UpFront | Published in June 2012

South to Rise Again

Southern college towns are ideal retirement spots

By Tara Cantore | June 2012

An analysis of trends and preferences indicates that tens of millions of Baby Boomers should look to Southern college towns for the ideal retirement destination. These towns provide the best combination of climate, cost of living, health care and other lifestyle benefits, according to a report from the Washington Economics Group (WEG). The report, titled “Best Choice for Retiring Boomers: Head South—An Analysis of Selected U.S. Cities,” builds on a recent survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

The survey also found that in comparing 20 prospective ideal Boomer retirement communities, Tallahassee, Florida, ranked first in the country. Furthermore, one-third of Baby Boomers said they would consider moving to another state to find the desirable conditions they most value. Chief among those are a midsize town with a pleasant, warm climate and a mild hint of winter, a low cost of living and favorable tax rate, and a top-quality health care system.

 According to the survey, the top 20 towns for retirement—some not in the South—are: Tallahassee, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Athens, Georgia; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Atlanta; Oxford, Mississippi; Charleston, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Richmond, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Indianapolis; Lexington, Kentucky; Toledo, Ohio; Cleveland; Boston; Milwaukee; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and New York. The 20 cities evaluated by WEG have an already high number of retirees or are classified as typically popular destinations for them; have populations consistent with or close to the size favored in the Mason-Dixon poll; or feature more than one factor favored by those surveyed.