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Monday, April 22, 2024

Gainesville ranked top retirement city in recent article

Gainesville could be Florida's new prime destination for retirees.

A Monday article on that ranked Gainesville the top city in the country to retire to during an economic downturn wasn't the first to declare it a hot spot for senior citizens.

In 2007, the city also ranked eighth in "Top Ten Value Towns for Those Considering Retirement" and 11th on the AARP's "The 15 Best Places to Reinvent Your Life."

City spokesman Bob Woods said Gainesville has been marketing itself to wealthy senior citizens since a November 2006 study showed them to make up a large portion of the city's visitors.

According to the most recent U.S Census Bureau data, only 9.8 percent of Gainesville residents are over 65, compared with 12.4 percent nationally, although Woods said he expects that to increase.

"There are a number of aspects of our community that, when properly packaged and properly marketed, are attractive to senior citizens," Woods said.

Those include the bus system, restaurants, hospitals, museums, theaters and parks, he said.

But the latest ranking from was based on more economic factors.

Author of "Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places across the USA and Canada," Warren R. Bland, who contributed to the rankings, said in a phone interview that many senior citizens can make a profit from selling their homes and moving to Gainesville. A $300,000 house in Gainesville is worth $500,000 in Chicago, he said.

University towns tend to have more stable economies, Bland said, and Florida is a good state for retirees because it has no income tax. However, a lot of traditional South Florida retirement towns have been affected by a volatile housing market, Bert Sperling said in a phone interview. He ranked Gainesville first in his book, "Cities Ranked and Rated: More than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. and Canada," last May and also had a say in's ratings.

"Gainesville has been somewhat insulated from some of the nuttiness of the housing market lately," Sperling said.

Claire Lederman, treasurer of the Gainesville chapter of the AARP, said she loves the city - but not for financial reasons.

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"The medical care is fantastic. The university adds a lot," Lederman said. "It's getting to be a big city, but it has a lot of small-town qualities I like a lot." The only things she didn't like, she said, were her high taxes and the sweltering summers.

Julie Shaffer, a UF health science sophomore, said she couldn't see people retiring to Gainesville.

"It's a total college town. You'd think they'd get annoyed with people out at all hours," Shaffer said. "I wouldn't want to be old and living here."

But farther away from UF campus, neighborhoods are quieter and still close to activities, said Andrew Vaughan, a physics junior. "Out by where the real people live, it's pretty amazing," Vaughan said.

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