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One of 'Money' magazine's top spots to retire: St. Petersburg

Seems it wasn't that long ago that people called St. Petersburg "God's waiting room," conjuring thoughts of frail seniors heading to park benches to feed the pigeons.

Today, the city is on Money magazine's list of Best Places to Retire, conjuring thoughts of active older people going to concerts, riding bikes at the beach or taking classes.

Retirees are looking for things to do, places to go, people to meet.

And St. Petersburg is a great place to kick back and relax after having worked 40-hour weeks, raising children, paying for college and simply taking care of business.

The other nine cities on the magazine's Top 10 list share some attributes with St. Pete: They are affordable, there is a lot to do, there is access to culture and health care. Many are college towns with lifelong-learning programs. But they don't all have nearby beaches or our year-round warm weather. (The magazine said it steered away from West Coast cities that are too expensive, and large, congested cities.)

Here's a brief look at the finalists in Money's Best Retirement pageant. See if you think we deserve to be at the top. (By the way, the cities weren't ranked.)

News researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

Sources: Money magazine, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2007-2011, Weather Channel

St. Petersburg

Median age: 41.3

Median home value: $167,800

Typical home price: $108,000

Average high/low temps: 91/54

Why? The Sunshine City holds the Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine — a stretch lasting 768 days that began in 1967. And beaches, beaches, beaches in the area. Swim in the Gulf of Mexico in the dead of winter (well, tourists do anyway). While the city has always been a hot spot for retirees, it also draws younger people and families who keep the area vibrant and packed with things to do. There is a festival in the region almost every weekend, and restaurants, art galleries and craft breweries are exploding downtown. We haven't even mentioned the Dalí Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Fort De Soto Park, Tropicana Field and the proximity to Tampa.

Boise, Idaho

Median age: 35.3

Median home value: $197,900

Typical home price: $137,020

Average high/low temps: 91/24

Why? Active, vibrant, alive is the way its tourism bureau describes this city with a mild four-season climate and easy access to mountains, rivers and lakes in the southwest section of Idaho. Its medals of honor include No. 1 Town in the Western U.S. (Outside magazine), one of Top Five Healthiest Cities (Men's Health), No. 1 Adventure City (National Geographic Adventure) and No. 1 Biking Town (Bike Magazine).


Colorado Springs, Colo.

Median age: 35

Median home value: $212,700

Typical home price: $210,000

Average high/low temps: 85/18

Why? Definitely a unique place of contrasts. There's astonishing beauty and tranquility (Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods) nestled amid government (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and military (Air Force Academy and Fort Carson), and ultraconservative groups like Focus on the Family and New Life Church. It's the only state on the list where marijuana is legal medicinally and recreationally.


Fort Lauderdale

Median age: 42.3

Median home value: $291,600

Typical home price: $216,000

Average high/low temps: 90/57

Why? Fort Lauderdale may be famous for its beaches, arts and culture but you can also take a gondola ride on its canals. Close to the quintessential Florida Everglades, its beaches are lined with luxury hotels and condominiums.

Lexington, Ky.

Median age: 33.6

Median home value: $161,100

Typical home price: $162,400

Average high/low temps: 86/25

Why? Always known for its horses, bourbon and basketball, the bluegrass city seems to be emerging on the culinary and cultural scenes as well. Its tourism sites claim its location in the heart of the eastern United States makes it a day's drive from 60 percent of the U.S. population.


Norfolk, Va.

Median age: 29.6

Median home value: $211,600

Typical home price: $189,950

Average high/low temps: 88/33

Why? Home of the world's largest naval base and NATO's North American headquarters, Norfolk has 7 miles of Chesapeake Bay waterfront. It is home to Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical School and its four research institutes.



Median age: 33.9

Median home value: $87,800

Typical home price: $149,450

Average high/low temps: 85/20

Why? The Steel City has the lowest median home value of any city on the list. It also has rabid fans for its pro sports teams, the Pirates (who play in PNC Park, named by ESPN as the No. 1 baseball stadium in the country) and the Steelers, who once played in Three Rivers Stadium, so named for the beautiful waterways that surround the city.






Raleigh, N.C.

Median age: 31.8

Median home value: $205,200

Typical home price: $200,000

Average high/low temps: 90/30

Why? North Carolina's state capital, which is dotted with historic landmarks, is undergoing an urban revival. Its mild climate and closeness to Durham, home of Duke University and its excellent medical research facilities, give Raleigh a leg up on other East Coast cities.


Salt Lake City, Utah

Median age: 30.9

Median home value: $244,400

Typical home price: $137,446

Average high/low temps: 90/27

Why? The capital of Utah with its wide open skies lies between two mountain ranges in northern Utah. Much of its history is centered around the Mormons — the city was founded by Brigham Young — and mining. Modern-day Salt Lake is alive with new hotels, museums, galleries and restaurants.


Spokane, Wash.

Median age: 34.8

Median home value: $165,500

Typical home price: $146,180

Average high/low temps: 83/23

Why? Tucked near the Idaho border, which makes it less cloudy and rainy than Seattle, Spokane is close enough to California and Oregon for long weekend trips. Its history is evident with Victorian houses made by early railroad workers, but modern-day perks include the medical community and a 100-block "hot zone" where residents have free wireless access.

Where people live longest

Money magazine steered away from the West Coast and very large U.S. cities because they are too expensive and congested, but those same socioeconomic factors — plus access to health care and healthy lifestyles — play a role in how long people live. U.S. News and World Report compiled a list of best counties to retire for longevity after research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington found that there are places where people live 12 to 17 years longer than areas with the lowest life expectancy. Here are the counties it found where people live longest.

Marin, Calif.

Montgomery, Md.

Collier, Fla.

Santa Clara, Calif.

Fairfax, Va.

San Francisco

Gunnison, Colo.

Pitkin, Colo.

San Mateo, Calif.

Bergen, N.J.

Douglas, Colo.

Eagle, Colo.

Loudoun, Va.

Teton, Wyo.

Retiring outside the United States

Kathleen Peddicord has been researching, writing and speaking on the topics of living, retiring and investing overseas for more than 28 years. The East Coast native is considered an expert on retiring overseas and has traveled to more than 50 countries, invested in real estate in 21, established businesses in seven and renovated properties in eight. She, her husband and two children lived in Waterford, Ireland, and in Paris before moving to Panama City, Panama, where they now live.

Here are her top picks for cities outside the United States (they aren't ranked because people look for different things, she said):

• Buenos Aires or Mendoza, Argentina

• Ambergris Caye, Belize

• Istria, Croatia

• Samana, Dominican Republic

• Cuenca, Ecuador

• Paris or Languedoc, France

• County Kerry, Ireland

• Abruzzo, Italy

• Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

• Morelia, Mexico

• León, Nicaragua

• Panama City or Las Tablas, Panama

• Chiang Mai, Thailand

• La Barra, Uruguay

In a recent posting on her blog,

kathleen-peddicord, she says the biggest expense of overseas living isn't housing or food or anything else you might guess.

It's the trips back home.

Source: and How to Retire Overseas by Kathleen Peddicord.

Forbes' Top 25

Four Florida cities made it on this list. Here's what the magazine said is good about them:

Clearwater: Low cost of living, median home price $139,000, no state income tax, agreeable climate, above-average air quality, lots of doctors.

Gainesville: Cheap cost of living, median home price $147,000, no state income tax, good weather, above average air quality, high physicians per capita, high Milken Institute aging rank, good bicycle metrics.

Jacksonville: Low cost of living, median home price $132,000, no state income tax, agreeable climate, above average air quality, high level of volunteerism.

Orlando: Low cost of living, median home price $135,000, no state income tax, good weather, above average air quality, good bicycling.

One of 'Money' magazine's top spots to retire: St. Petersburg 12/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 1:34pm]
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