Georgia - The Happiest State to Live in America

Georgia Waterfalls Hiking

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Everyone is all smiles in the state of Georgia, and the whole country is wondering why! This southern peach state has earned the reputation as one of the inexpensive places to live. Baby Boomers with a desire to hike through the gorgeous Amicalola Falls State Park and feel the freshness of the waterfalls of Georgia will love all the active adult communities in this state. In fact, people living in Georgia are the happiest thanks to a recently released CityLab.com report. From the breaktaking mountain peaks to the centrally located Lake Oconee homes, it’s time to explore the best places to live in Georgia! 

On July 14, 2014, CityLab.com released the most recent results of a study that evaluated City and Rural Area Happiness in the United States. Urban economist Edward Glaeser of Harvard and his team of researchers led the study and found out that areas with the most affordable rental rates proved to be the ‘happiest’ areas. On a scale of happiness, -0.11 being the least happy and 0.13 being the most happy, one state particularly stood out from the rest. Georgia was ranked as having the highest level of happiness, which may be attributed to its lower cost of living.

Gary and South Bend, Indiana, Boston, New York, Detroit and areas of Pennsylvania were reported as being the least happy. The colder climates, high costs of living, lower wages and even lower levels of population were predicted to be causes of unhappiness in certain areas of the midwest. Researchers also stated that places that were labeled as unhappy were occupied by residents that were rooted in the community for decades. In other words, these locations have been holding the “unhappy reputation” for a very long time! Runners up for the happiest locations in the United States include: Charlottesville, Virginia; Rochester, Minnesota; Lafayette, Louisiana; Naples, Florida; and Flagstaff, Arizona.

It is possible these cities are so happy that they are exploding with rainbows and unicorns! However, Georgia takes the cake with its attractions like: Amicalola Falls State Park, Stone Mountain and infamous waterfalls of Georgia. The major international airport in Atlanta allow convenient access for retirees who love to travel the globe during their Golden Years. The Medical Center of Central Georgia is a world-class facility that provides an additional support system for folks during retirement, and the moderate winter climate is always a plus.

Now it is time to check out the  active adult communities that are putting smiles on retirees’ faces year round:

Big Canoe - This popular mountain community is no doubt one of the best places to buy a home in Georgia this year. Big Canoe consists of more than 8,000 acres of customized mountain homes, unsettled homesites and nearly 2,000 acres of untouched woodlands, meadows, lakes and streams. Residences spend their days hiking the 22 miles of natural trails, fishing, golfing, horseback riding and more. Shopping downtown is a pleasure and ending the week with a nice dinner in one of the many local restaurants or cafes is perfection.

Currahee Club - This is not just any golf club location in the mountains of Georgia. This Toccoa community was recognized as one of the World’s Top 1,000 Golf Courses in 2013, one of only 16 golf courses in Georgia to make the list. Approximately 1,500 acres of stunning mountain views, lakefront properties and resort-style amenities make this the epitome of luxury. With the Amicalola Falls State Park in close proximity and endless opportunities to explore the natural terrain, the Currahee Club is the best choice for ‘outdoorsy’ individuals.

Reynolds Plantation - While this golf community may not be known for cascading mountain tops or Georgia waterfalls, it is supporting a reputation for being one of the top lake communities in the area. Resting on one of the largest lakes in the southeast, Lake Oconee, Reynolds Plantation is comprised of five community clubhouses, 16 tennis courts, 38,000 sq. ft. health and wellness center, six 18-hole championship golf courses and much more. This golf and boating kingdom is fit for royalty and offers members terrific opportunities to socialize with others. 30 organizations are available to social butterflies who want a chance to make new friends and find new interests during retirement.

If these private communities were not enough to entice the skeptics of the family, Georgia offers other benefits to those who want to save some money during their Golden Years. Folks living in this state do not pay inheritance or estate taxes, and social security benefits are not taxed in the slightest. The state sales tax is 4% and the state income tax ranges from 1-6%. Property taxes rank in the middle of the spectrum at #25, and in 2012 the retirement income exemption became $65,000 per spouse for retirees ages 65 and older. 

Whether a retiree is interested active adult communities on a lake or wants to settle down in a cozy condominium in the mountains, Georgia has plenty of ways to make each person happy. Cultural festivals in Savannah, mild weather of the south and mountain hiking on the weekends, this state has everything for the whole family!

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