Thursday, July 26, 2012

Retirement in Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a great city for active retirees.
Copyright © adwriter Creative Commons. 
A lot of the press Chattanooga has been getting lately is attractive to young professionals. The new Amazon fulfillment center has been generating a lot of jobs (more than 2,500 as of July, 2012 according to CNBC). So has the Volkswagen plant, and the small businesses cropping up to be near the gigabite-speed internet available from EPB. Chattanooga has also long been touted as a family friendly city, thanks to the Creative Discovery Museum and Tennessee Aquarium. It was recently voted on of the 7 Best Vacations with Kids Under 7. It's easy to forget in the midst of all those accolades that Chattanooga is also an awesome city for baby boomers and retirees. 
The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce explains on their website the variety of reasons the Scenic City is senior friendly:
 "With a reputation for cultivating a clean, green environment, Chattanooga is quickly becoming a favorite destination for energetic baby boomers seeking active retirement lifestyles. Adults of all ages enjoy Chattanooga’s revitalized riverfront and thriving local arts scene, as well as its abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. Others are drawn to the Scenic City for its friendly climate. Chattanooga offers seniors the ability to enjoy an affordable lifestyle. In 2009 and 2010, Forbes.com ranked Chattanooga among the top 10 most affordable U.S. cities to live in, noting its inexpensive housing, lower real estate taxes, more stable employment, low cost of living and easy commutes. The appeal of the Chattanooga area to a growing older population has led to the development of a number of first-class retirement communities and a wide range of independent living, assisted living, nursing home, Alzheimer’s care and in-home care services."

Chattanooga made CNN Money's list of 25 Best Places to Retire thanks to many of the qualities the Chamber lists, and also drew up a page of statistics anyone considering moving to the area might find helpful, from average home prices to crime rates and air quality. It's also ranked on Top Retirement's list, along with several other Tennessee cities. What separates Chattanooga from other cities on the list is that what qualifies as "retirement-friendly" is changing. Many baby boomers don't fit the senior stereotypes that "retiree" conjures up. Yahoo news recently covered the active lifestyle of the modern retiree, noting that "A new generation is redefining retirement by diving into high-energy activities and seeking new experiences – from motorcycle riding and hiking to kayaking and white-water river rafting."
The New York Times recently explained a part of the young-at-heart boomer phenomenon in an article titled "Who Are You Calling Grandma?" It describes the disconnect between traditional names for grandparents and how hip many actual grandparents are. 
"This is a common attitude, said Dana Points, the editor in chief of Parents magazine. 'Today’s grandparents don’t feel like they look or act like the grandparents of a generation ago,' she said, 'so there can be a weird disconnect with the official term.' As someone 'fun' and 'still wearing jeans,' Ms. Wellford [author of a book of alternative grandmother names] herself settled on 'Mimi.' 'It turns out most baby boomers I know felt the same way — love the idea, hate the name"
This new breed of retirees need a community that suits their faster passed, more adventurous post-career lifestyle. Chattanooga is an ideal fit. Chattanooga not only offers the golf course and water front communities that make up other retirement-friendly cities like Crossville, but also the amenities more active boomers are seeking. Chattanooga's outdoor offerings have been well covered-- the city was recently voted by Outdoor Magazine as one of the best outdoor cities in the country, ranked higher than even Boulder, ­Burling­ton or Portland. It offers hangliding, skydiving, boating, water skiing, kayaking, river rafting, mountain biking, hiking, even paddle boarding. It's also rich in restaurants  both high brow and low brow, full of shopping and art galleries, and has a thriving music scene. For all the same reasons young people have been flocking to Chattanooga, driving competitive population growth, hip folks a generation or two older will find plenty to fill their retirement years with fun and excitement. And with all the reasons that Chattanooga is a great family town, there will be plenty to do when the grandkids come to visit. As the Chamber pointed out, the price is right, but so is the attitude.