Book briefing -- recent nonfiction; Retirement Edens Outside the Sunbelt, by Peter A. Dickinson. New York: E. P. Dutton. $15.50 in hard-cover. $9.25 in paperback.

Peter Dickinson, who earlier published a book called "Sunbelt Retirement," usefully supplements that material here by treating the Northeast United States, the mid-Atlantic states, the Midwest, the Rockies and Great Plains, and the far West.

In "Retirement Edens Outside the Sunbelt" he comes up with some illuminating, and, at times, surprising information that cuts across many myths growing up around retirees.

For example, he notes that only 15 percent of retired Americans move any distance from their preretirement residence. Most stay at the same address, or move to a smaller house within their home state, perhaps, spending considerable time traveling and continuing to return to their home base.

The six yardsticks by which Dickinson measures retirement spots are: climate, cost of living, housing, medical facilities, recreation and culture, and special services for seniors.

Massachusetts, which ranks high in all these categories but grossly high in cost of living, is represented as the "worst" case for retirees, many of whom, nevertheless, like the area. He notes that the Boston area has the highest cost of retirement living in the continental United States. Hartford, Conn., is a close second.

New Hampshire has among the lowest taxes in New England -- no state or sales tax, and no inheritance tax for the spouse or legal heirs.

Dickinson's most favored areas are Colorado, San Francisco and northern California, and the Northwestern states.

The book is replete with hundreds of addresses of chambers of commerce, borough councils, departments of aging. One could even spend a whole year of retirement planning in writing to these outfits to help him determine whether to stay put or to wander.

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