What is a Certified Retirement Community program?
There are 5 states that have created programs for Certified Retirement Communities. Of these, West Virginia calls them "Designated Retirement Communities". Tennessee is included because of its "Retire Tennessee" program. The purpose of these retirement community programs and lists is to encourage economic development. The prospect of 76 million baby boomers nearing retirement has caught the attention of many states and communities because the economic benefits to the places where they end up retiring are enormous. States not only want to encourage new residents to retire in their communities because of the "mail box" economy (pension checks arriving by mail), but they also want to keep existing residents. Louisiana estimates that the economic impact of a retiree household is the equivalent of 3.7 factory jobs. Texas estimates that each retiree household who moves to the state creates 1.5 jobs.
The 5 states that have publicized their certification programs are:
- Texas certified retirement community program
- Louisiana certified retirement community program
- Mississippi certified retirement community program
- West Virginia Designated Retirement Community
- Retire Tennessee program
Lists of Certified Retirement Communities
As of November 2008 it appears that there are about 76 certified retirement communities in the U.S. Mississippi has 21 certified communities on its list. The Texas list has 22 (and constantly adding to it), West Virginia has 5 on its list including Morgantown, Bluefield, Greenbrier Valley, and Beckley. Louisiana has selected 11 towns. Tennessee has a slightly different program called "Retire Tennessee" that promotes retirement in 9 selected communities/areas. Here is where you can find a complete list of certified retirement communities in all 5 states.
A typical explanation for what the programs hope to accomplish is this statement from Louisiana: "The Certified Retirement Community is a program that recognizes places in Louisiana that the state substantiates as premier locations for retirees (persons aged 55 and older). Local communities selected for certification receive inclusion in state-level marketing efforts, technical assistance, networking opportunities and grant funding to support the program". The programs typically require that communities attend a training seminar and then complete an exhaustive application. Note that Louisiana's program appears to be inactive.
To qualify as a Certified Retirement City in Mississippi's program each town must pass through a three-month intensive screening process conducted by Hometown Mississippi Retirement, the state's official retiree attraction program. Each city is evaluated on criteria important to retirees - affordable cost of living, low taxes, low crime rate, quality medical care,
recreation, educational and cultural opportunities, and most importantly - a warm, welcoming community.
The programs hope to inform prospective retirees of the benefits of living in these communities. Kentucky, which used to have a certified retirement community program, had a list of ideal attributes including:
(a) State and local tax structure;
(b) Housing opportunities and cost;
(d) Personal safety;
(e) Working opportunities;
(f) Health care services and other services along the continuum of services including, but not limited to, home and community based services;
(h) Continuing education;
(i) Leisure living;
(k) The performing arts;
(l) Festivals and events;
(m) Sports at all levels;
What's in it for you?
The good news for baby boomers is that the states are doing big part of your vetting process for you. Since they have an application process and established criteria, any town that gets the certification is guaranteed to be welcoming and have a minimum level of facilities. So, check them out.
Here are links to profiles of Certified Retirement Communities that have been reviewed at Topretirements.com:
Murray Kentucky certified retirement community
Natchitoches LA certified retirement community
Hattiesburg Mississippi certified retirement community
Oxford Mississippi certified retirement community
Athens Texas certified retirement community
Longview Texas certified retirement community
Lufkin Texas certified retirement community
Nacogdoches TX certified retirement community
Winnsboro Texas certified retirement community
Chattanooga TN certified retirement community
Crossville TN certified retirement community
Paris TN certified retirement community
Morgantown, WV certified retirement community
This link will help you find reviews of 1000+ great retirement towns and active adult communities.