Experts say city great place to retire
By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
In a community where most of its residents are transplants from other cities and towns across the country and world, one may think that Madison would not be considered a great place to retire.
However, a recently completed community inventory assessment shows Alabama's 13th largest city is a great place to retire.
According to Penn Wilson, coordinator in the Center for Retiree and Research and Recruitment at the Center for Economic Development at Jacksonville State University, research and interviews with local officials by staff members at the department who focused upon the retirement amenities retirees look for when choosing a community to live in as a permanent place to retire, Madison is highly rated.
Wilson visited Madison in February. Madison was among 25 communities visited by three employees with the JSU department. After the visits were made, a report was written. Wilson met with officials from the Madison Chamber of Commerce, along with Madison Mayor Jan Wells.
The department looked at how Madison measured up to what retirees want. In searching for the ideal location, retirees consider a number of amenities. They include low crime rates, good medical facilities nearby, low overall cost of living, mild climate, low overall taxes, low housing cost, convenient shopping, friendly neighbors, a major city nearby, and an active social and cultural environment.
While researching, surveys handed out to retiree's show that most retirees prefer small towns and rural areas as better places to make ends meet. The survey showed the retirees see the overall quality of life as being better outside of larger cities, but want to be within a reasonable distance of one for the amenities it offers.
"Madison is an ideal location for retirees," Wilson said. "It is a small community and it fits with practically all of the amenities retirees look for, plus it's close to a larger city like Huntsville and even larger cities are within a two-hour's drive.
The study was funded by a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to help communities determine how closely they match with what retirees are searching for and to determine what strategy they can use to attract retirees.
Studies were also conducted in the Shoals area, Decatur, Huntsville, Montgomery, Dothan and Russellville. Wilson said he hopes to do research on another 25 communities in Alabama, as funding is available.