How to find a retirement community that’s right for you

(BPT) – Former California residents Jim and Donna Dickie decided to move across the country to retire in Rome, Georgia, for a whole host of reasons. What they learned when they researched their new home could help you or your loved ones make the crucial decision about where to live next.

If you imagine retirement locations, Georgia may not be the first state that springs to mind. But lately, seniors are finding increasing benefits to moving to a retirement community outside the typical list of retiree states. So no matter where you currently live, the amenities for seniors found in a town like Rome, Georgia, may tempt you to consider moving.

Here’s what you should look for when choosing your retirement community.

Location, location, location

Why would someone move all the way from sunny California to retire in Georgia? The Dickies found that they liked the town of Rome right away, with its small neighborhood feel, but still offering plenty of arts and culture. It was also close to major cities and airports, so transportation was not an issue. Rome has a temperate climate, but still has changing seasons, which they liked.

“I’m from the East Coast, and Jim is a native Californian,” said Donna Dickie. “He can’t get over how friendly the people are here, the southern way of politeness. We also appreciate that there is no smoking in Rome, and no pollution.”

The Dickies found that many other communities they considered were in the middle of cities, but their top choice — The Spires at Berry College in Rome — was not. “We didn’t see any sign of urban sprawl at all,” observed Jim. “But everything in downtown Rome is 15 minutes away. And there are bigger cities nearby.”

Once they took a tour of the 27,000-acre campus of Berry College, the Dickies found the decision very easy. “Rome is so charming,” said Donna. “And once we saw the floor plans, it kept getting better and better.”

The benefits of a CCRC

Like the Dickies, you might be considering a move for retirement simply because you no longer want the responsibility of maintaining a home. You and your spouse may or may not have health issues that cause you concern right now.

But realistically, your healthcare needs could change in the future. That’s one very good reason to look for a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), or what is also called a Life Plan Community, that provides suitable accommodations no matter where in the healthcare continuum you are or what your future needs become. At The Spires, options include Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Rehab plus Memory Care.

Outstanding, accessible healthcare

While it’s important to find a CCRC that provides high-quality healthcare in-house, it is also vital for the community to be near top-notch medical facilities, just in case. The Dickies were reassured to learn that their new retirement community was located not far from Floyd Medical Center and Redmond Regional Medical Center.

Financial benefits

When the Dickies first began their search for a retirement community, they realized there was a huge difference both in terms of living expenses and taxes when they compared their home state of California with other states. It turned out that Georgia was very tax-friendly for seniors.

“The taxes in California were ridiculous,” said Jim Dickie. “After doing the research, we realized there’s nothing out there that compares to The Spires unless you want to spend double the amount. In California, near where we lived, there is a beautiful CCRC, but it costs a million dollars to move in — and the view is an eight-lane freeway.”

Do your research

The Dickies kept track of all the information they collected on CCRCs from around the country.

“Once you start researching, you start getting lots of emails and invitations from all different communities,” the Dickies said. “We kept folders on all the places that we looked at and made financial comparisons. That helped us get the best bang for our buck with our choice. The Spires is a hidden secret — it cannot be beat.”

To learn more about the possibilities for your retirement, visit or call 706-784-7442.