Chicago couple wins one year of rent-free living in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Most people moving to Tallahassee don’t get a welcome greeting from the mayor himself.

But then again, they’re not Glenn and Loujean Nelson. The couple from Chicago are the 2016 winners of the “Why I’d Love to Retire in Tallahassee Contest.”

Put on by Choose Tallahassee, the organization grants one lucky couple 55 years and older a $41,000 prize package. Part of that includes rent-free living in Tallahassee.

The Nelson’s say they applied because the city offers the best of both worlds.

Read full article on

Chicago couple wins Choose Tallahassee contest

Glenn and Loujean Nelson are leaving the Windy City and moving to Tallahassee.

Earlier today, the couple was named the winner of the Why I’d Love to Retire in Tallahassee, Florida contest, hosted by Choose Tallahassee, an all-volunteer organization that champions Tallahassee as a retirement city for Baby Boomers.

The couple, retired elementary school teachers originally from Dothan, Alabama, will receive one year of free rent plus a prize package valued at $41,000.

The couple beat out dozens of other retirees to win. A group of Choose Tallahassee volunteer judges whittled applicants to 25 semi-finalists, all of whom submitted a video about why they wanted to live in Tallahassee. The judges then interviewed the five finalists to determine the winner.

Read the full article on

Chicago Couple Wins Free Rent In Tallahassee For A Year

A Chicago couple will be moving to Tallahassee with one year’s worth of free rent. They’re the winners of Choose Tallahassee’s “Why I’d Love to Retire in Tallahassee, Florida” Contest.

On Skype Wednesday, Glenn and Loujean Nelson said they were drawn to Tallahassee because of the weather, healthcare options and college-town feel.

“Tallahassee had more than we really wanted, and one of the things above and beyond was it’s a football town,” Loujean Nelson said via Skype on Wednesday. “I love college football, so bam there we were. College football and close to the coast, you can’t beat that.”

The prize is $41,000. This will cover cost for a year’s worth of rent along with free meals at local restaurants and tickets to concerts and sporting events. The Nelsons plan on moving September or October.

The selection process requires finalists to submit a YouTube video saying why they want to move to Tallahassee, Choose Tallahassee Board Member Dave Bruns says.

Read full article from

Choose Tallahassee Announces Winners of Free Year of Retirement

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) – Choose Tallahassee announced the winners of a free year of retirement in the capital city!

Glenn and Loujean Nelson were declared the winners Wednesday. They’ll be moving to Tallahassee from the windy city.

The goal of Choose Tallahassee is to show off Florida’s capital city as a retirement option.

The Nelson’s will get a year of rent-free living, free dining at area restaurants, and tickets to concerts and sporting events. They will serve as ambassadors to help bring other retiring boomers to Tallahassee.

The organization says the area has a lot of draws for baby boomers.

“A community that attracks 3/10ths of 1 percent of the 20 million boomers that will relocate, over the next 14 to 16 years will add $1 billion in inncome to that community’s revenue,” explains Dave Burns, Chair of Choose Tallahassee.

The Nelsons have family in Tallahassee and Dothan, and say the city caught their eye because of the mild weather compared to Chicago, as well as the college football games.

“So I started making a list of what we wanted for a retirement area and matched that with Tallahassee,” says Loujean Nelson, “and Tallahassee had more than we even wanted and one of the things, above and beyond, is that it’s a football town. College football, and I love college football. So bam, there we were! College football plus close to the coast, you can’t beat that.”

The other finalists in the competition will get to take a trip to Tallahassee so they can consider retiring here as well.

Article courtesy of

Choose Tallahassee Announces 2016 “Why I’d Love to Retire in Tallahassee, Florida” Contest: Winners Receive One Year’s Free Retirement in Tallahassee

For Immediate Release:
Jan. 26, 2016

Contact: Dave Bruns
(850) 577-5161

Choose Tallahassee Announces 2016 “Why I’d Love to Retire in Tallahassee, Florida” Contest: Winners Receive One Year’s Free Retirement in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – One lucky family in the United States will win one year’s rent-free retirement in Tallahassee, thanks to a community-based organization that is inviting tens of thousands of Boomers across the nation to relocate in Tallahassee “for the best of their lives.”

The contest opening coincides with a “Zero Snow” policy to be enacted this week as a joint proclamation by the Tallahassee City Commission and Leon County Commission.

Leaders of Choose Tallahassee, a volunteer-led, non-profit organization, announced Tuesday that their second national “Home Free” contest would open Feb. 1. Anyone 55 or older who’s contemplating retirement is eligible to enter the contest, which offers a year’s rent-free retirement in Tallahassee as the biggest single benefit in a prize package worth more than $41,000. In addition, the winner and four runners-up will be invited to Tallahassee for a free weekend visit. Entries will be accepted through midnight April 30 at

Hundreds of 55-plus families from around the nation entered the organization’s first “Home Free” contest in 2013. After an extensive selection process led by community volunteers, a team of local judges selected Bill and Cathy Campbell, then living in New Boston, N.H., as the winners. The Campbells have relocated to Tallahassee and have become deeply involved in the community, including serving as chairs of the 2016 Choose Tallahassee contest task force.

“We’ve had a wonderful experience during our “Home Free” year, and we’re looking forward to welcoming the next contest winners to Tallahassee,” said Cathy Campbell, who with her husband Bill and longtime Tallahassee television anchorman Frank Ranicky, serves as contest chair. “I encourage anyone thinking about relocating soon to enter this contest. Winning will change your life.”

“This contest says ‘Welcome to Tallahassee’ in a way nothing else can,” said Choose Tallahassee chair Dave Bruns. “No other community in America offers a contest like this, as far as we know. And we made it easy to enter, because we’re eager to share the community we love with as many people as possible.”

“Tallahassee offers affordable living, high-quality and accessible health care, great lifelong learning opportunities, great cultural and recreational opportunities in a mid-size community, and a warm, four-season, no-snow climate,” Bruns said. “Boomers are welcome here. Snow is not!”

The Grand Prize Winners will receive $2,000 a month toward their Tallahassee living costs for one year, as well as additional donated prizes worth thousands more:
– Free season tickets for the Artist Series of Tallahassee.
– Free season tickets for the Florida State University’s Opening Nights series.
– Season tickets to the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra.
– Free tickets to one Florida State University home football game and season tickets to the 2016 Florida A&M football games.
– A year’s free membership to Premier Health & Fitness.
– Free classes at the Tallahassee Senior Center in the Tallahassee Lifelong Learning (TALL) program, the L3X learning program, and two tickets to Deck the Halls and two Silver Stars performances.
– Two VIP tickets to the City of Tallahassee “Celebrate America” Fourth of July event and the City of Tallahassee Winter Festival.
– One-year free membership to the Challenger Learning Center.
– Two free memberships to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and two classes.
– Two free season tickets to Theatre TCC at Tallahassee Community College during the 2016-2017 season and season tickets to the FSU School of Theatre.
– Ten percent off entry fees for Westminster Oaks continuing-care retirement community, a value of up to $10,000.
– Two free annual memberships to the Florida Historic Capitol Museum, a year’s membership for two to the John G. Riley Museum, a family membership to Mission San Luis, a year’s membership for two to the Tallahassee Museum, a membership to the Hilaman Golf Course and a gift certificate to the Tallahassee Ballet.
– A year’s free subscription to the Tallahassee Democrat daily newspaper and a year’s basic internet and cable subscription to Comcast.
– One patron’s sponsorship to Red Hills Horse Trials.

Organizers planned the contest to be easy to enter:
– To enter, go to and click on the “Home Free Contest” button.
– Fill out the entry form. Make sure you fill out the section of the entry form asking you to explain why you’re excited to “Choose Tallahassee.” Judges will review entries and choose 25 semi-finalists.
– Semi-finalists will be asked to submit a video between May 9 and midnight May 16. Judges will review the videos to choose five finalists.

Judges will interview the five finalists in late May to select the grand prize winner. The winner will be announced June 10. The winner has one year to move to Tallahassee to enjoy the year of free retirement. For more information about the 2016 “Why I’d Love to Retire in Tallahassee, Florida” contest, the Grand Prize award package and relocating to Tallahassee, visit


Heading south to retire in Tallahassee

Last year we began a year rent free in Tallahassee, as we started our retirement. I had won a contest from a non-profit group called Choose Tallahassee who was targeting retired or soon-to-be retired Baby Boomer couples. (“Baby Boomers” are one of the largest generational groups in the U.S. More than 25 percent of the U.S. population belongs to this generation, born between 1946 and 1964.) They wanted retirees to experience what Tallahassee has to offer and hopefully stay. In doing so, Tallahassee would reap the benefits of retiree’s enthusiasm for volunteerism while increasing area revenues.

Moving while in retirement is a big decision as anyone knows. Some can’t bring themselves to do it for various reasons like family, locale or finances. We had been checking out various places in the Southeastern states during our vacations. We had done our research and had decided we wanted to retire in one of four states, Florida being one. We looked at the data on which states treated our retirement income the most fair and whether the state had other taxes (see below). We also wanted weather that would be mild most of the year, near or on a beach, a college town for the events and learning and ways to get involved.

For us, it wasn’t a difficult decision to move away from northern New England. We didn’t have ties to the area except our jobs and we had hopes our grown kids would follow us south. New England, though lovely, was presenting more challenges to us because of the weather, fuel costs, property taxes and limited cultural/educational activities.

Retire in Tallahassee FloridaI found out about the contest after we had returned from a trip to Alabama and Florida while searching out retirement areas. In fact, we never made it to Tallahassee on this trip. There were a series of things you had to do to enter this contest and then the winner would receive a rent free year in Tallahassee plus tickets and memberships to many, many events. Why, this was right up my alley!

For the contest, first I did my research on Tallahassee and I was pleasantly surprised by all it had to offer. It is a wonderful size, traffic is not too bad and you will find art, music, three universities, great health care facilities, beaches an hour away and any club you might want to join. The housing prices were reasonable there too.

There was a WEG (Washington Economic Group) report at the time and they rated Tallahassee as the number one place to retire. Boomers were looking for a Southern college town first and Tallahassee was at the top of the top ten list. They want warmer weather with a hint of winter in a mid-sized town, a low cost of living and quality health care. Other factors were supportive senior services, art and cultural opportunities, proximity to a beach and robust opportunities for life-long learning. And of course, Baby Boomers did not want the annoying traffic and congestion. College towns in Southern states, appear to offer the best mix of these many factors.

There was also a Kiplinger’s report on the top 10 states with the lowest taxes and Florida was in that group! Florida doesn’t have a state tax, social security retirement tax, local personal tax, estate tax or inheritance tax! Groceries and medicine are tax-free and Florida has tax relief for property owners over age 65. Utility rates were dropping there as well. Also more recently in June, 2015, Tallahassee was recognized by the National Civic League as one of 10 All-American Cities in the country for innovative efforts to promote positive community changes.

So after checking all that out, I entered the contest. It was a series of questions on Facebook that you had to answer. Their committee and the public voted on the contestants they liked. Surprise, surprise! I got an email that I was in the top 25, chosen from entries submitted from the whole country! A semi-finalist!

In the next phase, the semi-finalists had to create a video about why they wanted to move to Tallahassee. My research paid off. I enjoyed doing this and tried to be creative. Finally I was notified I was one of the top 5 Finalists! After a Skype interview with each of the contestants, I was chosen as the winner! How exciting!

One of the best things Choose Tallahassee did after we won, was to fly us in to see our new city. Several wonderful people showed us around. They assigned us a wonderful (I repeat…wonderful) realtor. She showed us neighborhoods and though we couldn’t make a decision that weekend, she was instrumental in helping us find our “Home Free” home by previewing it and helping us decide long distance. We decided to rent first to get to know our new city and our rent would be covered. We hadn’t rented a home in probably 35 years! We loved the house and the area chosen!

Read the full article on Retirement and Good Living

Our year of Home Free Retirement Thank You! Out with the Old, In with the New!

Choose Tallahassee chose us and we went down a new path, we had never been there before. Eyes open we were ready to experience retirement in a new city.

We left our house, our town, our road, our church and friends behind. We found new friends, a new town, another house on a new road and found a church…call us adventurous! We lost some of what we had, but we gained so much in Tallahassee. They gave us a free year and so much more! So many people and companies donated items to make this year special.

We fished with the Captain; saw the alligators and manatees; felt the warm waves of a nearby beach and hosted a Ukrainian for a week. We listened to Darko’s magic and dined like kings with the Mayor and others. We spoke at the Tallahassee City Council and Leon County Commissioner meetings. People interviewed us and published articles about us. We watched plays, concerts and discovered new vistas with the Senior Center and Osher Life Long Learning Center. We looked back into Tallahassee’s history at Florida Museum of History, Mission San Luis, John G. Riley Museum of African American History and zipped along at the Tallahassee Museum. We were welcomed at FSU, FAMU and TCC. We met so many lovely Tallahassee people. So many people made our path a little smoother.

We laughed; reminisced; discovered football again and exercise (other than shoveling snow). We reunited with family…finally close by. We experienced a daughter’s wedding and added 2 grandchildren to our brood this year.

We traveled over new bumps in the road…new bends were around the corner. Yet none of these bumps and bends were a struggle…because we had come home!

Will we live happily ever after? We hope so. How can we thank everyone? We hope we just did.

Cathy and Bill Campbell

Young Actors Theatre Hit!

We were happy to be invited out to meet some friends last Friday to see the tap dancing musical “42nd Street”. Thanks to our friends Marion and Amber we found a new theatrical outlet for us. This musical was at the Young Actors Theatre. I had driven by this little theatre but had no idea just what was going on there. We love theatre so we decided to give it a shot.

As you know, we are wrapping up our free year in Tallahassee courtesy of an organization called Choose Tallahassee. We won a rent free year here along with tickets to many events. We are thankful to the donors. We really have enjoyed the theatre productions of TCC, FSU and Theatre Tallahassee. There weren’t too many opportunities to see a play in New Hampshire where we used to live.

The play is set during the height of the depression and is about a successful Broadway director, Julian Marsh, (wonderfully played and sung by Jake Armstrong!) who produces a new show but must hire an older fading star. Daniela Rodriguez plays Dorothy Brock…her acting of the difficult star was very good. Her rich friend is backing the show and insists that she be the star. One of the chorus girls, Peggy Sawyer (nicely played and sung by Haley Holcomb) takes over when the star breaks her leg.

You might remember some of these songs from the film with the same name, “We’re in the Money”, “Lullaby of Broadway” and “42nd Street”.

Two things stood out for us. First was the costumes which were exceptionally done. Thank you Lea Reeves, Lisa Peacock and Josie Roman. And the Tap Dancing/Choreography by the company was wonderful. Kudos to Vicky Swezey and Valerie W. Smith.

My favorite character was Maggie Jones, played by Brianna Reilly. She was the best and belted out a great song in “Shuffle Off to Buffalo”.

So I hope you will go see this production which ends June 28. What a truly wonderful and professional production it is! The dancing, singing and acting was some of the best I’ve seen by young actors or any actors. Great production everyone.

Order your tickets online at or call them at 850-386-6602. Young Actors Theatre is located at 609 Glenview Drive, Tallahassee. Don’t let this one slip by.

Give to the Tallahassee Democrat Food Drive this Thursday!

Just a couple of days ago my husband read in the Tallahassee Democrat that they have been having a food drive. It has been going on since June 1 and it continues through Thursday, June 18.

School has ended and so many children who got free breakfasts and lunches at school may only have one meal a day now because of the summer. That means the request for food will be greater in the summer.

That doesn’t leave you much time but I hope you will stop by on Thursday at the Tallahassee Democrat, 277 N. Magnolia Drive and drop some food off or a check made out to Second Harvest. I believe they may be in the parking lot collecting too.

So many of us go out to eat once or twice a week or more and we can all spare the amount we spend on just one meal to help people in need.

We were there today to drop off some bags of food. As always they need everything. Please don’t bring things that need to be refrigerated. But they will be happy to accept grocery gift cards too!

PLEASE HELP TALLAHASSEE! Thanks, Cathy and Bill Campbell

“Is Tallahassee home or not?”

We are heading back to New Hampshire soon. We are the winners of the Choose Tallahassee “Home Free” contest that brought us to Tallahassee for a year free. It has been a marvelous year…so many have contributed to make this year a success! We were given a home for a year, cable TV, Tallahassee Democrat paper, Tickets to FSU, FAMU, Tallahassee Theatre, FSU and TCC theatre, the Symphony, the Ballet, many-many memberships to different organizations, a Four Points Hotel stay, Tallahassee Senior Center and OLLI events to mention just a few. I don’t know how we will ever thank everyone.

Just so you know, we are NOT moving back to New Hampshire, we are just making a short visit to take care of a few things with our home up there, see some friends and just enjoy a week on the road visiting relatives up and back.

I wish it had been easier to sell our home up there but like so many others it wasn’t meant to be for us even after months of home preparation and a great realtor. On our last visit we decided to tell our realtor we were going to rent to cover our mortgage expenses. It seemed that God opened his ear to our request that very day we told the realtor, because by the end of the day we had a renter. Just hours after our realtor left, a lady we knew from church left a voice mail on my phone about possibly renting it. She wanted to talk to us when we were up in NH again. I called her back and told her we WERE in NH so she came over to see it and rent it. It gave us all goosebumps.

Landlords again! I guess I have mixed feelings on all this because I really would like to call Tallahassee our home but you know, things are tied up until that house sells. And now we have a renter. I have talked with many others here who have gone through this same experience….but I wouldn’t change a thing. This retirement move was what we needed and wanted!

We come from a small village in NH where you don’t find apartment buildings and not too many rentals unless someone has an in-law suite to rent. We live out in the country on 2 acres about 20-30 minutes from two nearby towns. Our tenant is a school teacher in the elementary school in our little village, yet she has three teenagers who are bussed into the next town where a high school is located. So if she didn’t find a rental in our village her kids would have to change schools and she would have to drive back each day to teach.

The owner of the home we are in now has been going through this same thing…wanting to sell and putting their lives on hold for those Choose Tallahassee people (us)…we are very grateful to them, as we know our renters in NH are grateful to us.

Our lovely landlords have extended our lease into next year which gives us some breathing room after our year is up after August with Choose Tallahassee.

I don’t think we could have picked a nicer city than Tallahassee to retire in. Yes, it was a leap of faith to make such a move without our home sold and unknowns. But sometimes you have to just, “step out of the boat”. We have landed on our feet and are enjoying our retirement thanks to all those around us.

We are happy to report that Tallahassee is in the running for the All American City award. Tallahassee certainly has a lot to offer! AARP just had an article this week that Tallahassee was rated 5th out of 30 cities in the country as a good place to live and make friends. It is a city “where residents look out for family and neighbors, join civic groups, vote in high numbers and have easy access to the digital world”. So come one, come all and Tallahassee will work out for you too.