Five great cities for retirement (and five reasons to stay home)

Five great cities for retirement and five reasons to stay homeDel Webb, the nation's largest builder of retirement communities, earlier this year surveyed older Baby Boomers and found that about one-third of respondents plan to move when they retire, in search of the best place to spend their golden years.

Deborah Blake, Del Webb creative director, said this pattern reflected a lifetime of Boomer experiences. They have always been on the move. "After all, when Boomers went off to college, they lived in a new place -- a dorm or an apartment. When they married, they lived in a new home, most likely moving several times to different states for a job," Blake said.

I hadn't thought of it that way, but perhaps that explains the seemingly endless lists of Best Places to Retire, including these Five Great Cities for Retirees from Kiplinger. Here are its top picks:
  • Charlotte, Va.
  • Dothan, Ala.
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.
  • Pittsburgh
  • San Francisco
All of these cities are nice places to live. I can say that with some authority because I've lived in Melbourne and Pittsburgh. But are they really retirement meccas? That seems like a stretch.

Here are my criteria for choosing a retirement location:
  1. Close to the important people in my life. The doctor and dentist I know and trust. And for that matter, close to the woman who has been cutting my hair for the last zillion years. I'm too old to switch.
  2. Lots of cheap flights and good access to highways so my kids can come for the holidays. I've given up trying to keep up with my children. They live all over the country and they move around a lot. But I want them to be able to visit and I want to be able to afford to visit them now and then.
  3. Reasonable cost of living. Living in San Francisco sounds kind of exciting and I'm sure it's beautiful, but if I chose a locale that expensive, I'd have to give up some other luxuries just to be able to afford to buy groceries and keep a roof over my head.
  4. Plenty of recreational activities. Most of my fun involves doing cheap things with people I've gotten to know over the years. It's hard to barbecue on the grill or play euchre with people who lives hundreds of miles away.
  5. Comfortable home. I've been working on making this house suit me for about a dozen years and the mortgage is nearly paid off. Selling it just to start all over again sounds pricey and pointless.
So I guess what this boils down to is while some people may be looking for Five Great Cities for Retirees, I'm embracing Five Great Reasons to Stay Put in Retirement. In this economy, I'd be surprised if most other people aren't doing the same thing.

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