Published February 2009

By Jahna Jacobson
Retiring on Alabama’s Eastern Shore could be very relaxing.
Or, it could keep you busier than a full-time job.
“We have a wonderful network here of very active retirees,” said Darralynn Bender, president of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t know why they even use the word retiree, they are so busy.”
Eastern Shore includes Daphne, Fairhope and Spanish Fort, Malbis, Montrose, Blakeley, Barnwell, Belforest, Weeks Bay and Point Clear. Each town keeps its calendar full of festivals and events throughout the year.
From Mardi Gras to Christmas parades, there is bound to be an art, music or food festival on the Eastern Shore almost every weekend. 
Sherry Sullivan, director of senior services at the James P. Nix Center in Fairhope, said it is the close-knit community and the great weather that draw people to the area.
“We offer a lot of cultural and social opportunities without the hustle and bustle,” Sullivan said. “The small town atmosphere attracts a lot of seniors.”
The James P. Nix Center, which is owned by the city, offers daily activities that draw senior residents and Snowbirds alike, she said.
“We have a pool room, dance lessons, cards – just a wide variety of just about anything our seniors want to do,” Sullivan said. “There is a big social network.”
Eastern Shore, which includes Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope, Point Clear and everywhere in between, has a population of about 60,000 people.
“It’s probably about 25 percent retirees, so we have a nice balance,” said Bender.
Real Estate Affordability
There are a wide variety of housing options, Bender said.
“There are homes from the $90,000 to $100,000 range to whatever you want to pay,” said Bender. “We have a lot of apartments going in and patio homes are available.”
There are also several retirement communities, including: Westminster Village in Spanish Fort; The John McClure Snook Regional Center, The Hamlet, and Catherine Place in Daphne; Carroll Place, Homestead Village and Beverly Healthcare in Fairhope; Montrose Bay Health and Rehab in Montrose and others.
Health Care Options
“One of the things that attracts retirees to this area is our amazing medical network,” Bender said. “We have some of the best doctors living on the Eastern Shore.”
Thomas Hospital in Fairhope and Mercy Medical in Daphne have been a serving the area for more than 45 years. Mercy Medical offers acute rehabilitation, long-term care, home care, hospice, assisted living, and life care, and more.
Sales taxes vary from one community to the next. The sales tax in Daphne is 8.5 percent. In Spanish Fort it is 8 percent.  Property taxes are very low, Bender said. “You can’t beat the property taxes here.” Fairhope is one of only two single tax colonies remaining in the U.S.
The Eastern Shore boasts year-round golfing, boating, fishing, hiking and biking and adventure along the bluffs of Mobile Bay. More than a dozen courses offer golfers a choice of layout, design and challenge. The bay’s sparkling waters invite swimming, fishing and a variety of water sports.
Eastern Shore is also home to adventure, with airboat rides, horseback riding and Gator Alley Boardwalk in Daphne,
The Eastern Shore Institute for Lifelong Learning in Fairhope is a non-profit organization offering a variety of educational programs for the enjoyment and self-enrichment of its students. Both Faulkner State Community College and The University of South Alabama also have campuses in Fairhope.
Jobs (retirement)
The Eastern Shore is just minutes away from Mobile, and is considered part of the No. 4 micropolitan area in the country in economic growth and stability, Bender said.
This means job opportunities for seniors, said Bender.
The city also has a strong network of volunteers, she added. “They volunteer so much time and the city welcomes them with open arms.”
Festivals are a big part of life on the Eastern Shore.
“The Arts and Crafts Festival in Fairhope is in its 85th year,” Bender said. The three-day festival attracts more than 250,000 and 300 artists.
“Daphne holds its Jubilee Festival each fall, which draws 35,000 people,” she added. Daphne also hosts an annual zydeco festival.
Towns across the Eastern Shore have family-friendly Mardi Gras Parades and events.
The Eastern Shore is also home to countless historic sites and attractions, including the American Sport Art Museum in Daphne, the Fairhope Historical Museum, and General Andrew Jackson’s Oak in Daphne, where Jackson rallied 3,000 troops in 1814.
The Eastern Shore is a shopping hub for the Gulf Coast. The historic downtowns offer trendy boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, bookstores and coffee shops. Eastern Shore Centre in Spanish Fort offers specialty shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The area is also home to several large discount shopping centers.
Sense of Place
The towns of the Eastern Shore form one big family. Every one is different, but they are all tied by a sense of community. Whether you are a history buff, and art lover or want to airboat out to see the gators, the options are limitless.
With firm roots in history, the area is poised to grow toward a bright future, with plenty of fun, art, music, traditional and adventure along the way.