A Great Place For Those Who Desire Retirement Living Surrounded by Rugged Natural Beauty
To some, Utah may seem like a remote and desolate area, one that might not be considered as a likely retirement destination. However, for those looking for an affordable and crime-free place to retire, it has a certain appeal, and several of its smaller cities and towns have become extremely popular retirement choices for a growing number of seniors from other western and mid-western states.
One of these towns, St. George, has attracted a great deal of national attention, having recently been named by AARP as one of five "dream towns" for retirement living.
This desert playground, located in the southern part of the state near the Arizona and Nevada borders, is one of the ten fastest growing spots for people over 60 years old. It offers tremendous opportunities for a myriad of outdoor activities, including hiking and biking the red rock cliffs surrounding the town.
Several national parks, most notably Zion National Park, are nearby, and for anyone preferring a more urbane style of entertainment, Las Vegas is just 120 miles away. Also, many retirees are particularly drawn to the area's fitness culture and its focus on senior activities, such as the Huntsman World Senior Games, which draw almost 8,000 50-plus competitors from all over the United States.
With a population of 50,000, making it the largest city in southern Utah, St. George's reputation as a retirement center is enhanced by its excellent golf courses, first-rate medical center, symphony orchestra, community college, comfortable climate and affordable housing. In a survey recently published by Farmers Insurance Group, St. George was cited as having the lowest crime rate in the country and, based on a number of other factors, including economic stability, crime rate and the likelihood of a terrorist attack, was labeled by the study as the most secure city in the U.S.
For anyone who desires a more varied four-season climate, just travel an hour north from St. George to Cedar City. Here at an elevation of 5,800 feet, you are surrounded by snow capped mountains with facilities for both downhill and cross-country skiing. Surprisingly, this is a culturally rich town of 22,000 with a beautifully preserved downtown. In addition to being the home of Southern Utah University, it host a long running renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival. With average home costs of less than $120,000 and a below average crime rate, it also is a very desirable place to retire.
Farther north, almost mid-way between Provo and Salt Lake City, the Heber Valley, nestled in among the Wasatch Mountains, is witnessing a strong surge of interest among retirees who enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and rugged beauty of the area. As the gateway to Park City and its three major ski resorts, Heber City and the other small neighboring small towns in this picturesque rural valley, surrounded by alpine forests, lakes, streams and an extensive wilderness, is growing in popularity with both retirees and second home owners.
Despite the ruggedness of the region, by virtue of its to proximity Salt Lake City and Provo, residents still have access to most of the prerequisites sought by retirees, notably shopping, medical facilities and air transportation. Both commercial development and community growth were spurred by the fact that the area served as a major venue for several events during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Adding to the outdoor appeal of the Valley is the presence of the Provo River, which attracts fly fishermen from around the country. Also, three large reservoirs create a network of scenic waterways for boating and other water sports. Golfers are not overlooked, with several exceptional public courses located in the valley.
A somewhat more remote, but still an inviting place to retire is Logan, located 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. This very attractive small city, set in a pleasant rural locale, has a thriving downtown and peaceful tree-lined residential neighborhoods. The presence of Utah State University, with its 20,000 students, adds a certain youthful energy to living here. Many of its residents appreciate the city's feeling of being a bit isolated and relish the sense of adventure offered by the surrounding mountains.
If you do not object to a retirement destination that is somewhat off the beaten path, one of Utah's pleasant small towns might be just the place for you, especially if you are searching for affordable housing, favorable taxes, mild climate and a great outdoor environment.
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