Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Reader Requested Short Review of Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach (population 6,000) is on Alabama's eastern Gulf Coast and sits next to the Florida border. It began as as a fishing and farming village in the 1800s but did not incorporate until 1984. Today, Orange Beach is a high-end beach resort, busy with tourists in the summer but very quiet in the winter when many businesses close.
The cost of living is 25% above the national average, and the median home price is $360,000. Fifty percent of residents are age 45 or better, and politics lean very much to the right. Thirty-three percent of locals hold at least a four year college degree. The town has more than doubled in size during the last couple of decades. Racial diversity is minimal. Crime rarely happens.
The beaches are sugar white, and the water, with gently lapping waves, is emerald green. Tall, gleaming condominium buildings line the sand, giving Orange Beach a posh skyline.
Real estate options and prices are all over the map, from modest inland bungalows in the high-$100,000s to oceanfront penthouse condos selling in the millions of dollars. And some boat slips are more expensive than some houses. Most jobs are service-oriented, and class lines are somewhat evident.
Fishing charters are popular, and 11 golf courses are within a 10 mile drive. A 112-foot tall Ferris wheel, which is the tallest Ferris wheel in the Southeast, towers above the Wharf, a large entertainment, dining and shopping venue. The city also has seven houses of worship, a beautiful waterfront park, a dog park, a canoe trail and unspoiled, sub-tropical backcountry trails.
The Orange Beach Arts Center sponsors the annual Festival of the Arts, a fun celebration of visual, culinary and performing arts. The Center also hosts acoustic concerts in its main gallery. The Mobile Symphony and concert headliners occasionally come to town.
The Orange Beach Public Library has public computers and wireless internet access for laptop users, as well as downloadable books, computer classes and book discussion groups. Next to the library, the Orange Beach Active Adult Center is an attractive facility with a wide range of services.
The Baldwin Rural Area Transportation System (BRATS) has a bus that travels between Orange Beach and neighboring towns, and a dial-a-ride service operates Monday through Friday within town. There is also a service that takes seniors to nutrition sites, grocery stores and medical appointments.
Orange Beach does not have a hospital, but South Baldwin Regional Medical Center (112 beds) is in Foley, just 11 miles away. It is accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare patients. Pensacola, Florida, twenty-three miles east, has two Level II adult trauma centers, one of which, Sacred Heart, is award-winning for emergency and clinical excellence.
Summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild. Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 40s, 50s and 60s. On average, the area receives 58 inches of rain per year, and the sun shines 225 days of the year.
Retirement in Orange Beach does have some drawbacks. The area is susceptible to hurricanes, and although Hurricane Katrina in 2005 did not do much damage, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 caused significant destruction. Traffic congestion on roads leading to and from the beaches has gotten worse as the population has grown in the last several years.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Alabama Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Tourist crowds and the hurricane threat should be considered, but with beautiful beaches, plentiful water recreation, a wide range of home prices and a low crime rate, Orange Beach is a place to consider for retirement.
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