55-Plus Living Choices

Atlanta’s Perfect for Seniors

When moving to Atlanta, individuals who are 55 and older are inadvertently signing up for backstage passes to the city. Whether it be a Broadway play, free transportation, a discounted dinner or a cheap pottery course; by being retired, Atlantans can tap into a little-known resource for deals and discounts. In a sense, relocating retirees have just scored their very own golden tickets. With this in mind, KNOWAtlanta has assembled a handy guide to help community seniors ensure they take advantage of as many of these perks as they can. Welcome to Atlanta, where the 60-plus crowd holds the keys to the city.

Several builders in Atlanta specifically target to the older population by building homes with floorplans and amenities catering to seniors, boasting features like wider hallways, rocker-style switches and lower countertops. Multiple senior living and active adult communities also include a substantial list of amenities included within their reasonable-rate plans. For instance, PARC Communities residents enjoy housekeeping, lawn service, property and home maintenance, water, sewage and trash, laundry, two meals a day, transportation (payment, fuel, insurance and maintenance), fitness membership and 24-hour emergency response with their monthly rent payment.

In accordance with an amendment to the Georgia Constitution, the Board of Regents waives tuition to public colleges for senior citizens (or people over 62). In other words, senior citizens can attend local colleges and universities such as Mercer, Clayton State, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Tech and Emory University for free (excluding supplies, lab or shop fees, application fees and parking fees). Whether the person chooses to obtain a degree or simply dabble in a few courses here and there is up to them, all that matters is that they meet a few standards: The student must be a legal resident of Georgia and 62 or older at the time of registration; they can enroll on a space-available basis; they must meet all admission requirements including high school and college records; they must meet additional system, institutional and legislated degree requirements like a Major Area Exam; and the student may not enroll in dental, medical, veterinary or law schools.

For seniors who aren’t exactly enthused about reliving the college experience, a plethora of educational options exists throughout the city at phenomenal rates. For instance, the Lunch ‘N Learn or Continuing Education classes available at the Roswell-Alpharetta Seniors Enriched Living organization offer lectures in subjects ranging from art history and woodworking to Spanish and Shakespeare for a pricetag of $40. A similar program is offered at Perimeter Adult Learning and Services in Dunwoody.

Fitness hounds can take advantage of programs all across the area with discounts at gyms, yoga centers and various recreation areas. Of special note are senior-only facilities like Smyrna’s Aline Wolfe Adult Recreation Center. This exclusive site is open only to individuals age 55 and older, garnering them access to their own fitness equipment, exercise classes and a therapy pool.

For those Atlantans looking to soothe a travel itch, the options for travel clubs and lowered travel rates are almost endless. Life Enrichment Services provides the Travel-Aires program, which offers members a one-day-or-longer trip both to locales nearby and far away. Trip prices range according to the activity and the location. Past examples of trips taken include day trips to the Southeastern Flower Show and overnight trips to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Local church groups are also a rich resource for finding group travels at discounted rates as are the infamous Red Hat Society (which has local units all over the area), The Day Trippers (based out of Fayetteville) and the Decatur Recreation and Community Services Traveling Keenagers. Meanwhile, for seniors just looking to make a trip across town or down the street, systems like Cobb County Transit offer huge discounts in public transportation. (In CCT’s case, this means a free 10-ride bus pass and the recently added Cobb Freedom Voucher Program.)

When Atlanta-based seniors reach age 62, they don’t have to pay taxes on the first $35,000 in retirement income each year. Starting in 2012, Atlanta is phasing out state income taxes for seniors with a full exemption slated for 2016. Also, several counties allow for an exemption of the school tax on seniors’ property tax bill.

Organizations are always looking for volunteers regardless of age. For those wanting to get more involved with the city, lending a hand to the community is a perfect way to make friends and receive a few great perks too. For instance, The Fox Theatre, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, The High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alliance Theatre and Woodruff Arts Center all offer volunteer and ushering opportunities. So for the art aficionado, this not only means a backstage pass to events, it’s also a great way to mingle with visiting artists and members of the art community.

Animal lovers are welcome to get involved with organizations like the Humane Society, Atlanta Pet Rescue, Zoo Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium, among others. Likewise, service organizations like Habitat For Humanity, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, and Hands on Atlanta all welcome senior volunteers to take part in their events and programs.

For additional information about Atlanta’s senior services, consider the following websites: