Valparaiso is attracting more baby boomers than any other town in the state of Indiana, according to a recent study.
The Huffington Post recently published an article using proprietary data and U.S. Census data on which large U.S. cities baby boomers were heading to in each state. Boomers are choosing these cities for retirement because of their walkability and availability of services.
A follow-up report listed the top towns/smaller cities (between 10,000 and 50,000 population) in each state that boomers were moving to in order to experience “small town charm” and yet be close enough to a larger city. Valparaiso was chosen as the place for Indiana.
Mayor Jon Costas said he was excited about the news because Valparaiso has been trying to build a community that appeals to people of all ages. He said Valparaiso is especially good for seniors for a number of reasons.
“It’s a very walkable community and has a vibrant downtown with an amazing selection of restaurants,” Costas said. “We have lots of events. We are a university town – and the university is big enough to be very meaningful, but not so big where it overwhelms the community. We have a great transportation system – both the V-line and the Chicago Dash. If you want to go to Chicago for the day, it’s a piece of cake.”
Costas said Valparaiso property values are strong and there are good senior communities.
Costas, an attorney who is board certified in elder law, also touted the initiative ElderStyle Valparaiso, a public/private consortium made up of groups and agencies to create a more vibrant community for older citizens.
Valparaiso Parks Director Jon Siebert said the vision of the consortium is to offer a network of options for older adults to live well.
“A lot of our research showed that the same quality of life issues that younger people are looking for are the same things baby boomers in particular are looking for – a place that has a good physical environment, respects natural environments and is a walkable community with good health networks and options and vibrant downtown,” he said. “All same things young professionals and young people are looking for who want to live and age in place rather than migrating to the Sun Belt.”
Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce president Rex Richards said many people come to his office who are either looking for a new community either after retirement or want to move out of Illinois because of the real estate taxes.
“Those individuals are in many instances baby boomers,” he said. "Baby boomers have the resources to make a move and want to enjoy the quality of life we have in Valparaiso. They find that their money goes much farther in Valpo and the living is so much more affordable with many options for a great lifestyle at affordable prices.”
Valparaiso Economic Developer Patrick Lyp said the study is another indication people are taking notice of Valparaiso.
“Although our proximity to Chicago is an asset, the amenities available in Valparaiso to our residents are very attractive. We are a welcoming community regardless of whether you are a young family starting out, or part of the baby boomers looking for a vibrant community to call home.
Laurie Mullet, CEO of Pine Village Retirement Communities and serves as co-chair for ElderStyle Valparaiso, said for the first time in history there are three generations of seniors living and thriving with different needs and desires.
“Medical advances and healthy life styles have increased our life spam,” she said. “Through the efforts of ElderStyle Valparaiso we have worked to assure we are meeting needs through the full continuum of aging. Whether 55 or 105 we are working to ensure there are networks of options to meet needs.”
“This is a wonderful designation for our city and I can tell you because we have been working on this since 2007, we have been preparing for this day.”