Gonzales ranked fifth best La. retirement city, retirees agree

Leslie D. Rose

Location. Location. Location!

It’s one of the most important components when planning for anything, especially when preparing to choose where to retire.

Lots of Louisiana citizens retreat to rural areas to live out the rest of their days, but according to a study done by the financial blog, SmartAsset, Gonzales ranks as Louisiana’s fifth best place to retire.

But while a list is nice, 73-year-old Kay Bergeron, a resident at Azalea Estates, knew just where she would live in retirement, long before Gonzales was the city it is today.

For her, it was simple.

“To be honest, I came here for Azalea Estates,” Bergeron said.

Bergeron was born in reared in White Castle, spending her teen years in nearby Union, she and her family favored Gonzales as their big city get-away.

And in October 1999, Bergeron, along with her parents called Gonzales home.

Bergeron was still employed at the St. James Parish Library, but by Aug. 1, 2000, she joined her parents in retirement.

“Gonzales has grown by leaps and bounds,” Bergeron said. “The staff at Azalea, and the other people who live here are so friendly - it’s very important to have people willing to help you when you need it. They’re so pleasant about everything.”

To create its list, SmartAsset gathered data on three separate regional factors that affect the quality of life for retirees.

“First, we looked at state and local tax rates, considering two types of taxes: income and sales,” Steve Sabato of SmartAsset said. “We calculated effective rates based on a typical retiree, earning $35,000 annually (from retirement savings, social security or part-time employment), and spending their disposable income on taxable goods. Next, we determined the number of doctors’ offices, recreation centers and retirement centers per thousand residents in each area. Finally, we found the number of seniors in each area as a percentage of the total population.

In our final analysis, we ranked each county and city on these three factors, and calculated an average ranking for each area, weighting the three factors equally. The areas with the lowest average ranking are the best places to retire.”

Bergeron said she didn’t consider many of the items SmartAsset used in its research, but she did consider the overall friendliness of the city, and its crime rate.

“There are very good officials in this town,” Bergeron said. “When you call them for anything - they’re here. I think when you get old, it’s plenty safe. Gonzales doesn’t make the news for bad things very often. They make the news for The Jambalaya Festivals and stuff like that - good things.

Every now and then, well something bad is gonna happen, because it happens everywhere, but there’s a lot of safety here in Gonzales and I think people trust the officials.

When you get old, you wanna be somewhere that’s relatively safe. and, it’s just a nice place - Gonzales. The people are very friendly.”

Bergeron said that while most of her neighbors are from Gonzales, Azalea Estates is home to people from as far as New Jersey.