Southern coast offers much to retirees

Natchez, McComb, Brookhaven and Hattisburg span across the state in the southern portion of Mississippi and each have their attributes and attractions.

*One of the most charming towns you’ll find anywhere, Natchez (pop. 18,500) has over 500 antebellum homes and buildings that are displayed annually at the Natchez Pilgrimage. The town is truly one of the undiscovered retirement locations in the South, with great golf, water sports, quaint shops, friendly people and a very affordable cost of living.

The town sits near the banks of the Mississippi River where you will also find a floating casino with gaming and entertainment. The Pilgrimage and casino have drawn visitors that have supported thriving bed and breakfast and restaurant operations.

*McComb (pop. 13,000) is another traditional Mississippi community that has great golf and incredibly affordable living. A new home generally costs about $60 a square foot. Live in a safe established community in the piney woods of Mississippi with great golf, outdoor recreation and learning in retirement classes at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

The Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center is regarded as a strong healthcare center for the McComb area. For a town McComb’s size, you will be surprised at the budding arts and cultural venues and offerings.

*In Brookhaven (pop. 10,000), you’ll find cultural diversity, historic homes, friendly people and a moderate climate. Like many Mississippi towns, you’ll find great civic pride, lots of groups and activities to get involved with and good cultural and educational opportunities. Like many other towns, Brookhaven has a low cost of living, but plenty of big city services available.

*Hattisburg (pop. 50,000) is synonymous with the University of Southern Mississippi, the sister to the University of Mississippi in Oxford and Mississippi State University in Starkville. But, Hattisburg is at least three times as big as either of the other towns and is one of the hubs of South Mississippi.

If you are looking for a larger university city with a thriving economy, a strong arts and cultural community, good shopping, entertainment and dining and good healthcare, Hattisburg is worth a look.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a melting pot of casinos, military personnel, resort vacationers, retirees and business people. The area is a melting pot with native Mississippians - many with a French Catholic heritage - newcomers and those visiting to have a great time.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina has taken its toll on the Mississippi Gulf Coast towns of Pass Christian, Gulfport and Biloxi. While several casinos and many businesses have reopened, the area will be rebuilding for some time. If you are a pioneer and are interested in participating in this effort and perhaps buying a home that needs attention, perhaps this area would be a good long term retirement bet. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is as pretty and quaint as any and it will come back as good as new in the future.