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Diane W. Mufson: City recognized as good retirement area

Oct. 10, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

There's an old adage that says there are few things one can be sure of besides death and taxes. Many older Americans probably can add a third category, retirement.

Retirement requires important decision-making; the major one often is where to live. This is a no-brainer for some; they will stay put because of family, community ties or continuing employment.

Others, though, consider moving to a new place they believe will mesh with their presumed future lifestyle or needs. That is why it was so encouraging to see that Catey Hill's SmartMoney.com's article, "Retire Here, Not There: West Virginia," included Huntington, along with Charleston and Morgantown.

Friends recently brought Ms. Hill's writing to my attention. It is part of a series where she will eventually highlight a few cities in each state that offer many positive aspects for retirees.

In her articles, Ms. Hill points out that while there are many well-known and often expensive places to retire, there also is a variety of localities in our country that offer quality living more economically. Each geographic area has its pluses and minuses.

The "Retire Here, Not There: West Virginia," article which appeared this month, identifies why Huntington is considered one of the highlighted places to retire. Being a cultural center for the surrounding areas and having a symphony orchestra are strengths. The Huntington Museum of Art is noted for its variety and excellence of art. Blenko glass brings unique art and activities to our area. The Marshall Artists Series offers quality theater, dance, music and entertainment.

Ms. Hill's SmartMoney.com article recognized the Huntington area's relatively low cost of living and affordable homeownership. Our newly redeveloped downtown, local antique shops, the nearby Huntington Mall and the developing Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, the walking and exercise trail that will eventually connect the entire city area, were viewed as attractive entities for retirees. The state as a whole offers a variety of active outdoor sports.

Our two hospitals were noted for their health care. Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has brought new energy into the community's health care. Many of us can recall when this area had a doctor shortage and most complex surgeries required trips to the Cleveland Clinic or other out-of-town locations. That's all changed. Additionally we have a VA hospital nearby, which is important to military retirees.

Tyson Compton, president of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau and one who understands the importance of publicizing our area, was interviewed for the article. He pointed out that newcomers could easily find groups to join, such as Create Huntington, where new ideas are appreciated. Joanne Maynard, who retired from New York to Huntington, told Catey Hill, "You don't usually find it (Huntington) on 'best places to retire' lists, but it should be No. 1."

In addition to the positives noted in SmartMoney.com, Ritter Park provides fun and exercise for all. Marshall University, besides serving traditional students, offers courses, lectures and sports for the community. There are churches of every denomination, a synagogue and mosque in the Huntington area. Additionally, our region has two large well-established retirement communities with others developing.

For retirees, the Huntington area has just about everything one needs. Our climate has fantastic springs and falls, warm summers and short winters.

Sometimes we fail to see the positives of our own living space, but as Huntington has now been independently identified as a good place for retirees, our community should capitalize on attracting new retirees to our area.

Diane W. Mufson is a licensed psychologist. She is a former citizen member of The Herald-Dispatch editorial board and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net.

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