As more baby boomers approach retirement, one trend becoming more apparent is that
a significant number of new retirees are looking at the prospect of choosing a college town as their retirement destination.
In some cases, this decision means a return to the town or city of their alma mater, while other individuals strike out for
a college town that is entirely new to them, but still offers a combination of factors that suits their personal lifestyle
One common thread that runs among college
towns in general is that most of them, especially the more appealing locations, have a vibrant and energetic community atmosphere,
one which embraces an intellectual curiosity and provides opportunities for a rich cultural and artistic calendar.
When combined with the presence of an academic environment and such life-enhancing factors as quality health care,
reasonable cost of living, affordable housing and natural scenic beauty, the lure of living in a college town is proving to
be highly desirable option for a growing number of boomers searching for the best place to retire.
For many seniors, a prime consideration in electing to retire in a college locale
is the chance to stay intellectually active. In many instances, courses in a state school can be audited
by seniors at no cost, or for those who want academic credit, many institutions grant a significant discount in tuition for
seniors. Also, an increasing number of colleges across the country have implemented special educational
programs designed specifically for retirees who want to continue or renew their learning experience.
With literally hundreds of possible locations from which to choose, it is somewhat
presumptive to even attempt to enumerate a list of the “best college towns” for retirement living.
Rather it is becomes a question of what is best for one’s own individual lifestyle choices…small town
vs. big or medium city, east vs. west, sports oriented community vs. one that emphasizes art and culture, etc.
However, several publications have developed such lists, and a number of cities continue to appear on most of such
selections. A few of these more popular choices include Charlottesville, Virginia; Chapel Hill, North Carolina;
Athens, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Columbia, Missouri; Boulder, Colorado; Eugene, Oregon, as well as several others.
While each of these has a population of 50,000 to 100,000
or more, some retirees may well prefer the atmosphere and surroundings of a small college town over the larger cities on those
lists. Towns such as Bowling Green, Kentucky; Middlebury, Vermont; Durango, Colorado; Hanover, New Hampshire
and Sewanee, Tennessee have been cited as college towns with traditional small town atmosphere and an appealing place to retire.
With this rising trend among seniors to gravitate toward
college locations for retirement, many colleges and universities across the country have linked up with private developers
to build residential communities to attract retirees. Originally intended for retired faculty and staff,
the concept has become more encompassing, and today, a number of these housing developments, while primarily focusing their
marketing toward alumni and faculty, accept occupants with no university ties.
These college retirement communities take a number of forms, ranging from
luxury golf course housing and attractive condos to Continuing Care Retirement Communities with apartment style living and
access to health care facilities. Some may be purchased outright, while others require entrance fees and monthly
rent or maintenance payments.