BY KYLIE YEATMAN
Surrounded by a serene landscape, a tight-knit community and a slew of easily accessible corner shops, the aspects of Carmel that are often taken for granted by its youngest residents are ones that make it ideal for those settling down—a point proven by the town’s demographics.
Of the 3,722 citizens of Carmel-by-the-Sea accounted for in the 2010 United States Census, 35.7 percent represented the age demographic of 65 and above. By comparison, only 15.5 percent of Monterey residents were reported in the 65 and above age group, along with only 10 percent of the county overall.
Sitting in her home, noting the picturesque view of Carmel Beach and the sunsets, longtime Carmel resident Carrol Galanti reflects on what makes Carmel the ideal place to settle.
“It’s a lovely village to walk around in, and it’s a relaxed atmosphere,” Galanti says. “You can walk around. Everything is in walking distance. It’s easy to be active.”
Making a note of the accessibility of the town, Galanti cites Carmel’s beauty and friendliness as reasons why it is an ideal place to settle. This beauty makes it commonplace for older residents to take walks around town.
“I like being a part of a community where I can walk to a good restaurant, to the post office or to Bruno’s,” Carmel resident Judy Furlan reflects.
Furlan also considers the ways in which Carmel residents can settle and give back to their communities after years of work.
“Carmel may be small, but it is also sophisticated and full of interesting people who have led great lives,” Furlan cites. “It is full of non-profit organizations where a retiree can rechannel their work energy and give back to the community.”
Resident Donna Jett, who moved into Carmel in 1996, believes that Carmel has a refreshing energy, making it an ideal spot to retire.
“You have to create the style of life that works best for you,” Jett says.
The Monterey Herald has reported that Monterey County is the third best among California’s retirement communities. The study, taken by a financial company based in New York, cites access to medical care, tax burden and social mobility among seniors.
This social mobility is something noted by many employed in downtown Carmel, many of whom see their customers daily, therefore establishing personal relationships with their customers. Yet as Carmel-by-the-sea has increasingly seen itself as a tourist destination, many of the town’s local conveniences—including Knapp Hardware—have been closed, which resident Karyl Hall speculates is in part due to high taxes placed on shops.
“Rents are so high that few ‘regular’ stores can survive,” Hall says.
But Hall also expresses that tourists and residents can co-exist in the space and mutually benefit from one another’s experiences.
“Both sides in the end acknowledge that they need each other,” Hall adds. “Tourists don’t come to Carmel to see a bunch of t-shirt shops. They come for the charm, ambiance and beauty of a village that is unique in the U.S.”
In essence, the attraction of tourists to the city comes from the same sources that make it an ideal retirement community.