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Why Young Seniors Are Choosing to Retire in College Towns

College students walking on campus

If spending your retirement years on the golf course or at the bridge table doesn’t make your heart go pitter-patter, you’re not alone. Many older adults want more from retirement than a life of leisure. They want to continue learning new things, having rich cultural experiences, and interacting with younger generations. For seniors looking for an alternative to a traditional retirement lifestyle, college towns offer an attractive solution.


What is a college town?

While there are colleges and universities in towns, suburbs and cities, not every locale is truly a college town. The American Institute for Economic Research defines a college town as a location with a college or university as a central part of the community and fewer than 250,000 residents.

A Google search will turn up pages of the best college towns to retire in. You can take your pick depending on what area of the country appeals to you. Many are located in relatively small cities in inexpensive states, which can help stretch your retirement dollars.

College students walking on campus

What makes college towns a good fit for retirees?

Further education isn’t the only attraction college towns offer older adults. It may not even be the main attraction. The best college towns to retire in offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities, not to mention great healthcare and a youthful vibe.

College towns have great events, museums and culture.

Sporting events are a big draw on some college campuses, especially Division I colleges and universities. If sports aren’t your game, there are artistic and cultural events to attend. Film, dance, music and theater are major attractions for senior audiences in college towns. And many events are available at a relatively low cost.

A professor engaging with students at a university campus

Easy access to higher learning.

Learning new things reduces the risk of cognitive decline. It can give you a sense of fulfillment and lift your mood. And in a college or university setting, participating in classes allows you to meet new people who share your curiosity about the world.

At some campuses, seniors can audit classes or attend lectures at little to no cost. There may also be programs, such as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Northwestern, that offer thought-provoking study groups and opportunities to engage with peers who have similar interests.


Top notch healthcare.

Having access to quality healthcare is a priority for seniors. That can be a problem if you live in a small town, especially rural or isolated communities. College towns, however, are much more likely to have great clinics, hospitals and specialists. While it’s true that many of the best university medical centers are located in large cities or metro areas, smaller college towns often have nationally ranked university healthcare systems. This is particularly true if you move somewhere with a renowned medical school.


Towns designed for pedestrians.

Most college students can’t bring their cars to campus, so almost everything is within walking distance. Public transportation also tends to be more reliable in a college town. And ride-sharing options like Uber and Lyft are more readily available. If you like to walk for exercise, you discover lots of walking and biking trails in college towns.

College student happily painting with a senior citizen

A youthful vibe.

It’s invigorating to be around students full of energy and new ideas. They can challenge our way of thinking and keep our minds young. An art student, for example, can help you tap into your creativity by guiding a ceramics or painting project. Dance students can lead you in a simple movement class to improve your balance and mobility. English majors can offer advice on a poem or short story you’re hoping to get published.

On the flip side, colleges are always looking for volunteers at events, mentors for students, and even guest speakers for their classes. These intergenerational connections can help break down stereotypes and lead to a more engaging and fulfilling retirement.


Lifelong learning keeps life interesting in our communities.

We know how important it is for older adults to stay intellectually engaged. That’s why we offer opportunities in our life plan communities to continue learning and growing at each of our communities.

At Lake Forest Place, residents can take drawing and music classes through Lake Forest College. Westminster Place offers art and improv classes through Northwestern University Continuing Education, in addition to a Learning in Retirement Series. Residents at The Moorings can attend lectures and discussion groups, along with art and jewelry-making classes. And Northwestern University is just minutes away from Ten Twenty Grove in Evanston.

To learn more about the benefits of lifelong learning for seniors, check out our blog post. Or contact us directly for more information about any of our senior living communities.