Athens, Georgia

Best Places to Retire in Georgia


Athens (population 104,000) is located 70 miles east-northeast of Atlanta and just below the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is home to the University of Georgia,and very much a “college town.” Everyone cheers on the Georgia Bulldogs! The University of Georgia was chartered by the state in 1785. In 1801, John Milledge purchased a plot of land (633 acres) on a hill above a small trading settlement called Cedar Shoals, and donated it as the site for the new university.

He named the land “Athens” in honor of the Greek city, that was a center of culture. Clarke County was created from a part of Jackson County in 1801 and the city of Athens, which grew up around the university, was chartered in 1806. The governments of the city and the county became the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County in 1991. Athens has retained its early heritage and charm in its restored downtown and many historic districts which include antebellum and Victorian-era and homes. It is also known for its many Greek Revival buildings.

At the same time the city is very contemporary, with nearly one-third of its population being in the 18 to 25 age group. There is a wide range of restaurants, including fine dining, there is nightlife and live music, many cultural events, live theater, and plenty of shopping. The university attracts and supports a great many amenities and also brings a great many resources to the community, such as talented and energetic individuals, along with its vast facilities. It also offers continuing education opportunities.

The area has outstanding natural beauty and many opportunities for outdoor activities, including golf, tennis, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking at one of the many state parks. It also offers very good healthcare.

Arts & Culture

The Classic Center has a 70,000-square foot meeting and exhibit hall, plus a 2,050-seat performing arts theatre. The theatre hosts Broadway productions, the Athens Symphony and many world-class entertainers. Athens Creative Theatre is a non-profit community theatre which is a division of the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department.

Performances are at Memorial Park Theatre, Morton Theatre, and the Lyndon House Arts Center.

The University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra is an all-student auditioned orchestra that performs seven or eight concerts each season. Performances are at Hodgson Concert Hall. 

Athens Youth Symphony and Athens Philharmonic also perform at Hodgson Concert Hall. 

Morton Theatre is an historic vaudeville theatre that for many years was a major entertainment facility for the black community. In 1914 it was described by the local newspaper as the “largest building of its kind owned exclusively by a colored man in the world.” In 1987 the building was purchased by the city. Its theater, with seating for 548, is operated by a non-profit corporation.

Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall at the university’s Performing Arts Center seats 1,100 in a festival-style auditorium with seats around the stage. Athfest is an annual music and arts festival in downtown Athens. It showcases music and artistic works from the community.

Georgia Museum of Art is on the University of Georgia campus.

Crawford W. Long Museum in Jefferson (18 miles) exhibits the life and works of Dr. Long, who pioneered the use of ether for anesthesia. 

U.S. Navy Supply Corps Museum, located at the Supply Corps School, exhibits a collection of uniforms, ship models, naval artifacts, equipment and photos. 

Georgia Museum of Natural History is on the University of Georgia campus. 


The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department manages a very complete range of facilities and services for its citizens. Its programs range from the arts, to athletic facilities and programs, to management of the parks and many recreation facilities.

Fort Yargo State Park is an 1,814-acre site that surrounds Marbury Creek Reservoir. It offers fishing, boating, swimming, camping, picnic sites, and more. The old log fort was built in 1792 as protection from the Creek and Cherokee Indians.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park is a 1,018-acre facility that contains the longest original site-covered bridge in the state. It spans the South Fork River. The bridge was built in 1885 and is one of less than 20 in the state. The park offers picnic sites, camping, hiking, biking and horseback riding. 

Victoria Bryant State Park consists of a 475-acre site with campsites, an 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, playgrounds, and picnic areas. A beautiful stream flows through the park and there are nature trails that make it accessible. 

The University of Georgia athletic programs are among the most competitive in the nation. Georgia is a Division One school that competes in the Southeastern Conference.


The University of Georgia, founded in 1785, was the first state-chartered university in the U.S. Its main campus consists of 368 buildings and total enrollment is more than 44,000 students. Of this number, approximately 8,500 are graduate students.

Athens Technical College is a two-year institution with 2,700 students.

Senior Programs

Senior Corps has a Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) program in Athens. 

Athens Community Council on Aging serves the 11 counties in northeast Georgia. Its programs support older persons so they can live independently. They also offer opportunities for employment, volunteerism and continued learning. 

The Georgia Center for Continuing Education at the University of Georgia is focused on meeting the life long learning needs of adults.


Athens Regional Medical Center is a 315-bed regional referral center serving northeast Georgia. 

St Mary’s Healthcare System is a non-profit Catholic healthcare system that emphasizes five medical specialties: Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Gastroenterology, and Care for the Aging.


Athens Ben Epps Airport –


Seasonal average temperatures for January are a high of 55 degrees and low of 34 degrees. The average highs and lows for July are 90 degrees and 70 degrees. Newspaper

Athens Banner-Herald –


Atlanta – 70 miles

Marietta – 76 miles

Augusta – 98 miles

Greenville, SC – 100 miles

Macon – 148 miles

Columbia, SC – 188 miles

Savannah – 224 miles

Albany – 247 miles

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