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Retirement in Hawaii

While the total population of Hawaii County was growing by about 20 percent in the past decade, the older segments – such as those from 45 – 54 and those 55 and up were increasing at rates of 100 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

This increase in older folks reflects the overall aging in the national population but, particularly in West Hawaii, it reflects persons moving here specifically – and those who have decided to stay here – for their retirement years.

Though no precise figures exist on the resident retirement population, West Hawaii has been ranked among the most attractive retirement areas nationwide, thanks to its beautiful climate, friendly small town atmosphere, quality medical facilities and continually growing services, among other factors.

In the first two years of this decade, sales of condos and single family homes and new home building has been brisk, fueled by newcomers and residents looking for good investments and a retirement place in the sun. The majority of these buyers are still working, but purchasing with the idea of retirement in the next 10 – 15 years. By the year 2025, in fact, more than 20 percent of Hawaii’s population is projected to be over 65 years old.

As a result of this trend, various retirement community models are on the drawing board for West Hawaii and the area’s first retirement residence opened its doors in 2001 in the center of Kailua-Kona. Regency at Hualalai, the 129-unit assisted living facility is the first of what will likely be more such residences springing up on the Kona Coast.

Traditional single-family home developments specially designed for older folks are also being built, such as the Hualalai Elderly Housing just up the road from Regency at Hualalai.

In other areas too, the trend is to more services and facilities for an older, retired population. The national American Association for Retired People (AARP) has a chapter in Kona with about 150 members. Located the in Royal Kona Resort, the AARP office has information about national and local programs, healthcare and other services. The office is open Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon. (Call 334-1212).

The County’s Office of Aging, meanwhile, publishes a comprehensive directory of retirement and other services for older persons and is pushing for the establishment of a multi-purpose senior center for Kona. Visit this website at: http://www.hcoahawaii.org/.

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