Let me start by saying the following: I love the fact that our home is consistently recognized as being amongst the top places in the world for retirement. Conde Nast, Travel + Leisure, and Forbes have all listed our piece of paradise as one of the most wonderful places to call home once you’ve successfully completed your stay in the world of the working.
It’s certainly true — the perfect blend of world-class golf and tennis, miles of sandy beaches, active lifestyles and plenty to see and do add up to a wonderful place to spend your Golden Years. But here is my question… Why wait until then?
My husband and I established our home here over two years ago, he as a Dentist and I as a Real Estate Professional. Before choosing our home, we made an extensive and specific list of areas all over the country which had successfully mixed steady population growth, economic strength, natural beauty and availability of activities and entertainment. The fact is, what is now our home won on its own merits as a place with everything we were looking for as a young, professional couple. So, we arrived, began creating our life, and have been happy with our decision every day since.
So why might others choose somewhere other than this blissful piece of coastline to call home, until they decide to retire here? Some say the lack of shopping. Others say that there isn’t much for young children to do. Still others say that there isn’t much in the way of industry, unless you go to Savannah or Charleston.
I say: nonsense.
Even since my own arrival, I have witnessed the explosive growth of business in the region, and the population still continues to rise. A friendly tax environment, beautiful weather and the enormous potential that even still remains untapped makes this a prime location for investment, development and the creation of varied and wonderful lifestyles.
And as for jobs? As with any up-and-coming area, some industries are favored and others don’t yet have a stronghold. In our market, real estate, small niche businesses, building development (both residential and commercial) and the medical field take center stage. The latter is in a process of continued growth that I predict will result in the Lowcountry becoming a medical hotspot, and we are already watching as this becomes the reality. And — love it or hate it — the brand new additions of commercial giants like Walmart, Costco and Kroger are a strong indicator of what is already here, and perhaps even more importantly, what is to come.
Amazing restaurants, brand new schools, constantly-expanding shopping and entertainment options, new businesses popping up left and right, and a growing population with a dropping median age… I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like the focus might need to shift slightly.
Add to this the residential real estate segment that is currently on fire, and you can see where I am going with this. Homes in the under-$350K bracket, which is effectively the cutoff for our area’s entry-level and next-step markets, are without question the most in-demand. As a result, properly-priced resale homes are flying off of the shelves, and new construction projects are continuing to attempt to fulfill the high demand. If you’ve been with me so far, it won’t come as a surprise that most of this development is specifically advertised for its proximity to schools, which are also seeing their own rapid expansion to cater to the young and growing populace.
I don’t mean to say that Bluffton and Hilton Head Island are not excellent places to retire — they certainly are, and I am thrilled every time I see another publication letting the world know. My point, instead, is this: In rating us for “Top 5 Retirement Havens” or “The #1 Place to Retire in the US,” do not miss all of the other stages for which life here is perfectly suited, and is becoming more and more so each day. You’ll be missing a big piece of the puzzle.
Allow me to put it this way… Don’t wait to give the Lowcountry another look. Perhaps your dreams of living here need not be as far-off as they seemed.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Premier Lowcountry Magazine.