Tallahassee is actively marketing itself as a retirement destination

Tallahassee is actively marketing itself as a retirement destination

Downtown Tallahassee (Credit: Apartments.com)

Community leaders in Tallahassee are actively recruiting retirees to relocate to Florida’s capital city, and they have used such unusual tactics as subsidizing a few who moved there.

A campaign called Choose Tallahassee is designed to attract baby boomers who want to retire in Florida but may not have considered Tallahassee as an alternative to such cities as Boca Raton and Sarasota.

Last year, Choose Tallahassee added muscle by graduating from an all-volunteer organization to one with paid staff, a part-time executive director and an annual budget of $150,000 (three times its old budget), with funding from local governments, real estate companies, banks and other businesses.

Using the tagline “Things Aren’t the Same Since You Left,” Choose Tallahassee last month introduced a social media advertising program to promote the city to baby boomers who grew up there, attended college there or previously worked there.

With a population of about 191,000, Tallahassee has a local economy driven by state government and Florida State University, Florida A & M and a community college, which have a combined student body of approximately 66,000.

Several years ago, Choose Tallahassee tried to raise awareness of the city by launching a contest on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, offering one year of free housing and other benefits to the winners.

The winners of the 2016 contest, a couple from Chicago who had planned to retire in their hometown in Alabama, settled instead in Tallahassee and applied $24,000 of their prize money to buying a house there. The four couples who were finalists in the 2016 contest got a free, one-week visit to Tallahassee that included tickets to a Florida State University football game.

Choose Tallahassee has stopped running contests and now focuses on encouraging residents to pitch the idea of moving to the city to out-of-state family members, friends and acquaintances.

Yet despite its affordable homes in tree-lined neighborhoods and two major hospitals, Tallahassee isn’t among the top-ranked retirement destinations in the United States.

One of its flaws is a lack of housing options for retirees, but the city is addressing this drawback: Planned or under way in Tallahassee are about 10 residential developments for people 50 and older who want such amenities as golf courses and swimming pools. – Mike Seemuth

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