Boulder, Colo., tops a new list of places to retire

Often, people in the market for a second home want a place to which they can eventually retire. For a few, that means living near an expensive country club or a beach resort. But for the vast majority of retirees who can't afford such a lifestyle, other desireable options exist.

In his new book, "Retire in Style" (Next Decade Inc.), California State University geography professor Warren Bland lists what he considers the Top 50 affordable places to retire. (See first 40, right.) He devised the list after more than three years of travel across the United States. It includes primarily upscale communities across 10 regions and 23 states. Many of the places listed are college towns. For example, the No.1 option listed, Boulder, Colo., is home to the University of Colorado.

"In many ways, the University of Colorado has made Boulder into a much more appealing place than it would be, had it just been a distant suburb of Denver," says Professor Bland. "University towns tend to be more culturally oriented and sometimes a little more upscale, so they can offer the things that you otherwise might find only in the largest cities."

In addition, Bland points out that college towns don't have the big-city disadvantages of pricey parking, overcrowding, air pollution, and high crime rates.

Notably absent from Bland's book are communities in states that run westward from Minnesota to Idaho.

"The north central part of the country has the most frequent and drastic weather changes, and there just aren't a lot of places that have enough amenities to induce people to go there rather than farther south, where you can have a [warmer] climate," he says.

Bland bases the accompanying list on 12 criteria: landscape, climate, quality of life, cost of living, transportation, retail services, healthcare, community services, cultural activities, recreational activities, work/volunteer activities, and crime. Each area is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with a top score of 60.

City Score

Boulder, Colo. 52

Portland, Ore. 50

Asheville, N.C. 49

Austin, Texas 49

San Antonio, Texas 49

Chapel Hill, N.C. 48

Colorado Springs, Colo. 48

Eugene, Ore. 48

Fayetteville, Ark. 48

Fort Collins, Colo. 48

Gainseville, Fla. 48

Medford/Ashland, Ore. 48

Boulder City, Nev. 47

Charlottesville, Va. 47

Henderson, N.C. 47

Madison, Wis. 47

Sarasota, Fla. 47

Tuscon, Ariz. 47

Brevard, N.C. 46

Las Vegas, Nev. 46

Oxford, Miss. 46

Santa Fe, N.M. 46

Bellingham, Wash. 45

Ithaca, N.Y. 45

San Luis Obispo, Calif. 45

Bloomington, Ind. 44

St. George, Utah 43

Burlington, Vt. 42

Carson City, Nev. 42

Covington, La. 42

Lexington, Va. 42

Naples, Fla. 42

Olympia, Wash. 42

Pinehurst/Southern Pines, N.C. 42

Hot Springs, Ark. 41

Thomasville, Ga. 41

Chico, Calif. 39

Las Cruces, N.M. 39

Salem, Ore. 39

Prescott, Ariz. 38

Source: "Retire in Style," Warren R. Bland, PhD.

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