, or townhouses. Each type of home is slightly different, but each style comes with two to four bedrooms, two or three bathrooms, and an attached garage. These homes range from close to 1,700 square feet to nearly 1,900 square feet.

Residents must pay fees, which vary depending on the type of home, to the homeowners' association. The association completes all exterior and lawn maintenance making The Isles a low-maintenance place to live.

4. The Cascades at Sarasota

The Cascades at Sarasota is a resort-style community for active individuals aged 55 and older. There are over 450 homes in the community, ranging from mid $200,000 to $400,000.

The main attraction of the Cascades is its proximity to Sarasota's city center and easy access to I-4 and I-75. Of course, the property's central 25,000-square-foot clubhouse that houses a fitness center and indoor pool, spacious rooms for meetings and other activities, game rooms, and an arts and crafts studio is also a draw.

Outside the clubhouse, residents can take advantage of a large pool and patio. There are also tennis and bocce ball courts and several ponds surrounding the community. There is a full-time activities director at the Cascades who organizes special guests, activities, and other social events.

There are various floor plans for the homes available in this community. They generally range from 1,420 square feet to nearly 2,500 square feet with two to four bedrooms, two to three bathrooms, and an attached garage. The cost for all of the homes in the community includes yard maintenance, Internet, basic cable, and alarm systems.

5. LakeRidge Falls

LakeRidge Falls is a gated retirement community in Sarasota, Florida. The real estate for this community consists of nearly 400 homes, ranging from $200,000 to $350,000.

LakeRidge has a modern clubhouse that is packed with amenities including several general-purpose meeting rooms, a crafts room, a fitness center, a pool, a kitchen and serving bar, game rooms, and free Wi-Fi. Outside the clubhouse, game courts and a heated pool are available to residents.

The community has three neighborhoods, each consisting of single-family houses, duplex villas, and garden villas. Nearly all of the residences are on or near a lake or in wooded areas. Residents pay a homeowners' association fee that covers all maintenance. The homes range from nearly 1,400 square feet to almost 2,100 square feet.