The Norman Transcript

October 13, 2013

Norman draws University of Oklahoma graduates back after retirement

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Norman recently made headlines as one of the top choices of frugal retirees looking for a great place to live at a great price.

A low cost of living and low tax rates combine with cultural opportunities available through the University of Oklahoma to make the small city a top draw for retirees, especially if they also have family nearby.

Debbie and Bob Loy are living proof of that. The couple has lived an active life making homes in Illinois, Idaho, Texas, Utah and Hawaii before returning to their college alma mater.

Debbie is a retired attorney; Bob is a retired television journalist. She transferred to OU for her last year of college to be near Bob and stayed to attend law school.

Bob is from Chickasha, where his parents still live, and his sister and brother-in-law live in Norman. When they were young, the couple had big dreams.

The couple’s choice of homes throughout the years was based on a desire to live life to its fullest.

“We made a deal that we’d only go to interesting places,” she said.

Debbie worked primarily as a public defender. Bob started out as an environmental planner before getting into television news. Over the years, she took the bar exam in three different states. Bob worked as an investigative reporter and later as a news manager.

“I was going to save the world,” he said.

For the past 24 years, the couple lived in Hawaii, and most of their friends and family came to visit them. Vacations were spent traveling to visit family.

“I was going to retire and work as a private attorney,” Debbie said.

That income was going to pay for traveling to more exotic places. Then Debbie got sick and had a lung removed. That ended her ideas of working part-time in retirement and also impacted the couple’s retirement income.

With that change in circumstance, being close to family in an affordable, small city suddenly sounded appealing.

“Norman is a big lure to us in many ways,” Debbie said. “It’s a small city, you have everything you need right here.”

The couple said through OU, they have access to the arts and athletics. They are tired of big cities and like that Norman is on the edge of the Oklahoma City metro.

“That’s one of the things I like about Norman,” Debbie said. “It’s a suburb of Oklahoma City, but it’s the last one, so you get country as well as city.”

The couple enjoys golf and say they are big OU fans. They are also happy that the Thunder is nearby in Oklahoma City.

“We’re big NBA fans,” Bob said.

The diversity of the university community is another draw for the couple.

“If you want to live in this part of the country, Norman is a very accepting, welcoming place,” Bob said. “That makes us feel comfortable, to be in a more diverse community.”

Right now, the Loys are living like college kids, they said. They didn’t ship all of their belongings from Hawaii, choosing only to bring the things that were dearest to them. They are working with a real estate agent to find the perfect home. Eventually, they hope to become active in local politics and community service.

“Those opportunities to give back don’t exist in many places in Oklahoma,” Bob said.

Norman has the opportunities the Loys believe will enrich their lives during retirement.

“After living in the islands for 24 years, it’s hard to come back and get our feet on the ground,” he said.

The good news is that Oklahoma’s housing market is much less expensive than Hawaii’s, and the cost of living is much lower in Oklahoma. And while they’ll miss the beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscape and beaches, they said they are enjoying the trees in Norman.

“It’s green, cool and shady here,” Debbie said.

The squirrels have been keeping their two dogs, Paikea and Lilikoi, quite busy.

“We have nothing but good things to say about the aesthetic environment in Norman,” Bob said.

Joy Hampton