More than half the buyers at Sierra La Rana purchased their land with one reason in mind: retirement. It’s no wonder given the mild year round climate and the endless assortment of activities on the 11,600-acre ranch: world-class birding, ten miles of trails for hiking, horseback, or mountain biking. Several owners settled on Sierra La Rana because of its pristine night skies, ideal for astronomers, astroimaging, and serious stargazing.
Brenda Wallace finds the strong appeal to retirees and those planning ahead for retirement anything but surprising. As Executive Director of the Alpine Convention and Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, Wallace has worked closely with scores of individuals considering retiring to the Big Bend. Climate, culture, cost of living – she ticks off a long list of attributes that draw people to the Alpine area. But according to Wallace, two features stand out above the rest.
“Sul Ross is a big asset,” she points out. Sul Ross State University’s 93-acre main campus overlooks Alpine. Founded in 1917, the four-year institution of higher learning has been called “possibly the most underrated little university west of the Mississippi” by Dan Rather. With an enrollment of more than 2,000 students, Sul Ross is also the birthplace of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. It offers an incalculable benefit to those moving to the Alpine area. “They utilize the library. They’ll utilize the recreation department. They’ll utilize the performing arts. It’s open to the public for a very reasonable fee,” Wallace says.
But the number-one reason for retiring to Alpine? Big Bend Regional Hospital. “This is a top five criterion in the decision making of a lot of retirees who chose Alpine.” Says Wallace, “Big Bend Regional has a fantastic senior care program where they not only cater to the wellness of seniors but also cater to the social needs of senior as well. They have a Senior Circle where anyone can sign up for different educational health classes. It’s not just an emergency room. It’s not for just when you’re sick. They’re looking to keep the community healthy as whole.”