If you or a parent plans to retire and relocate within the next five years, reading “Retirement Places Rated, Sixth Edition” by David Savageau will be time very well spent. For more than 20 years, the author has been studying and ranking the best places to retire based on several criteria most retirees consider.
The criteria Savegeau uses are Ambiance, Costs of Living, Climate, Personal Safety (Crime), Services, and The Economy. At the book’s conclusion, in the “Putting It All Together” chapter, the author rates more than 200 retirement destinations by considering all these criteria.
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The superb Appendix includes many relocation resources. A few communities are so anxious to attract retirees they will even pay part of your moving costs. Statistically, the author explains, a retiree moving to a community is worth several full-time jobs after considering retirement income retirees usually bring with them.
Interestingly, Savegeau begins by explaining very few retirees actually relocate. Many investigate retirement locations but then decide to live out their “golden years” where they currently live.
For example, I recall my retired parents lived for short times in Arizona, California and Florida before deciding to stay in their Minnesota home. However, as many retirees do, they increased their travel schedules, especially in the winter months.
The new edition of this great book includes 19 new retirement locations, changes in retirement community rankings, and new scoring methods. Ironically, not all of these top sites are in the southern Sunbelt. Amazingly, three retirement locations are in Alaska!
On a map of the United States, most of the ideal retirement places are located along the east and west coasts. California and Florida are the top retirement locations. Surprising ideal retirement areas include locations in Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire.
The profiles of each retirement location are often quite detailed. To illustrate, the description of Iowa City, Iowa, includes a list of performing arts center performances for the next year (to show the surprising variety). Each location’s other advantages are also included.
An interesting feature of the book is a personal 50-question test of retirement preferences. Then you can chart your results to plot what is most important for your location criteria.
Along the way, Savegeau includes fascinating sidebars about various retirement locations. For example, for history buffs the author includes towns with historic “visible pasts.” On the top of that list are Annapolis, Md.; Burlington, Vt.; Charlestown, W.V.; Charleston, S.C.; Charlottesville, Va.; and Daytona Beach, Fla.
Whatever your primary retirement location concern, you are likely to find it explained in detail in this unique book. If the book has a weakness, however, it is the lack of detail about medical services because they are included in the very general “services” component.
At this point, I would be remiss if I don’t reveal the top retirement locations, based on the criteria explained above. Some are very surprising.
Here are the top 30 (out of 203) rated retirement places in order: Florence, Ore.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Charleston, S.C.; Melbourne-Palm Bay, Fla.; North County San Diego, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; Medford-Ashland, Ore.; Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H.; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Fayetteville, Ark.: Bellingham, Wash.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Sedona, Ariz.; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Hanover, N.H.; Laguna Beach-Dana Point, Calif.; Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.; Largo, Fla.; Mission-McAllen-Alamo, Texas; Asheville, N.C.; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Savannah, Ga.; Wickenburg, Ariz.; Sarasota, Fla.; Traverse City, Mich.; Mesa, Ariz.; Grand Junction, Colo.; New Port Richey, Fla.; Pensacola, Fla.; and East End Long Island, N.Y.
Equally important, the book rates each of the 203 top retirement locations, explaining the pros and cons of each one. To illustrate, if climate is most important to you, there is a list of the best retirement locations with the best climate. However, don’t be surprised if the cost of living there isn’t cheap.
Amazingly, the book even discloses some areas that discourage retirees from moving there. Hawaii is a prime example. Nevertheless, Hawaii is a top retirement destination even though it lacks major benefits of the other retirement locations.
This is obviously a book that will be read by retirees, those planning retirement within a few years, and their adult children who are concerned about where their parents decide to retire. You won’t find a better book about the best retirement locations. On my scale of one to 10, this outstanding book rates an off-the-chart 12.
“Retirement Places Rated, Sixth Edition,” by David Savageau (Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, N.J.), 2004, $23.99, 314 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.amazon.com.
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