Monday, June 11, 2018

Twelve Reasons My Town is a Great Retirement Town

Where to retire lists never rank New Jersey high. Often the opposite. New Jersey appears on lists of places NOT to retire. But lists do not tell the whole story. 

Hub and I live in a corner of South Jersey that is an oasis in the let’s-make-fun-of-Jersey desert. It is a great place to live year-round and an appealing retirement locale. About 50% of the town’s properties are owned by shoobies, folks descending Memorial Day weekend then disappearing after Labor Day, often showing up weekends only. A segment of the population, however, are full-timers or snow birds. 

Here are twelve reasons why, despite expensive housing, exorbitant property taxes, high income taxes (although there is some relief for retirees), and the state’s lousy reputation, the Jersey coast can be a wonderful retirement alternative:

1. It is topographically flat and a walkable community, with a boardwalk through two towns (about 6 miles long), and bike lanes. The flat terrain is easy on old folks’ bones and stamina! Our community recently received a grant to increase bike lanes and install additional bike racks. 

Bike racks for a popular mode of transportation on the island.

2. And speaking of transportation, a number of possibilities exist. Stores, restaurants and services are within walking or biking distance. The bus (75 cents for seniors) travels the length of the island. Uber and Lyft are on call. A car is an option, and local traffic rarely stresses.

3. The weather is not too cold (usually) and not too hot (most of the time). Very cold or hot spells last a few days then moderate. The few inches of winter white stuff look beautiful and disappears quickly. Snowstorms are rare, although every few years a major one socks the island. On the other hand storms, like Superstorm Sandy in 2012, can wreak havoc. But most places nowadays are prone to some weather calamity.

4. The Atlantic Ocean and intercoastal waterways offer impressive scenery, and state and national recreational areas are a short drive away. 

5. Continuing education courses, special events and on-going activities proliferate year-round. Canasta, mah jongg, bridge – whatever your game, groups welcome new participants. Outdoorsy folks, besides walking, running and biking, can swim, surf, cruise the waters (in motor-powered as well as man-powered kayaks, canoes, sailboats and paddle boards). And we are dog-friendly.

6. First-class entertainment is a few minutes away in Atlantic City. Because this is a tourist mecca numerous bars and restaurants offer great food and music. Shows are scheduled throughout the year and local groups perform in community theaters.

7. The sprawling, sandy beach extends the 8-mile length of the island. Need I say more! 

8. The job market tanked following the Great Recession, but the local economy is improving. Two new hotel casinos open the end of June, each hiring 3,000+ employees. The hotels had difficulty filling all positions. Full and part-time jobs (senior jobseekers welcome!) are, if not plentiful, available.

9. Social life. People are, for the most part (malcontents live everywhere), friendly and welcoming. It is not difficult to ‘find your niche’, make friends and get involved.

10. City life (Philadelphia and New York City) is a budget-priced bus or train ride away (1½ hours to Philadelphia, 2½ hours to NYC). You can drive, but traffic, tolls and parking can be challenging. 

11. Want to travel further? Catch a Spirit Air flight from Atlantic City Airport. Not quite comfy, but nowadays service and accommodations on most airlines are far from luxurious. Going overseas? Philadelphia International Airport is a little over an hour drive.

12. Need home assistance temporarily or permanently? Organizations provide meals, home health support, companionship and other services. A senior transportation system delivers to area activities.

There are additional reasons our area is a good retirement alternative – first-rate medical facilities and medical professionals…higher education opportunities…lots of retirees…retirement communities (off island)…

Will hub and I remain in South Jersey? We like our life today, but do not know what will happen tomorrow. If the future includes a higher tax burden, we might flee. But where?

Any suggestions?