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Could Tulsa Be the Next 'Hot-Spot' Retirement Destination?

Sarah Stevenson
By Sarah StevensonOctober 31, 2012

Not only is Tulsa surprisingly retirement-friendly, it’s pioneering a new initiative for community-building that encourages family connections and multi-generational living.

For those who associate a cushy retirement with places like Florida and Sun City, Arizona, it might come as a surprise to find out that Oklahoma is catching up fast. An article in the Wall Street Journal‘s MarketWatch pointed out that most Oklahomans choose to stay in-state to retire, and more and more seniors are choosing to move to Oklahoma after they leave their jobs. Why?

“The median home here costs less than $100,000, and the cost of living is 14% below the national average,” says the MarketWatch article. “Social Security income isn’t taxed, there’s no state estate or inheritance tax, and property taxes tend to be low. Nursing home and assisted-living costs are significantly below average here.” And one of the four go-to places for retirees is the cosmopolitan city of Tulsa.

What Makes Tulsa Retirement-Friendly?

As a cosmopolitan urban center, access to perks like arts, shopping, sporting events, antiquing, parks, and gardens is never far away in Tulsa—and the traffic is much lighter than in other comparable cities. Health care options are excellent, and the cost of living is low. But one of the most intriguing reasons why Tulsa is so retirement-friendly is its ambitious initiative called Across the Generations. The city of Tulsa and the Mayor’s office are partnering with Toronto-based grassroots organization The Legacy Project to create a pioneering model for a new kind of community—one that serves and supports residents of all ages and stages.

Living Across the Generations in Tulsa

The City of Tulsa website points out that one in five Americans will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030, with up to seven or more generations informing the rich structure of any given family. In Tulsa, and throughout our country, boomers are rapidly reaching retirement, changing the faces of our communities and giving us the opportunity to rethink how homes and cities are built.

“The legacy approach takes into consideration needs across a person’s lifetime, needs between generations, and even global needs like the environment,” says the Legacy Project’s mission statement. “Tulsa wants to lead the country as a city that recognizes, respects, and meets the needs of all ages and brings generations together in support of each other.”

Rather than promoting the traditional structure of separate retirement communities, Tulsa’s Across the Generations project aims to reconsider senior assisted living options by encouraging zoning for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) where seniors could live independently but remain near their families. Other ideas under discussion include shared adult and child day-care sites and collaborative creative projects that foster dialogue across generations.

Tulsa is clearly on the cutting edge when it comes to senior-friendly living that’s rewarding for the community as a whole. What makes your community a special place for seniors? Does your city have an initiative like the Legacy Project? We want to hear your stories in the comments.

Sarah Stevenson
Sarah Stevenson
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