Lawrence has been criticized in recent years for its high cost of housing, but a California geographer and author ranks the city among the nation's top 10 "value" cities for retirees.
The list - compiled by Warren Bland, professor of geography at California State University in Northridge - ranks Lawrence at No. 5, with Hot Springs, Ark., being the least expensive at No. 1 and Colorado Springs, Colo., at No. 10.
"These are all relatively inexpensive places to live," Bland said. "All of the places on the list are very attractive places to retire to."
In preparing the rankings, Bland looked at information that included landscape, climate, quality of life, cost of living, transportation, retail services, health care, community services, cultural activities, recreational activities, work and volunteer activities, and crime.
"Lawrence got on the list because it is a very attractive place, according to most of my criteria, and where it got on the list depends on purely and simply its cost of living relative to the other economical locations," Bland said.
Most cities with a flagship university like Kansas University have quality of life attractions, Bland said.
Lawrence's ranking as a value for retirees is not a surprise to Rhonda Parks, executive director of Presbyterian Manor, 1429 Kasold Drive. Presbyterian Manor offers a number of retirement living options and gets many inquiries from retirees wanting to move close to younger relatives in Lawrence and others who are KU alumni, she said.
Top 10 list
Here is the list of the top 10 value cities for retirees, according to California geogra-pher Warren Bland. The least expensive town is No. 1. 1. Hot Springs, Ark. 2. Winston-Salem, N.C. 3. Fayetteville, Ark. 4. Bowling Green, Ky. 5. Lawrence, Kan. 6. Columbia, Mo. 7. Pittsburgh 8. Gainesville, Fla. 9. San Antonio 10. Colorado Springs, Colo.
In many cases it is the city's cultural offerings that are especially attractive to retirees, Parks said.
"They are intrigued by the cultural offerings by KU and the community at large," she said.
Lawrence's cost of living is 6 percent below the national average and its housing cost is 10 percent below the national average, Bland said.
Comparing Lawrence to other smaller towns within 100 miles is not relevant because those towns won't have the amenities Lawrence has even though their housing costs are lower, Bland said.
Lawrence rates just above Columbia, Mo., which ranks No. 6. The cost of living is a little lower in Columbia but Bland said he ranked it under Lawrence because of the array of positives in Lawrence.
"It's very close," he said.
Bland has written books on similar retirement topics, including "Retire In Style: 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada."
This is the first time, however, that Bland had released a list of his top 10 value cities for retirees.
The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau said it frequently gets calls from people interested in moving to Lawrence, but it was not known how many of them are retirees looking to settle down.
Retiree Millard Klein moved to Lawrence from New Jersey four years ago to be close to his daughter and grandson. He said he likes the community for some of the same reasons Bland outlined in his findings.
"We had no knowledge of the community prior to the move but we're kind of glad we're here," Klein said. "We like the collegiate atmosphere."