Georgetown, Texas is the place to retire!

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Guidebook names Georgetown top retirement spot
10:10 AM CDT on Monday, October 15, 2007

By BOB MOOS / The Dallas Morning News
bmoos@dallasnews.com

North Texans in search of the best place in America to retire don’t need to fly off to picturesque Cape Cod, sun-drenched Arizona or resort-rich Colorado. They have only to drive a few hours south on Interstate 35 to Georgetown. The Central Texas town has just earned top billing in the latest edition of Retirement Places Rated, one of the oldest and most popular guidebooks for footloose boomers and seniors looking to relocate upon retirement. “Though Georgetown may not be the first place to come to mind for most people, its strong economy and affordable housing gave it an edge over the 199 other communities we researched,” said author David Savageau.

A half-million Americans move to other states each year to retire, while another half-million resettle within their states. Retirement experts expect those numbers to double as boomers claim Social Security and seek out their own Golden Ponds.
Mr. Savageau, who has published seven editions of his guidebook in 25 years, used seven criteria to determine the best retirement spots this time around: climate, economy, community services, ambience, living costs, housing and personal safety. “Georgetown offers the best of two worlds,” he said. “It’s a small community on the edge of the Austin metropolitan area. Retirees want both the neighborliness of a small town and the cultural, entertainment and health-care amenities of a big city.”

None of this comes as news to Geoff Lawrence and his wife, Denise. The boomer couple moved from College Station to Georgetown’s biggest active-adult community, Sun City Texas, three years ago after he retired from the military. “The town’s small enough to get tee times easily, and it’s close enough to Austin to get to UT football games without much trouble,” he said. Mr. Lawrence said he also enjoys living in a college town – Georgetown is home to Southwestern University, a private liberal-arts institution. The Lawrences could well mount their own marketing campaign for their community. Not only have they moved to Georgetown, but so have his parents (from Santa Fe, N.M.), her parents (from Alabama) and, most recently, her sister and brother-in-law (from Waco). They all live within about 3 miles of each other in Sun City. “We all have different interests and lead separate lives, but our back yard has seen quite a few family get-togethers,” Mr. Lawrence said.

Retirement Places Rated has sold a half-million copies over the years, and a favorable score has sometimes bolstered a town’s fortunes. Murray, Ky., reversed a population loss with its No. 1 ranking in one edition, Mr. Savageau said. The president of Georgetown’s Chamber of Commerce, Mel Pendland, said retirees have played a significant role in his community’s growth in recent years. The town’s population has jumped 64 percent to 46,479 since 2000.

Sun City Texas, the active-adult community Del Webb began developing in the 1990s, now contains 5,500 homes and 9,000 residents, mostly 55 and older. Plans call for 2,500 more homes, Mr. Pendland said. “The first retirees to arrive in Georgetown came from other parts of Texas,” he said. “The next group moved from the Upper Midwest. Now they’re from Arizona, Florida and California.”

Central Texas’ lower housing prices have attracted them, Mr. Pendland said. Retirement Places Rated found that the median price for a three-bedroom, two-bath home was $199,210, compared with $339,600 in Sarasota, Fla., and $556,800 in Scottsdale, Ariz. “People are taking the equity they’ve built up in their old homes and paying out of pocket for something here,” he said. “Suddenly, retirement becomes much more affordable for them.” Mr. Pendland said some longtime Georgetown residents’ initial fears that the senior influx would overburden the town have proved false. “These are highly educated, accomplished people who want to stay engaged. Many are our most active volunteers,” he said. Through the Partners in Education program in the Georgetown schools, older residents have served as mentors for schoolchildren.
“Seniors are valued here,” he said.

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