Chattanooga keeps status as top retirement town

Chattanooga keeps status as top retirement town

February 17th, 2011 in News

Miki Boni and Tom Paulsin appear on the cover of "Where to Retire," a bimonthly national magazine. The publication touts Chattanooga as "a clean, green city pulsating with energy" and attractive for seniors looking for their dream retirement home.

New York City-born artist Miki Boni has photographed and painted images around the globe.

But nearly four years ago, she and her husband, Tom Paulsin, decided to spend their senior years in Chattanooga's Southside, where they live and operate an art studio and an artists' gallery.

"At this point in our lives, we were looking for a more urban setting and an arts-friendly town, and we found that in Chattanooga," Boni said. "Chattanooga is just a vibrant and friendly city -- it's like we've always lived here."

In their 60s, the couple moved from Bradenton, Fla., in 2007 and are emerging as ambassadors for seniors relocating to the Scenic City with their appearance this week on the cover of Where to Retire.

The bimonthly magazine, which circulates nationwide to more than 200,000 generally affluent seniors, touts Chattanooga as "a clean, green city pulsating with energy" and attractive for seniors looking for their dream retirement home.

"The revitalized riverfront and downtown have pumped new life into this historic rail hub, which enjoys a scenic setting and abundant outdoor recreation in the surrounding mountains and lakes," Where to Retire editor Mary Lu Abbott writes.

With 700,000 Americans moving to new homes when they retire every year -- nearly half of whom move to another state -- Chattanooga is actively recruiting relocating retirees.

Choose Chattanooga, a nonprofit promotional and relocation agency, received more than 150 inquiries last month, up from 92 in December.

"Word is getting out about Chattanooga, and the improving economy is helping make it possible for more people to sell their existing homes and move to where they want to retire," said Linda Bennett, executive director for Choose Chattanooga.

According to the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association, the cost of living in Tennessee is 10 percent less than the national average.

Chattanooga is among 11 cities designated as the best retirement communities by the Retire Tennessee program.

Ramay Winchester, program director for Retire Tennessee, said the recession slowed the number of relocating retirees, but he and others expect that to begin picking up again.

"Tennessee tax rates are more favorable than most areas for retirees, and our natural attractions make our state both affordable and scenic for many retirees looking for a new home," Winchester said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/chattreporter.

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT

* In the upcoming March and April edition, Where to Retire magazine profiles Chattanooga as a top retirement town in a cover story on "Energizing Outdoor Havens."

* In June 2010, MSN Money called Chattanooga a "new retirement hot spot."

* In 2009, Money magazine put Chattanooga in its top 25 retirement cities and U.S. News and World Report listed it among the 10 most affordable places to retire.

* In 2008, Retirement Lifestyles Places magazine identified Chattanooga as one of the top 10 places in the Southeast for longevity and retirement lifestyle.

* In 2007, Retirement Lifestyles magazine named Chattanooga one of the top 11 Southern retirement towns.

Source: Choose Chattanooga