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Is A College Town Right for Your Retirement?

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

December 5, 2016 — A few years back a reporter asked for our opinion about college town retirements. Her questions concerned the pros and cons, reasons why to choose one, top places to retire with colleges, etc. What we told her is that there are a lot of really good reasons to consider retiring in a college town, along with a few considerations why not to consider them. That conversation sparked a 4 part series at Topretirements on the topic, which most of our newer Members have probably never seen. We think you might find the series useful in help you figure out if a college town retirement makes sense for you. It will give you lots of great college towns to consider, plus some recommendations and resources in these towns that will help you get the most out of the experience.

These are the links to the series
Part 1: “Should You Be Applying to These College Towns for Retirement”.
Part 2: “These College Towns Are Great Places to Retire
Part 3: Most Affordable College Towns for Retirement – Sun Belt
Part 4: Heading Back to Campus: University Based Retirement Communities,plus… Lifelong Learning Opportunities

We hope you enjoy the series! Please feel free to Comment at the end of the respective articles.

Posted by Admin on December 5th, 2016


  1. I’m considering eugene, oregon. It’s pretty reasonable for the budget and free bus transportation if you are 65. Any input or experiences with Eugene?

    by Mary11 — December 6, 2016

  2. Mary 11, I live in the Portland area, not Eugene. My first question for you applies to both though: how are you with 8-9 months of grey skies and lots of rain? A good friend who grew up in Seattle says that the rain that would fall in an hour in most places, takes a week in the PNW. Lots of drizzle, mist, fog and “showers.”
    From what I’ve heard, Eugene, isn’t yet having to deal with the huge growth that’s plaguing the Portland area, raising real estate values and causing higher rents. I liked Eugene when I visited it last fall.

    by Laney — December 7, 2016

  3. I’d have to agree with Mary11. I moved to Eugene about 20 years ago to be with friends and to begin at job at U of O. I was also involved with the Holt Performing Arts Center. The community is wonderful and has much to recommend it, the low cost of living (at that time) being an important consideration. In spite of all that, I lasted 1-1/2 years. Summers are exceptionally beautiful, but they last 3 months–at most. The remaining 9 months of the year are gloomy and if it’s not raining, one is just drying out from the previous rain or preparing for the next one. It’s not the warm tropical rains of Hawaii or Florida; it’s cold, damp, even wind-driven rain at times. Native Oregonians often told me they “love” the rain, but I was never able to get used to it.

    by Mochiron — December 7, 2016

  4. Pretty dreary most of the time. I like sunshine so I live in Arizona. If you like snow and beautiful summers, take a look at Elko, NV. It’s far from big cities, but does have a nice college.

    by Steve Baker — December 7, 2016

  5. I really like Eugene, but I’ve not visited there in decades. I would consider living there too. The campus is beautiful. I read years ago that Eugene gets more rain than any other city of its size in the continental U.S. But that’s what makes it beautiful too. I could put up with rain (I am a pluviophile) in Eugene, and when I wanted sun, drive over the mountains to enjoy Sun River for a while. Eugene is hip, counterculture, young, and environmentally aware, from what I remember. Even that long ago! I don’t know anything about the housing or cost of living, but OR has no sales tax, so that helps.

    by Elaine C. — December 7, 2016

  6. I read through the four parts of this series and am happy to see that Fayetteville, AR, is not included in the list. This hidden gem in the Ozarks has so much going for it (including free for-credit tuition at the university for residents over 65) that keeping it quiet keeps the cost of living low. I am not conservative, but AR is a red state. I currently live in AZ, so I am used to that. The traffic can be a bit much on Razorback football game day (as discussed in the series), and the Waltons have a heavy presence in the area – which turns out to be a good thing because they support the arts in NW AR. It does get cold in the winter time, but then one can head south to New Orleans below or scoot over to FL for a while. Taxes are low (my property taxes are less than $300 per year on the house I inherited from my dad), the water tastes great, four seasons, lots of lakes, rivers, hiking, a countywide bike system currently being built, and easy access to the big cities of Memphis, Kansas City, and Tulsa. There is an airport, but it is not international. Anyway, don’t believe a word I typed here. I don’t think you would care for it much.

    by Elaine C. — December 7, 2016

  7. Hi Elaine C. ……Loved your write-up of Fayetteville, AR. My husband and I visited several years ago..actually staying in Bentonville and just being struck with the jaw-dropping scenery of the southern ozarks. We traveled south to Fayetteville and found it so beautiful and charming …even went inside the Razorbacks stadium. I also found it interesting that you mentioned not being conservative, but living in a ‘red’ state ….I, too, live in AZ and think we have to stay due to grandchildren close by…and I’m not conservative either. I have a good friend who’s goal is to retire at Beaver Lake.

    by CJ Baskel — December 7, 2016

  8. Thanks for the input on Eugene, OR. I know the weather is not the greatest compared to sunny CA where I a m now, but…I did live in Portland for 8 yrs so do know what it can be like with the drizzle. My hubs and I are trying to decide where in oregon would be best for our retirement ranging from the coast to inland such as Ashland or Roseburg. I’d prefer less rain but do prefer closer to the coast so it does make it difficult.

    by Mary11 — December 8, 2016

  9. Caution about college towns – they are almost always – politically liberal. (2nd sentence edited)

    by carol — December 8, 2016

  10. I’ll be moving to Athens GA in a few years. Love it there. For me, politically liberal is a plus not a minus. Athens makes just about every list of where to retire that I have seen. Housing is cheap comparatively (I live in NYC). It has four, mild seasons and is just beautiful. Can’t wait.

    by Stacey — December 8, 2016

  11. I have been thinking of the Athens area as well. My husband is leaning towards the “resort style” communities. Does Athens have any of these communities?

    by Vicki — December 9, 2016

  12. Good for you Stacey! Best of luck.

    by ginger — December 9, 2016

  13. We are doing our due diligence in searching for our final retirement home. We recently visited Athens. i’m curious to hear more about Athens, Georgia. It seemed like it might have some potential economic problems since ninety percent of the people there work for the State government. It also didn’t seem to have very nice housing since students seemed to take up so many of the residences. I would love to hear from folks who live there or have visited.

    by Lynn — December 9, 2016

  14. Comment from Loraine:
    Hi! FYI we live at Lake Monticello in Virginia. We are 30 min from Charlottesville home of UVA. Excellent medical care, cultural activities ( shows, museum, historic areas etc) all nearby. We live in a gated community 1/3 whom are retirees. We have a gorgeous golf course at reasonable rates, a great pool in summer ( $240 unlimited family use or as low as $4 a trip with a 20 trip ticket). We have great groups to join, restaurants-pharmacies- food store right outside the gate, and our lake has a marina( slips are $450 a year) plus 5 beautiful Sandy beaches for members to use ( playgrounds are also scattered thruout our area too). Our HOA dues are $933 a year. 3 bedroom homes start around $ 150k on smaller plots. We have a larger 3 BR. With a great room as well as finished room downstairs with a workshop and 2 car garage on a quiet village de sac. People here are wonderful. We have almost 3/4 acre and taxes are $1500. Our taxes in NY were 90% more than here! Many wineries and local food available thru local ranches and farms/ orchards too. Let me know if you need more info. PS some waterfront start at the 400k price.

    by Admin — December 9, 2016

  15. I haven’t seen any resort communities in Athens. It does, as stated, cater to students. However, you can rent an apartment in a very nice, gated community that’s a bit further from UGA and doesn’t offer shuttle service to UGA. Those are not popular with the student body. In checking out these communities, I’ve seen a wide range in ages. There are swimming pools, fitness rooms, etc. at these communities. I’ll be renting until I figure out where I want to be. There are a lot of single family homes as well as condos and townhouses. I know this website lists adult communities in the area. Check those if that is what you are interested in.

    by Stacey — December 9, 2016

  16. Hi Loraine, I have friends retiring at the end of the year and they will be moving to Lake Monticello from Northern Virginia. It sounds perfect to me and I can’t wait to visit them and scope it out for my own retirement in a few years. The only fly in the ointment for me is the private water company, Aqua, which has the monopoly and sounds like they raise their rates every year. May I ask what your average monthly water/sewer bill is for your home? And have you found the rates to be excessive enough that it affects your water use? Thanks much!

    by Rosemary — December 14, 2016

  17. Lorraine and any others living at Lake Monticello VA – could you give any updated info and an email to communicate. Thx! Dian

    by Dian — September 15, 2018

  18. Lorraine: Can you give us the name of the community you live at in Lake Monticello, Virginia? Thanks

    by judy — September 16, 2018

  19. This week the news has been talking a little bit about life in college towns and the unknown for this fall’s semester. As luck would have it I had decided a college town was the environment I wanted, and was advised by many to go during the school year to get the real feel of living in one while the students around and sports in full swing not to mention the cultural events. I have a couple of years yet to make a decision. I am thinking by the 2nd semester things may be better and busier. I guess I am hoping those living in a small college town can give me some input, what the towns people are talking about and if they are concerned. Maybe it’s too early to know.

    by Paula — May 19, 2020

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