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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Reader Requested Short Review of St. Joseph, Michigan

On the shores of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the St. Joseph River 60 miles northeast of Chicago, picturesque St. Joseph (population 8,400) is one of several shore towns along the "Riviera of the Midwest." Known as St. Joe by residents, the town started out as a Native American camp and then became a trading post. Finally in 1834 it became a village and the headquarters of steam lines traveling to Chicago.

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These days, St. Joe is a charming little beach resort with grassy parks and fun festivals. Forty percent of residents are age 45 or better, and politics lean to the left. The crime rate is below the national average. The cost of living is 3% below the national average.

The median home price is $190,000, but homes near the water are generally more expensive. For people who would rather lease than buy, the Whitcomb near downtown is a 55+ apartment community with lake views.

St. Joseph always has something to do. The Blossomtime Festival and Parade, held each May and one of the oldest festivals in Michigan, promotes southwest Michigan agriculture and draws 250,000 spectators. The annual Chalk the Block has artists creating colorful works on sidewalks around town.

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The Krasl Art Center sponsors numerous events, including the annual Art Fair in which more than 200 artists come to display their works to 70,000 art lovers, all gathered on bluffs overlooking sparkling Lake Michigan. Outdoor band concerts occur throughout the summer, and trolley rides are available downtown.

When locals are not attending a festival or event, they are often relaxing at the beach. Silver Beach has a fishing pier, a guarded swimming area and a half-mile walkway. Its adjacent entertainment district has a museum and an amusement park. Boat launches and charter boats are also plentiful. This area does get particularly congested during holidays and on summer weekends when tourists come to visit.

The leafy downtown is alive and well, with cobbled streets, bakeries, shops, galleries and restaurants. The farmers' market sets up shop each May through September. Outside of town, there are wineries, sand dunes and the historic St. Joseph North Pier Lights Lighthouse. Major retailers are not well represented, but Benton Harbor, five miles away, has Wal-Mart, Target, J.C. Penney and Kohl's.

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The St. Joseph-Lincoln Senior Center is open to anyone age 60 or better and provides daily activities, transportation, a congregate noon meal, trips (baseball games, theater shows, cruises, etc.), workshops, potlucks, picnics and more.

The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA also has exercise classes specifically for older adults.

In addition to hard copy and downloadable books, the Maude Preston Palenske Library has poetry readings, afternoon teas, book clubs and movie nights.

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Lakeland Medical Center (LMC) has 303 beds and is a part of the Lakeland Healthcare System, which has won recognition from the National Institutes of Health for its treatment of acute ischemic stroke and from the American Heart Association for its quality-improvement program for treating stroke patients. LMC is accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare patients.

Public transportation is provided by St. Joseph County Transit Authority. Rides around town are $1 (half that for people age 60 or better) and rides to anywhere in the county are $8 (also half that for seniors).

Winters are cold, with wind from the lake and temperatures in the teens and 20s. Summers, however, are beautiful with temperatures in the 60s, 70s and low 80s. On average, the area receives 73 inches of snow and 36 inches of rain each year.

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

The abundant water recreation, fun events, good hospital and reasonable cost of living make pretty St. Joseph a spot to consider for retirement.

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Michgan:

The Wolverine State's borders touch four of the Great Lakes and the state is divided into two parts - Upper and Lower. The Mackinac Bridge, one of the world's longest suspension bridges, connects these two halves. Up North, the Sault St. Marie canals connect Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

Native Americans lived in the area when the first Europeans arrived in 1618. Sault St. Marie was the first immigrant settlement in 1668. After the Indian and French Wars, Britain claimed the land from the French. The region became part of the U.S. after the Revolutionary War, but constant conflict occured between the British, Americans and Native Americans until the end of the War of 1812.

The name Michigan came from the Ojibwa Indian words Mishi-gama (meaning "large lake").

The world's first air-conditioned automobile was built by Detroit's Packard Motor Car Company in 1939.

No point in Michigan is farther than six miles from a body of water.

Michigan is the only U.S. state to have two peninsulas.

The state produces 70% of the tart cherries grown in the United States.

Michigan has about 150 lighthouses, more than any other state.

Although Michigan's nickname is the "Wolverine State," no wolverines live in the state.

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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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