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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Reader Requested Short Review of Rockport, Texas

Funky, low key Rockport (population 11,000) is on Aransas Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast, about 35 miles northeast of Corpus Christi (population 285,000). Its clean beaches, fishing waters and birding areas have made it a vacation destination and millionaires' retreat for years. Although it sits behind publicly owned and privately owned barrier islands, the city was severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey in the fall of 2017.

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The good news is that Rockport is a resilient community and is rebuilding. Construction projects are providing a solid economic boost and making up for lost shrimping and tourism dollars. As community leaders say, getting Rockport back on its feet is a marathon, not a sprint, and they expect the rebuilding process to last another two to four years.

The median home price is $220,000, and the overall cost of living is 2% below the national average. Conservative politics are the norm, and "good ole boy" politics are not unknown. The violent crime rate is below the national average, but the property crime rate is above the national average. The city has some racial diversity. Twenty-seven percent of locals hold a four year college degree.

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Rockport and the village just to the north, Fulton (population 1,500), are often considered one town and have a mature population with half of the residents age 45 or better. The city has grown by 15% in the last decade.

Windswept, flat and dotted with towering live oaks, Rockport is an easygoing place, and life often occurs in or on the water. Mile-long, pebbly Rockport Beach Park is the main beach and is Texas' only certified Blue Wave Beach. Some of it is gone now, thanks to the storm, but it is still one of the cleanest and safest strips of sand in the state. The water is shallow and a little murky but without an undertow or rough waves.

Goose Island State Park, about 10 miles to the north and home to Texas' biggest tree, is a fisherman's delight, with speckled trout, red fish, drum, flounder and sheepshead all in good supply (as are crabs and oysters). Mustang Island State Park, about 15 miles from town, has five miles of beach, 300 beach camping spots and attracts birdwatchers, sunbathers, hikers and picnickers. Marinas, piers, 20,000 nearby acres of bays and Matagorda Island provide further opportunities for fishing, boating and sunning. Huge Aransas National Wildlife Refuge has 400 bird species, including large flocks of endangered whooping cranes.

Rockport has a growing arts community and boasts the Rockport Center for the Arts (three galleries, classes and workshops), 15 art galleries and a nationally known sculpture foundry. Residents also enjoy the Texas Maritime Museum, two golf courses, 30 churches and a YMCA. The Aransas Public Library provides free Internet access.

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Festivals are a Rockport staple. The Tropical Christmas Festival (food booths, entertainment, Polynesian dancers), the Rockport Gospel Festival (Christian vocal groups), the Rockport Art Festival (an auction, juried displays and lots of food and entertainment), the Rockport Festival of Wine and Food (tastings and cooking workshops) and Seafair (a sea-themed event with live bands, a carnival and a parade) are just a few of the annual events. Rockport Market Days is a fun, monthly flea market. Restaurants are mostly diners and family-style, with an emphasis on BBQ, pulled pork, Texas-style sausage and fresh seafood.

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Rockport does not have a hospital, but 75-bed Care Regional Medical Center is just 10 miles away in Aransas Pass. It is not, however, accredited and does not receive good patient reviews. Corpus Christi has eight hospitals, most of which are accredited and several of which are award-winning. Rockport has a couple of medical clinics, including one that specializes in geriatric care. For military retirees, the nearest VA outpatient clinic is in Corpus Christi, and the nearest VA hospital is in Harlingen, 135 miles away.

The county provides a dial-a-ride van service Monday through Friday, and the Texas Council on Aging, which manages the Senior Services Center, provides transportation to the Center and to local shopping areas and medical appointments. The Center also has activities (cards, fitness classes), noon meals, prescription assistance, home delivered meals and medical screening clinics.

Summer temperatures reach the mid-90s, and humidity is high. There is usually a slight Gulf breeze, but summers are still hot and sticky. Winters are mild with temperatures in the 40s, 50s and 60s. On average, the area receives 35 inches of rain per year. A hurricane or tropical storm brushes this area once every 4.35 years on average. Rockport is also popular with mosquitoes.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Texas Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes

Although the non-accredited hospital and the hurricane threats are concerns, mild winters, a mature population, reasonable living costs and an abundance of water recreation, fishing and sunshine are definite pluses. Rockport is not perfect and still has a way to go with its rebuilding, but it is worth considering if looking for a low key, reasonably priced coastal retirement town.

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Texas:

With a name based on a word used by Caddo Indians meaning "friends," Texas is the second biggest state by population in the country. It is estimated that 70% of residents live within 200 miles of Austin, the capital city.

Houston is the largest city, while Dallas-Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area. Connecticut and Delaware could fit inside Texas' largest county - Brewster. The state is larger than all of New York, New England and Ohio combined.

In addition to the Caddo, the historical people of Texas include members of the Native American tribes of Apache, Choctaw, Tonkawa and Hasinai.

When Texas became the 28th state of the United States (1845), it adopted the official flag called the Lone Star Flag. Symbols include the Bluebonnet - the state flower.

Almost 10% of Texas is covered by forest. The state has nearly 24,000 farms, 90 mountains a mile or more high and is the nation's leading producer of natural gas, oil, wool, cotton, watermelons and rice. It also has the most airports of any state in the Union and is one of the most business-friendly states. Its culture has a blend of of Southern, Southwestern (Mexican) and Western influences.

Famous natives and residents include Mary Kay Ash, George W. Bush, Tommy Lee Jones and Joan Crawford.

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Stats:

Population - 27,862,596

Persons 65 years old and over - 12%

High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 82%

Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+ - 27%

Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 40%

White persons, not Hispanic - 42%

Median household income - $43,470

Median home price - $132,000

Social Security taxed? No

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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