While staying in their hometown is the perfect way for some people to spend their retirement years, others prefer to pull up stakes and seek a community filled with fellow retirees.

Retirement communities let residents purchase a home within a gated community teeming with things to do. Some of the biggest retirement communities in the nation offer a lively array of activities, from golfing to horseback riding.

If you or a loved one is looking into buying real estate for retirement, one of these communities may be worth consideration:

The Villages

To find the right fit, sometimes it takes a village. Located in central Florida, The Villages is 30 square miles in size, making it the largest retirement community in the nation. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau counted a population of over 51,000 people–a population increase of over 500% since 2000–living in 35,600 housing units. Almost all of the residents are seniors. Activities and amenities include country clubs, parades, movie theaters, tennis, dog parks, regular parks, restaurants, shopping areas, walking trails, fitness centers, a slew of pools and even a Lifetime Learning College.

Sun City Communities

Sun City, AZ, was the first planned retirement community in the nation and opened back in 1960. Now, the 14.5-square-mile community holds at least 37,500 residents within its 28,000 housing units. While Sun City itself is the biggest, there is more than just the one community. For example, Sun City West, another census-designated community, is a retirement community built around the love of golf. It has nine golf courses–seven private and two public–miniature golf and other amenities. If Arizona isn’t for you, Sun City communities are located throughout 23 states.

Century Villages

Another popular retirement destination, Century Villages consists of four retirement communities with between 5,700 and 8,500 condominiums throughout Florida. The primary West Palm Beach location has nearly 6,000 residents with a median age of 73. Each of the four communities located in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach and Pembroke Pines has a 100,000 square-foot clubhouse used for entertainment and recreation. For theater lovers, Century Villages says it hosts more than 200 Broadway-style shows per year.

Laguna Woods Village

Located in Southern California, Laguna Woods Village houses 18,000 residents. Its 3.8 miles of hillside property includes dozens of things to do, such as equestrian sports, an 814-seat theater, two golf courses, 10 tennis courts and seven clubhouses. There are a variety of living styles for everyone, as the community offers co-op housing, high-rise apartments and condos.

Green Valley Area

Located 25 miles south of Tucson, AZ, Green Valley is home to a number of separate senior communities with about 27,000 residents living in more than 13,000 homes. The communities are linked by the services of Green Valley Recreation Inc., which operates 13 recreation centers throughout the region. While there are age-restricted gated communities, there are also assisted living communities and memory care facilities in the area as well. Activities in the area include an observatory, dance and social clubs, concerts, classes and performing arts.