We raised our children just a few blocks from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Our children practiced soccer on the sports fields at SMU, had their piano recitals in the performing arts theater, and bonded with many college babysitters over the years. We also took them to see performances of the Nutcracker Suite, inexpensive concerts, plays and other special events.
When our children grew up and my husband and I relocated to California, we moved to another college town, near the University of California in Irvine. As an adult, I have discovered that UCI offers special continuing education classes for senior citizens, membership in a lecture series at the University Club, and a lovely campus where we can walk. Over the years, we learned there are numerous reasons why people of all ages, including retirees, benefit from living near a college or university.
College Kids and Retirees Have Many Needs in Common
If you are in your 60s, 70s or 80s, you may be wondering what you could possibly have in common with college students in their late teens or early 20s. As it turns out, you may have more in common than you think.
* You both like to be near affordable restaurants and similar services
* You both enjoy affordable entertainment, including concerts, plays, ballet and orchestra performances.
* You both may be sports fans and look forward to sporting events with admission prices far lower than the professional teams.
* You both benefit from walkable neighborhoods where you can easily stroll to a variety of businesses.
* You both can benefit from reliable public transportation, should you need it.
* In addition, many large universities also have teaching hospitals and dental schools, an excellent way to obtain world class medical care at affordable prices. Sometimes you can even sign up to participate in drug trials or other innovative treatments which may not yet be available everywhere. For example, I am currently participating in a long-term dementia study. Researchers at the UCI-MIND program test me annually to see if I will develop any signs of cognitive decline (which has not happened, so far). If I do show signs of developing dementia, they will do further tests and offer to enlist me in drug trials in an effort to slow down the progression of the disease. This is an opportunity which I am unlikely to have if I had retired far away from any major university.
Popular College Towns for Retirees
Below is a list of popular college towns based on the recommendations of AARP, and my own personal experiences. You will see that the choices range from fairly large cities at the top of the list to small towns near the bottom.
Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts
University Park (in Dallas), Texas
Minneapolis - St. Paul, Minnesota
Princeton, New Jersey
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Silver Spring, Maryland
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Bismarck, North Dakota
Choosing the Best University or College Town for You
Of course, the above list is not comprehensive. There are dozens of other possible choices. If you are interested in living in a college town which is not on the list, simply do a little research to make sure the community has amenities which interest you, whether that be a winning football or basketball team, performances which are open to the public, affordable housing, access to healthcare and good transportation. You may also get more ideas for desirable college communities by purchasing a book about colleges and college towns.
Check out the Fiske Guide to Colleges:
If you are looking for a smaller community in which to retire, don't rule out the opportunities offered by local community colleges. In Orange County, California, Saddleback Community College offers hundreds of free classes to senior citizens who live in the county. These classes include photography, oil painting, history, yoga, aerobics, computer programs, health and much more. Other community colleges across the country also offer free or low-cost classes to seniors.
In addition, you may want to investigate the crime rate and the overall feeling of comfort you have when you are strolling around the community. Not all colleges, especially those in large cities, are in neighborhoods with low crime rates.
Finally, you may also want to check to see if the community you are considering has a Senior Center. In addition to the resources which a college will make available, a Senior Center will also provide activities and resources geared specifically for an older population, including exercise classes, educational classes, low cost meals, entertainment and information about local services for senior citizens.
If you are interested in discovering more ideas for where to retire, in the United States and abroad, financial planning, Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as you age, and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.
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Photo credit: Photo of University of Missouri in Columbia courtesy of Google Images