TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A broad range of community leaders joined Tuesday in welcoming relocating members of the Baby Boom generation from across the nation to America’s No. 1 “Boomtown” for Boomer retirement relocation destination, Tallahassee, “for the best of their life.”
“Our message to relocating Boomers is simple: You are welcome here,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks. “We would love to have you join us in this beautiful community, to enjoy our affordable housing, high-quality health care, warm climate, lifelong learning and great recreational opportunities.”
“On behalf of Florida’s Capital County, I and the Leon County Commission want to welcome relocating Boomers to our community,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “You’re going to love living in Tallahassee. We all do.”
Mayor Marks and Administrator Long joined representatives of many other business, government and community groups in issuing the welcome Tuesday, weeks after a respected national economist and his firm named Tallahassee as America’s top Boomer retirement spot.
A broad-based grassroots organization of community leaders had been at work on a plan to welcome relocating Boomers to Tallahassee for more than a year when Dr. Tony Villamil and the
Washington Economics Group (WEG) ranked Tallahassee No. 1. The WEG study ranked 20 communities nationwide.
The WEG report was based on criteria that Boomers themselves identified in a landmark national poll in February sponsored by the Consumer Federation of the Southeast. In that poll, some 1,100 Boomers identified affordable cost of living, quality health care, a warm and welcoming climate, affordable recreational opportunities, great area cultural offerings, lifelong learning opportunities and strong local elder-care services as key factors in choosing a retirement relocation destination.
WEG economists then established a weighted scale based on Boomers’ own criteria and applied the scale to selected communities. Southern university towns tended to come out at the top of the scale – a natural fit given their warm climates and university offerings – with Tallahassee emerging as the best of the best.
“We weren’t surprised,” said Choose Tallahassee co-chair Ken Boutwell of the best-in-the-nation designation. “Those of us who live in Tallahassee recognize this as a special place. And we’re ready and willing to share our home with Boomers who are seeking to experience ‘the best of their life.’ “
The Choose Tallahassee initiative was organized in late 2010 as community leaders came together around the idea of encouraging retiring Boomers to consider relocating to Tallahassee. The initiative has attracted broad community support, with contributions from the financial and health-care sectors as well as private citizens and local government. A Choose Tallahassee Action Team includes dozens of representatives from nearly every sector of the community, including real estate, development, educational institutions, business, city and county government, health care, volunteer organizations and many other groups.
Relocating Boomers could have a significant positive economic impact on any city they choose. The first Boomers were born in January 1946 and turned 66 in January 2012, the age of eligibility for full Social Security retirement benefits. Boomers will be retiring at the rate of nearly 10,000 a day this year and for another 17 years. According to various national surveys, anywhere from one in three to one in five Boomers wants to relocate in retirement.
If just three-tenths of one percent of 18 million relocating Boomers choose Tallahassee as a retirement destination, they would add $1 billion per year to the community’s annual income, according to AARP Florida.
Organizers have created a unique welcome for Boomers (and others) wishing to relocate here – the Tallahassee Red Carpet Hosts. Members of this group of community-minded volunteers have agreed to make themselves available as friendly guides to Tallahassee, at no cost to the new resident. On request, these volunteers will offer their personal experiences, insider tips and informed perspective to help ease the transition to retirement in Tallahassee.
“In Tallahassee, Southern hospitality is more than a slogan, it’s a treasured way of life,” said Marjorie Turnbull, a Choose Tallahassee Action Team steering committee member and one of the Red Carpet Host organizers. “We want to make you feel right at home from the first day you’re here. Through the Red Carpet Host program, even individuals with no community network in place in Tallahassee can quickly develop one.”