Old is the New Young: Retirement in the Upper Valley

Blog Author - Ryan Tremblay
Ryan Tremblay

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld tells a joke about how his elderly parents, who lived in New York, didn’t want to move to Florida when they retired. But they had to. It was the law. If you lived in the north, you retired to the south.

an older woman with swimming goggles leaning against the side of a pool

The joke works, of course, because there is an element of truth to it. Significant numbers of elderly folks up north do choose to leave the hardships of long winters behind them once they retire. Who can blame them?

That’s as true in the Upper Valley as it is anywhere else. The flip side of that truism, however, is that large numbers of retirees also choose to stay right where they are. And for good reason. The Upper Valley offers retirees a wide range of cultural enrichment opportunities and elder services.

  • Cultural Enrichment. Part of what makes the Upper Valley a great place to retire is that there’s always something to do. Continuing education is available through the OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth College. Art, photography, and writing classes are available through the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in Hanover, New Hampshire, AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and ArtisTree in South Pomfret, Vermont. There are museums, opera, live theater, live music, film series, art receptions, public lectures, author signings, book discussions, and more . . . Without question, the Upper Valley makes it easy to stay engaged.
  • Giving Back. Retirees in the Upper Valley provide untold hours of volunteer services to their communities. They are active at libraries, museums, historical societies, schools, hospitals, theaters, homeless shelters, food banks, churches, charity runs, nonprofit boards—and on and on. Anywhere help is needed, retirees show up to lend assistance.
  • Medical Facilities. The Upper Valley is home to three major medical facilities—Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont. The area has multiple smaller facilities as well, so help is always nearby. There are hospitals in Lebanon, Claremont, and New London on the New Hampshire side of the border, and in Windsor, Randolph, and Rutland on the Vermont side.
  • Senior Centers. If you think a senior center is nothing more than a place to get a hot meal and play bingo, you need to update your concept of a senior center. This is especially true in the Upper Valley, where the senior centers organize trips, host dances, offer memoir writing classes, show movies, organize bridge games, have foreign language conversation groups—in addition to providing healthy meals, free health screenings, information, and more.
  • Continuing Care Communities. When it’s time to downsize and transition to assisted living, the Upper Valley has literally dozens of options to choose from. During the last 20 years, continuing care communities have sprung up along both sides of the Connecticut River, with many offering housing, medical, and social services appropriate for all stages of the elder experience. Wait lists can be long, so do your research early (the senior centers can help with that!) and get your name on a list sooner rather than later.

Do you love to read in your retirement? Check out some of these Upper Valley spots for books and writing!