Those Ol’ College Days

Retirees are flocking back to their alma maters to recapture the fun and affordability of college.



Baby Boomers are redefining how people retire. They are no longer seeking the traditional retirement communities, but instead are looking for lifestyles that allow them to be active and near family and friends. They also want cheap homes, a reasonable cost of living and lots of culture and sports. What better place to get that than a college town?

There are a few (associations) around the country that are building housing that is available to alums that are ‘empty nesters’ that want to be near the campus again.”

“The draw for retirees to live in thriving university towns, such as Tulsa, is the same as it is for TU students: an abundance of opportunities for academic engagement, cultural activities, sporting events and meaningful camaraderie,” says Amy Freiberger, executive director of alumni relations at The University of Tulsa.

Many retirees are seeking intellectual immersion and returning to school, which is another driving factor for seniors moving to college towns. Retiring to or near a college campus may not be the obvious choice for a lot of people, but some are discovering that college towns offer other important advantages besides access to classes, sports and cultural events. Many have world-class teaching hospitals that draw top medical talent. College towns may also offer full- or part-time job opportunities for retirees who aren’t ready to exit the work scene.

Across the nation, universities and developers are even building retirement communities affiliated with universities – or creating relationships with existing ones –  to give residents full access to university facilities. Bill Moakley, director of alumni communications with the University of Oklahoma Alumni Association, says while the association doesn’t have any similar communities, he’s aware of the trend.

“It is something that alumni associations around the country are doing,” he explains. “There are a few (associations) around the country that are building housing that is available to alums that are ‘empty nesters’ that want to be near the campus again.”

According to AARP, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 36 million Americans move to a new place each year – establishing households to settle near new jobs or pursue retirement dreams. Craig Davis, associate state director of AARP Oklahoma, says retirees are not only chasing the vision of retirement, but are often looking to “discover what’s next in their life.”

Whether it’s returning to school, starting a business or finding the right place to live, seniors are simply considering what the next phase is for them in life.