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“Andrew Blechman’s account of the rampant unreality that has become the normal condition of life in Florida’s child-free retirement ghettos is fascinating. The generation that enjoyed the greatest economic boom in the history of the world is going out with a bang—the sound of society blowing up in our faces. Blechman has a laser eye for the tragicomic absurdities of all the fun, games, and wild sex in theme-park senior villages where Oz-like control is exercised by the developer and his minions. His mordant report from a strange land is consistently interesting.”

—James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency


“Leisureville is like the science fiction of Kurt Vonnegut—except that it is reality. What a great country!”

—Andrés Duany, author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

Adventures in a World Without Children

From the author of Pigeons comes a first-hand look at America’s senior utopias, gated retirement communities where no kids are allowed.

When his next-door neighbors in a quaint New England town suddenly pick up and move to a gated retirement community in Florida called “The Villages,” Blechman is astonished by their stories, so he goes to investigate. Larger than Manhattan, with a golf course for every day of the month, two downtowns, its own newspaper, radio, and TV stations, The Villages is a city of nearly one hundred thousand (and growing), missing only one thing: children. Started in the 1950s and popularized by Del Webb’s Sun City, age-segregated retirement is an exploding phenomenon. More than twelve million people will soon live in these communities, under restrictive covenants, with limited local government, and behind gates that exclude children. And not all of the residents are seniors, or even retirees.

Blechman delves into life in the senior utopia, offering a hilarious first-hand report on all its peculiarities, from ersatz nostalgia and golf-cart mania to manufactured history and the residents’ surprisingly active sex life. He introduces us to dozens of outrageous characters including the Villages press-wary developer who wields remarkable control over the community, and an aging ladies man named Mr. Midnight, with whom Blechman repeatedly samples the nightlife.

But Leisureville is more than just a romp through retirement paradise: Blechman traces the history of the trend, and travels to Arizona to show what has happened to the pioneering utopias after decades of segregation. He investigates the government of these “instant” cities, attends a builder’s conference, speaks with housing experts, and examines the implications of millions of Americans dropping out of society to live under legal segregation. This is an important book on an underreported phenomenon that is only going to get bigger, as baby boomers reach retirement age. A fascinating blend of serious history, social criticism, and hilarious, engaging reportage.

"Fascinating…. Secession movements are an American instinct, and Blechman sees one afoot in the migration of young, well-off retirees to the land of golf and sunshine…. If you are squeamish at the thought of people over 55 socializing, having sex, drinking, smoking pot, line dancing and saying they are happy with their lives, avert your eyes now…. Blechman disappears down the rabbit hole."
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
"After reading Leisureville, the first thing I have to say is: Listen up."
The Washington Post
"A new kind of suburbia ... without children." — Savannah Morning News