The Clothing Optional Retirement Plan

The naturist lifestyle is touted as a family friendly lifestyle, for young and old alike.

By Leah Felderman BA MA  

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Naturist Lifestyle Among Seniors

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Commonly referred to as nudist colonies, naturist communities (the preferred locution) are growing in popularity as a retirement option. For obvious reasons they are more commonly found in warmer weather states although they can be found across the lower 48. Naturist resorts, recreation spots, and communities are more popular than one would expect and big business in the areas they inhabit. These clothing optional retirement options range from a basic gated community with high walls to keep lookie-loos at bay, to luxury developments with a plethora of world-class amenities. Don’t forget to bring your own towel to sit on!

Naturist a.k.a. Clothing Optional Communities

This seemingly cutting-edge, risqué retirement option has actually been popular for quite a long while both abroad and stateside. The reference to nudist colonies is considered a passee and pejorative term, the reigning argument being that colonies are for ants and not people. The preferred semantic has evolved to a naturist, textile free lifestyle or simply clothing optional communities. Regardless of what you call them, many communities call them big business. Naturist communities, and therefore naturist retirement communities (since they tend to be one in the same), can be found all over the US: North and South of the Mason Dixon Line, East and West of the Mississippi.

The Naturist Lifestyle

Nudity is not just for the young and perky! The naturist lifestyle is touted as a family friendly lifestyle, for young and old alike. If you have visions of a hedonistic enclave you’ve got it all wrong; overt public sexuality of any kind is typically discouraged and grounds for removal. Yes, there are couples only and seniors only communities, and plenty of specialty naturist resorts and events for singles, LGBT, etc. Yet, by and large, naturist communities are already a niche population so a retirement home for your naturist aging loved one will very likely be in a community with a wide spectrum of ages reminiscent of the suburbs, just with less tan lines.

The Extent of Naturism

Naturism has been around much longer than the baby boomer, bra burning, hippy generation. Yet, now that these flower children are reaching retirement age there is a distinct migration to the anti-materialist, back-to-nature movements of decades past. Many naturists enter (or reenter) their newfound lifestyle with considerable retirement funds. With real estate always a popular investment option, “clothing optional” resorts and communities are a niche yet steadily growing market.  Although naturism avoids the textile (i.e. clothing) lifestyle it is not immune from commercial development. There are approximately 300 naturist clubs and communities across the US with real estate being a prime factor in the naturism industry.  As a general rule of thumb, naturism tends to be geared towards the entire family young and old, with specialty naturist ventures being few and far in-between (LGBT, singles, etc.)

Where to be Naked in the U.S.

Some of the more popular states for naturist communities include Arizona, Texas, and California. However, by and large the most popular retirement spot for naturists is, of course, Florida. Weather, low property taxes, no state income tax, and great medical resources make Florida a top pick for the aging naturalist to park their “sky clad” bum in their retirement years!

From camper/travel trailer retreats started in the 1940’s to the more upscale, resort style developments evolving today- Florida, and Central Florida in particular, has always been at the forefront of naturist communities. Just outside of Tampa lies Pasco County, often referred to as the nudist capital of America. Pasco is a sprawling country with dozens of clothing-optional communities. Popular local lore claims the first foray into commercial nudist recreation was by a Mennonite son pre-WWII, purchasing a few hundred acres of farm land with a small plot reserved specifically for the recreationally clothing challenged. Back then Pasco was a far cry, figuratively although not in distance, from the growing metro area of Tampa. In its more formal evolution, Paradise Lakes was opened as a small community of manufactured homes, set back off of a 2-lane road surrounded by pastures. It was an oddity and the delight of school kids (and nosy adults) to go to the bowling alley next door and try to sneak a glimpse over the walled, naked enclave. Today Paradise Lakes, Caliente, and Lake Como are 3 of the larger naturist destinations in Pasco totaling approximately 1700 permanent homes with hundreds of vacation residences (motels, cabins, etc.)!

No longer the sleepy, rural cousin to neighboring Tampa-Pasco county has come into its own as a naked destination for naturists. Like-minded and similarly (un)dressed individuals flock to the region usually first as snow birds and then as full-time residents in their retirement years. If your aging baby boomer is ready to revisit the liberation of their youth for retirement, or if Grandma and Grandpa want to retire their clothing for retirement then look no further than the many naturism options available to them!

Leah Felderman BA MA

About the Author

Leah Felderman is a proud alumnus of University of Central Florida (BA) and San Diego State University (MA). She has worn many occupational hats including teaching, hospitality management, government contractor and non-profit organizer. She is an intrepid international traveler having visited over 60 countries before happily settling down into her new life chapter of domesticity as a mom and Coast Guard wife.

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