Take that, Miami: Pittsburgh is top retirement spot

Who needs balmy weather, white-sand beaches and manicured golf courses?

Give me high-quality health care, a low crime rate and lots of other seniors.

Bankrate.com’s new ranking of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas as retirement havens gives less weight to iconic hallmarks and more to practical attributes that can add up to a better overall quality of life.

The results are decidedly counter intuitive. The Pittsburgh area – yes, Steel City – was rated the nation’s best place to retire, followed by the Boston and Los Angeles regions. Meanwhile, traditional senior playgrounds like Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas were rated 30th and 42nd, respectively.

“You really need to investigate what’s going to make you happy,” says Bankrate analyst Taylor Tepper. “What type of culture are they looking for? Are there people their own age?”

Not surprisingly, Pittsburgh scored poorly for its weather and just average for its tax burden. Its average annual temperature is 52 degrees and it snows an average 40 days a year, while the combined state and local income tax rate averages 4.6%, in line with the national average. But it ranked high in most other categories, with a low crime rate, affordable cost of living. good, low-cost health care and a top-ranked “friend factor,” with 18% of the population age 65 or over.

Boston was tops in health care and performed well in crime and well-being –which captures “how people feel about and experience their daily lives” –helping it overcome its weak showing in weather and cost-of-living. And Los Angeles — home to Disneyland and Universal Studios — trounced the field in “things to do” and trailed only San Francisco in weather. That more than offset its low scores in health care, cost-of-living and the presence of other seniors.

By contrast, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area performed surprisingly poorly in weather,  and just average in healthcare and crime, partly negating its solid scores for its “friend factor,” cost-of-living and well-being.

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Ranking last among the 50 metro areas was San Bernadino, Calif.  Despite its good showing for weather and well-being, it came in below average in health care, cost-of-living and the “friend factor.” And it’s not exactly a cultural hotbed, at least according to Bankrate, which gave it a zero (out of 10) in things to do.

Some of the criteria were assigned more weight in the scoring than others, with cost-of-living looming as most significant, followed by health care and crime. Tepper acknowledges the list is not meant to be comprehensive. By limiting it to the top 50 metro areas, it omits traditional retirement hubs like Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Sarasota, Fla., and elevates places like the New York City metro area, which was ranked 18th.

Take that, Miami: Pittsburgh is top retirement spot.

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