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Why “The Best Place to Retire” Is an Illusion

I like to browse the annual “best places to retire” lists that seem to come out about this time of year. U.S. News & World Report does a summary as does Forbes and AARP. The funny thing is that the same town or city does not appear on more than one top 10 list. For example, the U.S. News & World Report list of top 10 places to retire has these locations:

  • Sarasota, Fl.
  • Lancaster, PA.
  • San Antonio, TX.
  • Grand Rapids, MI.
  • El Paso, TX.
  • McAllen, TX.
  • Daytona Beach, Fl.
  • Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Austin, TX.
  • Washington, D.C.

The Forbes best cities in which to retire lineup does not name even one of these locations. AARP names only states and Florida makes their catalog, but no other state named in the U.S. News & World Report list makes their cut. It seems that these rating agencies are using different criteria.

Aside: regarding the U.S. News & World Report lineup, I noticed that there are no locations west of the Rio Grande that makes their top 10. Not one place in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, California, Oregon or Washington? Nothing in the Midwest either. This seems to be a clear case of Texas and East Coast bias to me. Four place in Texas? And have they ever been to Pittsburgh or Grand Rapids in the winter?

My conclusion from comparing these lists is this: your “best place to retire” is up to you. I suggest that as you get closer to your target retirement age that you make an inventory of things that are important to you. For example, weather, access to hobbies, close to relatives, access to health care, cost of living, etc. And use the “best places to retire” lists to help you narrow down your choices. But don’t be too influenced by the lineups from outside sources. What they include as important may or may not be important factors for you.