Jun 24, 2022

What are the Best College Towns for Retirement

Stuart Mason

While many people associate college towns with their younger years, some of the most popular places to retire in the entire country are actually college towns, and there’s a lot of great reasons why. First, college towns often offer an incredible array of social and educational opportunities as colleges (and their students) are always hosting events from across the cultural spectrum, like lectures on interesting topics or student theater performances (not to mention that college sports programs can often rival their professional counterparts for fun and excitement). Along with these on-campus events, college towns often also feature historic downtowns full of shops and restaurants that provide plenty of year-round entertainment and things to do. Another great perk of college towns in retirement is that colleges often have, or are located near, excellent hospitals and medical facilities, which can be a huge benefit as you age by making it easy and convenient to get the highest quality medical care. 

But these are just some of the reasons that college towns make for such great retirement destinations, and each town will bring its own unique features to the table. Below, find a list of some of the most popular college towns in the country for retirement. 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina 

We start our list in North Carolina, which is fast becoming one of the most popular retirement destinations in the entire country. While many people think of the coast when they think of retiring in North Carolina - in particular North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks - Chapel Hill provides an amazing retirement destination inland among the rolling North Carolina hills. Home to the University of North Carolina’s flagship campus at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill is not only set in the scenic countryside, but it also has an amazing downtown filled with plenty of shopping, dining, and nightlife on and around the town’s famous Franklin Street. 

Nestled among the rolling green hills of North Carolina, Chapel Hill makes for a stunning retirement destination.

Not only is Chapel Hill an amazing location in and of itself, but it’s also located in one of the most unique and high tech areas in the country - North Carolina’s Research Triangle - the trio of neighboring North Carolina towns encompassing the state’s three main research universities: the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Duke University in Durham, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Life in the Research Triangle not only brings the added social and cultural benefits of living near two more amazing college towns, it also means access to great healthcare options through all three research universities and the local biotech industry. 

Clemson, South Carolina

Traveling to North Carolina’s southern counterpart we find another amazing college town for retirement, Clemson, South Carolina. Like its northern neighbor, South Carolina is an increasingly popular retirement destination due to its incredibly friendly retirement taxes, pleasant year-round weather with miles of amazing beaches and world-class golf courses, and some amazing towns and cities to retire to. While South Carolina’s beach towns make for an amazing retirement, getting away from the beach lands you in one of America’s underrated retirement gems: Clemson, South Carolina. Sitting in the mountains of western South Carolina surrounded by beautiful lakes, Clemson provides a scenic, laid-back retirement destination that still has all the liveliness you’d expect from being in a major college town.   

Athens, Georgia

Sticking with the theme of beautiful college towns set among rolling green hills we find Athens, Georgia, home to the University of Georgia. Along with being a top-ranked college town, Athens has also collected a ton of accolades by routinely being named one of the best cities in the country to retire to. Along with its pleasant year round weather, great taxes, and access to plenty of affordable housing options in the area, Athens also sports a gorgeous and historic downtown that is always offering amazing live events, particularly live music. Not only is Athens an amazing town in its own right, but it is also located under two hours by car from Atlanta meaning that you will always have all of the amenities, entertainment, and healthcare options (just to name a few benefits) that come with being near one of the country’s largest cities.

Beautiful, historic downtown Athens, Georgia provides endless opportunities for entertainment, fine dining, and night life.

Tucson, Arizona

For an entirely different type of natural beauty we head out west to another amazing college town that is just down the road from a major metropolitan area - Tucson, Arizona located about a two hour drive southeast from Phoenix, Arizona (the country’s fifth largest city). While being home to the University of Arizona is definitely one of Tucson’s more famous distinctions, it is far from the only thing that makes Tucson such a unique and vibrant place to retire. Maybe one of its most unique features is that Tucson was named the United States’ first UNESCO City of Gastronomy for its unique culinary history and traditions. Speaking of history, Tucson is also unique for being one of the oldest continuously inhabited and cultivated areas in the United States, with an archeological history stretching back 4,000 years. Along with this one of a kind culture and history, Tucson also provides easy access to some of the country’s most beautiful national parks, like the iconic Saguaro National Park. For all these reasons, Tucson exemplifies all the qualities that make Arizona such a popular retirement destination.

Embrace your outdoor side by exploring one of Tucson's many National Parks, like the world-famous Saguaro National Park home of the iconic Saguaro Cactus.

Orlando, Florida

You might be thinking, wait a second, what is Orlando, Florida - the home of Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, and SeaWorld - doing on this list of college towns. Well along with featuring some of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, including the nearby Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, Florida can also claim to be a university town in its own right given that it is the home of the University of Central Florida, which at over 70,000 students is the second largest public university in the country. And since Orlando, Florida is such an amazing retirement destination we couldn’t help but make sure to include it on this list. With all the amenities, entertainment, and great healthcare options of a major city, with the added bonus of plenty of great reasons for friends and family to visit, Orlando certainly deserves to be counted among the best college towns for retirement in the country.

Along with being home to some of the country's top tourist destinations, like the Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, Florida is also a bustling college town.

While these are some of the most popular college towns in the country to retire to, there’s no shortage of amazing college towns that make for an amazing place to retire. Being in a college town gives you access to amazing culture and history, as well as all the resources and social opportunities that a university has to offer. Regardless of whether you’re looking to retire in a college town like Athens, Georgia or Tucson, Arizona, or a more classic retirement destination like Sarasota or Tampa Bay along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sunbound is here to help you out. We work with partners all over the country to help adults aged 55 and over to find and move to their retirement destination.

Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living. If you want to learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for residents and easier to manage for communities, email us at info@sunboundhomes.com or request a demo here. Sunbound is on a mission to make senior living more affordable for everyone.

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