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For retirees, Pittsburgh is home sweet home



By Patricia Sabatini, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburghers craving a more stimulating way to spend their retirement years than fishing, playing shuffleboard or lying around in the sun may have found the perfect haven -- where they live now.


Fiscally fit
Pittsburgh is the second-best spot for retirees seeking big-city life on a shoestring, according to a ranking by author and professor Warren Bland.



1. San Antonio 92
2. Pittsburgh 95
3. Austin, Texas 98
4. Atlanta 98
5. Tucson 99
6. Denver 102
7. Tampa-St. Petersburg 103
8. Las Vegas 109
9. Chicago 112
10. Portland, Oregon 120
* Index provided by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association, third quarter of 2006. An index of 100 is average.

The region offers retirees the active lifestyle of a major city at a relatively low cost, earning it the No. 2 spot on a list of the top 10 "values" for big-city retirement, compiled by Warren Bland, author of "Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places across the USA and Canada."

Pittsburgh and the nine other cities on the list give retirees the opportunity to lower their cost of living while enjoying the amenities and excitement of big-city life, according to Dr. Bland, a geography professor at California State University Northridge.

The rankings were based on cost of living. To make the cut, each region needed a population exceeding 1 million and had to have scored high overall on 12 retirement-friendly criteria used in Dr. Bland's "Retire in Style" book, published in 2005.

The No. 1 value was San Antonio, with a cost-of-living index of 92 vs. 95 for Pittsburgh. Another Texas town, Austin, ranked third with a score of 98. Only one Florida locale made the list -- Tampa-St. Petersburg, which placed seventh.

The top 10 value cities are offered as alternatives to pricier big cities such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Dr. Bland said.

Low cost of housing was the biggest factor helping Pittsburgh to shine, he said. The region also had lower-than-average costs for groceries, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. Only utility costs were higher than average.

In Dr. Bland's book, Pittsburgh landed in a four-way tie for seventh place among the best U.S. cities for retirees. The region scored high overall despite receiving low marks for dreary weather.

Some of the area's biggest pluses were health care, cultural and recreational activities, community services and landscape.

"I think Pittsburgh is a wonderful place to retire," Dr. Bland said at the time. "It's a lively place. I don't know whether people in Pittsburgh appreciate it."

(Patricia Sabatini can be reached at psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066. )

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