GAINESVILLE BY THE NUMBERS ; State tax on pensions: Yes ; State tax on Social Security: No ; Sales tax: 7% ; Property tax rate:
7.76% ; Best way to spend $10: Grab a drink and small plates at Recess Southern Gastro Pub on the square, then check out events downtown, in- cluding free concerts. ; Fun night on the town: The Gainesville Symphony Orchestra; tickets: $20 to $30. ; What a steal! Two outlet centers within a 30-minute drive. ; Can’t put a price tag on: Fast access to the Blue Ridge Mountains and their panoramic hiking trails, lush with rivers, waterfalls, and richly diverse ecosystems. Gainesville is near the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests, which comprise 843 miles of trails.
MEDIAN HOUSING PRICE:
Downtown Gainesville has the sleepy
charm of a prosperous southern town, including
brick sidewalks and a constantly humming square
that attracts shoppers from throughout northern
Georgia. But lovely Lake Lanier, completed by the Army Corps
of Engineers back in 1956, is the area’s biggest draw, creating an
enormous boating playground that attracts about 8 million visitors
a year and provides plenty of chances to powerboat, water-ski, and
Jet Ski—not to mention sail, row, kayak, and canoe.
It was the lake that lured Carolyn Palmer, 62, and her husband,
Gary, 66, to Gainesville; they discovered it when they were briefly
transferred there in the 1980s. “When we started talking about
retirement, we both knew we wanted to come back here,” she
says. They built their dream house right on the water. “We
couldn’t believe how far we could make our housing dollars go
here in Gainesville—we used to have half this much property,
half this much house, and triple the taxes—so this is like heaven.”
As avid golfers, the Palmers appreciate the area’s 15 courses.
Their main joy, though, is taking their boat out on Lake Lanier
and tying up to neighbors’ boats: “It’s such a nice way to socialize
and enjoy the scenery,” says Carolyn.
Members of the Lake
Lanier Rowing Club get
a workout at sunset.
50 AARP THE MAGAZINE