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Old 10-09-2013, 09:10 AM
 
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As we are researching various places for retirement, we have decided we are essentially urban folks and enjoy city life over small town living. In our search for a city with a "reasonable" downtown area, we are finding that most US cities over 50,000 have issues with crime, homelessness, panhandlers, etc. While these problems are everywhere these days, are there any downtowns in cities over 50,000 that are fun and charming with minimal crime, panhandling, etc? We want to be able to walk around, enjoy the shopping and restaurants without being hassled by aggressive panhandlers or as older folks, fear for our safety walking to our parked car. Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:37 AM
 
Location: New York NY
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Look at big college towns or university neighborhoods within cities: Ann Arbor MI, Ithaca NY, Asheville NC, Cambridge MA, Amherst MA, Burlington Vt, etc. All will have some panhandling and petty crime--it is pretty hard to avoid that anywhere these days--but nothing so serious that a retired couple couldn't wander around at night, feel safe, and have some fun. In larger cities consider the University District in Seattle, DePaul University (Lincoln Park) in Chicago, College Hill/ Downtown ( Brown U) in Providence RI.
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Old 10-09-2013, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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I wouldn't recommend anyone retire in Seattle's University District especially if you're worried about panhandling. It's somewhat seedy, mostly oriented towards students and has its fair share of petty crime. If you were really looking to retire in Seattle proper there are neighborhoods that would be a much better fit like perhaps the junction area in West Seattle. But in general I'm not sure what the OP's comfort level would be with the downtown area. It does have its share of panhandlers and along the retail core an annoying rotating group of paid survey signers.
Ben
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:13 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xz2y View Post
As we are researching various places for retirement, we have decided we are essentially urban folks and enjoy city life over small town living. In our search for a city with a "reasonable" downtown area, we are finding that most US cities over 50,000 have issues with crime, homelessness, panhandlers, etc. While these problems are everywhere these days, are there any downtowns in cities over 50,000 that are fun and charming with minimal crime, panhandling, etc? We want to be able to walk around, enjoy the shopping and restaurants without being hassled by aggressive panhandlers or as older folks, fear for our safety walking to our parked car. Thanks in advance.
Alameda, California, pop. 75,000, is just such a place. Even though it basically functions as a suburb of Oakland and San Francisco, it feels like a world apart. It has a charming little business district where people stroll around safely at all hours, and residential districts full of Victorian homes. And best of all, it's within 20-40 minutes of SF, Berkeley, Marin, and everything else the Bay Area has to offer.
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:16 PM
 
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Charleston, SC
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:23 PM
 
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Appreciate the responses and suggestions. Maybe what we are looking for doesn't exist in the US any longer, which would be a sad commentary. But setting that aside, what we are looking for is an urban downtown with shops, restaurants and entertainment (movie theater, etc), that is relatively clean, reasonably safe (walking to a parking lot later in the evening isn't risky), and is one where we won't be constantly hassled for "spare change".

We are very familiar with college towns (Madison, Ann Arbor, and Lawrence, KS, in particular) and we have found that the downtown cores in cities like those cater to the students (not surprising), rather than to a wider range of ages or interests. If you are well over 25 and strolling around those downtowns, most of the shops and restaurants are really for the students. College towns can be fun for their energy, however, though the housing options can be expensive outside of student-oriented neighborhoods. We would love to find a city (or section of a city) that appeals to a wide range of people.
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pch1013 View Post
Alameda, California, pop. 75,000, is just such a place. Even though it basically functions as a suburb of Oakland and San Francisco, it feels like a world apart. It has a charming little business district where people stroll around safely at all hours, and residential districts full of Victorian homes. And best of all, it's within 20-40 minutes of SF, Berkeley, Marin, and everything else the Bay Area has to offer.
Sounds lovely, though pricey!
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xz2y View Post
Appreciate the responses and suggestions. Maybe what we are looking for doesn't exist in the US any longer, which would be a sad commentary. But setting that aside, what we are looking for is an urban downtown with shops, restaurants and entertainment (movie theater, etc), that is relatively clean, reasonably safe (walking to a parking lot later in the evening isn't risky), and is one where we won't be constantly hassled for "spare change".

We are very familiar with college towns (Madison, Ann Arbor, and Lawrence, KS, in particular) and we have found that the downtown cores in cities like those cater to the students (not surprising), rather than to a wider range of ages or interests. If you are well over 25 and strolling around those downtowns, most of the shops and restaurants are really for the students. College towns can be fun for their energy, however, though the housing options can be expensive outside of student-oriented neighborhoods. We would love to find a city (or section of a city) that appeals to a wide range of people.
It depends on the college town. Here are a couple of videos about Ithaca's Downtown:
Downtown Ithaca NY - YouTube


The Future of Downtown Ithaca - YouTube
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Old 10-09-2013, 02:03 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
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Originally Posted by xz2y View Post
Sounds lovely, though pricey!
Yes, that is a major drawback. But the weather's nice (much nicer than SF) and it's very safe.
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Old 10-09-2013, 02:18 PM
 
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Knoxville TN has a fun downtown that attracts people of all ages.

I can't say you would never be panhandled, but would it feel unsafe when there are lots of people around?
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