Back to school: College towns woo retirees

DAVIDSON, N.C. -- Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day, according to the Social Security Administration.

Some stay where they are in their golden years, while others relocate -- and lots of colleges would like to have them as neighbors.

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Patt Butt CBS News

Pat Butt is a sprightly 86 years old. She and her husband, Bob, retired 15 years ago to Davidson, North Carolina, because they weren't ready to slow down quite yet.

They picked a retirement community called The Pines at Davidson because Bob went to Davidson College.

"We were very interested in a college town and we were interested in a small town, combination," Butt said. "Just because we like the atmosphere."

The Pines has an agreement with Davidson College -- All residents can audit classes for free if the professor agrees.

Pat is taking her 12th class. She says when she used to picture a retirement community, it meant "nursing homes" -- but reality is different.

According to an investment bank that tracks senior living, there are an estimated 85 retirement communities located near colleges in the U.S., with at least two more in the planning stages.

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"Retirees in the community generally contribute a huge amount to the college in their attendance at sporting events, at arts events, their interest not just in the college but also in the small town," says Anne Merrill, who teaches English and environmental studies at Davidson.

For example, the residents of The Pines spend an estimated $25,000 a year on sporting events at Davidson College.

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College towns also typically have lower home prices and good transportation systems. Because many have teaching hospitals, there is top-rated health care.

"I just think my life is a lot of fun," Pat says.

And since they prepared so well for their retirement, she and Bob are planning on having lots of fun for years to come.