Enjoy a Great Quality of Life at Any Age

by Harry Zimbler 

If you’re looking for a place to retire -- a safe, active, youthful place, with a wonderful quality of life – you should consider Happy Valley.

“Wonderful quality of life” means different things to different people, but everyone can agree that they want to live in an area that provides them with opportunities to pursue their interests, whatever they may be.

State College and the entire Happy Valley region are consistently ranked in the top of published  lists of Best Places to Retire in America. Often, such rankings are based upon factors including crime rate, housing options, tax rates, and cultural amenities. In all categories, Happy Valley scores highly.

Housing options in the region offer a wide variety of choices, from completely independent living to varying degrees of assisted living options. Local institutions like Foxdale Village,Brookline and the Village at Penn State are just a few organizations that offer a full menu of care, from very limited service to intensive nursing and dementia care, if needed.

Health care is first rate. Mount Nittany Health Center has been expanding for the past five years, creating a top-notch emergency room as well as a state-of-the-art cancer care center. In addition, Mount Nittany Health Center has added an incredible sleep laboratory and first-class neurology center to its growing list of facilities. Geisinger Health System also has a strong presence in the region. Headquartered in Danville, Pennsylvania, Geisinger is the top HMO in Pennsylvania and ranked among the top ten nationally. It is  often held up as an example of what healthcare can become in America. Penn State's Hershey Medical Center is another health care option for residents of the region. It is a leading medical teaching facility in the Commonwealth.

The crime rate in Happy Valley is far lower than most places in the nation. It is certainly one of the safest places to live, protected by the Pennsylvania State Police as well as local police forces.

Traveling around the region is easy. The Centre Area Transportation Authority – CATA -- is held up as a national model of how local transportation should work. CATA buses are almost always on the move. The system is free to seniors 65 and older, and is the envy of most city systems, regardless of size. CATA’s entire fleet of buses runs on compressed natural gas, with a minimal impact on the environment.

Air travel is fast and convenient. The University Park Airport is far more active than most facilities its size. The UPA offers flights from State College to Detroit, on Delta; Washington, D.C., on United Express; and Philadelphia on U.S. Airways.

Staying active in retirement is highly recommended, and opportunities to do so abound in Happy Valley. The Valley’s proximity to Penn State offers an endless array of activities from sporting events to cultural lectures, musical theatre to free credit courses. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers courses in its Fall and Spring semesters. Courses as diverse as “Manet and Modern Paris” to “Living in a Toxic World “ are offered. Penn State offers courses free of charge to seniors over 60. The program is called “Go 60” and it allows seniors to join regularly scheduled classes at the university, free of charge.

The Centre for the Performing Arts presents more than a dozen options each year, from Broadway musicals on tour to string quartets and jazz concerts to Chinese acrobats.

Penn State Centre Stage offers six dramatic presentations each year, combining the talents of students in the School of Theatre with those of professional actors and designers.

The State Theatre on College Avenue offers a full range of entertainment, from the appearance of Arlo Guthrie to classic films like “Casablanca” on the largest screen in the area.

There are many local groups where residents can participate in the arts. The State College Community Theatre has  a long history of excellence in its productions. There are two orchestras and several singing groups. In addition, there is the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania and the Potter’s Guild, both groups offer classes in the visual arts.

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is consistently ranked among the nation’s most successful and popular art fairs. Sunshine Artists Magazine has placed the Arts Festival among the largest and best run organizations of its kind. The People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Artists is a fair that is scheduled concurrently with the Arts Festival.  The People’s Choice is highly popular with local residents, set on the expansive grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.

Enjoy the great outdoors? Take a short ride to one of five nearby Pennsylvania State Parks where hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, kayaking and camping are all available. There has to be a reason that former President Jimmy Carter enjoys fly fishing in famed Spruce Creek. There are dozens of trails that connect, eventually, to the Mid State Trail and on the the Appalachian Trail.

This is a loving and caring community where volunteering opportunities are always available. The Centre County United Way is one of the best run organizations of its kind anywhere. Local food banks and the Centre Volunteers in Medicine, look after every citizen in need.  Getting involved is easy in Happy Valley, and encouraged. Rotary International, Kiwanis, Lions and many other service organizations are vibrant groups.

Shopping for groceries in Happy Valley is an adventure, with some of the finest stores anywhere. Wegman’s (based in Rochester, New York) is always ranked as one of the top places to work in America. Weis and Giant are excellent options as are the many smaller stores and farmers’ markets.

With all this going for it, Happy Valley is an excellent choice for those seeking a place to retire.

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