Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are retiring daily and will continue to do so for the next 19 years. Seventy-eight million Americans comprise the baby boomer generation, and at least some of the boomers will choose to retire to rural areas to enjoy their post-retirement years away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas. For those baby boomers who will be experiencing rural living for the first time, there are some realities of that lifestyle that need to be considered.
Shortages of Doctors in Rural America
The shortage of physicians and other primary health care providers in rural areas of the United States is not a new one , but it may affect the aging baby boomer population more so than many other segments of the population. This is due to the sheer numbers of people in the generation, the fact that as people age they are more likely to have chronic illnesses, and because baby boomers will be increasingly be relying on Medicare and supplemental insurances for health care coverage.
On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that at least 20,000 family care physicians are needed to fill the gaps in rural health care, but with only that number of family care doctors graduating each year. Many of the graduating physicians, along with their experienced colleagues, will choose urban areas both for the more varied opportunities there and also because Medicare pays doctors in rural areas less per procedure than doctors in urban areas.
Transportation Services Different than in Urban Areas
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration explains the transportation service differences that affect the rural areas of America. Depending on which of the three types of rural areas you are choosing -- basic, developed or urban boundary -- you can expect to experience public transportation services that range from non-existent to fair.
Rural roads comprise 80 percent of the roads in the nation, but because they are not federally funded for maintenance and replacement, funding most come from more local sources. The FHA explains there are more than 450,000 rural bridges; almost 50 percent of them over 20 feet in length are structurally deficient.
Taxi service, if available, is more expensive than in urban areas. A trip to "the corner store" may be 20 or more miles away.
Other Rural Life Realities
Living in what the FHA describes as developed rural America, I can point out some of the issues to be considered before making a move there. Rural life is less filled with the manic personality of the metropolitan areas and is enjoyable if you are interested in getting "back to the basics."
Don't expect snow plows and/or salt trucks to clear your rural roadways if you live where snow and ice are realities. Power outages take longer to be fixed in rural areas than in town because utilities work first where the most amount of people are affected.
Wildlife may be abundant where you choose to live, partially because the creatures are being pushed from their natural homes due to urban sprawl. You may welcome the sight of many of these creatures, but remember also there will be more reptiles and amphibians about also.
A vacation to a rural area is much different from living there full-time. Approach a move to a rural area as you would any other major life-decision, and go prepared.
Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.