An interesting piece on The Huffington Post this week listed the number one town or city in each U.S. state that baby boomers just don’t seem to want to leave as they get older and/or retire.
The author, Moira McGarvey, runs a website called GangsAway.com that provides helpful info to people planning their retirements — including places to retire. Using U.S. Census and other data that the Gangs Away! gang has dug up, she came up with what she determined are the “stickiest” hometowns across the country — those most likely to find boomers age 55 and up who own their houses free and clear and are staying where they are rather than moving, say, to warmer climes, nearer to their children, or for some other factor.
McGarvey wasn’t able to come up with one consistent quality that bound all these towns and cities together — she speculates that it might be a combination of the “environment or activities, weather, sense of community, extended family, cost of living, or proximity to services.” One odd fact is that two have identical names — Burlington, Iowa, and Burlington, Vermont — but otherwise don’t bear that much resemblance to each other.
And, in many cases, the appeal is not at all obvious, especially since some of the communities aren’t exactly major marks on the map. She cites Pahrump, Nevada, as a case in point. I’m not sure where Badger, Alaska, or Dundalk, Maryland are either, even though I’ve spent quite a bit of time in both those states. I’m guessing that those places might have strong “sense of community” going on.
Other sticky communities aren’t particularly surprising: Nashville, Tennessee; Asheville, North Carolina; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, are all attractive destinations as well as places to settle down.
But why Scranton, Pennsylvania? Scranton — famously known as the setting of TV’s “The Office” as well as hometown of Vice President Joe Biden — happens to be the nearest big city to where I live, and I always thought of it as a place people tried to get out of, not stay forever. But I don’t mean to slight Scranton’s many charms, which I’m sure, lie just beneath the surface.
Another one that struck me was Dodge City, Kansas. Wasn’t the whole idea back in the day to “get out of Dodge” rather than stay?
I would have guessed that more college towns would have shown up on the list, such as Ann Arbor, Michigan (edged out by Allen Park); Athens, Georgia (which finished somewhere behind Columbus); Charlottesville, Virginia (where Danville placed first); or Tucson, Arizona (Fortuna Foothills was the stickiest in that state). I always think of college towns as great places to retire, but apparently Fortuna Foothills has its own allure.
Since this blog is concerned with baby boomer travel, I’m at a loss as to know whether or not to recommend this list as a guide for checking out possible places to retire on your next road trip. I can’t tell you the first thing about Hobbs, New Mexico; Sapulpa, Oklahoma; or any number of other communities on it.
But when Quincy, Illinois, made the list, the executive director of the Quincy Convention and Visitors Bureau saw it as a big plus. “I love it. I think it’s great,” Holly Cain told the local newspaper there. “It’s wonderful exposure, and we didn’t pay a dime for it. We’re going to use the heck out of it in promoting other forms of economic development.” Cain said the recognition will be an excellent marketing tool for the visitors bureau “because baby boomers are a lot of the visitors that we’re seeing in our community and leaving their dollars here.”
As far as attractions go, Cain cited “the ease of traveling and parking and 10 minutes to anywhere and affordable housing,” and, according to the paper, she also mentioned that the Huffpost piece would be a “great tool for the recruiters” at two local hospitals in “recruiting people to live here and support our economy.”
So, how about it, Scranton, Pahrump and Sapulpa — will you be promoting the heck out of this piece? If not, you’re missing a bet.
You can read the piece and see the entire list of sticky communities here.
This Week’s Travel Quiz
In 2012, which of these countries did NOT rank among the top 10 of international visitors to the U.S.?
I’ll have the answer in my next blog post.