Dancing with the “Tai Chi” Stars

I have been looking down at my feet to see if there are really two left ones down there. Why… yes there are! I just wasn’t made to dance. (So that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) And what follows in my “dancing” story…

This last Friday, my friend Marion asked me if I would like to venture over to the Senior Center on Monroe Street, to check out the Tai Chi class. She had read about it online at talgov.com/seniors. Right there on that page, she said, “There is a Calendar of Events and you can find information about the fitness classes offered.” She asked me if I would try it with her. She had never done it and didn’t want to go alone. OK, so the lights and sirens in my head started to go off…..did I hear her right? Did she use the word “fitness” and “class” in the same sentence???? A fitness class????? Dancing??? So to get out of it, I lamented to her about my knee and my two left feet…she said, “I’ll pick you up at 8:30, wear loose clothes!”

Wow, I thought, she caught me off-guard. Should I call her up and cancel? Anyway, I better get my mind in gear…I don’t want to lose my new friend. Plus, there were more friends for us to make over at the Senior Center.

So promptly at 8:30 the next morning, Marion arrives and we are off to the Senior Center. During the next hour so many people welcomed us into their class and I knew my two left feet just might be transformed. The class is a series of slow moves and hand movements…something everyone probably could do. Thanks to the main instructor, Guice, for taking us aside during her break and helping us. Thanks Kristy from the Senior Center and these Tai Chi attendees…Jill1 and Jill2, Kay, Leo, Emma, Norma, Bev, Mary, Bill, Ed, Sam, Rod, Nancy, Carol ….the list goes on.

So if you are into dancing or just want to move a little bit more than you do…check these out at the Senior Center: Beginning Line Dance, Square Dancing, Twirlers Square Dance, Life Exercises, Senior Fitness, Yoga, Brain-Body-Balance, Seated Exercise, Wii Bowling, Zumba Gold, Chair Yoga, Ballroom and Swing Dance Lessons and Dancing for Fun. These classes are for men and women, over age 55 and very reasonably priced. People 55+ are given first priority on classes and then those 18+. Help support the center by joining their Membership Foundation at $25/single; $35/friend under 55; couple/$40. You can attend the classes without membership. Lisa Dollar-Covert can help with memberships. Give Kristy at the Senior Center a call about classes. Pre-registration is required on some. Class fees are very reasonable! Tai Chi was $2/class.

Check out the Senior Center. Other activities at the Senior Center: Crafting or Quilting Bee, French or Spanish, Canasta, Bridge, Watercolor, Pickleball, Oil & Acrylics, Biblical History, Ping-Pong, Blood Pressure and Glucose Screening, Bingo, Writers Workshop, Guitar and many, many more.

What I did learn at my first fitness class at the Senior Center is that I was truly “Dancing with the Tai Chi Stars!” And fitness is not so bad…Tai Chi is a nice way to loosen up and get some exercise. So what about my two left feet???? Why, they are still there, but any day now, I just might be a Tai Chi Star too!

Cathy and Bill wish to thank The Senior Center and Choose Tallahassee for everything during the “home free” year they won here in Tallahassee.

The BIG Retirement Move

Last February I won a year free in Tallahassee.  Several months prior, I became involved in a whirlwind contest that a non-profit group called Choose Tallahassee had developed to bring a retired or soon-to-be retired Baby Boomer couple to Tallahassee. They wanted them to experience Tallahassee and bringing people here means bringing revenues! A win, win.

It is a big decision to move as you retirement. Some can’t bring themselves to do it for various reasons like family, locale or money. We had been checking out various parts of 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 and we wanted to get involved.

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

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, Maren Cox of Coldwell Bank (look her up!). She showed us neighborhoods, schools and though we couldn’t make a decision that weekend, she was instrumental in helping us find our home by previewing it and helping us decide long distance. Trulia.com, Realtor.com and a couple of other sites became my best online friends. Maren sent us “For Sale and For Rent” listings which helped too. Since Maren had taken us around and we had previewed homes with her, we knew about what size home and areas we wanted. We decided to rent first to get to know our new city and with our “Home Free” win, our rent would be covered. We hadn’t rented a home in probably 35 years! Choosetallahassee.com has some great realtors listed on their site. I am also thankful to the owners of our house we finally rented. They agreed to wait until our year was up before they sold. So thanks also to Steve Hourigan of Southwood Properties for making this rental happen.  We love the house and the area!

We are blessed to have Tallahassee chosen for us. It a wonderful size, traffic is not bad at all and you will find art, music, universities, great health care facilities, beaches less than an hour away and any club you might want to join. The prices are reasonable here too. You can choose it too. Look up the WEG (Washington Economic Group) report as they rate Tallahassee the number one place to retire. In the September, 2014 Kiplinger’s report on the top 10 states with the lowest taxes, Florida is in that group! Florida doesn’t have a state tax, social security tax, local personal tax, estate tax or inheritance tax! Groceries and medicine are tax-free and has tax relief for property owners over age 65.  Utility rates are dropping here.

After they notified us of our win, we decided that we would try to be in Florida by August.  Our oldest daughter was going to give up her “Personal Assistant” business and our 15 year old grandson would go with us. (Happily she has restarted her business down here). Our son was on the fence whether he would give up his apartment and job to move near us. Our other daughter lived in the Atlanta area. Choose Tallahassee was hinting that so many events started in the fall it might be a nice time to come by then! So since high school started in August in Tallahassee, our decision was made.

The first step was starting to reduce much of our 40 years of treasures (maybe I should have said clutter..ha, ha). We started room by room and drawer by drawer.  We had boxes to “Donate”, “Keep” and “Trash” (recycle). In each room, we packed up things we wouldn’t be needing in the next 6 months and packed up things we would and marked those with a STAR… so there was very little left in a room.  Each box was labeled, starred or not and we added the name of the room it would go to in our new home. The STAR boxes were important to us and MUST go inside our new home. Those without stars, we still wanted but we could store those.  We made numerous (I mean numerous!) trips to the donation and recycling centers. We had STAR, STAR (very important) boxes that must go with us in the car on the trip down to Tallahassee. Clutter gone!

We put our house up for sale after the clutter was gone. We tried to “stage” the house and kept it clean. We stored our boxes where no one could see them and placed the STAR boxes together (so they could go on the truck together and come off together). We got three moving company and rental truck company’s estimates and read reviews on all. It was amazing how different those prices were! We asked about military discounts, AARP, AAA and any other discounts they might have and most did…yet they were not disclosed in their literature! In the end, we decided to move ourselves. Most of our moves were done for us, but we knew how to move ourselves too. We bought the extra insurance should we damage the vehicle and glad we did. On the last day, just as we left the driveway, someone (I’m not pointing fingers, Joe) clipped a boulder and damaged the rear bumper on the van. To be fair, I couldn’t have even gotten out of that driveway with a truck so big! Thank you family for helping this year happen! My biggest hugs go out to my husband Bill who retired a year before planned.

What I can say to those considering a retirement move…go for it! Now is the time. Reach for it…it is within reach. Will the move tire you out? Probably. Will it be worth it…yes! Do your research; visit and then when you get there join in! Stay connected in retirement to stay happy! You won’t be bored, miserable or feel useless if you do. Volunteer! You have to get involved to like your city. Choose Tallahassee did that for us.

What has been our biggest challenge during this free year so far? It is keeping our calendar straight with all the events we will attend. Enjoy our crazy moving pictures. Yeah, we’re home!

Friday 3/6/15 Red Hills Horse Trials

Spectators unite! Come for an upclose view of the horse trials right here in Tallahassee through Sunday. What is unusual about the trials is that the spectators are closer to the action than at other trials!

Bill and I went out this morning to see some of the dressage competitions. There is something for everyone….beautiful horses (and riders), many vendors and food! It is not hard to find: From Maclay Road, or Meridian Road go North to Miller Landing Road and then follow the signs to Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $15. Children under 12 are free accompanying an adult. But you should know there are spectator responsibilities that should be adhered to so that you and the kids don’t ruin months and years of hard work for the competitors. Go to www.rhht.org for more information.

We walked around and saw the vendors featuring horse saddles, riding boots and other horse related things. In addition some of the vendors we liked were D. Arthur McBride’s lovely horse paintings; Pamela Garrett’s Mango Bay hand screened horse belts; Maren Cox and Laura Kenney of Coldwell Banker’s offer to help you find your equestrian estate and Lisa Sheryle Phipps designer antler earrings and necklaces among many other things. Got Food?? Why yes they do! We bought some boiled peanuts but you can have just about whatever you want from the vendors.

As Choose Tallahassee winners for a year free in Tallahassee, we are thankful for the free tickets Red Hills gave to us! What a wonderful event….something we never experienced before. We ate in the Sponsor’s tent and tonight will attend the Party in the Park with riding demonstrations!

You should come and enjoy! We are!

Red Horse International Trails

Two days ago we received passes to the prestigious Red Hills International Horse Trials here in Tallahassee. Our thanks goes out to Red Hills Horse Trails organization who provided these passes to Choose Tallahassee…the organization who picked us as the winning retiring couple to experience the best that this city has to offer.

Since its inception in 1998, the Red Horse Trails is one of the best equestrian event competitions in the world. The event combines dressage, cross country and stadium jumping featuring 221 competitors, 50 venders and more than 20,000 spectators expected.

The trials continue through Sunday at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. The schedule looks something like this: Friday includes Dressage until 5 pm and then the Capital City Bank’s “Party in the Park” has riding demonstration later in the evening. Saturday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm is the cross country event. Sunday is Stadium Events, Presentation of Colors, Hand and Hearts for Horses Demonstration and the Awards Ceremonies and Victory Gallops.

We are excited about experiencing another great event in our new home…Tallahassee. Go to www.rhht.org to learn more.

The Friendship Force and OLLI/FSU

A week ago, Bill and I were volunteer hosts for a man from Ukraine. What an awesome experience this was for our family! OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at FSU) and FSU/Friendship Force hosted their first delegation under a new partnership with The Friendship Force International and the Open World Leadership Center.

The delegation was comprised of young professionals, including two physicians, an educator, a researcher, an urban developer, a facilitator and a translator from Ukraine. The OLLI/FSU Committee worked hard scheduling visits with state and local officials as the group was interested in how U.S. policy and legislation shapes — and reshapes — our health care system. They visited FSU, FAMU and TCC to interact with faculty and students in health care related studies as well as visit with our local health care facilities and at the Capitol.

We have been blessed to be here in this fine city because I won a free year in Tallahassee from an organization called Choose Tallahassee. OLLI gave us a year’s membership in their organization. FSU donated tickets to an FSU game, plays and more. Each semester classes are offered to OLLI members’ age 50+ on many different subjects. Our membership allows us to sign up for classes, participate in travel and become involved with The Friendship Force among other things. There are book clubs, walking clubs and so much more. You can join OLLI by going to their website at http://www.olli.fsu.edu/.

Back to The Friendship Force. We knew that Wayne Smith had been the founder and that President Jimmy Carter introduced The Friendship Force in 1977 to build a world of friends and a world of peace. We knew about the exchanges in and out of the U.S. and were curious to see how it worked. We attended a meeting, as we had volunteered as back-up dinner hosts. At this meeting, we saw some familiar faces such as Debra Herman, OLLI at FSU Director, and met Jodi Gooding and Anita Olivier who were working on Ukraine exchange, lining up drivers, dinners, events and so much more. Within a week of that meeting, we were asked to not only host a dinner but host one of the delegates for a week. We wanted to give back to OLLI and thought this might just be the way to do it.

This week was a great experience for all those involved! Five families volunteered to be hosts: Marlene Hanna, James Hennessey and Kathryn Gibson, Susan Osteryoung, Norma Smith and ourselves. Each of the delegates was assigned a host family to stay with and help transport them to the events that The Friendship Force arranged for them. The delegates were Volodymyr​, Pavlo, Kateryna, Oleksandr and Valentya. The facilitator was Yevgen and Sergei was a translator.

Our delegate was Volodymyr, a young doctor in his 30s who had been a paramedic, became a dermatologist and now was a public health administrator in Kiev, Ukraine. He was here to help his country reform their healthcare as were the other delegates. He and the others spent a grueling 37 hours of meetings at FAMU’s College of Pharmacy, Tallahassee Memorial Health Care and attending other meetings at other venues. Many other organizations contributed to make this event successful.

The Friendship Force managed to arrange some fun things for them to do too. Many meals at different places were arranged so they could experience our food, including the OLLI host dinners. They attended an FSU Women’s Basketball game, shopped at the mall, attended a reception at the Pepper Center, saw the play “Ragtime,” as well as saw the alligators at Wakulla Springs — all before heading home early Saturday morning.

So what did we do with someone who speaks little English? We spent the first day communicating with Volodymyr via Google Translator. Actually he spoke some English, so that made it easier on us. We fed him his first dinner with foods similar to what he ate at home. The first evening we played Rummikub, a tile game that needs little explanation. Breakfast was different each morning as we wanted him to experience some different breakfast foods.

We took him out to lunch to a Mexican restaurant which he had never experienced before, over to Wakulla Springs to see the alligators and manatees, went to the Museum of Florida History and to the Tallahassee Car Museum.

The guys set their laptops up one evening and played each other their “country’s” music. It was surprising how much of our music he had on his computer. He and I used Babylon.com to communicate on the computer and had some long conversations.

This was just a little taste of what we experienced as a Friendship Force host….and we will never forget it or Volodymyr. If you want to enrich your life, check out OLLI and The Friendship Force, you won’t be sorry.

Find out more about the Friendship Force at http://friendshipforce.org/index.php/who_we_are.

Bill and Cathy Campbell won a free year in Tallahassee as the Choose Tallahassee contest.

Choose Tallahassee winners are ‘home free’

New Hampshire enjoys about 25 inches of snow on the ground this week, and Bill and I are enjoying sunny skies and bare ground in Tallahassee, Florida!

Just last January, we were at home in New Hampshire snow throwing, shoveling and slipping on ice! Personally I had gotten used to wearing two-four layers of clothes in fall and winter…it was “wicked” cold as they say up there. But I had dreams! Dreams of the South, the beach…warm weather and especially activities we could get out and do (that didn’t involve snow shoveling!). And at this same time, we were waiting to hear the results of a contest I had entered. If I won, we would be moving to Tallahassee, “Home Free,” to start our retirement.

Bill was going to retire after many years as a meteorologist (also having retired from the Marines) and I retired as a graphic designer and small business owner. We were about a year away from retirement by our account. During the past several years, we visited Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. And that year, 2013, we were in the coastal areas of Alabama and Florida searching for possible places to retire.

And so it was probably fate when my sister Alice called me after we returned from Florida, to tell me about a contest. An organization, Choose Tallahassee, was trying to bring a Baby Boomer couple to Tallahassee to retire to increase awareness of the many attributes that Tallahassee has for retirees. “You’d be perfect for this contest,” Alice said. She knew we had been looking in Florida for retirement opportunities and well, this “Home Free” contest would be fun! Plus she knew I had been in some cooking contests and the like. “You guys will love all the activities they have down there,” she said.

So I began researching the contest via their site, ChooseTallahassee.com and their Facebook page. There is lots of information about Tallahassee; lifestyle, outdoors, housing and cost of living. You will find information about the universities, parks, beaches (just an hour away) art and culture, health, fitness, restaurants, recreation and more. Go to the Facebook page and give them a “like” to receive information they post on Tallahassee. There is an article on their Facebook page on us that was published in the 850 Magazine this month. Or check it directly here: http://www.850businessmagazine.com/December-January-2014/Baby-Boomers-Bring-Entrepreneurial-Spirit-Economic-gold/

One of the interesting things I learned is that the WEG (Washington Economic Group) did a study and good ‘ole Tallahassee landed up there as #1 out of 10 best places to retire. With more than 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day, the economic benefits for Tallahassee could be immense.

The contest rules explained they planned to bring the winner to Tallahassee and provide rent, memberships and tickets to many of the cultural events. Voila! There it was — I was going to enter!

The first phase was answering some questions. So with all the information on Tallahassee and with the OK from my husband who would retire early (and promised to come with me) — I entered.

And after I entered, I re-read the rules. It was a voting contest. Since I didn’t have that many friends I thought, it was over for me. So I forgot it and moved on. I didn’t vote for me or ask anyone to vote for me.

Surprise! Surprise! I got an email saying out of hundreds of submissions across the country; I was one of 25 finalists chosen to move on. Now I thought, “Wow, I am loved!” (Ha, ha). In this next phase, you had to submit a 90 second video of why you wanted to retire to Tallahassee. Made in the shade! I knew how to do this. I had done some wedding, funeral and other memorial type videos for my clients. So I decided that I would mix it up and do something creative. I did a funny video about our marriage and, what Tallahassee had to offer for us! And then came the call that I was a finalist — one of five!

The last phase was Skype interviews for the finalist and spouses before a panel of about 15 Choose Tallahassee committee members. I remember how we prepared for that one. We had a marker board out of sight, beyond us, with information about Tallahassee — our cheat sheet! But we really didn’t need that because they just asked us casual questions. My biggest memory of that interview is when I misspoke twice. Twice I mentioned I thought Jacksonville would be an interesting place to live. Yikes, their mouths dropped open! My husband reminded me it was Tallahassee where we would be going. I jokingly asked them to only take 2 points off our score for those bloopers. They laughed. Now the waiting game began.

Then on one fateful day in January, 2014, I got a call while in a pharmacy from Choose Tallahassee. I hurried out to my car which was parked facing a 15 foot snow bank. I said a little prayer and redialed their number and said, “I hope you have good news for me!” And he did.

In the future, Bill and I plan to share with you some of the events we have attended. Maybe it will help you or someone you know, Choose Tallahassee!

Bill and Cathy Campbell, would like to thank all the volunteers, sponsors and organizers of Choose Tallahassee, who brought us here via their contest. Some of the sponsors are: Leon County Board of County Commissioners, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Capital Health Plan, Capital City Bank and Tallahassee Senior Center and Foundation.

Choose Tallahassee winners arrive, scouting homes before their move

Despite the rainy weather, Choose Tallahassee’s “Home Free: Why I want to Live in Tallahassee” contest winners Catherine and William Campbell were greeted with sunny smiles at the Tallahassee Regional Airport Thursday afternoon.

The retired couple’s arrival kicked off with applause, “Welcome to Tallahassee” signs and balloons. Choose Tallahassee members and city representatives, such as Rick Minor with the Mayors office, were the driving forces behind the grand arrival for the Campbell’s.

The Campbells have lived in 11 different states, most recently in New Hampshire. During this preliminary weekend visit to Tallahassee, the couple will get a taste of their new home. They plan to move to Tallahassee in August once their current home is sold.

“This was our plan, to retire in the South. And Tallahassee meets all those requirements that we’ve been looking for in a home,” Catherine Campbell said.

For Catherine Campbell, it’s the theater and arts programs in Tallahassee that are most exciting. Her husband is looking forward to another performance with lots of drama.

“Well, I love football. Go ‘Noles!” William Campbell said.

The Choose Tallahassee initiative has encouraged retired baby boomers, like the Campbells, to relocate to Tallahassee since 2010. The Home Free contest is one element of the effort to attract retirees to the area.

“We’ve got it all; great health care, low cost of living, excellent climate and lots of activities that baby boomers are interested in,” Minor said. “We’re excited about Bill and Cathy because they represent what baby boomer retirees are looking for. They are actively working with us to promote Tallahassee.”

Home Free was a nationwide contest that drew more than 275 entries. Each participant sent in a video stating why they would be a good asset to the community.

As the winners of the contest, the Campbell’s won a Tallahassee home 12 months rent-free along with other prizes such as tickets to football games and the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra.

“It was a way for us to give national attention to Tallahassee,” Choose Tallahassee Co-Chair Ken Boutwell said. “We hope they (the Campbell’s) get excited about Tallahassee and that they tell everybody in New Hampshire and all their relatives in other states and that they all start moving to Tallahassee to retire.”

During this exploratory visit the Campbells will begin to look at neighborhoods and potential houses.

“It’s quite obvious that they’ve put a lot of effort into this Choose Tallahassee program,” William Campbell said. “And it’s great to finally be here and to see them all.”


Couple Trades Frostbite for Florida as Tallahassee “Home Free” Contest Winner

A couple from New Hampshire will trade in their snow shovel for sunshine as their dream of retiring in Florida becomes reality. Choose Tallahassee, a group created to promote the benefits of retiring in Florida’s Capital City, has selected a winner of its groundbreaking “Home Free: Why I Want to Live in Tallahassee” contest. Catherine and Bill Campbell, the grand prize winners, will receive a free, yearlong residence in a beautiful Tallahassee home and dozens of perks that will enable them to experience all that the area has to offer.

“Selecting a winner was no easy task,” said Choose Tallahassee Co-Chair Ken Boutwell. “There were so many great entries, and all of our finalists were extremely passionate about relocating to Tallahassee.”

More than 200 baby-boomers throughout all parts of the country entered the “Home Free” contest. A Choose Tallahassee judging panel and “crowdsourcing” votes from the public helped whittle down the scores of applicants to 25 semifinalists. The judging panel then requested video entries from the semifinalists, using those submissions to pick the five finalists. The Campbells were selected as the grand prize winner after a round of digital interviews with all five finalists.

Catherine Campbell said that she has been “dreaming” about winning the Home Free contest since the day she and her husband entered. Campbell is a retired small business owner currently residing in New Boston, N.H. She lives there with her husband, Bill, a Vietnam veteran, retired Marine, and meteorologist with Weather Services International. Two of her three children, Holly and Evan, live New Hampshire, and her daughter Elizabeth lives in Georgia. In her video entry, Campbell said that “Tallahassee has much to offer baby boomers,” including great schools, cultural activities, good healthcare and diversity.

“I have nothing against New Hampshire – it’s just cold!” said Catherine. “We’re at the point where we want something different. Sometimes we live our lives, and we’re just breathing. I feel like I can do so much more in Tallahassee. I want to be ‘breathless’ with activities.”

As winners, the Campbells will relocate to a Tallahassee home with 12 months of rent provided by the contest organizers. They also will receive dozens of other amenities, including a one-year family membership to a local golf club, tickets to college football and basketball games, meals at Tallahassee’s fine restaurants, season tickets to the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and membership to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The prize package comes courtesy of Choose Tallahassee’s many sponsors, including the City of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, Visit Tallahassee, Capital Health Plan and Capital City Bank.

“We are just ecstatic about the response the ‘Home Free’ contest has received, and we are definitely pleased by the enthusiasm of the ‘Home Free’ contest winner and runners-up,” said Boutwell. “We were so impressed by the video entries and interviews of all the runners-up that we decided to gift all four with a free weekend in Tallahassee.”

The four runners-up are expected to visit Tallahassee for a long, action-packed weekend on April 24-27. They are:

· Bill and Mary Sue Wagner – Birmingham, Ala.

· Tom and Barbara Meyer – Grand Rapids, Mich.

· Robert C. and Carla Hudson – Oak Park, Ill.

· Coleen Hetherington – Laceyville, Pa.

The Campbells also will be coming to Tallahassee on May 15-18 for a visit, tour and winner’s reception.

A 2012 independent study found that Tallahassee is No. 1 in offering all of the essentials baby boomers look for in a great retirement location – a warm climate, high-quality healthcare, affordable housing, lifelong learning and great recreational opportunities. Though many communities market themselves as a retirement location, none has embarked on such a promotion to offer an opportunity to “live free” for a year – until now.

About the Choose Tallahassee Initiative and Relocating Baby Boomers

The Choose Tallahassee initiative was organized in late 2010 as community leaders came together around the idea of encouraging retiring boomers to consider relocating to Tallahassee. The initiative has attracted broad community support, with contributions from the financial and healthcare sectors as well as private citizens and local government.

Relocating boomers could have a significant, positive economic impact on any city they choose. The first Boomers were born in January 1946 and turned 66 in January 2012, the age of eligibility for full Social Security retirement benefits. Boomers will retire at the rate of nearly 10,000 per day this year alone – and this statistic will continue for another 16 years. According to various national surveys, anywhere from one-in-three to one-in-five Boomers want to relocate in retirement.

A 2012 study of U.S. cities by Dr. Tony Villamil and the Washington Economics Group (WEG) ranked Tallahassee as the No. 1 relocation destination for retiring Baby boomers. The WEG study ranked 20 communities nationwide and was based on criteria that Boomers themselves identified in a landmark national poll sponsored by the Consumer Federation of the Southeast. In that poll, 1,100 boomers identified affordable cost of living, quality healthcare, a warm and welcoming climate, affordable recreational opportunities, great area cultural offerings, lifelong learning opportunities and strong local eldercare services as key factors in choosing a retirement relocation destination.

If just three-tenths of one percent of the 18 million relocating boomers were to choose Tallahassee as a retirement destination, they would add $1 billion per year to the community’s annual income, according to AARP Florida.

Meet the “Home Free” Contest’s Winning Couple: Bill and Catherine Campbell

A journey to a new state is nothing new for Bill and Catherine Campbell. If you add together the states that they have lived in – both separately and together – on both hands, you’d need an extra finger. Though they may have seen the possibilities that 11 other states offer, they both say they are excited about making Florida their next home.

The Campbells have been married for 45 years. Bill is a Vietnam veteran and current meteorologist. Catherine is a retired small business owner. Throughout their union, the Campbells have lived in many different places, but the story of how the two met begins with a blind date in Maryland. Catherine was attending high school there, and she desperately needed a date to the prom after she discovered that the person she initially agreed to go with was unable to attend. Catherine’s friend, who was married to a Marine, introduced her to Bill, who was also a Marine, and the rest is history.

Bill and Catherine dated for a few weeks before the Vietnam War put miles between them. While Bill was in Asia, Catherine went to college in Ohio before transferring to the University of Maryland. They used letters to keep in touch while they were apart, and Catherine says that she still has every single letter that he wrote to her.

Bill and Catherine were married in Maryland. They transferred to California, then to New Jersey, back to California, and then to Oklahoma.  Bill attended the University of Oklahoma on the G.I. Bill, and Catherine also finished her four-year degree there. Bill worked has a meteorologist in both Oklahoma and California. Catherine was a mortgage loan manager for many years in Oklahoma. The two welcomed their first daughter into the world before moving to Georgia in 1986.

In Georgia, Bill was employed as a meteorologist with The Weather Channel. Through a friend who was a Realtor, Catherine began a small, one-person graphic design business. She also used her artistic talents to paint animal portraits. The couple then expanded their family in Georgia by adopting twins.

Bill worked 18 years at The Weather Channel before finding a new job at Weather Services International in Andover, Mass. The Campbells moved to New Hampshire, where they now live with their three children: Holly (38), Elizabeth (25) and Evan (25). Catherine is now retired, but Bill is still employed with WSI.

Though New Hampshire was a great place to live, Bill and Catherine began to look for homes in the South for retirement. The initial search began in Alabama, but the Campbells soon set their sights on Florida after making a journey to Destin. Through fate and advice from a friend, Bill and Catherine discovered Choose Tallahassee’s “Home Free: Why I Want to Live in Tallahassee” contest.

As winners of the “Home Free” contest, Bill and Catherine are both excited about taking up new hobbies that they couldn’t enjoy in snowy New Hampshire. Bill is a college football fan who says he looks forward to attending local games and taking up cycling, and Catherine is looking forward to attending plays and art events.

“I have nothing against New Hampshire – it’s just cold!” said Catherine. “We’re at the point where we want something different. Sometimes we live our lives, and we’re just breathing. I feel like I can do so much more in Tallahassee. I want to be ‘breathless’ with activities.”

Choose Tallahassee ‘Home Free’ Contest Awards Descriptions

The winning contestant of the “Home Free: Why I Want to Live in Tallahassee” contest will receive the Grand Prize awards package, which includes a complimentary, year-long residence in a beautiful Tallahassee home. In addition to the year-long residence, the Grand Prize package also includes a year’s worth of amenities that highlight some of the best of what Tallahassee has to offer:

Arts and Entertainment

  • FSU’s Seven Days of Opening Nights: Seven Days $500 membership (invites to social events, etc.) plus two free tickets to five events (winner’s choice) in the 2013-2014 season of 7 Days of Open Nights

History and Culture

Sports and Outdoors

  • FSU Football: Two tickets to any home game (except Miami)

Food and Fine Dining

  • Dinner with the Mayor of the City of Tallahassee and the Chairman of the Leon County Commission at one of Tallahassee’s finest restaurants
  • Azu: Dinner for two

Lifelong Learning

  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: Two memberships (which includes participation in the OLLI book club, writer’s group, fields trips, cultural events and an opportunity to register for classes for a nominal fee

General Amenities

Health and Wellness