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Sun City AZ – The Impact of America’s First Retirement Community


Sun City is more than just a retirement community. For many, it is the bedrock upon which all other retirement communities have been built. With its unique age restrictions and its focus on helping its residents live independent lives, Sun City altered the way that Americans look at life after retirement. Taking some time to appreciate where the community came from and how it continues to impact lives in America can allow many to understand why the community continues to grow decades after it was first founded.

How Sun City Arizona Came to Be America’s First Retirement Community

While the idea of a community for adults over the age of fifty-five might seem normal now, this was not always the case. Sun City has only been around since the 1960s, but it has created a way of life that feels timeless. Understanding why the community works means taking a look at where it came from, as well as looking at the man who came up with the original idea. Sun City might seem like an obvious idea now, but it took a great deal of work to turn into a reality.

The Visionaries

It’s hard to talk about Sun City’s history without mentioning Del Webb. The construction magnate (previously most famous for building Las Vegas’ iconic Flamingo) had led a fairly interesting life before coming to Arizona. The son of a sand and gravel business owner, Del dropped out of high school to become a carpenter’s apprentice. From there, he lived life as an itinerant carpenter and semi-pro baseball player before developing the business that would become the Del Webb Corporation. Though Webb has since passed, it’s still very easy to see the mark that he left on Sun City and on America’s concept of life after retirement.

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Photo credit: reviewjournal.com

The Vision

Webb’s vision was definitely a far cry from the norms of the day. Before the development of the community, retirees simply did not pick up stakes and move to greener pastures once they retired. They would live at home and, eventually, retire to nursing homes when their families could no longer care for them. His plan, however, acknowledged that life did not end at retirement. Instead, it allowed seniors a chance to start the second chapter of their lives, one that was no longer dominated by work or family obligations and that would allow them to live out their later years in comfort.

Related: Retiring in Sun City – What you Need to Know

Building a small town in the desert

Sun City wasn’t a guaranteed success. In fact, many thought that the idea of a retirement community in the desert was going to be a disaster. There was certainly a great deal of interest, though, as over a hundred thousand people came to see the development when it was unveiled. The community blew past its initial sales estimates in the first year, with many more new residents flocking in as the months went by. Sun City would quickly become more than just a small town – it would become a model for active adult communities across the nation.

The Impact of Sun City Arizona

Sun City has had a huge impact on the way that Americans view retirement and how they view life after fifty-five. While there are certainly major societal shifts that have occurred due to the building of the retirement community, it’s perhaps easiest to look at the areas where the impact has been the most pronounced. The community has had a huge impact on neighboring Phoenix, on the sport of golf, and even on the way that the United States looks at post-retirement living. Even those who have never been to the area can see that Sun City has made a huge impact on the nation.


– On the Phoenix Area

Sun City and Phoenix have managed to grow together since the 1960s. While the two areas certainly have different demographics and different priorities, it remains true that what’s good for Phoenix has generally been good for Sun City. Sun City has brought wealth and growth to the area, while Phoenix has brought some of the country’s biggest businesses and trendiest entertainment to Sun City. It’s hard to imagine what Phoenix would be today if Sun City had not been built.

– On America

Sun City certainly gets credit for starting the development of 55+ communities across America. While there were certain neighborhoods that trended older before the 1960s, it was the development of Sun City that helped to both popularize and normalize the idea of active adult communities in Arizona and the United States. There are numerous communities patterned after the city now, but they all owe a debt to the originator of the concept.

– On Golf

While golf courses weren’t initially part of the Sun City Plan, they have certainly become a staple of the 55+ communities in the years since they were first added to the community. Given the leadership role that Sun City has played in these communities, it’s fairly easy to say that the inclusion of the courses led to golf courses becoming central parts of age-restricted communities. Even as new developments move away from golf courses and central hubs, they do so by following the lead of America’s oldest retirement community.

retirement community

Homes for Sale in Sun City AZ

The city is still growing. Now with multiple developments, it’s much bigger than its humble beginnings. If you’re looking to become part of the community’s future, you’re in luck – there are still many homes for sale. If you’re looking for your next move after retirement or you’re simply starting to makes plans for the future, make sure to visit here to check out the Sun City homes that are currently for sale. Sun City is always evolving, but one thing will always remain true – this retirement community will always help those over fifty-five to live their best lives.

Click here to view homes for sale in Sun City Arizona


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