A strong economy. Colleges generally have a stabilizing effect on the local economy. "College towns often prove to be the best towns to invest in because they have a guaranteed changing student population always in need of housing and a steady core of professors and administrators going nowhere," says Barbara Corcoran, author of Nextville: Amazing Places to Live the Rest of Your Life. "College towns typically have a thriving downtown which supports the business community and enough visitors to keep small hotels happy."
Public transportation. Public transportation is often reliable and affordable in college towns. For example, Corvallis, Ore., the home of Oregon State University, has a fareless bus system for all residents. And Pittsburgh residents age 65 or over can ride Port Authority buses and trains for free. Many other cities offer senior citizen discounts on public transportation.
Scenic beauty. Colleges are often built in picturesque settings, and they sometimes go to great lengths to keep the campus and surrounding community looking beautiful. Retirees can stroll among the historic buildings at the College of William & Mary or the Jeffersonian architecture at the University of Virginia. More adventurous retirees can hike to the gorges and waterfalls near Cornell University, traverse the two massive lakes surrounding the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or check out the giant redwood trees that punctuate the University of California-Santa Cruz campus.
Think young. A college brings a steady stream of young people into town who are eager to be on their own for the first time. This youthful energy can infect the whole town during orientation week, game days, and commencement, and there may be opportunities to get involved. "For young-at-heart retirees, there are often free classes, open concerts, and discounted tickets to sports events," says Corcoran. "They offer youthful enthusiasm and lots to do."
Retirement communities on campus. Many colleges now have retirement communities located on or near campus, including the University of Michigan, Duke, and Notre Dame. At Oak Hammock, a retirement community affiliated with the University of Florida, residents have access to the university's libraries, athletic facilities, and cultural activities. And University of Florida professors and other experts present lectures at the retirement community—no tests or grades required.