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Ivan Gillis
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Certified Retirement Communities

There are 5 states that have created Certified Retirement Community Programs. Of these, West Virginia calls them "Designated Retirement Communities". The purpose of these retirement community programs is to encourage economic development. The prospect of 76 million baby boomers nearing retirement has caught the attention of many states and communities because the economic benefits to the places where they end up retiring are enormous. States not only want to encourage new residents to retire in their states, but they also want to keep existing residents from moving away. Louisiana estimates that the economic impact of a retiree household is the equivalent of 3.7 factory jobs.

The 5 states that have publicized their certification programs are:
Texas certified retirement community program
- Louisiana certified retirement community program
- Mississippi certified retirement community program
- Kentucky certified community information
- West Virginia Designated Retirement Community

Lists of Certified Retirement Communities
As of August 2007 it appears that there are about 40 certified retirement communities in the U.S. Mississippi has the most certified communities on its list - 21. Kentucky has 8, the Texas list has 6 (or 7), West Virginia has 5 on its list including Morgantown, Bluefield, Greenbrier Valley, and Beckley. It is unclear if Louisiana has selected any. Here is where you can find a complete list of certified retirement communities

A typical explanation for what the programs hope to accomplish is this statement from Louisiana: "The Certified Retirement Community is a program that recognizes places in Louisiana that the state substantiates as premier locations for retirees (persons aged 55 and older). Local communities selected for certification receive inclusion in state-level marketing efforts, technical assistance, networking opportunities and grant funding to support the program". The programs typically require that communities attend a training seminar and then complete an exhaustive application.

To qualify as a Certified Retirement City in Mississippi's program each town must pass through a three-month intensive screening process conducted by Hometown Mississippi Retirement, the state's official retiree attraction program. Each city is evaluated on criteria important to retirees - affordable cost of living, low taxes, low crime rate, quality medical care,
recreation, educational and cultural opportunities, and most importantly - a warm, welcoming community.

The programs hope to inform prospective retirees of the benefits of living in these communities. Kentucky's list includes:
(a) State and local tax structure;
(b) Housing opportunities and cost;
(c) Climate;
(d) Personal safety;
(e) Working opportunities;
(f) Health care services and other services along the continuum of services including, but not limited to, home and community based services;
(g) Transportation;
(h) Continuing education;
(i) Leisure living;
(j) Recreation;
(k) The performing arts;
(l) Festivals and events;
What's in it for you?
The good news for baby boomers is that the states are doing big part of your vetting process for you. Since they have an application process and established criteria, any town that gets the certification is guaranteed to be welcoming and have a minimum level of facilities. So, check them out.


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