Newcomer Magazine


Posted June 6, 2007 2:44 p.m. EDT

Why people rush to retire here

It was sometime during the 20th Century when Northerners in the United States finally took a lesson from the birds and began to migrate South. Only difference was, with the humans it wasn’t just for the winter – it was forever. They sought warmer climates, greener vistas, and a generally more laid back way of life.

For a long while, everyone seemed to be all about Florida. But over the last 25 years or so, North Carolina has made a significant mark among the silver set, emerging as one of the top retirement destinations in the country. And they no longer hail only from above the Mason Dixon line. They’re coming from all parts of the nation, and indeed, the world.

Specifically, the Triangle area has major appeal for those looking for the perfect place to live out their lives, enjoying that for which they worked so hard for decades. One can assume the obvious reasons, superior health care facilities and services being chief among them. Duke University Medical Center in Durham is one of the nation’s best, and access to excellent health care is an obvious and primary concern for those of retirement age. The Triangle also has a growing number of premium, assisted-living communities from which to choose.

With people living longer and healthier lives, however, many retirees take the more optimistic tack of citing the identical reasons for moving to the Triangle as younger folks who have chosen to work and raise a family here: mild climate, proximity to mountains and coast, lightning-speed growth in top-shelf shopping and eateries, and a wealth of leisure activities such as golf and tennis. In fact, a lot of retirees are following their children here.

“I’m here because of my family, but I also came here because of the cultural things going on in the community – the shopping and entertainment are all excellent,” said Paulette Misenheimer, a retired teacher. Two of her sons chose to establish their successful business in the Triangle. So she, like a lot of parents, decided to retire here to be close to them.

As a former educator, Misenheimer added that she relishes the erudite life and, therefore, enjoys being so close to some of the nation’s most renowned educational institutions. In addition to Duke, the Triangle is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University, along with several private and technical colleges. All offer some form of evening classes or continuing education programs.

“As a retired person, I love the fact that I can sign up to take a class on virtually anything that might interest me as a hobby or second career,” she said.

The colleges and universities, along with a number of established cultural and entertainment venues, host touring Broadway plays and musicals, top names in pop music, and a world-class symphony and ballet company. It’s these kinds of offerings that made Lee Culbertson pull up stakes and settle here.

Culbertson was feeling a bit constricted in the small South Carolina town where he lived and worked for a number of years. Rather than slowing down, he wanted more excitement after retirement.

“There’s an energy here that I really like,” said Culbertson. “It reminds me of what it was like in Atlanta when it was about to pop.”

As with Misenheimer, Culbertson was excited about the growing number of cultural events the Triangle had to offer. He had visited the area in the 1970s, and when he returned for another visit several years ago, he was impressed with the Triangle’s growth and sophistication. And the intellectual environment.

“I can meet all kinds of people with whom I have conversations about politics, plays, and a wide range of topics,” he said. “There’s so much going here that I’m never bored.”