When it comes to retirement locations, Georgia ranks as one of the best in 2016, according to WalletHub.com. At No. 20, the Peach State, especially metro Atlanta, is a great place to spend your golden years based on the affordability of health care, comfortable weather, its proximity to the world’s busiest and most efficient airport — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — and an abundance of communities to call home that cater to those 55 and older, specifically when it comes to offering unique programs that will keep you active long after retirement.
An example of such a program is the Ladies Hiking Club at Sterling on the Lake in Flowery Branch. Started in 2010, Sterling Activities Director Jenifer Moore says the club was formed to give neighbors a healthy avenue to meet new friends, embrace the beauty of their immediate and local area, and engage in a healthy lifestyle activity.
Located north of Atlanta close to Lake Lanier, Sterling on the Lake is a master-planned community that provides quality of life in an ever-growing area. The community offers a variety of new homes and plenty of opportunities for those 55 and older to slow down and connect with neighbors, family members and friends.
Depending on monthly schedules, Moore says they have upward of 20 women who participate in the Ladies Hiking Club each month. “It has been well-received and has a solid following from the inception, and the groups’ growth mirrors Sterling on the Lake’s growth,” she says, adding that the club is an important offering for Sterling because of its countless health benefits like outdoor exercise and aerobic activity. “Our Ladies Hiking Club also promotes friendship and healthy lifestyle, both of which is so important to quality of life. Many of our residents build near-instant bonds with other club members, which encourages more social activity within the community as they join other programs together.
“The members of this club also support our local and regional county and state park systems, and celebrate all things outdoors through daytime adventures to waterfalls and rock features in the parks, scenic routes and trails, and end the afternoon by supporting local businesses with shopping and delicious lunches at local establishments.”
Soleil Laurel Canyon, an active adult community in Canton, offers another unique program — Les Marmitons of Canton. The group, which was formed in 2008, is a gastronomic and social club of gentlemen who share a common interest in fine food, wine and the culinary arts, providing an opportunity for Soleil’s male residents to connect over food and fellowship.
“With an international reach across the United States and Canada, there are three Les Marmitons groups in Georgia, including the Canton chapter,” says Soleil Laurel Canyon resident and club president Ron Laird. “Membership is limited to 45 people and since 2010 has been open only to Soleil residents. This is the same year that the club began hosting its cooking classes at the community’s clubhouse. Members gather for cooking classes once a month January through May and then again September through December with a local guest chef leading each cooking class.”
Tucked away in the north Georgia foothills and just a short drive from Atlanta, Soleil Laurel Canyon is a maintenance-free, ranch-style home community that offers an array of activities for 55-plus active adults. Les Marmitons of Canton is just one of many clubs and organizations available to residents. “[We] have a great relationship with other clubs and organizations at Soleil, and we partner annually with the Soleil Tennis Charity Event in May,” Laird adds. “Additionally, Les Marmitons of Canton is actively involved in the local community.”
The Kingdom Yachts Sailing Club at Lake Arrowhead in Waleska is a family-oriented organization that started teaching certified American Sailing Association sailing lessons more than 25 years ago on Lake Lanier, says Judie Woodall, the community’s business strategist and strategic real estate advisor.
Lake Arrowhead is an award-winning mountain, lake and golfing community located about an hour north of Atlanta on a 540-acre lake with 21 miles of shoreline, the new 18-hole Highlands Golf Course and 8,000-plus acres of lush woodlands.
“Lake Arrowhead provides the ability for KYSC owners Rob and Judy James to teach lessons (both on and off shore), provide day camps and arrange trips, as well as rent boats and give boat rides!” Woodall says.
The club offers sunset tours, Caribbean five-day sailing trips, pontoon, kayak, rowboat, paddleboat, sail boat and fishing boat rentals. In addition, Lake Arrowhead offers a sailboat simulator to teach sailing. The simulator allows the novice sailor to enjoy the lake on warm summer days in a peaceful setting while eliminating any stress in learning how to sail. “This is a very special opportunity as there are only three simulators in the USA,” Woodall concludes.
Retiring in Georgia
Low Home Values:
Statewide, the value of a home in early 2016 averaged $142,700, and the average rent is $1,100.
- Total state and local tax burden in Georgia was 16th lowest in the nation in a 2011 report.
- Georgia’s top marginal income tax rate is 6 percent (which kicks in at $7,000), the lowest is 1 percent.
- Retirement income for people over 62 is exempt up to $35,000 per person and $65,000 for those over 65.
- Social security income is exempt.
- There are a variety of property tax homestead exemptions at the state and local level, based on income and age.
- There is no inheritance tax.
Classified as humid sub-tropical, summers in Georgia are usually hot and humid, with afternoon temperatures reaching 90 degrees and overnight lows dipping just below 70 degrees. Winters are usually mild, with the average temperature in January reaching 39 degrees.
Sources: Newsmax.com, TopRetirements.com, Zillow.com