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The Villages
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Villages not so special anymore

To the Editor:

The Villages. It’s just not special anymore.
Years ago, when The Villages was first being developed, it appeared to be the Neiman Marcus of subdivisions. It had a certain prestige and those that purchased there were “considered” elite. It was assumed that you had worked hard and retired smartly. A beautiful golf course community in Central Florida, far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities to forgo the crime and traffic, yet close enough to go for an evening out. Now anyone can live there.
After so many years and so much overdevelopment, it’s no more than a Dollar General. One on every corner. And it seems the only way a lot of the residents can feel special is to insist that “outsiders” want to use their amenities and that we are jealous. Imagine living in a county your entire life and being referred to as an outsider by a group of people that moved here from somewhere else. You failed to do due diligence when you purchased your home and somehow were led to believe that you were in a gated community and the squares were your private entertainment venues. Many of you still think this is the case. However, the squares are public spaces, and those gates going into your Village are only for show. As far as your amenities being used, truth be told it’s more than likely fellow Villagers and family members that don’t feel they need to prove their rights to be there. You treat each other like you treat the residents of the three counties that this strange social experiment expands.
Many Villagers have filed bankruptcy up north and came down here to purchase with a reverse mortgage. I know this to be fact, because I performed many closings on reverse mortgages in The Villages. Yet you act as if you are the only financially sound residents in the area. You boast about your charitable donations that are in fact no greater than anyone else’s. The difference between us is that we not only financially assist our communities, we also physically help our neighbors as well. We don’t anonymously turn them in for little white crosses or out-of-compliance rocks. If a neighbor needs a hand painting their home, we help. If things look amiss we check on them. We don’t call and turn them in because their grass is a little high.
You claim that there is so much crime outside of your bubble yet turn a blind eye to the crime inside your bubble. DUIs, assaults, drugs and shoplifting just to name a few. Adult children moving in with parents, then abusing them. By its very nature, The Villages is a haven for convicted pedophiles and sex offenders because there are no children or schools in the neighborhoods. Do you really know who your neighbor is? There is a registry you can check if you dare.
You complain about snowbirds because of traffic and the lack of tee times. “Snowbirds” pay amenity fees year-round and only use them part time. Seems like you should thank them instead of detesting them. And heaven forbid they want to rent their homes during the off time. That’s “your” neighborhood and you don’t want rentals in “your” neighborhood. Isn’t it their neighborhood also? You have the same attitude with Airbnbs. The same amenities that brought you here also bring investors. And why shouldn’t it? Golf courses, pools, fitness centers, walking trails and so forth make it a prime investment location. Yet, you get mad at investors because you are the only ones that should be entitled to own there. If you had made better financial decisions before retirement, then maybe you could have purchased an investment property as well.
You treat those in the service industry as if they were in indentured servitude. You act as if you are doing everyone a favor by eating your cheap early bird dinner and then tipping 10% (I’ve seen comments that are less than 10%, and some don’t tip at all), while being the most demanding customers in the restaurant. You demand retail staff treat you as if they are your personal shoppers. And the nursing staff in the hospitals dread to see you coming. If you aren’t complaining, then your children are. You are the reason that we have such a difficult time keeping quality medical personnel. They would rather drive an extra hour one way than be treated as servants.
Your need to be special has turned three counties against you and made you the butt of so many jokes. Facebook has several groups that are designed just to make fun of you. So please don’t tell us how much better things are because there are grocery stores and restaurants that wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Villages. Somehow, we managed to purchase food and dine out long before you got here. And as far as being jealous… that’s just silly. We aren’t the ones pretending to be teenagers while pushing 80! The rest of us prefer to live in reality.
So, while you are out and about with your elitist attitude, just know that there are thousands of us snickering at you.

Pamela Denham


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