December 7, 2012
College Towns Draw Retirees
Rather than Florida, or other more typical retirement destinations, seniors are increasingly choosing to spend their retirement years back in the classroom. In order to do so they are choosing to retire in great numbers to college towns across the country, where they enjoy easy access to the many cultural, educational and recreational opportunities available on campus. As a result, a growing number of retirees are viewing retirement communities that are linked to a college or university campus as an affective way to keep busy while exercising their minds, particularly in light of the benefits that education offers in warding off Alzheimer’s disease.
For some retirees, it is essentially a homecoming. They are returning to their former campuses with warm memories of the time they spent there as students. Others remain in college towns after retiring from professor positions with the local college or university. Still others are moving to be closer to their children, who may be affiliated with the university. And some are just looking for new experiences and a chance to enrich their lives.
Many retirees cite the vibrancy and social activities available in college towns. While the same types of residential facilities and programming are available in senior living communities around the country, there is a preponderance in college towns. Colleges typically have music, art, cultural and other events year-round that are open to students as well as the surrounding community, many of which may not be available in other areas.
For seniors seeking to keep their minds active as they age, college towns allow an opportunity for seniors to return to the classroom. Many college town retirement communities boast of partnerships with the local college or university that offer retiree residents noncredit academic courses. While retirees may face some limitations on the number and type of classes they may take, and are often subject to pre-emption by paying students, a large university will still be able to offer many educational opportunities to seniors that are interested in partaking. In some cases, retirees are even given the opportunity to teach classes, in an adjunct position, where the university has a need that can be met by the retiree’s skill-set.
Even for communities that do not have official partnerships with local colleges or universities may have social and educational opportunities for retirees. Most social and cultural programming is open to the general public. And schools may be willing to offer free or low-cost classes to seniors who are not seeking college credit.