South Georgia Retirement

*Brunswick (pop. 16,000) has a reputation as being a stop off for those headed to St. Simons Island or Jekyll Island. However, in recent years, Brunswick has come into its own as a premier coastal community, although prices continue to trail its island neighbors. In fact, a 1,600-unit condominium project along Brunswick coastal property is now underway.

For retirees, Brunswick offers a mild climate, great golf (216 area holes), a scenic environment and a relatively safe lifestyle. For those who hate the snow, Brunswick’s average January temperature is a low 53 degrees. That gives you lots of opportunity to play on the 69 area tennis courts.

And, the coastline beckons. Boating, sailing, fishing skiing ... just name it. The Olde Town National Register District can be enjoyed on a leisurely stroll through historic downtown Brunswick, which features 36 buildings standing since 1819. The area has great restaurants and excellent shopping. There are myriad festivals in the area, which is just 70 miles north of Jacksonville, FL.

And, a major hospital - Southeast Georgia Regional Medical Center - is based in Brunswick.

*Savannah (pop. 224,000) is truly the “old south” of Georgia, a great 271-year-old seaport town (like Charleston, SC) that captures the imagination of virtually all who visit. Savannah’s architecture and history are well know and its reputation for charm and hospitality is widespread, as well. So, retirees find a city that is like living in on a movie set year round.

Savannah has a warm climate, good regional healthcare, a number of arts and cultural groups.

Home-owning seniors living in Chatham County received a boost in 2000 when voters approved a local referendum aimed at preventing longtime residents from being taxed out of their dwellings. The legislation freezes residential property assessments by automatically raising homestead exemptions to match increases in values for as long as a resident owns his or her home. Tuition at state colleges and universities is free for those 65 and older. Of course, there is plenty of great golf in the Savannah area and on nearby Hilton Head Island, SC.

*Valdosta (pop. 45,000) is a pleasant South Georgia community that is actively seeking retirees based on a great climate, affordable costs of living and friendly, welcoming people. Valdosta residents receive good healthcare from two local hospitals. A variety of housing is available and the median home cost is $107,000.

Nearby Valdosta State offers a Learning in Retirement Center that holds interesting classes for older “students” seeking leisure study or personal growth.

*Thomasville (pop. 18,500) offers retirees a small, charming Southern town with great architecture and affordable housing. There is a strong sense of cultural sensibilities in Thomasville, amid lots of great historic homes.

Thomasville has a stated objective of attracting more retirees, so the welcome mat is out. They market a beautiful town in a rural area with a moderate climate and good hospital. People who retire to Thomasville can participate in local festivals and civic and church endeavors and really get to know their neighbors.

Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fl is just 35 miles south, making Thomasville a suburb, actually, of Florida’s capital city.