Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Orange Beach, Alabama
With Sugar White Sand, Emerald Waters and Tall, Gleaming Beachside Condos, Orange Beach Looks Like a Picture Postcard
Orange Beach (population 8,500) is on Alabama's eastern Gulf Coast and sits next to the Florida border. It began as as a fishing and farming village in the 1800s but did not incorporate until 1984. Today, Orange Beach is a beach resort, busy with tourists in the summer but very quiet in the winter when many businesses close.
Fifty percent of residents are age 45 or better, and politics lean very much to the right. Thirty-three percent of locals hold at least a four year college degree. The town has grown 28% during the last decade. Racial diversity is minimal. The crime rate meets the national average. Most jobs are service-oriented, and class lines are somewhat evident.
Real estate ranges from modest inland bungalows and manufactured homes to tall, gleaming oceanfront condos. The median home price is $700,000, reflecting a 0% increase from a year ago. This high price, though, is skewed somewhat by some very expensive oceanfront properties at the top-end of the scale. Nice homes are available in the $300,000s. Taking that into account, the cost of living is about 25% above the national average.
The beaches are sugar white, and the water, with gently lapping waves, is emerald green. Fishing charters are popular, and 11 golf courses are within a 10 mile drive. A 112-foot tall Ferris wheel, which is the tallest Ferris wheel in the Southeast, towers above the Wharf, a large entertainment, dining and shopping venue. The city also has seven houses of worship, a beautiful waterfront park, a dog park, a canoe trail and unspoiled, sub-tropical backcountry trails.
The annual Festival of the Arts, sponsored by the Orange Beach Arts Center, is a fun celebration of visual, culinary and performing arts. The Center also hosts acoustic concerts in its main gallery. The Mobile Symphony and concert headliners occasionally come to town.
The Orange Beach Public Library has public computers and wireless internet access for laptop users, as well as downloadable books, computer classes and book discussion groups. Next to the library, the Orange Beach Active Adult Center is an attractive facility with a wide range of services.
The Baldwin Rural Area Transportation System (BRATS) has a bus that travels between Orange Beach and neighboring towns, and a dial-a-ride service operates Monday through Friday within town. There is also a service that takes seniors to nutrition sites, grocery stores and medical appointments.
Orange Beach does not have a hospital, but South Baldwin Regional Medical Center (112 beds) is in Foley, just 11 miles away. It is accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare patients. Pensacola, Florida, twenty-three miles east, has two Level II adult trauma centers, one of which, Sacred Heart, is award-winning for emergency and clinical excellence.
Summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild. Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 40s, 50s and 60s. On average, the area receives 58 inches of rain per year, and the sun shines 225 days of the year.
Retirement in Orange Beach does have some drawbacks. The area is susceptible to hurricanes, and Hurricane Ivan in 2004 caused significant damage. Traffic congestion on roads leading to and from the beaches has gotten worse as the population has grown.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Alabama Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Tourist crowds and the hurricane threat should be considered, but with beautiful beaches, plentiful water recreation and a low crime rate, Orange Beach is a place to consider for retirement.
The Heart of Dixie was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819. The Cotton State was a major player in both the American Civil War and the American Civil Rights Movement. Montgomery was once the capital of the Confederacy and also the heart of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Its current economy is fed by agriculture, auto production, and aerospace. Only Arkansas and Georgia produce more broiler chickens. Alabamians built the Apollo 11 rocket and helped land the first human on the moon.
Bordered by Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama covers 52,423 square miles of land and water. Topography ranges from mountains and plateaus to river valleys, lowlands, and coastal plains. Average rainfall is 56 inches per year. Growing seasons can be long and summers hot. Winters are normally mild.
Mobile, Alabama has the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. Nicholas Langlois introduced Carnival to the city in 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans was founded.
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