City named top retirement spot

September 23, 2008

By Derek Johnson

U.S. News & World Report ranks other cities

Issaquah has landed in the national spotlight with a US News and World Report article naming the city as one of the top retirement destinations in the country.

The article, written by Hillary Quinn, is in the Sept. 18 issue of the magazine.

Issaquah was depicted as a “gem of a city,” and the Issaquah Highlands as an ideal urban village. Quinn was clearly smitten by the natural beauty.

“Just as compelling as the network of meandering paths and child-safe streets of the Highlands is the beauty of surrounding Tiger, Cougar, and Squak mountains, in which Issaquah is nestled,” she wrote. “The elaborate trail system connects to this trio, enabling active residents to walk out their front door and find themselves in a permanently preserved forest in a matter of minutes.”

U.S. News and World Report traveled the country to select 10 ideal cities for the retirement years. Each place provides numerous venues to exercise, socialize and live the good life during the golden years.

That Issaquah’s outdoorsy ambiance impresses outsiders does not surprise locals like Bobbi Izuo, community relations director of Bellewood Retirement Living.

“The people who come to Issaquah do so if they don’t want an urban setting,” she said. “A lot of retirees move here because they just want to get out of the density of bigger cities, even cities like Bellevue.”

Larry Ishmael, chairman of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the publicity.

“I was really pleased to see that we were recognized,” he said. “Issaquah is a beautiful community.”

He went on to discuss the benefits found by local retirees.

“For starters, the state of Washington has no state income tax,” he said. “This attracts retirees in the same manner as Florida and Texas. We have also been fortunate to have some outstanding retirement destinations locate in Issaquah, like University House, Bellewood, Briarwood at Timber Ridge and several others. We also have a great number of practicing physicians that can tend to the needs of seniors, and who still take Medicare and Medicaid patients. A lot of places in the country may have a lower cost of living than we do here, but many have a dearth of physicians who will still take Medicare and Medicaid. Fortunately, that’s not a problem for Issaquah residents.

“Everything you need you can find right here,” he said. “From festivals, like Salmon Days, to basic shopping, we have turned into a self-sustaining community. We are happy to be nationally recognized by US News and World Report.”

Ishmael then added another detail.

“At Providence Point, in their community center, there’s a jazz spot called Bake’s Place,” he said. “It’s one of the top jazz places in the entire country. You normally wouldn’t think of going to a retirement community for something like that, but it attracts all sorts of great performers and people to it.

“Like I said, Issaquah has it all.”

Reach reporter Derek Johnson at 392-6434, ext. 236, or

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