Golf, Culture in the Blue Ridge Mountains make Roanoke, Virginia a Welcome Place To Retire

By: Terri L. Jones


The Roanoke area has the Blue Ridge Mountains, eleven 18-hole golf courses, and Carvins Cove Natural Reserve, the second largest municipal park in the U.S., plus an opera, symphony, ballet and the brand-new Taubman Museum of Art. The traffic, climate and cost of living are easy to live with. And there’s state-of-the-art cardiac and cancer care as well as a Level I Trauma Center available at area hospitals.

It’s easy to fall in love!
Joan Ahearn, who lived in Falls Church, had been visiting her daughter in the Roanoke area for years. When she was ready to make a move, Ahearn remembers her daughter saying, “Momma, I think you’ll love it.” “And I do! I really appreciate being here,” says Ahearn, who now lives at Richfield Retirement Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Salem, VA.

Out-of-towners who retire to Roanoke fall for the place easily, but those who are native to this area are understandably pretty fond of it, too. According to Shannon Ross, director of marketing at Salem Terrace at Harrogate, which offers independent living, a high level of assisted living and memory care, “Folks are very dedicated to the Salem community. They are very tight-knit. Once they’ve come to Salem, they don’t want to move.”

But even if you’re not moving far, changing your environment when you retire can be a bit of an adjustment. That’s why Roanoke area retirement communities work hard to make new residents feel comfortable right from the start.

The Park-Oak Grove Retirement Community, an independent living and assisted living community in Roanoke, for example, is small by design – only 93 apartments in a single, three-floor building – so it’s easy for residents to get around and get to know people. “It’s like living in your own small town. Everybody knows everybody,” explains Vanetta R. Stockton, community relations coordinator.

While Richfield Retirement Community, at 50 acres, is larger, the sentiment is still the same. “They (residents) get to become part of a campus community, where folks know them and help coordinate their needs as they arise,” says vice president Susan Woodie-Williams.


roanokeTime to do what you love
After you retire, you want to continue to enjoy the pastimes that you are passionate about and maybe even discover some new ones. You’ll find plenty to pique your interest in the Roanoke area – both at retirement communities and in the Roanoke community at large. While residents at Salem Terrace at Harrogate are learning to use Facebook at the Internet Café or catching up with friends at the pub (both on-site), Richfield Retirement Community seniors are Nintendo Wii™ bowling, participating in a foster grandparent program or heading to the Jefferson Center to enjoy some chamber music or jazz.

Perhaps, you’re looking for more intellectual pursuits. The colleges in the area, including Hollins University, Roanoke College and Virginia Tech “make for some very exciting and stimulating activities,” according to Vanetta R. Stockton. Museum lovers will enjoy a stroll through the History Museum of Western Virginia or the Virginia Museum of Transportation, home to the largest collection of locomotives in the Northeast. Or if you just want some good local fare, you can pick up some fresh vegetables or even a full meal at the Historic Farmers’ Market, which happens to be the oldest farmers’ market in continuous use in Virginia.

Whether you’re into trains or art, enjoy working out your muscles or your brain, prefer a small retirement community or a large one, Roanoke may be the place for you!

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