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MONDAY, JULY 23, 2007
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Where you can find affordable places to retire

Where to retire is paired with another question: What kind of community to choose?

The July-August issue of Where to Retire magazine compiles the title’s fifth biennial listing of “America’s 100 Best Master-Planned Communities.”

The selections of the magazine’s editors vary in cost, location and lifestyle amenities; they are spread out among 31 states; and they are not all retirement communities — fewer than half are active-adult communities (where residents must meet minimum age requirements), with 59 open to residents of all ages.

“This year, I’d say the real trend that’s getting stronger is that retirees are going their own way,” said Mary Lu Abbott, editor of Where to Retire.

“They’re looking beyond the traditional retirement destinations,” she said in a phone interview from the magazine’s base in Houston. She characterized these traditional destinations as states such as Florida and Arizona, and noted the appearance on the list of communities in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Other trends:

  • “There’s growth near urban areas, with retirees choosing a new lifestyle but not necessarily new scenery.”

  • “People are making preretirement moves, while they are still working.”

    n “An area with real growth I’ve seen is that many more communities are nature- or outdoor-oriented, with walking and biking trails, for example.”

  • “Another trend that’s starting is for walkable communities, where you can walk to the town center to go to the local bistro or movies.” Related to this is a trend for smaller backyards, and “This all makes for much more neighborliness,” she added.

  • A really new trend just getting under way, Abbott said, is for spa facilities everywhere, ranging from full service to perhaps just a massage room or two.

  • Another amenity increasingly available: dog parks, where owners can let their pooches off the lease and everyone has room to roam around.

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