retirement

Geneva, Ill.: A Great Place to Retire for Your Health

It’s close to Chicago, sure, but this Illinois city works to set itself apart.

Geneva is only about 44 miles from Chicago, but please don’t call it a bedroom community. Located on the Fox River, Geneva is a destination in its own right, with plenty of cultural amenities for retirees seeking an urban vibe without the traffic. “We don’t define ourselves by our proximity to Chicago,” says Kevin Burns, mayor of Geneva since 2001. “We define ourselves as a unique community in the Midwest.” Geneva is one of 10 small or midsize cities we found that offer first-class health care.

Geneva stats

Population: 22,000

What $300,000 will buy: 3-bedroom, 2-bath, one-level home near Good Templar Park

Best place to exercise: Fox River Trail

5-star hospital*: Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital

The city has a historic and vibrant downtown, with shops selling everything from organic cosmetics to vintage home accessories. Restaurant options range from fine dining at Fiora’s to Buttermilk, a popular brunch spot that has set out to “elevate traditional breakfast fare.”

You can work off Buttermilk’s cinnamon roll pancakes on the Fox River Trail, which runs for 30 miles in Kane County and attracts bikers, joggers, walkers and, in the winter, cross-country skiers. The trail provides access to canoeing, fishing and the Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve & Nature Center. “There are ample opportunities to stay in shape or get in shape,” Burns says.

While Chicago is home to some excellent health care facilities, Geneva residents don’t need to go that far to get quality heath care. Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, an acute-care facility with 159 beds, boasts a state-of-the-art cancer center.

Six years ago, Burns, 53, and his partner, Aimee, 41, purchased a one-level ranch home that’s within walking distance of downtown. His parents live in a condo overlooking a golf course. But Burns acknowledges that the supply of retiree-friendly housing options is limited and often pricey. Condos and townhouses are available at prices ranging from $250,000 to more than $600,000. Providing affordable housing for the growing population of retirees is one of the city’s biggest challenges. “If this community becomes a place where you can only buy big homes with big yards, that doesn’t seem wise in the long run,” Burns says.

There are several retirement communities in Geneva, including an independent living community near Delnor Hospital, the Reserve of Geneva, which offers one- and two-bedroom condos for residents who are 55 and older. The entrance fee starts at $68,000, and monthly fees range from $1,800 to $3,700. If you’d rather rent, two-bedroom apartments go for about $1,500 to $1,900 a month.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is only about 24 miles from Geneva; Chicago Midway is about 32 miles from the city.

Illinois exempts income from Social Security, retirement plans, and public and private pensions from state taxes. Property taxes are high, but residents 65 and older are eligible for a $5,000 reduction in their homes’ assessed value.

* Rating developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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