Retirees fuel Venice's title as 'oldest' city in the country

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VENICE, Fla. - Recent census numbers indicate that the median age of those living in Venice is nearly 67-years old; that’s perhaps higher than anywhere else in the country not designed as a retirement community.

So how are so many people finding the city on the gulf, and why are they deciding to stay? Those we found say there is just something about this place that makes you want to spend the rest of your life there.

Retirees like Jinny Kelly say Venice has a lot to offer. "It's wonderful. There is something to do every hour of the day."

She says it starts with the environment and goes from there. “The factor I think is the weather and the beaches. Also you can make friends. A lot of people are the same age."

With an estimated median age of 66.7, Venice ranks sixth-oldest nationally among cities with more than 20,000 people. The first five though, are planned retirement communities.

"I liked that it was a small town," says Donna LoFaso, who moved to Venice from Pittsburgh.

A small town with a quant downtown, low crime rates, plenty of organizations to join and areas to volunteer. Also, places like the Senior Friendship Center, which offers plenty of choice.

Stacy Prouty is with the Institute for the Ages, based in Sarasota. They conduct surveys and studies about a growing older population. She says Venice stands out because of services -- an understanding and expertise, from those in the medical profession to those who wait tables. "You have others around you who are more accepting and respectful of aging."

But you still have to know it exists. Prouty says Venice has word of mouth like very few. “We hear it over and over and over again. It is either a special place that they visited when they were younger or friends came here and they came to visit."

A place that just seems like a perfect fit for many.

"We drove around the state a number of times, and this is what we chose. Had a small town feel, but as a hub you can go in any direction and find exactly what you want," says Cece Patterson.

Many we talked to liked the fact there are more younger families, too. In fact, the median age here is actually dropping. Now at just under 67 years old, in the year 2000 it was 69 years old.