Factors That Make Small Towns Desirable for Retirement

Factors That Make Small Towns Desirable for Retirement

In planning for retirement, many people seek out a new home in a new town, whether to downsize, move to a sunnier climate, or simply for a change of pace. While some baby boomers are looking for more excitement and a thriving night life, many people – both singles and couples – hunt for new homes in quieter, more cozy places than the suburban or urban environments in which they spent their working years.

Small cities – those with populations of 25,000 or fewer – offer some distinct benefits for senior citizens seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle of life, but don’t want to live out in the middle of nowhere. In the hunt for the perfect small-town retirement destination, you may want to consider a number of factors: criteria that can help you determine whether or not a small city in question is a good spot to retire.

So, what makes certain small towns more desirable for retirement than others? There are a wide range of answers to that question, but the same few seem to pop up again and again: Low crime rate; mild weather; ease of travel within city limits (walkability) and to other destinations (nearness to international airport); number of retiree amenities per capita; natural beauty and charm of the surroundings; and ability to make quality social connections. While some of these factors (low crime rate and mild climate) are easy to quantify, others are a bit more subjective.

Ease of travel: To some, this may mean the ability to walk easily to the majority of restaurants, venues and shops in the community, while to others it may mean excellent public transportation options in a small city.

Retiree Amenities: Some are looking for a bonafide 55+ community with all the included amenities and facilities, while others look to the town in general to see what healthcare facilities, senior centers, adult education opportunities, libraries, and arts and entertainment venues are available.  Is there a senior center nearby?

Social Connections: Many small towns or small cities share a common “theme,” or may have large concentrations of certain types of people. Perhaps citizens share a common ethnic heritage, like Leavenworth, WA’s Scandinavians, or shared interest like the Sedona, AZ population of artists. Towns that host annual festivals and other events also offer many opportunities to meet new people.
Are there many baby boomers or seniors your age?

Regional Medical – Is there regional medical resources nearby and 24 hour medical services close by? How about assisted living homes?

Tip! Small towns with one of the large Active Adult Communities like those of Del Webb, K. Hovnanian Homes, Brookfield Homes, Lennar, Beazer Homes,  WCI Communities or Erickson Retirement communities – they usually have done the research for you and are in or near desirable small towns for retirement.

Retiring to a small town can be an appealing option on many fronts. After battling traffic and hassles of urban or suburban living for decades, the attractions of small town life can be a serene alternative, and offer opportunities to learn, grow, socialize, and live happy and healthy lives as seniors.

Move Before It’s Too Late

We see parallels in our own lives. When we sold a business five years ago we started looking around for places to retire. This process helped me to start Retirement Media which has turned out to be an enjoyable retirement job and I am still learning and exploring the options.

However it is now five years later and at age 63 we are still “thinking” about our options in retirement. We came close last year to making a move to a 55 plus community

My wife and I were discussing her mother’s dilemma.  She is 88 years old and in a nursing center rehab program now for two months with her fate becoming increasingly clear; she will not be able to live by herself anymore.   She fell in her home and couldn’t get up.

Only a little over a year ago she turned down a chance to move to a nice little independent living community when her name came up on the list.  She said she was still not quite ready for that.

She had placed her name on the waiting list for this independent living community maybe 5 years ago.  But each time her name came up she wasn’t ready. My wife and I couldn’t understand her decision not to move to a better place, where she could socialize more and be near help if she needed it.  This last time in an interview meeting, the director of this community advised her not to wait too long – enjoy in while you are still able.

Now it appears she will be skipping the independent living stage, going straight to assisted living or to the nursing center.  She didn’t want to move when she had a say so, but now it looks like she will be moving with no say so.

We see parallels in our own lives.  When we sold a business five years ago we started looking around for places to retire.  This process helped me to start Retirement Media which has turned out to be an enjoyable retirement job and I am still learning and exploring the options.

However it is now five years later and at age 63 we are still “thinking” about our options in retirement.  We came close last year to buying a home in a 55 plus community (see Analysis of a Move to a 55 Plus Community) but with the uncertain economy and depressed real estate market, decided the time was not right.

The time was not right for us.  Where have we heard that before.  Are we doing the same thing as my mother in law.  Just not ready yet.   It is not like we are giving anything up.  To the contrary, this should improve our lifestyle.  So why are we reluctant.  It is really the real estate market or is it something else.

Last year when we told our neighbor of our plans to move to a 55+ community, she replied “so that’s where you are going to end up?”.  Humm.  Didn’t think of it that way.  Or did we?

Even a change for the better is hard to make.  You are giving up what you are familiar with for something new.  Maybe now I can understand the mother in law’s reluctance a little better.

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