Active baby boomers seeking excitement, rich cultural experiences, and intellectual stimulation during retirement need to look no farther than many of the top college towns in the country. While most retirees focus on affordability and weather when selecting retirement destinations to spend their golden years, many boomers value the opportunity to audit college classes and enjoy the youthful vibe that is unique to university locales.
The list of retirement destinations listed below are representative of prime college towns worth considering.
1. Durham, North Carolina
Any list of attractive college town retirement destinations would be incomplete without a discussion of Durham, North Carolina. City residents enjoy four distinct seasons and can easily invest in a new home with median prices of $163,000, respectively, based on CNN Money’s reported data.
This small town with a population of 223,284 offers a big-city cultural vibe that includes Broadway hits and concerts. The new Durham Performing Arts Center seats a 2800 audience and attracts top entertainment. Art lovers will also feel welcome at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art that is home to an impressive art collection.
Duke’s senior learning program currently boasts a membership in excess of 1500. With over 100 courses offered covering a wide range of subjects, most classes are offered on Duke’s campus, providing fertile ground for young minds and senior retirees a chance to commingle in dining halls and the student center.
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
For a small town with a population of 177,770, Ann Arbor is highly-ranked on several notable lists of best places to live and work – it’s also in contention as one of the best retirement destinations in the US. WalletHub ranked the hometown of Michigan University as the number 1 college city based on factors that included affordability, career and academic opportunities, and social environment. AARP touted Ann Arbor’s deeply discounted educational offerings for seniors as well as its affordability and high walkability score highlighting a Main Street resplendent with restaurants and independently-owned stores.
Money reports that the vast majority of city residents have a park less than a 10-minute walk away from them. In addition to the green space that retirees crave, there are also restaurants galore for foodies interested in exploring new culinary experiences inspired by tastes from all over the world. Hundreds of free events hosted by the University of Michigan means boomers intent on living life to the fullest can participate without worrying about their budget.
3. Austin, Texas
Baby boomers looking at potential retirement destinations in a warmer climate and in a larger city will be pleased at what Austin offers. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast anxious to cheer the Texas Longhorns to victory or you’re interested in taking some of the tuition-free classes offered by the University of Texas to residents 65 and older, you’ll find that Austin is well-equipped to meet those needs.
The fun doesn’t stop there. The Texas Performing Arts Center also prides itself in the discounts provided to seniors for show tickets. The challenge that new seniors living in Austin will most likely experience is which cultural events and restaurants should make the cut for their precious time.
Granted, there are cheaper places to live. As the capital of Texas, Austin is known for its music and impressive restaurant scene. Comparatively, Austin is relatively affordable for a city its size with a median home price of $359,900 and a median rental rate of $1,812 per month based on AARP’s findings.
4. Athens, Georgia
The southern city of Athens, Georgia is well-known for two things. This college town takes its football seriously and collectively roots for The Georgia Bulldogs with an enthusiasm that is admirable, bordering on lunatic. When you factor in the flourishing music scene, it is easy to understand the allure of Athens, as a passionate college town that attracts its fair share of baby boomers in search of an exciting retirement destination.
Athens is a city with low tax rates and a warm climate. There’s no denying that a large number of retirees appreciate both of these benefits.
Beyond the practical reason to retire in an affordable city, retirees with time on their hands gravitate to cultural events that they may have missed in busier days when family matters and work monopolized their time. Art and culture are a big part of life in Athens for music lovers, artists, and book lovers. Some hotspots of interest are the Georgia Museum of Art, Hill Street Press, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.
Residents of Athens will find no shortage of restaurants, plays, concerts or shopping venues where they can spend their time. There is something for everyone in this small southern city full of historic old antebellum homes and a restored and modern, downtown hub.
5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Another big-city solution that is particularly attractive as an affordable retirement option is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Seniors who prioritize learning will love the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute designed for adults over 50. As a membership-based opportunity to continue learning without the hassle of taking tests and preparing for a degree, intellectual boomers can enjoy all the good of taking classes without the downside of attending classes in a more regimented environment.
While it is no secret that Pittsburgh is a large city, the 2,000 acres of city parks are sure to help you reconnect with Mother Nature. This active city is also friendly to boaters and bikers.
Practically speaking, Pittsburgh is one of the most affordable large cities for seniors to live. If you’re 65 or older, free public transportation is available to you. Remarkably, U.S. News & World Report states that the median home price paid by Pittsburgh retirees 60 and older is a modest $142,800.
Retirement Destinations Summary
Baby boomers interested in relocating to a vibrant new locale should consider the college towns mentioned above. Few cities rival a college town’s rich cultural and educational landscape.