Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sarasota Is 7th Best Spot For Young Retirees


SARASOTA -- Money magazine named Sarasota as one of the "Best Places to Retire Young." Money lauded the city of 53,000 for its architecture, beaches and culture, though it took a mild shot at Sarasota's house prices. Sarasota was the seventh city on the list of 10. "While you're not going to realize a lot of housing bargains in this Gulf Coast spot, you will discover some of the most splendid architecture anywhere in the Sunshine State," Money writers said. "It also boasts pure white sands, exotic birds and plants, boating, water skiing, opera, ballets." Sarasota was among nine other cities around the nation that were praised for being a good spot to hang up your work hat while you still walk without a cane.

No other Florida cities made the list, but four other Sunshine State communities were finalists for the top 100 on Money's spots to retire young: Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Miramar and Pembroke Pines.Only one state -- Virginia -- claimed more than one spot on the list. The other nine cities among the top 10 were -- in the order of the list: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Charlottesville, Va.; Logan, Utah; Blacksburg, Va.; Burlington, Vt.; Anacortes, Wash.; Hanover, N.H.; Manhattan, Kan.; and Ames, Iowa. Money listed Sarasota with a population of 53,477, a 15-year population growth of 2.6 percent, a median house price of $423,400, and a home price forecast for the next two years of a 6.3 percent increase.

How did Money make the call for what communities would be on the list? The magazine's writers figured that young retired people were still active and would have a need for travel and recreation. They also are not likely to want to fight major-city congestion. Each city chosen for the list had to be near a major city or "urban cluster" to provide a major airport, shopping and dining and other amenities.In cases where a metropolitan area was not within 100 miles, the magazine "looked for an outdoor lifestyle compelling enough to overcome the relative isolation."

The magazine's writers also looked for places with healthy economies -- they looked for low unemployment and long-term job growth -- and a cost of living measured by home prices that were near the average in the United States. Unemployment in Sarasota County during February was 3 percent, down from 3.1 percent in January and slightly higher than the same month last year. Sarasota, obviously, had some difficulties in the latter housing category given its $400,000-plus median." In some cases, we were willing to include those places that are worth their higher price tag through their unique mix of resources," the magazine writers said.

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