I wanted to share an excellent post by by Andrew Petkofsky for Virginia Business. I have added a few links to direct you to areas of information.
Ken Carr retired to Williamsburg because he didn’t want to get away from it all. As a sales and marketing executive in the fashion industry, he had enjoyed a fast-paced career and was looking for a gentler climate than his home in the Chicago suburbs.
But nice weather and recreational options were only part of it: Carr also hoped for opportunities to keep busy and take on new challenges. “You spend your life working, as many of us have, five or six days a week with the pulse of business,” he says. “To just have that stop, psychologically, I didn’t find that it was all that appealing.”
When Carr moved with his wife, Nancy, to the gated community of Ford’s Colony in 1999, he immediately occupied himself building a retirement house. Someone asked if he would sell it, so he built another.
Then he became increasingly involved sharing his business experience with those just starting out. Carr connects with business clients through the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a national program coordinated locally through the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance. “It’s a great way to use the expertise that you have,” says Carr, who is 65. “It’s also an incredible opportunity for businesses or organizations to get people who are very accomplished to assist them — the kind of team that quite frankly they couldn’t go out and hire.”
In fact, so many former executives and high-ranking military officers have retired to Williamsburg that a number of other organizations, including the College of William & Mary and its Mason School of Business have created local programs to harness their expertise.
The post-career challenges are not reserved solely for former captains of industry. Other retirees in the area take classes in a large continuing education program, teach in the same program and even help operate a professional chamber orchestra in Williamsburg. “We wind up with some very bright early retirees who still want to make contributions,” says Keith Taylor, director of James City County’s office of economic development.
The Williamsburg area (including James City County and upper York County) has become a retirement mecca. Money magazine named the region one of the country’s best places to retire. The magazine cited attributes such as the area’s history, culture, green space and access to health care and airports.
The area’s growing reputation among retirees has been helped by a constellation of attractions including the Colonial Williamsburg living history museum, the College of William & Mary, award-winning golf courses, a handful of prestigious gated communities, close access to tidal rivers and the ocean, and a location only three hours away from Washington, D.C.
As the retirement-age population grows, older residents are redefining the options available for their golden years and, in the process, reshaping the community. Kingsmill on the James, opened in the 1970s as the region’s first gated community, now has the company of several other retiree-friendly residential areas protected by gates or private security forces. These include Ford’s Colony and The Governor’s Land at Two Rivers.
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Two recent arrivals, Colonial Heritage and The Settlement at Powhattan Creek in James City, requires that residents be 55 or older.
A boom in mixed-used developments also appeals to the preferences of an older population. These projects group shopping, restaurants and low-maintenance residences such as condos and town houses in one location. “Folks are looking more and more at access to retail and entertainment within walking distance of their homes,” says James R. Golden, associate vice president for economic development at William & Mary. “The retirement community is sort of a leader in this.”
Golden helped promote the development of New Town, a mixed-use community just outside Williamsburg. Now a second, similar development, High Street, is under construction in the city. Riverside Health System also has proposed a mixed-use community, Quarterpath at Williamsburg, which would include a hospital, a nursing home and housing. State approval has not yet been granted for the hospital, which would be the Williamsburg area’s second.
Community leaders see the retirement boom as a largely positive economic force that may create jobs for younger folks in areas such as health care, retail and other services. The officials point out that many of those retiring to Williamsburg from other areas, especially the Northeast, are well-heeled professionals and business executives who have chosen to end their careers while still in their 50s. “When you develop a vibrant retirement community … they will pay for services that they want and appreciate, and that will open up opportunities for people that want to fill those needs,” says Richard Schreiber, president and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance.
One side effect of becoming a retirement mecca is that land and housing prices in the region have risen to levels beyond the means of many workers in service jobs. “It’s sort of creating a greater shortage of affordable housing,” says Rick Hanson, James City’s director of housing and community development. “A lot of people that work in James City do find the housing costs prohibitive, and they will commute in.”
The cost of housing can also be a problem for some retirees who spent their working years in the community. But local governments are trying to solve the problem. Hanson’s office recently assembled a parcel for development of low-rent senior housing in cooperation with a local nonprofit organization. He says the county also has commissioned a consultant to analyze housing needs and report this fall.
Numbers help tell the story of Williamsburg’s growing popularity as a place to retire. William & Mary and the Center for Excellence in Aging and Geriatric Health, a local organization created to promote the health of older people, reported in 2003 that the 60-and-older population in Williamsburg, James City and upper York grew more than 65 percent, from 5,688 to 10,686, between 1990 and 2000. The 60-and-over population in Virginia as a whole grew 17.1 percent in the same period. Growth in the same group nationwide was 9.4 percent, according to the study, which was based on U.S. Census figures. During this same period, the area’s overall population grew about 27 percent, from 54,980 to 69,763.
Pete Williamson says he retired in Williamsburg partly because the city and its surroundings seem just as full of families and younger people as folks of his generation. Even his affluent Governor’s Land neighborhood seems to be attracting a good number of families, he says. “We have a community with a mix of young and old with school kids and retirees,” Williamson says. “We’re not some retirement community out in the middle of nowhere where you have to drive a half hour just to go to a grocery store.”
Williamson was living in Wilton, Conn., and working as an IBM program manager when he retired in 1994 at the age of 54. A volunteer job with an ambulance corps became full-time work before he and his wife moved to Williamsburg in 1998.
Now 67, Williamson co-leads a 40- to-60-mile bicycle ride for the local bike club ( Williamsburg Area Bicyclists) once or twice a week. He also serves on the board of his neighborhood’s homeowners association and does computer work as a member of a charity tennis group that raised about $45,000 last year for a local hospice.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact size of the region’s retirement community because there’s no set age for retirement. Louis Rossiter, a former Virginia secretary of health and human resources who’s now director of community health service research for the Center for Excellence in Aging and Geriatric Health, says Williamsburg may serve as a model in developing programs that can be adopted elsewhere.
Thinking ahead is important, says Rossiter, because an older population brings potential problems along with benefits. “When the retirees move here, they’re in good health. Then they age in place,” he says. “Who will take care of them as they become more frail?”
The Center for Excellence is a consortium of colleges, hospitals and health agencies that conducts sponsored research into such subjects as Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis, and studies ways to improve access to medical care. More significant for local retirees, the center also offers geriatric services not generally available in the community, such as memory assessment and driving evaluation.
For high-ranking military retirees, Williamsburg offers something beyond resort communities and golf courses: easy access to Washington. “Lot’s of people continue some kind of consulting but don’t want to live in D.C. — they’ve had that experience,” says William & Mary’s Golden, himself a retired Army brigadier general.
Local organizations increasingly are coming up with ways to capture the interests of these retirees and take advantage of their skills. The Mason School of Business at William & Mary, for example, enlists 90 retirees in its Executive Partners program as mentors for students and faculty and as consultants to companies looking for advice. “The joke is they come, play golf six months and get bored,” says Jonathan Palmer, the school’s associate dean. “We engage them at a very high and active level.”
In addition to mentoring others, Williamsburg retirees are interested in learning something new. William & Mary’s Christopher Wren Association, an education program for retirees, attracted more than 1,400 students last semester to more than 60 classes. Retirees served as faculty for many of the classes.
The Chamber & Tourism Alliance last year began a Community Leadership Service in which 16 retirees who moved to the community recently took a crash course about the region, its governmental structure and inner workings. Participants now are creating a database of retired people with skills that could benefit local nonprofit organizations, says Schreiber, the chamber president.
Leading the database project is Joan Peterson, who was recruited because she chaired the education committee of the Williamsburg Symphonia, a professional chamber orchestra. Peterson moved to Williamsburg from Massachusetts when her husband took early retirement from Hewlett-Packard. She had been director of summer programs for a private school. Now a bit more than four years later, her husband is commuting regularly to consulting jobs in Minneapolis and Seattle, and she is immersed in a project she hopes will benefit nonprofits and retirees. “I absolutely love Williamsburg,” says Peterson. “I would have a hard time coming up with things I don’t like about it. Except maybe for the rapid growth. Everyone wants to be the last one in, I guess.”
For further information about moving or retiring in the Williamsburg VA area, golf course homes, real estate , homes, communities, developments, neighborhoods or building lots in Williamsburg, James City, New Kent, Gloucester or York County Virginia contact:John Womeldorf/ REALTOR
Liz Moore & Associates 757 254 8136
www.MrWilliamsburg.com/ Williamsburg VA Real Estate website
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www.MrHamptonroads.com/ Hampton Roads Va Real Estate website
www.MrTidewater.com/ Tidewater VA Real Estate website
www.MrVaBeach.com/ Va Beach Va Real Estate website
Williamsburg Real Estate Resource. Search for Homes & Land for sale in Williamsburg Virginia & surrounding areas click here :CLICK HERE WILLIAMSBURG VA MLS HOME SEARCH
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My other area Real Estate and Information Blogs for Hampton Roads/ Tidewater/ Williamsburg Virignia and surrounding areas
Williamsburg Real Estate Blog II
Williamsburg Real Estate Blog
Williamsburg Happenings/ Events Blog
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