Retirement is a big step in a person’s life. Besides not having a regular paycheck one leaves their co-workers and the social life that goes with the job. Added to that is the “free time” one is suddenly faced with. A big decision that must be made is whether to remain in the same home and same town that one has lived in for perhaps years.
Most retirees choose to stay in their homes as long as possible. Many others in the North and Northeastern United States are deciding they no longer want to put up with the cold, ice and snow in the region in which they have been living so are retiring to the South and Southwestern states. In addition to the better climate they find there, they find a more relaxing environment and sometimes a more economical lifestyle.
Some of the resort areas that are attracting retirees are Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina and Palm Springs, California. Florida, in the past has been the retirement dream place, but the hurricanes and inflated home prices have made it a little less desirable. Phoenix, Yuma and Tucson in Arizona; St. George, Utah and Henderson/ Las Vegas, Nevada are becoming a choice for many retirees. They are attracted to the relaxed pace and the sunny, dry climate.
For us, we have found a town that we like and we are finding other retirees choosing the same town. Columbia, Missouri, located in the center of the state, has a lot going for it. It has been attracting attention in some of the national lists of best places to live. On the Forbes Magazine 2008 list of the smartest U.S. cities, Columbia ranked 11. In 2007 it had ranked 19 in the Forbes “best places to educate children.” It has also been ranked in Country Home and Money magazines. Most recently the August, 2008 issue of Outside Magazine has ranked Columbia number 10 on its list of the “best towns to live in.”
Columbia is a growing, vibrant town of more than 89,000 people, where one can find something to do every day or night. It is home to the University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College, giving it a student population of nearly 25,000. Should a retiree choose to get some intellectual stimulation, this is a good place to be.
As to the arts, a look at the Sunday newspaper shows performances in no less than four theaters in the town with several others in nearby towns within driving distance. Live music can be found somewhere in the area every night of the week. If exhibits are more to a person’s liking, there are several galleries with art work and a fine museum. At the end of the summer the county fair is in town. Who can pass up a look at locally made handwork, a good horse show, car races or even pig races?
Specifically for retirees there are three Senior Centers which provide different services to the older population. Two of them serve noon meals at a reduced rate for seniors. A couple of centers have daily activities of interest to retirees, such as pool tables, bingo, choir, jam sessions, dances, bell choir, card games and crafts. To keep fit there is a wonderful activity center with a huge swimming pool, an indoor walking track, two gyms, and every kind of aerobic equipment. This activity and recreation center is open to all ages, for a fee. There are an abundance of restaurants from the fast food types to the gourmet.
For the outdoor enthusiast there are golf courses, lakes for fishing, numerous walking and bike trails and stables where horses can be found for riding. And how about those Mizzou Tigers? University of Missouri is among the top ranked colleges in football and basketball. If one doesn’t want to see the football game, the tailgate parties attract hundreds on home game days.
Retired persons are drawn to Columbia for the excellent medical facilities. There is a very good Veterans Hospital offering services to Veterans and the University of Missouri Health System is one of the best in the state. People tired of mowing grass and shoveling snow, can find plenty of apartments in Columbia where those things are taken care of by the apartment maintenance workers. There are several apartment complexes exclusively for seniors that offer numerous amenities to their residents. For those in need of skilled care there are assisted living facilities and nursing homes that give outstanding service.
Maybe Columbia, Missouri doesn’t offer the mild climate some retirees are looking for, but it is my opinion it has enough other qualities to compensate for that. At least it is the town we have chosen for our declining years.