Roanoke Makes a Great Place for Retirees to Appreciate Changing Seasons

Roanoke offers senior residents a mild climate, great health-care options and outdoor recreation.

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Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and graced with a mild climate, few places are better for appreciating the beauty of changing seasons than Roanoke, Va. These aspects, along with affordable living, excellent health care, and plenty to see and do also make it an excellent place to appreciate the beauty of life's changing seasons for retirees.

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine readers voted Roanoke “Best Trail Town” for 2013 because of its proximity to the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as more than 70 well used parks and greenways, with more than 20 miles of trails offering Roanoke River views within the city.

Although Roanoke has distinct seasons, temperatures stay relatively mild, allowing people to comfortably hike, bike, jog, kayak and golf almost year round. These types of amenities also help keep residents fit and healthy, something that partially contributes to Roanoke's high ranking for health care in our Livability Top 100 Best Places to Live index for 2013. Each city's health-care score consists of the number of major medical centers in the area – Roanoke has seven – along with the level of spending on health care. Low spending indicates not just affordability but less need for medical services, i.e. healthy residents.

Beyond overseeing many parks and trails, the Roanoke County Parks, Recreation & Tourism Department offers a slate of classes and programs to explore new interests, from technology courses teaching iPad basics to other focused on cooking techniques, music and arts.

With numerous performing arts groups for music, dance and theater, along with many community events and several museums dedicated to visual arts, science and history, Roanoke's cultural scene offers people plenty of events and activities to stay mentally stimulated in their newfound retirement free time. The overall cost of living here is lower than the national average – freeing up more room in the budget to enjoy more of the city, from its arts and culture scene to shopping or dining at several excellent restaurants.


Lisa Battles, content director for Livability magazines at Journal Communications, works with community leaders nationwide to tell their cities' most interesting stories. Her previous experience inclu...