Where to Retire magazine

The Authority on Retirement Relocation

May/June 2013

Mary Lu Abbott

 Retirement Adviser

EXPLORING LOW-COST
RETIREMENT HAVEN
IN NORTHERN
ARKANSAS

I will be able to retire in 2016 and have
found a place that really appeals to me:
Cherokee Village, AR, a resort-retirement
area. The property taxes are
affordable, and the state tax on my
retirement income is good. Since it is a
relatively new retirement community,
what kind of unforeseen problems
could I run into?

MARY BERGAN
Jasper, MN

springriver_003_l

Area streams are known for trout fishing and scenic rafting, like on the clear Spring River

In the Ozark foothills of northern Arkansas, Cherokee Village has been attracting vacationers and retirees for years. Located about equidistant between Mountain Home and Jonesboro and only 20 miles south of the Missouri state line, it’s in scenic country with lots of outdoor recreation and a fairly mild climate that allows activities most months of the year. Lakes and rivers provide pristine playgrounds for fishing and raft trips beneath rocky bluffs.

It is not a new community but was started by Cooper Land Development in the 1950s.  Cherokee Village was among the first combination vacation-retirement destinations. It’s now incorporated, with about 4,600 year-round residents. Second homes and time-share condos draw more people for weekend getaways and vacations in the summer, when the hills are a lush green, and fall, when the foliage creates a patchwork of color across the landscape.

The community has scores of subdivisions over 15,000 acres, providing two 18-hole golf courses, seven lakes, nature trails, parks, recreation-meeting facilities with swimming pools and a large auditorium for entertainment, tennis courts and a senior activity center among the amenities.

Additionally, more than 100 clubs invite participants with all kinds of interests.

“There’s plenty to do here;’ says Mayor Lloyd Hefley, who retired to the region from Los Angeles. When he left the big city, at first he moved to a place deep in the woods. “I  couldn’t handle it in the bushes;’ he says, so he came to Cherokee Village. That was 15 years ago. He’s in his seventh year overseeing city business. The town, the largest in a three-county area, has its own fire and police departments as well as other services. Hefley says it’s an economical and safe place to live, with a low crime rate. “This is a great value for someone who doesn’t have a lot of money. The cost of living is more reasonable than any other place I know. People can live on Social Security (benefits) here;’ he says.

He estimates the cost of building a new house at $80 to $100 a square foot, adding that it’s often less expensive to buy an existing home. He says nice places can be found for $60,000.

Cherokee Village has 25,000 lots, which were all sold, but many are not developed yet. Some come on the market from individual owners and builders. Carol Ann Hill, a realty agent with King-Rhodes & Associates Inc. in Cherokee Village, says buyers come from all over the country. “I just sold a home to someone from Mesa, Arizona, says Hill, who has handled area properties for more than 20 years. The community, which has condos, townhomes and single-family homes, draws a lot of weekenders from the region, particularly Memphis, TN.

hardy shops

In the Arkansas Ozarks, Cherokee Village adjoins the small town of Hardy, where historic Main Street hosts arts and crafts shops and country music jam sessions.

Hill says lakefront homes run from roughly $150,000 to $700,000, with unique properties going up to $900,000 Generally, she adds, you’ll pay in the $200,000-$400,000 range for a home on a large lot and from $150,000 on smaller parcels of land. But you also can find homes for $25,000 and sometimes less.

As for any problems, the community has restrictions and rules, so you should inquire about all of these. For instance, animals such as horses can’t be kept on your property and RV s aren’t allowed to stay in your driveway (storage is available on-site). Hefley says the yearly homeowners association fees start around $125 and go up to $200 or so, depending on location.

The adjoining towns of Hardy, Highland and Ash Flat add entertainment and dining options. Though Hardy is small – 777 people – the historic downtown with buildings from the early 1900s is the place to gather for fun. Join in pickin’ and jammin’ sessions by local and visiting musicians at the Flat Creek Dulcimer Shop and other spots, including Words and AfterWords, where you can get a latte and browse for books and art. And check out the creative flair of artisans in the Ozark Classic Crafts Mall. You’ll also find pottery and leather stores with items handmade in Hardy. As for groceries and general shopping, Ash Flat has a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The clear, cold Spring River runs through Hardy from Mammoth Spring to the north, providing scenic canoeing and excellent fishing for trout and walleye. The noted Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes along with the White River are nearby.

Batesville, a town of 10,000 located 45 miles south, has hospitals. Hefley says Cherokee Village is working to develop local medical facilities.

If you want to test out the area, Cherokee Village has rental accommodations, starting at $85 nightly for short visits and $400 a month for longer home leases, available through King Rhodes & Associates, which also handles sales, (800) 331-5896.

For more information: Cherokee Village, (870) 257-5522 or Cherokee Village.
org. Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce, (870) 856-3210 or SRACC.
com. For Hardy, the city, (870) 856-3811

or OldHardyTown.net and Friends of Hardy, (870) 856-2892 or MainStreet Hardy.com. Ozark Gateway Tourist Council, (800) 264-0316 or Ozark Gateway. com. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism offers statewide information  and a free relocation guide geared toward retirees at its website, Arkansas. com (at the bottom of the home page, click on Moving to Arkansas).