Choose Tallahassee, the local initiative that promotes this area as a retirement destination for baby boomers, launched a national contest during a news conference Tuesday in which the winner gets to live in Tallahassee for a year for free.
The contest — “Home Free: Why I Want to Live in Tallahassee” — is open to any out-of-state resident age 55 or older who is retired or soon-to-be retired. They may enter between now and Nov. 3.
Rick Minor, chief of staff to Mayor John Marks, said the grand prize is free rent in Tallahassee for a year, along with such add-ons as football tickets, golf club memberships, meals at local restaurants and admission to cultural events. A long list of local businesses and organizations pitched in to create the award package.
“The grand prize value is nearly $35,000,” Minor said during a morning news conference at Hotel Duval. “But the real value is intangible. It’s immeasurable. That’s the improvement in the quality of life that we have, and they are willing to test it by moving to Tallahassee for the rest of their life.”
The winner will be announced Jan. 22, 2014.
“In the meantime, though, tell your friends and family living outside of Florida about why Tallahassee is the No. 1 destination for baby boomers, and ask them to visit ChooseTallahassee.com in the coming weeks to enter the contest,” Minor said.
The selection of the winner includes a crowd-sourcing feature during Round 1 in which entrants may encourage family and friends to vote for them on Facebook and other social-media outlets. That vote total and input from judges will be used to narrow the field of contestants to 25 semifinalists.
Retirees Arnie and Sheila Hantman, new arrivals in Tallahassee from Tamarac in Broward County, also attended the news conference. They moved to Tallahassee to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law and grandson.
The Hantmans enjoy Friday Downtown Getdowns on home football weekends, local art shows, restaurants, trips to Apalachicola for oysters and family activities. Five weeks ago they bought a house in Killearn Lakes.
“One of the things that I have often said to the kids and family is that being here, we find people look you in the eye as they come by. They smile. They don’t hide. People open doors for you,” Sheila Hantman said of the couple’s impressions of the community. “That is a wonderful way to live.”
“We have chosen Tallahassee,” she added. “This is where we want to be. These are the people we want to be with. This is the community we have decided to spend the rest of our years with.”
Baby boomers now are retiring at an estimated 10,000 a day. Ron Sachs, who co-founded Choose Tallahassee with retired executive Ken Boutwell, said boomers are an active group seeking the kinds of attributes that the Tallahassee area has, as confirmed by a 2010 Mason Dixon poll.
In a followup study by The Washington Economics Group, economist Tony Villamil and his team took the boomers’ preferences and measured how well Tallahassee and 19 other similar retirement destinations stacked up. Tallahassee came out on top.
(Thanks to the Tallahassee Democrat for allowing reproduction of this article)