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Most Affordable College Towns for Retirement – Sun Belt

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Note: This is a 4 part series. See links to the other parts in Further Reading below.

Nov. 2014 — College towns make great retirement towns for a lot of reasons. Above all they are interesting places to live with plenty of cultural opportunities, adult education, and athletic events. The shopping, infrastructure… even the day-to-day ambiance is a lot more fun. For many retirees, having young people in the community provide a pleasant antidote to a steady diet of older people.

This article will explore some of our favorite college towns with 3 selection criteria:
– They had to be affordable (median homes below the national median of $190,600)
– Located in the sunbelt (which Wikipedia puts on a line south of mid-California through Texas to South Carolina)
– The college ambiance must be significant (more than just having a college present in the town).

Here is our list of the best and most affordable college towns in the Sunbelt:
Athens Georgia. Go Bulldawgs! The University of Georgia has helped to create an unusually liberal community with a thriving artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual scene.
Clemson South Carolina. Clemson University and its 17,000 students have a major impact. The university is the cultural center of the city. On game days the 80,000 stadium fills the town with excitement.
Gainesville, FL. Here in central Florida the University of Florida puts a unique stamp on this town. From restaurants to the downtown campus to the Shanks Hospital, Gainesville is a special place.
Las Cruces, NM. This town is frequently selected as a best place to retire, and one of the reasons is that it is home to 23,000 students of New Mexico State University.
Hattiesburg, MS. There are 2 universities in Hattiesburg, the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey. Hattiesburg makes the “best places to retire” lists because it is a college town and has lovely historic districts.

Lyceum at Old Miss courtesy of Wikipedia and enjoybeta

Lyceum at Old Miss courtesy of Wikipedia and enjoybeta

Oxford, MS. If you love literature and music you will like Oxford as a retirement town. There’s the state university (“Ole Miss”). It was also William Faulkner’s adopted home town, and some of his books draw upon local scenes. The popular legal thriller author, John Grisham, has a home here too.

Tallahassee, FL. Tallahassee is home to the state capitol as well as two universities (Florida State University and Florida A & M).
Mesa, AZ. This college town (Arizona State University, East and Mesa Community College) is located near the amazing Superstition Mountains, and just close enough to Phoenix.
Lakeland, FL. Frank Lloyd Wright’s “A Child of the Sun” project for Florida Southern College is the largest one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world.
Asheville NC. Asheville, in addition to being the # 1 best place to retire at Topretirements, has the UNC-Asheville campus and its Center for Creative Retirement.
Austin,TX. The University of Texas is a cultural engine for Austin, but the local art world is as active as anywhere in the country with many museums, galleries, even open air art markets.

Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the Comments section below if you have a favorite and affordable college town in the Sunbelt.

For further reading
Part 1: Should You Be Applying to These College Towns for Retirement
Part 2: These College Towns Are Great Places to Retire
Part 4. Heading Back to Campus in Retirement: University Based Retirement Communities

Posted by John Brady on December 14th, 2009


  1. Excellent list, and I have several other desirable college towns listed in my book, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale). One thing worth mentioning for those considering a college town (and I do recommend this lifestyle) is that some of them have CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) associated with them – including the University of Florida, University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Washington and Lee University – something worth considering if you’d like to be able to segue from independent living to assisted living to skilled care if necessary.

    If your plans don’t involve purchasing a home, finding rental property could be a bit more difficult because of stiff competition from students, who also compete for part-time jobs.

    by Jan Cullinane — December 15, 2009

  2. You forgot Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The home of Northeast University has an excellent community supported hospital, good doctors, very friendly locals, lots of land available and many many more things to recommend it. Located in the foothills of the Ozarks it has a nice rolling terrain and a low cost of living. You also have quick access to a moderate metropolitan area (Muskogee-40 minutes) or a larger one (Tulsa) with a slight longer drive. The cost of living in cheap, taxes are cheap and for federal retirees a portion of their income is tax free. Great place to retire.

    by Paula Aulton — December 16, 2009

  3. Burlington, Vt. Has Champlain College and the University of Vermont, with its enormous College of Medicine. Also, a 12.5 mile bike path along Lake Champlain. Beautiful and warm in the summer: bicycling, hiking, walking in the woods and forests. In the winter, unless you ski or snowshoe, head for, and establish residency, in Florida.

    by oldnassau — December 17, 2009

  4. Gainesville is a great place to retire. With the University of Florida and all of the surrounding nature scenes, Gainesville provides plenty of fun activities!

    by gainesville fl houses for rent — December 28, 2009

  5. […] Most Affordable College Towns Most Important Criteria for Best Place to Retire Posted by John Brady on January 4th, 2010 Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS) […]

    by » How to Retire in Style and on a Budget Topretirements — January 5, 2010

  6. […] For further reference: Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront Most Affordable Places to Retire (2010) How to Find an Affordable Place to Retire Most Affordable College Towns in the Sunbelt […]

    by » 10 Very Affordable… and Great Places to Retire Topretirements — September 14, 2011

  7. We are planning to retire in research triangle in NC.What the pros and contras of living there?

    by Witold — September 25, 2011

  8. The Research Triangle Park area of NC is not only a great retirement spot, it is a top place for college town retirement. See our reviews of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill on our NC Active Community Page
    Downsides are that real estate is a little pricey, and the winters are not warm.

    by John Brady — September 25, 2011

  9. […] For further reference: 8 More Affordable Places to Live 10 Very Affordable Places to Retire 11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront Affordable College Towns in the Sunbelt […]

    by » 20 Great Affordable Towns for Retirement Topretirements — June 13, 2014

  10. […] For Further Reference: Part 1: Should You Be Applying for an On-Campus Retirement? Part 3: More Affordable College Towns for Retirement – Sunbelt […]

    by » College Town Active Communities Make Great Places to Retire - Topretirements — November 11, 2014

  11. […] Town Retirement” series. Here is the link to College Town Retirements -Part 2 and Part 3, which include many more college towns to consider. March 21, 2011 — A reporter recently […]

    by » Should You Be Applying to a College Town for Retirement? - Topretirements — November 11, 2014

  12. […] Active Communities in College Towns with Lifelong Learning Institutes Many active communities have opportunities for learning without being associated with a college or university. Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are quite prominent and very attractive alternatives to UBRCs. For one thing, they are often less expensive communities to live in. For another, since the CCRC model usually attracts a much older resident base, more mainstream active communities that have Osher programs will appeal more to younger retirees. In many college towns you can take or audit classes without living in an active community or UBRC. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle ||[]).push({}); For Further Reference: Part 1: Should You Be Applying for an On-Campus Retirement? Part 2: These College Towns Are Great Places to Retire Part 3: More Affordable College Towns for Retirement – Sunbelt […]

    by » Heading Back to Campus in Retirement: University-Related Communities Make Great Places to Retire - Topretirements — November 11, 2014

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