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Friendly Tyler (population 108,000) is in East Texas' lush Piney Woods region, about 90 minutes from Dallas and 60 minutes from Shreveport, Louisiana. Nicknamed the "Rose Capital of America," this pretty city is particularly popular with gardeners and boasts the largest municipal rose garden in the U.S. (40,000 bushes and 500 varieties). It also hosts the renowned, lavish Texas Rose Festival every fall.
Tyler has grown by 5% within the last 10 years, and much of this growth has come from retirees. In fact, 37% of residents are age 45 or better. Twenty-five percent of locals have a four year college degree. Politics lean to the right, and the city is racially diverse. The cost of living is 28% below the national average, and the crime rate meets the national average.
Founded in the 1840s, Tyler was a prosperous cotton-producing center before the Civil War and an oil boom town during the Great Depression. Today, historic neighborhoods still boast elegant homes from these eras.
One such neighborhood is Bergfeld Park, where the leaf-canopied streets are paved with bricks. Other areas have more modest but well-tended brick ranch ramblers. The median home price is $198,000, a 13% increase over a year ago.
Flower markets and vineyards are sprinkled in and around the city. The Tyler Azalea Trail, comprised of two scenic routes that wind past spectacular private gardens, draws thousands of visitors each year. It seems that anything can grow here, and the abundance of roses, crepe myrtles, azaleas and dogwood trees only adds to the city's fragrant appeal.
Cultural amenities include Ballet Tyler and the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. The University of Texas (10,000) has a campus here and presents Broadway shows, jazz ensembles and dance performances. The Tyler Museum of Art receives rave reviews. Various house museums and other small museums celebrating trains, roses, freedom, mid-19th century East Texas and more are sprinkled throughout the city.
Lake Tyler (two lakes, really) and Lake Palestine are close at hand and open for boating and fishing. The 985-acre Tyler State Park to the north of Tyler is the spot for swimming, camping, birding, hiking, biking and quiet contemplation.
Shopping is more than adequate, and dining choices include everything from well-known national chains (Olive Garden and Applebee's) to locally owned steak houses. Houses of worship, particularly Pentecostal and Baptist, are plentiful, and church attendance is high.
Tyler has two primary hospitals. Award-winning Mother Frances Hospital, a 360-bed acute care facility, is a Level II trauma center and a designated stroke center. It is accredited by the Joint Commission, is a teaching hospital and accepts Medicare patients. The East Texas Medical Center, also award-winning, is a Level I trauma center and has 425 beds. It, too, is accredited by the Joint Commission, is a designated stroke center and accepts Medicare patients.
The popular Tyler Senior Citizen's Center is open Monday through Friday and offers exercise classes, games, noon meals (donation suggested) and limited transportation services.
For people who do not drive, Tyler Transit provides bus service throughout the city Monday through Saturday. Para-transit for the disabled is also available (but requires an application).
East Texas' climate is hot and humid in the summer and mild in the winter. Summer temperatures are often in the 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 30s, 40s and 50s. On average, the area receives 48 inches of rain and a dusting of snow per year.
Tyler residents seem to enjoy their city very much. Yet there are some drawbacks to retirement here. The tornado risk is 200% higher than the national average. Some residents complain about traffic congestion and the slight undercurrent of "good ole boy" politics.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Texas Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Although the tornado risk is a concern, Tyler beckons with its reasonable cost of living, beautiful gardens, historic homes, lake recreation, good medical facilities and Texas hospitality.
With a name based on a word used by Caddo Indians meaning "friends," Texas is the second biggest state by population in the country. It is estimated that 70% of residents live within 200 miles of Austin, the capital city.
Houston is the largest city, while Dallas-Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area. Connecticut and Delaware could fit inside Texas' largest county - Brewster. The state is larger than all of New York, New England and Ohio combined.
In addition to the Caddo, the historical people of Texas include members of the Native American tribes of Apache, Choctaw, Tonkawa and Hasinai.
When Texas became the 28th state of the United States (1845), it adopted the official flag called the Lone Star Flag. Symbols include the Bluebonnet - the state flower.
Almost 10% of Texas is covered by forest. The state has nearly 24,000 farms, 90 mountains a mile or more high and is the nation's leading producer of natural gas, oil, wool, cotton, watermelons and rice. It also has the most airports of any state in the Union and is one of the most business-friendly states. Its culture has a blend of of Southern, Southwestern (Mexican) and Western influences.
Famous natives and residents include Mary Kay Ash, George W. Bush, Tommy Lee Jones and Joan Crawford.
Population - 27,862,596
Persons 65 years old and over - 12%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 82%
Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+ - 27%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 40%
White persons, not Hispanic - 42%
Median household income - $43,470
Median home price - $132,000
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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