Top Picks for Retirement Towns

Wednesday, June 14th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Money magazine rates Brunswick one of the top five retirement sites in America, calling it ``a small, smart, culturally vibrant New England town'' with plenty of learning opportunities.

Seniors may audit classes at Bowdoin College in Brunswick for free and attend discounted seminars on boatbuilding, the magazine said in its July issue. Other attractions in the area include the Maine Maritime Museum, Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, and theaters, museums and restaurants 30 minutes away in Portland.

The magazine said it considered cost of living, educational opportunities, medical care and outdoor and cultural pursuits in hundreds of cities. A population less than 250,000 was another consideration.

Fast Forward, a demographic consulting firm, helped prepare the survey.

Brunswick is one of five ``top picks'' along with Asheville, N.C.; Bradenton, Fla.; Fort Collins, Colo., and Bend, Ore. Runners-up were Amherst, Mass.; Madison, Wis.; Hot Springs, Ark.; Santa Fe, N.M., and San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Asheville, N.C., was chosen for reasons including a vibrant downtown and an active retirement scene revolving around the Center for Creative Retirement of the University of North Carolina.

Bradenton, Fla., winter home to eight pro baseball teams, made the grade in part because of its 27 miles of beaches and availability of outdoor activities.

Fort Collins, Colo., has outdoor activities including skiing and hiking, along with the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra and educational opportunities at nearby Colorado State University.

Bend, Ore., was noted for climate that is well suited to activities such as golf, fly fishing and white water rafting.

In Brunswick, Town Manager Don Gerrish said a rising number of retirees in recent years has included many alumni of Bowdoin College and military retirees who spent time at Brunswick Naval Air Station.

More seniors appear to be considering educational opportunities as they look for a place to retire, he said.

``I think the seniors are making the decision that it doesn't have to be the warm weather areas,'' he said.

But the downside includes single-digit temperatures in the winter and state and local income taxes of 8.5 percent, based on a $50,000 annual salary, along with high property taxes, the article says.

Brunswick has a population of 14,586, with 203 sunny days a year and an average low temperature in January of 11.7 degrees. The median single-family home costs $153,640.

The downtown areas of Brunswick and nearby Bath have benefited from an influx of people with more time for spending their disposable income, said Susan Whiteside, president of the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has also benefited, she said.

``A good deal of our volunteers would be from the retirement communities,'' Whiteside said. ``They have time.''


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