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Retire in Hiawassee, Georgia?
Overview: Nestled on the shores of tranquil, man-made Lake Chatuge in pretty northern Georgia, Hiawassee is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and two national forests. The Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, runs next to Hiawassee so hikers often stop into town for supplies and food. In fact, much of Hiawassee's economy depends on tourism and the AP Trail.
Downtown sits along one road and has clothing stores, outfitter shops, eateries, art galleries, antique stores and the like. Insurance agencies, motels, markets and more are on either end of town. ArtWorks, run by the Mountain Regional Arts and Crafts Guild, hosts workshops. Hiawassee's Georgia Mountain fairgrounds is home to the lovely Fred Hamilton Rhododendron Garden, car shows, a fiddlers' convention and the ever-popular Georgia Mountain Fall Festival. Young Harris College, only 12 minutes away, sponsors concerts and theater performances. Hiawassee residential properties are in the woods and are primarily cabins, ranch ramblers and extended ranch ramblers on acreage.
Lake Chatuge is popular with sports fishermen, and opportunities for hiking, camping and mountain biking abound. The 200-slip Boundary Waters Resort and Marina offers boat sales and rentals. The area is dotted with family farms, waterfalls and vineyards. Brasstown Bald is the state's highest mountain and the place to take in breathtaking views.
Population: 1,000 (city proper)
Percentage of Population 45 or Better: 70%
Cost of Living: 3% below the national average
Median Home Price: $150,000
Climate: Summers temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, and winter temperatures are in the 20s, 30s and 40s. On average, the area receives 56 inches of rain and a dusting of snow each year. The elevation is 2,025 feet above sea level.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes, Lake Chatuge Regional Hospital
At Least One Hospital Accredited By Joint Commission? No. The nearest accredited hospital is Murphy Medical Center in Murphy, North Carolina, about six miles away.
Public Transit: No
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes, and it has free internet.
Political Leanings: Democrats are few and far between.
Is Georgia Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: The poverty rate meets the national average.
Notes: Racial diversity is minimal.
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.
Population - 10,310,371
Persons 65 years old and over - 13%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 85%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 29%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 9%
White persons, not Hispanic - 53%
Median household income - $49,620
Median home value - $148,100
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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