You're only as old as your ZIP code
Neffsville's 17606 has highest median age in nation (87) thanks to Brethren Village You're only as old as your ZIP code BY TOM KNAPP, Staff Writer
You might think it would be some sunny spot in Florida, where so many people go to spend their autumn years.
But no. According to a recent issue of AARP Magazine, the spot in the United States with the highest median age -- 87 years young -- is right here in Lancaster County.
Specifically, it's the 17606 ZIP code, which spans a small area between Lancaster and Lititz.
You know, Neffsville.
More to the point, Brethren Village.
The ZIP code 17606 doesn't define a geographic area, postal officials explained Tuesday. It's a post office.
"If you have a post office box here in Neffsville, 17606 is your ZIP code -- just like 17608 is the downtown office ... or 17607 is Rohrerstown," says Cindy Hendrix, a window clerk at the Neffsville branch.
Neffsville doesn't have a lot of Post Office boxes, however. But Brethren Village is "a caller," she explains, which means all its mail comes to the post office and then is picked up by a Brethren Village employee.
"They get a lot of mail," Hendrix says.
And Brethren Village is pretty big.
Spanning 153 acres in Manheim Township, the retirement community has some 1,200 residents, according to public relations manager Tara Ober.
Technically, she says, the street address for Brethren Village's several apartment, assisted-living and skilled-care complexes is 17601 -- a Lancaster city ZIP code. But using the Neffsville branch shifts the community into a 17606 mailing address.
Brethren Village caters to residents age 62 and over. The median age overall, Ober says, is "in the early 80s. We like to call them 'young 80s.'"
The median age rises when you focus on the skilled-care portions of the campus, she says.
"They all use the same address," Ober says. "It all comes to our mail center here on campus."
The designation in AARP is "very surprising," she adds -- "especially since we, for lack of a better term, own that ZIP code."
Neffsville Post Office shares the distinction of having the country's highest median age with two other ZIP code areas -- 61112 in Rockford, Ill., and 40049 in Nerinx, Ky. A section of Niagara Falls, N.Y., and New Hyde Park, N.Y. -- 14302 and 11042, respectively -- are close behind, with a median age of 86.
That tidbit was revealed in an article on the 50th anniversary of the ZIP code.
According to AARP, the post office dealt with an "overwhelming increase in business mail" in 1963 by devising the zoning improvement plan -- or ZIP code -- which employed five-digit sequences to direct mail to its destination.
Conversely, the youngest median age is 11, found in the 56593 area of Wolf Lake, Minn. It's not much older in the 84784 section of Hildale, Utah, and the 86021 area of Colorado City, Ariz. --the median age in both is 13.
Here are a few more pieces of ZIP code trivia, courtesy of AARP.
nThere are 41,810 ZIP codes in the United States, including 538 military ZIP codes. California has the most ZIP codes -- 2,602, three more than Texas -- while Rhode Island has a mere 90. The average population per ZIP code is 7,348.
nThe most populous ZIP codes, according to estimates, are 79936 in El Paso, Texas, with 116,860 residents, and 90011 in Los Angeles, with 107,942.
nThe priciest ZIP codes -- based on the median price of a home in the summer of 2012 -- are 10065, or the Upper East Side of New York City ($6.5 million), and 07620, or Alpine, N.J. ($5.7 million).
nThe most ethnically diverse ZIP codes are 75038 (the Irving neighborhood of Dallas), 11428 (Queens Village in New York City) and 94130 (Treasure Island in San Francisco).