College towns aren’t just for the young twenty-something’s coming into adulthood. With their focus on entertainment, diversity, learning new ideas, and developing community, these towns are also a perfect place for empty nesters and retirees to settle down and embrace their best years. Interested in finding a college down to call home? Here are five university communities that are drawing residents of all ages.
College Station, Texas
A small-town feel, low cost of living, world-class lectures and entertainment via Texas A&M, exceptional health facilities – all this and more make College Station, Texas top of the class for college towns that Boomers are drawn to. “The main thing we have going for us is our nice, friendly community,” says Spencer Clements, principal of Traditions Club and Community.
The private golf club and residential community is a college-linked retirement community that’s attracting former Aggies (or graduates of A&M) and non-Aggies alike. College Station is “a hidden gem. We have great cultural diversity, really good food, great healthcare; all without some of the big city problems,” Clements says. And, older adults can even take free classes at A&M.
In the past, older adults looked to retire in rural beach communities, away from the college crowd. But that’s no longer the case says Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group, a real estate team in Washington, D.C.
In fact, Miller says, the college atmosphere is one reason 55+ homebuyers are flocking to Williamsburg. Centered around the College of William & Mary, this college town boasts historical sites of interest to older adults, along with other attractions like Busch Gardens that kids and grandkids can enjoy. “It has grown into a resort destination,” Miller says. “While the town has a young, vibrant feel, the community maintains a relaxed, calm environment to encourage out-of-town visitors.”
Clemson, South Carolina
Aside from a healthy football program, Clemson University and its hometown offer 55+ residents with a vibrant town with lots to do. “Southeaster U.S. college towns like Clemson offer the perfect recipe of ingredients to attract 55+ residents,” says Carters Sowers, director of Technology for Sundog Homes, a contractor for the Falls at Meehan in Pendleton, S.C., just four miles from Clemson. “You have affordable new construction [homes], large universities offering continuing education, relatively low taxes, and an improving job market.”
Sowers also credits the dining, shopping, and entertainment and cultural events that come with Clemson’s college population with attracting older adults to the area.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has everything you’d want in a town: university life, an economy bolstered by technology, world-class medical facilities, and natural spaces like the Huron River and dense forests throughout the town.
University Commons, an active adult community in Michigan that houses many university faculty and staff, offers walking trails, continuing education courses, and even twice-weekly meals by the university’s culinary students. Attractions such as the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, numerous museums, and art events keep non-sports fans entertained. For those who need a quick getaway from the small-town life, Detroit is just 35 miles west of Ann Arbor.
With Boise State University at the heart of the city, Boise is a wonderful place for Boomers. This college town has beautiful scenery and a moderate climate that’s ideal for exploring its natural surroundings. The Boise River Greenbelt runs through much of the city, providing leisurely outdoor activities, including fishing and rafter for water enthusiasts.
Boise enjoys a vibrant arts community, as well as a lively sports scene thanks to the city’s minor league baseball and hockey teams. Bike commuters help keep traffic down, encouraged by the many bike paths that traverse the city. The Boise Zoo, shopping, dining, and other college-linked entertainment make Boise a town that’s drawing 55+ homebuyers.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for NewHomeSource, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.