When you pictured your ideal retirement, did it include frat parties and homework? Probably not, but if you’re looking for more out of your retirement than moving to a warm-weather destination and filling time with rounds of golf, you may want to consider a new option for settling down: college towns.
Some may think the last thing they want to do in retirement is deal with noisy students, but making the move to a college town, or a university-based retirement community (UBRC), is becoming a much more popular option for retirees, and for good reason. From access to education and health care to social activities and cultural events, UBRCs can be a great alternative to traditional retirement communities for those who need a more stimulating retirement experience.
University-based retirement communities
UBRCs are privately-owned retirement communities in college towns with a connection to a local college or university that offers benefits to retirees. UBRCs are not all the same, but most of them include these elements: a location usually within one mile of the school, a formal program that integrates the community and the school, continuing care with both independent and assisted living options, and a proven relationship between the housing provider and the school.
Whether the UBRC meets some, all, or more of these guidelines, there are three main benefits to moving to a college town: learning and cultural opportunities, access to premier health care, and ease of getting around.
1. It’s easier than ever for retirees to head back to class.
With retirement lasting as long as 40 years, new retirees may struggle to keep their calendar full, but living near a college or university can help fill all your newfound free time in a rewarding and enriching way. Schools that are part of a UBRC offer a variety of options for the aging population to pursue education, like auditing classes or attending guest lectures and other university events. Others have courses that were specifically developed for retirees at little to no cost.
Many of the affiliated universities also offer cultural events such as plays, art galleries, sports games, concerts, or volunteer opportunities. These events offer retirees a chance to socialize and explore their interests at a relatively low cost.
2. Get access to the best health care.
As we age, our health care needs seemingly multiply and become more complicated. There are both long-term health problems that need to be maintained through regular doctor’s visits and medication, as well as single-time emergency-care needs like broken bones from a fall.
Living in a UBRC that is connected to a top-tier medical and research center can be a huge benefit for the aging population. If having access to the best doctors and researches and therefore the best treatment options and medical procedures is a main priority, then moving to a UBRC is worth considering.
3. Don’t worry about getting where you need to go.
One of the more dreaded conversations children have to have with their aging parents is when it is no longer safe for them to drive. When it comes time to give up the keys, it can lead to the retiree feeling isolated and depressed, and to the family members feeling overburdened as the sole transportation option. Living in a college town can help all parties involved avoid this problem altogether.
Because most college students can’t bring their cars to campus, almost everything is within walking distance, and public transportation tends to be more reliable in college towns. There are also more readily available ride-sharing options like Uber UBER, +6.05% and Lyft LYFT, -0.62% that retirees can take advantage of instead of having to always ask a friend or family member.
Not all UBRCs are created equal, and everyone will have different priorities when choosing where to move. Figuring out exactly what you want out of your retirement experience can help guide your research as you decide where to live. It’s also important to note that many college towns are not necessarily affiliated with a local college or university, but living in these towns in a private home can still offer many of the same benefits.
But for those who desire to continue their personal growth through learning, expand their perspective through cultural events, or have access to the top health facilities, then university-based retirement communities might be an option worth giving a second thought.
John Diehl is senior vice president of strategic markets for Hartford Funds. John also oversees Hartford Funds’ relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. He does not have any affiliation or business relationship with a UBRC.