request info email to friend
Retiring to College Towns
Increasingly, people heading into retirement are thinking about doing more than putting their feet up in the recliner and watching "Wheel of Fortune." They want intellectual stimulation, cultural opportunities, safe and affordable cities, and good medical care. In growing numbers, they are finding these things in medium-sized college towns.
Special housing communities are tapping into this trend. The Village at Penn State, a retirement community near the campus of Penn State University in State College, Pa., opened in 2003. Almost 200 people can live in the apartments and cottages spread across 80 acres. Duke University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan are among the schools that have similar housing communities for retirees. But even without special residential communities, most college towns have plenty of affordable living options.
What is the attraction of these cities for people contemplating retirement? The most obvious is the college. Many Baby Boomers went to college, and they have fond memories of the experience. Certainly they don't want to relive the keg parties and the panty raids. But they may want to recapture some of the excitement and sense of possibility that they felt when they first set foot on a campus.
There also is the opportunity for intellectual stimulation. Studies show that Baby Boomers are interested in keeping mentally active, in learning new things in retirement. Many have chosen to – or been forced to – change careers once or twice during their working lives, and they are not afraid of change. In fact, they actively want to continue to grow.
Colleges are excellent places to pursue that intellectual growth. Retirees may be able to take college classes at reduced rates, or even for free. Colleges also are beginning to offer special academic programs especially for seniors. And of course college towns boast an unusually high number of bright and educated people participating in an unusually high number of book clubs, study groups and the like – many sponsored by or affiliated with the college.
But college towns can provide more than intellectual stimulation. There are many cultural opportunities, ranging from theatrical offerings to musical performances to poetry readings to dance recitals. Sports enthusiasts also will have more than enough to appeal to them. In addition to major sports like football and basketball, most colleges also sponsor rugby, swimming, lacrosse, track, and a host of less-crowded athletic contests. Tickets to cultural or athletic events are usually very reasonable – or free.
Medical care is a major concern for people considering retirement, and college towns often offer access to exceptional medical care -- often teaching hospitals associated with a university.
The cost of living also can be lower in mid-size towns than in larger cities, and taxes may be lower.
There are other factors that go into choosing a retirement location of course, including proximity to family and friends, climate and natural surroundings. And before deciding on a place to spend retirement, it is best to do some research. Check out the towns online, and then visit – preferably several times.
But as you weigh your retirement options, you might want to consider going back to school.