United States Department of Agriculture Rural Information Center

Retirement Communities in Rural America


Photo: Senior checks her mail.

The source for the image on the right is a USDA photo by Ken Hammond.


Rural retirement is a booming business. Many elderly have always lived in rural environments and others seek to retire in a rural area. Small towns are specifically marketing themselves as appropriate for a quality retirement life at an affordable price. New high-amenity rural retirement communities, particularly along coastal areas and lakes, are being constructed.

This guide focuses on the challenge facing communities to deliver services, especially housing and health care, to rural retirees. The first section includes more than 40 links to full-text resources discussing the economic and social impact of retirees, the economic development strategies utilized by communities to attract retirees, and community strategic planning to provide the needed services.

The second section includes more than 30 links to full-text resources about the various housing options available for retirees including cooperatives, apartments, assisted living facilities, retirement communities, and more. The guide also includes a list of major journals and key associations. Additional information, including statistical information and funding resources, is available on the Rural Information Center's Senior Citizen Resource page at: http://ric.nal.usda.gov/citizens/senior-citizens

This resource guide was revised by Patricia LaCaille John, March 2005.
Rural Information Center Publication Series; no. 65 2005. Beltsville, MD.
Last Modified: July, 2013

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Rural Retirees

Economic and Social Impact

  1. Changes in the Older Population and Implications for Rural Areas, by Carolyn C. Rogers. Rural Development Research Report Number 90. Washington DC: Food and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1999. 29 p. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/RDRR90/

  2. The Changing Face of the Rural West: The Aging of the West. Annbel Kirschner and E. Helen Berry. WRDC Information Brief, Issue 2. Logan UT: Western Rural Development Center. 2004. 7 p. http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/pub__1157003.pdf (pdf)

  3. "Communities May Lose Military Retirees Along with Their Bases". Mark Fagan and Richard Reeder. Rural Development Perspectives, 11, no. 3 (1996): 17-22. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/rdp/rdp696/rdp696c.pdf

  4. The Graying of the Rural Southeast: Shifts in Personal Income Composition. Robert A. Chase. Contractor Paper 99-2. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1997. 21 p. http://www.rural.org/publications/Chase99-2.pdf

  5. "Growth of the Oldest Old Population and Future Implications for Rural Areas." Carolyn C. Rogers. Rural Development Perspectives. 14, no. 3 (1999): 22-26. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/rdp/rdpoct99/rdpoct99d.pdf

  6. "How Do U.S. Farmers Plan for Retirement?" Ashok K. Mishra, Ron L. Durst, Hisham S. El-Osta. Amber Waves. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Vol. 3 Issue 2, April 2005.P. 13-18. http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April05/Features/FarmRetirement.htm

  7. The Impact of Retirees and Working-Age Families on a Small Rural Region: An Application of the Wisconsin Economic Impact Modeling System. Martin Shields, Steven C. Deller, and Judith I. Stallmann. Faculty Paper 99-1. College Station: Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University, 1998. 27 p. http://agecon.tamu.edu/publications/facultyPapers/1999/fp99-1.pdf

  8. "Older Rural America: Diversity Increases as Population Ages." Rural America. 17, no. 3 (2002) 76 p. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ruralamerica/ra173/

  9. Rural America's Elderly. Compiled by Patricia LaCaille John. Quick Bibliography Series: QB 93-36 -- 256 citations in English from AGRICOLA. Beltsville, MD: Rural Information Center, National Agricultural Library, 1993. 56 p. http://www.nal.usda.gov/ric/ricpubs/qb9336.html

  10. Attracting Retirees

  11. Attracting the Migratory Retiree. J. Thomas Chestnutt, V.Wilson Lee, and Mark Fagan. CRD-56. Auburn, AL: Auburn University, 1993. 14 p. http://www.aces.edu/department/crd/publications/CRD-56.html

  12. Chasing the Elderly: Can State and Local Governments Attract Recent Retirees? William Duncombe, Mark Robbins, and Douglas Wolf. Aging Studies Program Paper No. 22. Syracuse, NY: Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 2000. 39 p. http://www-cpr.maxwell.syr.edu/agpapser/age22abs.htm

  13. Economic and Fiscal Impact of In-migrating Retirees on Arkansas' Economy. Wayne Miller, Ronald J. Hy, and Cam Romund. FSCDM4-2M-6-99N. Little Rock: University of Arkansas, Cooperative Extension Service, 1999. 6 p. http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/pdf/FSCDM-4.pdfp

  14. Economic Development Efforts: Recruiting Retirees. Stillwater: Oklahoma State University, Cooperative Extension Service, 1994. 6 p. http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1632/F-906web.pdf

  15. An Examination of Homebound Rural Seniors, by Jyotsna M. Kalavar and John Rapano. Harrisburg: Center for Rural Pennsylvania, 2000. 34 p. http://www.rural.palegislature.us/hrs2000.pdf

  16. The Extent Friendship has a Role in Retiree Recruitment and Retention in South Carolina: Survey Results. Kenneth Backman and Melissa Hawkins. Contractor Paper 99-10. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1997. 19 p. http://www.rural.org/publications/Backman99-10.pdf

  17. "Is Gray the New Gold?" Douglas Clement. Fedgazette (May 2004): 9-12. http://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/pub_display.cfm?id=1648

  18. "Migrants to Oregon in the 1990's: Working Age, Near-Retirees, and Retirees Make Different Destination Choices." Dean H. Judson, Sue Reynolds-Scanlon, and Carole L. Popoff. Rural Development Perspectives, 14, no. 2 (1999): 24-31. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/rdp/rdpsept99/rdpsept99.pdf

  19. Retiree-Attraction Policies for Rural Development. Richard J. Reeder. Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 741. Washington, DC: Food and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1998. 26 p. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/AIB741/

  20. Retiree's Choice of Community: The Importance of Recreation and Parks. Kenneth F. Backman and Sheila J. Backman. Revised. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. 1997. 30 p. http://www.strom.clemson.edu/teams/regdev/RetireesChoice.pdf

  21. Health Care Services

  22. Access to Care Among Rural Minorities: Older Adults. Janice C. Probst, and others. Columbia: South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, 2002. 30 p. http://rhr.sph.sc.edu/report/RHRC%20elders%20report.pdf

  23. Access to Emergency Medical Services in Rural Areas: The Supporting Role of State EMS Agencies. Astrid Knott. Working Paper Series, no. 38. Minneapolis: Rural Health Research Center, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 2002. 22 p. http://www.ruralhealthresearch.org/projects/134/

  24. Best Practices in Service Delivery to the Rural Elderly. Richard J. Ham, Turner Goins, and David K. Brown. Morgantown: West Virginia University, Center on Aging, 2003. 172 p. http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/coa/publications/best_practices/best-practices2003.asp

  25. "Do rural elders have limited access to Medicare hospice services?" B. Virnig, I. Moscovice, S. Durham, M. Casey.Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,2004 May;52(5):731-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15086653

  26. Expanding rural elder care options: Models that work. P. Fitzgerald, A. Coburn, & S.K. Dwyer. (Proceedings from the 2008 Rural Long Term Care Access and Options Workshop). Alexandria, VA: National PACE Association and the Rural Long Term Care Workgroup, 2009, June. http://www.ruralcare.org/documents/Rural%20LT%20Care%202008%20FINAL.pdf

  27. Health Insurance Coverage of the Rural and Urban Near Elderly. Erika C. Ziller, Andrew F. Coburn. Working Paper #27. Portland: Maine Rural Health Research Center, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, 2003. 23 p. http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/rural/wp27.pdf

  28. "Innovations in the Delivery of Health Care Services to Rural Communities: Telemedicine and Limited-Service Hospitals." Susan M. Capalbo and Christine N. Heggem. Rural Development Perspectives, 14, no. 3 (1999): 8-13. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/rdp/rdpoct99/rdpoct99b.pdf

  29. Issue Brief: Chronic Care Network Development in Rural Areas. Laura Himes Iversen and Barbara Vaughan. Bloomington, MN: National Chronic Care Consortium. 1999. 16 p. http://www.nccconline.org/products/N07599.pdf

  30. Rural Health Care Delivery: Connecting Communities Through Technology. Fran Turisco and Jane Metzger. Oakland: California Health Foundation, 2002. 38 p. http://www.chcf.org/documents/hospitals/RuralHealthCareDelivery.pdf

  31. "Rural Health Issues for the Older Population." Carolyn C. Rogers. Rural America. 17, no.2 (2002): 30-36. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ruralamerica/ra172/ra172e.pdf

  32. Rural Hospital's Ability to Finance Inpatient, Skilled Nursing and Home Health Care. Jeffrey Stensland, Ira Moscovice. Working Paper Series, no. 37. Minneapolis: Rural Health Research Center, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 2001. 19 p. http://www.sph.umn.edu/hpm/rhrc/pdfs/wpaper/working%20paper%20037.pdf

  33. Rural Long Term Care Integration: Developing Service Capacity. Elise J. Bolda and John W. Seavey. Working Paper #22. Portland: Maine Rural Health Research Center, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, 2000. 32 p. http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/rural/wp22.pdf

  34. Rural Models for Integrating and Managing Acute and Long-Term Care Services. Andrew F. Coburn and others. Working Paper #10. Portland: Maine Rural Health Research Center, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, 1998. 74 p. http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/rural/wp10.pdf

  35. Social Interaction and the Health Insurance Choices of the Elderly: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study. Elder Beiseitov, Jeffrey D. Kubik, and John R. Moran. CPR Working Paper No. 58. Syracuse, NY: Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 2004. 30 p. http://www-cpr.maxwell.syr.edu/cprwps/wps58abs.htm

  36. Community Strategic Planning

  37. Aging in Sedona: Challenges and Opportunities, by Scott G. Davis. Tucson: University of Arizona, Office of Economic Development, 2000. 86 p. http://www.verdevalleyforum.org/ElderForumFinal.pdf

  38. Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America. John Cromartie and Peter Nelson. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Research Report No. (ERR-79) 36 pp, August 2009. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err79/

  39. "Impact of Retirement Populations on Local Jobs and Wages". Karen L. Hamilton. Economic Development Quarterly. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, February 4, 2010 http://edq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/0891242409357340v1

  40. Local Planning For an Aging Population in Ontario: Two Case Studies. Lynda M. Hayward. SEDAP Research Paper No. 47. Hamilton, Ontario: McMaster University, 2001. 41 p. http://ideas.repec.org/p/mcm/sedapp/47.html

  41. Rural Retirees in Michigan: Issues and Opportunities -- Findings From Focus Groups Meetings. Colletta H. Moser and Paul D. Wessen, and others. Staff Paper No. 2000-56. East Lansing: Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, 2000. 13 p. http://ideas.repec.org/p/ags/midasp/11659.html

  42. Strategic Plan for an Aging California Population: Getting California Ready for the "Baby Boomers". Sacramento: California Health and Human Services Agency, 2003. 110 p. http://www.ccoa.ca.gov/pdf/population.pdf

Retirement Housing

Housing Choices

  1. Federal Programs and Local Organizations: Meeting the Housing Needs of Rural Seniors. Lance George and Christopher Holden. Washington DC: Housing Assistance Council, 2001. 50 p. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/seniorsneeds.pdf

  2. "Homes" for Later Years. Jill Eversole Nolan. SS-144-98. Columbus: Ohio State University Extension, 1998. 4 p. http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0144.html

  3. Relocation-Housing Alternatives for Later Years. C. Sue Miles. WL 175. Morgantown: Extension Service, West Virginia University, 2002. 2 p. http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/fypubs/175.wl.pdf

  4. Rural Seniors & Their Homes. Lance George, Jennifer Pinder, and Amy L. Rose. Washington DC: Housing Assistance Council, 2003. 42 p. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ruralseniors.pdf

  5. When Seniors Relocate. Lynda K. Fowler. SS-143-98. Columbus: Ohio State University Extension, 1998. 3 p. http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0143.html

  6. Aging In Place

  7. Aging In Place. Columbia, MD: The Horizon Foundation, May 2001. 12 p. http://www.thehorizonfoundation.org/ht/d/sp/i/1154/pid/1154

  8. Aging In Place: Coordinating Housing and Health Care Provision for America's Growing Elderly Population. Kathryn Lawler. Cambridge, MA: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University; Washington, DC: Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. 2001. 55 p. http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/publications/seniors/lawler_w01-13.pdf

  9. Creating Accessible Homes. Marilyn Bode. MF-2213. Manhattan: Kansas State University, Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, 1996. 4 p. http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/HOUS2/MF2213.pdf

  10. Assisted Living/Long Term Care

  11. Assisted Living in Rural America: Results From A National Survey. Project Officer: Joan Van Nostrand. Bryan, TX: Southwest Rural Health Research Center, 2003. 38 p. http://www.srph.tamhsc.edu/centers/srhrc/PDF/ruralalfpdf.pdf

  12. Creating Affordable Rural Housing With Service: Options and Strategies. Elise J. Bolda, and others. Working Paper #19. Portland: Maine Rural Health Research Center, Institute for Health Policy, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, 2000. 72 p. http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/ihp/ruralhealth/pdf/wp19.pdf

  13. Developing Affordable Non-Medical Residential Care in Rural Communities: Barriers and Opportunities. Elise J. Bolda, and others. Working Paper #18. Portland: Maine Rural Health Research Center, Institute for Health Policy, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, 2001. 25 p. http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/rural/wp18.pdf

  14. Living Options For Adults Needing Assistance. Pamela B. Teaster and Karen A. Roberto. 350-254. Blacksburg: Virginia Cooperative Extension, 1999. 4 p. http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/gerontology/350-254/350-254.html

  15. Cooperative Housing

  16. Examination of the Quality of Life Among Older Adults Living in Rural Cooperative Housing. Dissertation. Jill Eversole Nolan. Columbus: The Ohio State University. 1997. http://www.seniorcoops.org/intro.html

  17. "Rural Cooperative Housing for Older Adults: An Emerging Challenge for Extension Educators." Jill Eversole Nolan, Thomas W. Blaine. Journal of Extension, 39, no. 2 (2001) http://www.joe.org/joe/2001april/a3.html

  18. "Senior Cooperative Housing: A Choice For Active Adults." Terry W. McKinley. Seniors' Housing News. Fall 2002: 10-11. http://www.seniorcoops.org/nahb.pdf

  19. Retirement Communities

  20. Back to School: University-Linked Retirement Communities and Institutional Integration. Thesis. Bonnie K. Snyder. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University, Graduate School, College of Education, 2002. 201 p. http://etda.libraries.psu.edu/theses/approved/WorldWideFiles/ETD-220/Snyderthesis.pdf

  21. Economic and Social Impact of Bristol Village in Southern Ohio. Jessica Esch and Rosemary Gliem. Piketon: Ohio Cooperative Development Center, 2004. 28 p. http://ocdc.osu.edu/pdf/bristol%20village%20economic%20impact%20study.pdf

  22. "Grandparents Are Returning to College, to Retire." Karen Alexander. The New York Times. May 12 [sic 11] 2003. http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/collegecommunity.htm

  23. "Senior Homecoming." Ellen Chrismer. UC Davis Magazine, 19, no. 2 (2002). http://www-ucdmag.ucdavis.edu/issues/win02/feature_2.html


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Journal of Housing for the Elderly
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Research on Aging
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Where to Retire
Where to Retire
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Web: http://wheretoretire.com/


Action for Older Persons (AOP)
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Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc (MEOC)
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National Council on the Aging (NCOA)
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Older Women's League (OWL)
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Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc (SMHA)
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