At age 76, Virginia Charlson doesn’t want to waste her time trying to get where she’s going.
That’s why the retired woman from Denver likes living in Coeur d’Alene so much.
“We think our time is valuable,” said Charlson, who has lived in Coeur d’Alene for 2 years. In addition to Coeur d’Alene’s scenic beauty, everything is close and easy to get to, she says.
“I can go almost any place in 20 minutes.”
It’s that kind of small-town charm that makes Coeur d’Alene one of the top 10 places in the United States for retired people to settle down - according to the new edition of “Retirement Places Rated.”
According to the book by MacMillan Travel, Coeur d’Alene is the seventh-best spot for people in their golden years.
Coeur d’Alene was overshadowed by the likes of Tucson, Ariz. (No. 6) and Bellingham (No. 3). Las Vegas was rated No. 1.
The top 10 rating caught Patrick McGaughey, president of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, by surprise.
“You mean it’s not first?” he said with a laugh.
McGaughey and Mayor Al Hassell said they expect the publicity to prompt an increase in inquiries from people contemplating a move to Coeur d’Alene.
“You’ve got the natural beauty, outdoor activity and reasonably mild weather,” said Hassell.
“You’re surrounded by things like golf courses and lakes, you’re minutes away from a metropolitan area,” McGaughey said. “Probably the one thing we don’t offer the retirement community is extreme heat.”
That’s just fine with Charlson.
She used to spend her winters in Arizona but living there year-round was out of the question because of the heat.
The book’s publisher noted that traditional retirement spots in sunny Florida dropped significantly in the rankings for this edition.
Only two Florida communities, St. Petersburg-Clearwater and Melbourne, were among the top spots.
“These surprising assessments … reveal a shift in retirement relocation away from coastal areas to desert and mountain communities, many of them in the West,” said author David Savageau in a statement issued by New York City-based MacMillan.
Savageau since 1982 has toured the country in a travel trailer, visiting cities and towns that draw older adults for retirement. The book rates 183 communities.
Coeur d’Alene’s relatively low crime rate is also a draw for retirees and seniors.
“They just feel a lot safer up here,” said Louise Gillespie, manager of the Lake City Senior Center. “Although we’ve had our crime problems, we just don’t have them like the cities that they have lived in.”
Gillespie said another reason many seniors and retired people come to Coeur d’Alene is to be with their children, who first discovered the area’s livability.
Having more retired people in the community does have its benefits.
“They buy things here without having to increase the competition for the available jobs,” Hassell said.
Both McGaughey and Mayor Hassell said the rating will probably mean more attention for Coeur d’Alene.
“If your in the top ten of a positive list, you’re going to see your phone ring a little more,” McGaughey said.
xxxx Best places to retire The top 10 places to retire, according to the new edition of “Retirement Places Rated” by MacMillan Travel. 1. Las Vegas. 2. St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. 3. Bellingham. 4. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo. 5. Medford-Ashland, Ore. 6. Tucson, Ariz. 7. Coeur d’Alene. 8. Traverse City, Mich. 9. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. 10. Melbourne, Fla.
The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Winda Benedetti Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.