How Do You "Live Well" in a College Town?

Live Well

Small or large—Brunswick, Maine, or Baltimore, Maryland, Oberlin, Ohio, or Honolulu, Hawaii—a “college town” offers a life around places of learning, whether the campus is an urban island in Brooklyn or a greensward in Grinnell, Iowa.

Enjoy Thriving Downtowns, Adventurous Restaurants, and a Lively Cultural Life

With a few exceptions, most of America’s colleges have been around for many years, some dating as far back as the 17th century (Harvard was founded in 1636, the College of William & Mary in 1693). As a result, many of the historic building are human scale. Downtown shopping areas grew up around them, and, frequented by students, faculty, residents, and visitors, they continue to thrive. You’ll usually find eclectic shops, adventurous restaurants, local service businesses, bookstores, banks, music and theater venues, art galleries, coffee shops, and independent cinemas clustered near the college. You’ll often find a park nearby with benches that invite you to sit down and stay awhile. And you can pretty much count on plenty of walking trails and bicycle paths. Lincoln, Nebraska, for example, offers 128 miles of trails.
Make the Most of Unique Amenities and Special Attractions

You’ll find some special attractions and amenities in college towns you wouldn’t find elsewhere due to their land holdings or curricula. Take tiny Clemson, South Carolina, where everyone enjoys the 295-acre South Carolina Botanical Garden adjacent to the founder’s estate on the Clemson University campus. On the other side of the country, Claremont can claim California’s finest botanical garden, Rancho Santa Ana, which is home to Claremont Graduate University’s master of science and doctoral programs in botany. Special events and festivals on campus spill over into the community, resulting in both fun and profit. Oftentimes it’s just the little things connected to a college that add joy to your life, like a scoop of Tiger Stripe ice cream at Buck’s in Columbia, Missouri. Like so many quirky things at colleges, there’s a story behind it: The renowned parlor, part of the university’s College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, is named for Dr. Wendell Arbuckle, who studied the microscopic and statistical analysis of texture and structure of everyone’s favorite cold treat.

Enjoy Going Green and Good Public Transportation

You’ll find that going “green” is taken seriously in most college towns. Astute local governments and chambers of commerce work collaboratively with college administrations to encourage healthy town-gown relationships that contribute to the community’s sense of well being. In addition, college towns tend to be ahead of the curve on public transportation, including subways, buses, rail, and sometimes especially imaginative solutions like the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (WVU PRT), an automated system of some 70 vehicles that look like minibuses but run on tracks that connect West Virginia University’s three campuses and downtown.
Get Fit at First-Rate Recreation Centers

Many colleges and universities welcome the community as members in their recreation centers where you’ll find Olympic-sized pools, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, personal trainers, and a wide range of classes. There are towns where you can take advantage of the college tennis courts or play golf on a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. course paid for by student activity fees. (Let’s give a shout-out for the University of Georgia.)
Access High-Quality Health Care and Teaching Hospitals

In towns where the university has a medical school, you’ll usually find a top teaching hospital and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the highest quality health care is available just around the corner.

Explore Housing Options With College Links
College towns also tend to offer a range of housing options, from apartments located close to campus, residential homes in nearby historic districts, and condos and independent living communities in locations less than 30 minutes from downtown. In some progressive towns, you’ll find projects underway that are similar to The Forest at Duke, which brought together neighbors and faculty members with the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development to create a community around “a broad perspective of a fulfilled retirement.”

Get Involved in Your Community
There is one consideration above all that may be paramount in your mind: whether you will feel that you belong to a community, however you define it. Will you be just a face in the crowd? Will the owner of the dry cleaners get to know how you like your shirts? Where will you get groceries? Will you find a group of people whose company you enjoy? How will you become involved in the life of the town?
These are far from frivolous concerns, which is why College Town Retirement offers the services of College Town Concierge (see below) to provide information and arrange guided visits to smooth your transition. We also include in those services comprehensive information on the programs and introductions to the people who will start you on the path to lifelong learning.