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Retirement Heaven or Simply Death Valley


Social media experts tell us that the quickest way to get Internet viewers to click on a story is to put in a headline like: 10 Secrets to Becoming a Billionaire, The 5 Most Expensive New Cars for 2018, or The 3 Best Receipts for Brownies.

What started off innocently enough has exploded out of control. Seems like everywhere you read somebody has the list of 10 best for some purpose. Advice on retirement is a favorite.

The Worst Advice List Award

In fairness, it can be a challenge to find the right place to live in retirement. Prices of housing in many parts of the United States have gotten ridiculously expensive. Even if the mortgage is paid off, the cost of maintenance and property taxes are still rising every year. The ripple effect of higher real estate prices spills over into food and most every other cost of living. So finding the right place is important.

It is also a fact that one location is not right for everyone. Choices are part of what makes life interesting. For example the television show Hoarders shows how people can be perfectly content living that way.

But here is a good example of a tired idea being taken way too far. We came across an article that is so embarrassing; we are not even going to identify the source.

The title is: “These five cities have EVERYTHING you are looking for in retirement”. This sounds inviting; an article that everyone over a certain age should read. That is until you actually dig into the recommendations.

Here is the top choice: numero uno:

Chesterfield Missouri is a town of 47,500. If you love small town living in the middle of nowhere this is the place for you. If you want to go somewhere, the nearest airport is a little over a half hour away in St. Louis. But who needs to go anywhere there are plenty of retirees to keep you company: over 20% compared with 11% nationwide.

Chesterfield picked up the name Gumbo Flats because it’s soft silky soil becomes very muddy during the 3½ feet of rain it gets every year. Cultural offerings include a Wal-Mart store just a little over 30 minutes away. Not much else.

But if you yearn for truly small town living there is Leawood (pop: 31,900) and Prairie Village (pop: 21,400) Kansas. Both towns are about 30 minutes from the Kansas City airport, for those getaway weekends to someplace or anyplace for that matter.

The mayor of Prairie Village boosts of the 292 days a year of sunshine and ultra low crime. Both of these towns offer unobstructed views of cornfields. So if living in the flatlands is on your bucket list or if you suffer from acrophobia; go for either Leawood or Prairie Village.

If you are more of a city person, Scottsdale Arizona with 217,000 population has been a favorite of many snowbirds for a long time. If you like sunshine but not the flatlands of Kansas, take a look at Scottsdale.

The town claims to have 307 days of sunshine annually. Toasty warm days that average 105+ in the summer months give way to nice crisp 80 degree lows at night. But it is such low humidity that you don’t know that your body is being slowly cooked. If you have low blood pressure and constantly fee chilly in Houston, try Scottsdale.

If An Occasional Hurricane is OK

The final spot on the list of dubious retirement spots combines small town size with big city advantages: Naples Florida. Half the population is over 65. Home construction exceeds the mortality rate so real estate prices are kept in check.

The airport is nearby. Beautiful ocean beaches mean you never have to travel anywhere. Family will come to visit you. Naples has less than 20,000 population but is close to Florida’s social and cultural advantages. Finally Naples has the most health care facilities of any city on the list.

OK, now if I can find nine more bad advice articles, I will create a new Top 10 list. Just what the world needs.