Best places to retire, at least for a computer

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retireesMaybe I'm just paying more attention since I'm closing in on retirement age, but it does seem like every day I read a new list of places that somebody thinks would make ideal spots for people contemplating relocation after hanging them up.

U.S. News & World Report released its picks in its October issue. When I read the list, I had to laugh. The 10 cities named there might be perfectly lovely places, but none of them is my idea of a retirement haven. For instance, one of them is Columbus, Ohio. I spent four years in Columbus, Ohio (Go Bucks). Unless it's changed a lot, it's cold and gritty.
Another pick is Ann Arbor, Mich. I don't live too far from Ann Arbor, and besides being my alma mater's arch rival, it is too crammed full of pimply faced 19-year-olds searching for their next illicit beer for me to call it home.

Could it be these choices are just signs of the times? Emily Brandon, the business reporter who put the project together, says that despite being retired, the availability of jobs and a low unemployment rate was a key factor in the choice. "People we surveyed said they want and need to work," Brandon says.

Other deciding characteristics were reasonable median home prices and an affordable cost of living. Beyond that, the locales were chosen because they have good resources for healthcare and recreational activities. "Lots of these places are college towns with lots of things to do, including sports. Sports are big," Brandon says.

How many people actually follow this kind of advice? Brandon says that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer than 5% of retirees move, and most of those who do stay within their home state. So why publish this list? "Four or 5 percent is really a large number of Americans – and people like to dream about the places they could go," Brandon says.

She also points out that if you are a retiree living in an expensive area like Washington, D.C., where U.S. News & World Report is headquartered, selling your pricey home, giving up outrageous taxes and moving to the heartland will save lots of money.

Final question for Brandon – one that I've wanted to ask someone. How are these lists decided? Are they totally driven by computers or do real, live human beings set aside the algorithms, get in the car and check the places out?

"We send reporters to every place we pick," Brandon says. " We talk to the locals; we go to the senior center."

But does a reporter ever get out there on the scene, look around and nix the choice? "No," she says.

That's what I would have guessed. Computers are pretty good and they probably would do a great job deciding on good places for computers to retire. But when it comes to humans, I prefer to let people make the decisions

Here are the magazine's top choices listed alphabetically:
  • Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Asheville, N.C.
  • Aurora, Colo.
  • Columbia, S.C.
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Eugene, Ore.
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Kansas City, Mo.
  • Tucson, Ariz.
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