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Alaska Missing the Boat on Baby Boomer Retirement
By Mark Neckameyer


January 28, 2006

The Post World War 2 Generation, the "Baby Boomers" seventy-five million strong, are getting ready to retire. The oldest baby boomers turn sixty this year and not surprisingly, lots of us are planning to move to new, smaller homes in exciting areas that have lower than average costs of living and good climates. Those of us who live on either coast, places like Los Angeles, New York, Boston and many other metro areas have huge amounts of equity in our homes to supplement pensions, Social Security and the inheritances being bequeathed by our parents, the Depression/WW2 generation. We are a very prosperous demographic group.

Many states, especially Sun Belt places, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Texas among them are advertising and promoting themselves as active retirement havens. They have figured out that retirees spend money in their local economies, pay taxes and support local merchants yet they require little from local governments in return. Retirees don't have children to be educated in tax supported schools and older people generally do not require the services of police, courts and prisons. Our sole area of public tax consumption is for medical care and that is assumed by the Federal government through Medicare. Retires can be very beneficial to the fiscal health of the states where they live. Sun Belt states are advertising plans including no state income tax for seniors, discounts on seniors' tuition at state universities and they are building "senior centers" in cities where Baby Boomers may wish to live. These ads which I see in magazines, on television and receive in direct mail always mention great climate and recreational opportunities. I have seen advertisements like this from South Carolina, Mississippi and even Louisiana but have not ever seen so much as one "re-locate here" ad from Alaska .

Anyone who has spent time from mid-Spring to mid-Autumn in the Sun Belt can attest to how hot and miserable it can be especially in the Summer months. The desert Southwest is incredibly hot and the Gulf area is muggy, humid and teems with mosquitos in the warm months. Alaska can and should boast about eighteen hour summer days with temperatures in the high sixties most of the time. The cost of living is surprisingly low compared to other states with no state income tax, low gas and sales taxes and housing costs half what they are in California for example. There is the beauty of the glaciers and forests, wildlife to see and enjoy and the fishing may be the best anywhere. The cruise industry certainly recognizes that Alaska markets well to senior citizens so what is holding back the "active retirement" industry?

With the equity from a mostly paid off home in California or New York, a person can buy two homes ... one in Florida for the Winter sun and one in Alaska for cool, fun Summers. Even the Winter in southwest Alaska is much more comfortable than it is in the northeast U.S,. So where is the promotion? Where are the Alaska Sun Cities being built? Where are the "Live the Alaska Dream" ads? Who is screwing up?

Mark Neckameyer
Irvine, CA - USA

About: Mark Neckameyer, a frequent contributor to our Opinion section, presently resides in Southern California but has plans to retire to spend Summers on the Alaska coast in two years.  He has been an active volunteer in a variety of civic activities including animal charities and MADD and he has been a volunteer in his local Republican Party during elections.


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Ketchikan, Alaska