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Reader Requested Short Review of St. Simons Island, Georgia
St. Simons is a town (population 13,000) on St. Simons Island, one of four barrier islands known as the Golden Isles along Georgia's southern coast. The town and the island are most often simply called St. Simons Island, and they captivate nearly everyone who visits.
The island was once the home of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, and early settlers grew cotton and rice. These days St. Simons Island is an upscale resort and home to professional athletes, a national television correspondent or two and at least one retired U.S. senator.
The cost of living is 20% above the national average. The crime rate is below the national average, and about half of the residents are age 45 or better. Most of them call themselves Republicans. Fifty-five percent of locals have at least a four year college degree. Racial diversity is but a concept. St. Simons has grown by 5% over the last decade or two.
The median home price is $300,000, and residential architectural styles include Spanish Mission, Cracker and Tutor Revival. Many dwellings are large and gorgeous, boasting sweeping water views that inspire the senses and sooth the soul.
With its Southern charm and canopied lanes, St. Simons Island, as one writer put it, seems the perfect setting for a William Faulkner novel or a Tennessee Williams' play. It exudes understated privilege and boasts a history punctuated by attempted Spanish invasions, American Revolution battles, German incursions and slave rebellions.
St. Simons Island beaches are long and clean, although a little narrow thanks to some erosion. Shrimp boats bob in the water, and kite surfers, wind surfers and sea kayakers test their skills across the waves. Well-behaved dogs are allowed on the beach, but automobiles are not. On the edge of the island, the St. Simons Island marshes teem with life, everything from oysters to otters.
Residents enjoy a nature center, a maritime center, two marinas and the lovely 12,000 sq. ft. Coastal Gallery of the Arts. Fishing charters and SCUBA dive operators are also at the ready, and many can be found along the very lively Fishing Pier. Eight golf courses have a St. Simons' address. The 1811 St. Simons Island Lighthouse, recently restored, stands guard over the island, as does the 1935 Coast Guard Station. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The cute downtown, historic sites, farmers' market and annual antiques show are all popular with visitors and residents alike. The island has some outstanding restaurants, many with ocean views, but shopping venues are limited to antique stores, galleries and specialty shops. Surrounding communities have more retailers. For example, Brunswick is eight miles away and has a Wal-Mart and a shopping mall.
Senior services are very limited. In fact, they do not exist. There is no public transportation (although there are golf cart rentals, bicycle rentals and an expensive tourist trolley). There is, though, a library. The St. Simons Island Public Library is small but is a member of PINES, allowing library card holders access to books from around the state.
Festivals include the Georgia Sea Islands Festival and the St. Simons Island Food and Spirits Festival. Surrounding communities, such as Brunswick and Jekyll Island, also host food and art events throughout the year.
Southeast Georgia Healthcare System is located in Brunswick (population 16,500) and is accredited by the Joint Commission. Medicare patients are accepted.
Summer temperatures are in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It is humid, and the city ranks well below the national average on the comfort scale, a combination of temperature and humidity. Winter temperatures are usually in the 50s and 60s. On average, the area receives 48 inches of rain per year. The city has seen its share of hurricanes and tropical storms, and on average, it is brushed by a major storm every two to three years.
A St. Simons' retirement has a number of drawbacks. Vacationers descend during the summer, clogging city streets. The marsh is home to all sorts of bugs, and they do not always stay in the marsh. Some residents complain about "island madness," the condition that occurs when one is confined to a small barrier island for too long.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes, but... | Is Georgia Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
St. Simons is a seductive place, rich in character and romance, but tourist crowds, the hurricane threat, the lack of senior services and no public transportation should be considered before retirement here.
The Peach State ratified the Constitution on January 2, 1788, becoming the fourth state to enter the Union. By the mid-19th century, Georgia was rich in plantations and deeply dependent on the slave economy. During the Civil War, General Sherman captured Atlanta and set about destroying much of the state's plantation culture.
The largest state east of the Mississippi River, Georgia has five major geographical regions that descend from the Appalachian Mountains in the north down to the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeast. The climate is surprisingly uniform. Most of the state experiences a mild winter and a hot summer.
Although Georgia is the nation's number one producer of peaches, peanuts, and pecans, agriculture is not its major employer. Trade, service industries, textile manufacturing, and federal organizations like the CDC and Fort Benning supply a larger number of jobs.
Georgia was the first state to lower the voting age to 18. Its Wesleyan College was the first chartered college in the world to grant degrees to women.
Population - 10,310,371
Persons 65 years old and over - 13%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 85%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 29%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 9%
White persons, not Hispanic - 53%
Median household income - $49,620
Median home value - $148,100
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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