I Retired Here — And I Like It!


I noticed that earlier this week there were a lot of comments in the NPJ about a posted article saying Natchitoches was cited as a good place to retire. And the great majority of the comments were quite negative.

I’ve also noticed over recent years that no matter what the subject, readers’ online comments do tend to be negative. And that’s not just here. When I was still a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, readers’ comments on news stories seemed to be overwhelmingly negative, often downright nasty.

And by gosh, as Americans we certainly have the right to offer our opinions and to criticize, no matter how often we see the glass as half empty rather than half full.

But — and this is a big but I’m talking about — I think we’d all be happier if we tried to see things in a brighter light rather than always talking up the downside.

Specifically, let’s talk about Natchitoches as a retirement spot. We first started visiting Natchitoches in the early 2000s, when — even before Katrina — lots of hurricanes seemed to be heading for New Orleans and we would evacuate NO and come here. Thankfully, those storms turned at the last minute.

Then the Big One, Katrina, hit and we stayed here, at Bobby DeBlieux’s guest house, for several days. By this time we knew the city and area pretty well and decided that when I retired shortly afterward, we would move here, principally to get out of Hurricane Alley. So we did.

I love history and there’s certainly lots of it here. For a town our size, we’ve got some neat places to visit. We take advantage of the speakers’ program at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum. And the university offers much to do, everything from sports to drama productions to taking courses. Did you know senior citizens get free tuition for a limited number of courses at a state university ?

One thing that I didn’t see mentioned in the comments is the extremely reasonable cost of housing here. The house we live in would have cost tens of thousands of dollars more if it were in the New Orleans area. I don’t consider property taxes too bad, either.

People are certainly friendly here. We joined a number of organizations when we first moved here and I detected no evidence of any cliquish behavior. We were accepted right away and made to feel like old friends.

Several people mentioned crime. I must say I feel very secure in my neighborhood, far more than I did in Gretna, on the West Bank of New Orleans. And Gretna is a lot safer than the city itself, too.

Do I miss the New Orleans area? Yes, very much. There was, naturally, very much to do there, with some world class museums, programs, entertainment, etc. But, giving the fact that we felt we needed to move away from another potential deadly hurricane landfall, I can think of few places that I’d enjoy more than here.

Again, everyone has their right to criticize. And perhaps I see Natchitoches with the eyes of a relative newcomer (12 years now). But I like what I see and I hope more of you will too. Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “I Retired Here — And I Like It!

  1. Jason, I have to totally disagree. If you follow (and apparently you do not) what others say about Natchitoches, the city appears on numerous lists such as travel guides, retirement publications, and national organizations that name our city as the best… (small town, historic city, quaint city, leading Christmas festival in Louisiana, and the list goes on). Don’t believe me? Look it up, visit CVB on Front Sreet. There is no other city our size or close to it with more and continuing accolades.

    • Guess it depends on which list you look at…

      I have seen Top 100 best communities to retire in, and Natchitoches is not listed. It is subjective. Depends on the criteria used.

      Personally, I like Natchitoches, which is part of the reason we have lived here for 37 years. Now that we approach retirement, we are starting to look at other places. But I suspect we’ll stay here…and just travel a lot!

  2. My family and have have lived internationally and in some of the nicest places in the US (Ft Collins, CO; Tampa, FL; Alpharetta, GA). As an LSMSA alumnus, the school drew us back to LA and Natchitoches. The things you listed are right on. Natchitoches really is a great town. It amazes us the opportunities available considering its size and location.

    It seems that lack of perspective plays into the negative views of some. In order to be a truly great town for one demographic, you must be a very good locale for all demographics. Natchitoches is doing a good job at pursuing the means to that end.

    I am impressed with the passionate synergy in a significant group of diverse town leaders here. They have vision and drive to improve, grow, and excel in their own spheres of influence as well as collectively. It’s not all. There are still pockets of self-centered politics. Such is the way of the world. Yet, our town is going in the right direction in many areas and pressure is being applied to those areas that are resistant.

    It is a good time to live in Natchitoches and looks like even better days are ahead. At least from my perspective.

  3. In comparison to Gretna, Natchitoches is awesome! I can see why the writer likes it here. But, the bigger point is not what the city has, but what it doesn’t have. All anyone has to do is visit a real retirement city, be it in Florida, like The Palms (I think that’s the name of the town), or a city in Nevada we visited, and the “negatives” of Natchitoches as a self-proclaimed retirement community become obvious. Part of the problem is this city is not trying to be a true retirement community. It wants to be something to a cross section of demographics. It wants to be a “college town,” a “historic tourist destination,” a special destination, the Christmas Festival, and other various things. By trying to be so many different things, it fails to be any of them well.

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