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Retire in Blue Ridge, Georgia?
Surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north central Georgia, Blue Ridge started out as a railroad town in 1896. Thanks to its mineral waters, it later became a health resort and at one time boasted five hotels. Today, it is a tourist destination, drawing a lot of Atlanta residents (and others) on weekends.
The cute downtown, particularly Main Street, is noted for its fun antique stores, galleries and eateries. There is also a brewery and a farmers' market. The 102-year old train depot, also downtown, is the starting point for daily summer train rides along the scenic railway that runs through the area. The Arts Center in the renovated Fannin County Courthouse sponsors exhibits and festivals. The community theater produces dramas and hosts live music. Arts in the Park, acoustic music concerts, nightly music jams, ghost walks and historic tours are few of the popular local events. Offering a bit of nostalgia is the Swan Drive-In Theatre, which has been operating since 1955 and is known for its deep fried Oreos and "fat and sloppy" burgers.
Housing in town is mostly comprised of modest bungalows while residences in the woods range from secluded cabins to large chalets with expansive mountain views. Some of the newer residences are vacation homes.
Shopping venues are geared to tourists, but an Ingles Market, a hardware store, a pharmacy and the like are enough to meet most basic needs. The city park has resident roosters, an outdoor pool and tennis courts.
The neighboring Blue Ridge Lake has miles of shoreline, boat ramps, and a full-service marina. The canoe launch site below the lake's dam allows paddlers access to the Toccoa River.
Population: 1,200 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 43%
Cost of Living: 18% above the national average
Median Home Price: $510,000
Climate: Summers temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, and winter temperatures are in the 20s, 30s and 40s. On average, the area receives 65 inches of rain and a dusting of snow each year. The elevation is 1,725 feet above sea level.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: No
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes, although hours are limited.
Political Leanings: Conservative
College Educated: 30%
Is Georgia Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Notes: Blue Ridge has been somewhat discovered by baby boomers and is slowly turning into a retirement destination. The population dropped a bit from 2018 to 2020 but has steadied since then. Home prices have increased 22% since a year ago.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
The Peach State ratified the Constitution on January 2, 1788, becoming the fourth state to enter the Union. By the mid-19th century, Georgia was rich in plantations and deeply dependent on the slave economy. During the Civil War, General Sherman captured Atlanta and set about destroying much of the state's plantation culture.
The largest state east of the Mississippi River, Georgia has five major geographical regions that descend from the Appalachian Mountains in the north down to the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeast. The climate is surprisingly uniform. Most of the state experiences a mild winter and a hot summer.
Although Georgia is the nation's number one producer of peaches, peanuts, and pecans, agriculture is not its major employer. Trade, service industries, textile manufacturing, and federal organizations like the CDC and Fort Benning supply a larger number of jobs.
Georgia was the first state to lower the voting age to 18. Its Wesleyan College was the first chartered college in the world to grant degrees to women.
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