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Tampa ranks as top place to retire, study says

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

It could be a good thing or a bad thing, but Tampa now tops the list of best places to retire according to a study conducted by WalletHub.

Its overall top rank was derived from a combination of factors including affordability, activities, quality of life and health care. Tampa ranked best in activities at number 4. That also includes a number 2 ranking for proximity to fishing.

The study found Tampa is the 11th most affordable of 150 analyzed. Tampans are number 21 for retiree quality of life and 26 for access to healthcare.

Researchers looked at a number of components to rank the cities. Jan Cullinane, author of “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement” said people planning retirement should think of it as a beginning instead of an end. That means evaluating not just how much it’s going to cost, but also personal priorities like access to family and preferred activities.

But, she still recommends paying attention to the finances.

“Few people move to a new state just to reduce the tax bite, but if a decision is made to move for any or all of the other personal reasons consider the tax consequences of your move,” Cullinane said.

The only top five slot Tampa got on more detailed variables was for access to fishing. Hialeah in South Florida came in at number 2 for the highest percentage of people 65 and older. Cape Coral was right behind at number 3 and Port St. Lucie rounded out the top five.

Three California cities – Glendale, Riverside and Bakersfield – were reported as having the best mild weather ranking.

Memphis, Tennessee has the number one affordability ranking, but that’s apparently because it sucks in everything else. The city came in with an overall ranking of 82 and was in the bottom five for quality of life.

Folks in Henderson, Nevada reportedly enjoy the highest quality of life while Overland Park, Kansas has the best healthcare available.

Maurice McDonald, a professor of personal financial planning at Kansas State Univeristy, suggests avoiding rural areas because it would make medical care in your golden years more difficult.

That could be part of Tampa’s appeal considering its access to quality veteran’s health services, Moffitt Cancer Center and a robust USF health system rapidly growing each year.

McDonald points out that planning for retirement is more nuanced now than it ever has before and that many people are retiring too soon with not enough assets to support a long-term retirement.

“I suspect many people are retiring early or not developing a part-time employment plan that will deal with the reality that all of us will live longer than the people we observed as models of what to do and how to plan in retirement.”

In any case, here’s another notch on your belt, Tampa.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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