In the 1960s, retirement had an entirely different meaning than it does today. Attitudes have dramatically changed in the last several decades. Today, the average retiree is going to continue to work and play, shifting the balance between them as needed to develop the life they desire.
According to the AARP, “Retirement itself is a very modern concept, a byproduct of postwar prosperity and longer life spans. For most of history, those lucky few who managed to reach an advanced age kept working until they were physically unable; rural life and extended families provided the safety net. But the Industrial Revolution and the longevity revolution put an end to that. Enter Social Security, which offered older Americans both a bulwark against poverty and an encouragement to leave the workforce.”
The wave of Baby Boomers who are now at “retirement age” live longer, are more fit, more active and work more. People older than 55 are working not retiring, and do not have visions of stopping work. For this reason, older people look for their next homes in communities that are near larger metro areas where work options are varied.
People retiring now want to be in the middle of life, not on the sidelines. They are not Luddites, and in fact adopt technology to enhance life. Increasingly, older adults use technology to keep up with family and enjoy Facebook more than most younger people.
To create the life, they desire, many relocate, downsizing to smaller, new homes that allow them to have fewer responsibilities, and more freedom from tasks like yard work. Others choose to relocate in order to be closer to their grandchildren or extended family.
This year, Charleston is ranked 16th — out of 200 places evaluated — as one of the Best Places to Retire.
According to the Winston Salem Journal, “About 33 percent of South Carolina relocations were related to retirement — particularly to Charleston, Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach — compared with 17.7 percent in North Carolina.”
Choosing Charleston for your retirement
Charleston is an outdoor activity lover’s dream. With incredible beaches, lakes, and national forests as well as regional, state and local parks in abundance, there are many places to go swim, paddle, sun, hike, bike and get out.
Gardeners love Charleston’s temperate climate for year around ability to plan both flowers and vegetable crops.
Veterans of all services have access to Charleston’s large VA Medical Center as well as exchange and commissary at Joint Base Charleston.
Arts and cultural activities abound in the metro area. From the annual Spoleto Festival USA, to Southeastern Wildlife Exposition to the Charleston Artist Guild and Charleston Symphony Orchestra performances, fine art is abundant.
Charleston has three universities in the area. With programming that provides concerts, lectures and community outreach, The College of Charleston, The Citadel and Charleston Southern University help give texture to life in the Lowcountry that deepens the experience of living here. C of C and The Citadel are state sponsored universities and as such, offer free tuition to seniors.
According to Sciway, “South Carolina law provides tuition exemption for residents 60 and older to take classes at state colleges (nominal fees may apply). Seniors can generally take any class offered, but many colleges also have specialized senior learning programs. Check with the institution's admissions office for details.”
It’s clear that no matter what your passion is, you will not be bored in Charleston.
Housing options for 55+ and better adults in Charleston
Older adults are not the only ones who realize exactly how attractive the Lowcountry is. Local and national home builders specializing in construction of maintenance free homes for those 55 and better have arrived in Charleston in the last decade.
National 55+ homebuilders in Charleston
One of the first arrivals was Pulte with their Del Webb brand. Currently, Del Webb Charleston is closing out their new construction activity at Cane Bay and has begun building at Del Webb Nexton. Kolter Homes launched Cresswind at The Ponds in 2015 and this year K. Hovnanian announced Four Seasons at The Lakes of Cane Bay. One of the smaller communities is the Pines at Gahagan.
All the Lowcountry retirement communities include clubhouses and social activities as well as fitness centers and swimming pools. Larger communities such as Del Webb and Cresswind have very large clubhouses and full-time lifestyle directors to create a wholly curated experience.
Downsizing doesn’t mean giving up options
Each of these builders offers homes designed for ease of living. This includes universal design features, maintenance free exteriors, regular lawn care and pruning, and homes built on a single level, with many offering options to include a bonus room. Up to date floor plans include open plan living with large kitchen islands.
Charleston area 55+ builders also offer plans with guest accommodations where homeowners can host a grandkids’ sleepover or put up guests who come to visit. Downsizing doesn't mean giving up options. Some even of these plans also offer three car garages — perfect for the Harley or mountain bike storage.
Choosy retirees choose Charleston
With work-life choices, climate, entertainment, active outdoor activities, and education options that are unbeatable, it is not difficult to comprehend why more people are choosing Charleston for the next phase of their lives.
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