LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
Lawrence trails places like Branson and Salina in study of Midwest retirement communities
The New Year is coming, and I’m sure so too will my tried and true resolution of vowing to start playing my old guitar again.
Well this year, maybe it will stick because it looks like me playing my guitar is the only thing needed to make Lawrence a Grade A retirement destination.
There’s a new report out by the folks with American Cities Business Journals that finds Branson, Mo., is the top retirement community in the Midwest. The authors of the study opine that its status as the Live Music Show Capital of America is one of the city’s calling cards as a retirement destination.
So, be on the lookout for Cousin Chad and the Empty Bottle Band, and you all can thank me later.
But the report also suggests Lawrence may need one other item to fulfill its relatively new goal of becoming a destination for retirees: Greasy hamburgers.
I’m talking greasy hamburgers in the miniature style of the Cozy Inn in Salina. That’s right, Salina ranks above Lawrence and every other city in Kansas as a retirement destination. I’m assuming it is because retirees flock there to tick off their doctors and their pesky cholesterol charts.
In fact, quite a few cities in Kansas ranked above Lawrence as a retirement destination. Of the six cities in Kansas ranked, Lawrence was next to last.
But I’m not sure this study should cause Lawrence to abandon its plans to become a retirement destination. (If you remember, the city and the county have created a new board that is tasked with making the community more retiree-friendly. The effort likely will draw funding from both governments in the coming year.)
The study by the good folks at The Business Journals Web site seems to be a bit weighted against college communities. Among the factors the study considers is how many retirees currently are living in a community. It does that by looking at the total percentage of the population that is 65 or older. Lawrence’s percentage is always going to be lower than a non-college community. The study also looks at the median age of a community’s residents, I guess with the thought that retirees will want to be around other retirees. Again, a college community won’t fare well in that category.
But there was one category where Lawrence did fare well: The percentage of retirees who were born out of state. I think this category is meant to measure how attractive a community is to retirees, with the assumption that people who were born elsewhere are making a conscious decision to retiree in the community.
Out of the 153 Midwest cities that were studied, Lawrence had the 9th highest percentage in this category — although Wichita and Kansas City actually ranked 8th and 3rd, respectively.
Maybe the folks at The Business Journals are on to something. Maybe university communities aren’t well-suited to be retirement communities, but several are trying to do so. They’re betting that the cultural and entertainment events that come with a university — plus the found memories of youth created by a university — will make college communities a magnet for the soon-to-retire Baby Boomer generation.
Lawrence is set to find out over the next few years. I’ll keep my picking thumb limbered up just in case we need a boost.
Anyway, here’s the list of Kansas communities and their ranking in the study of 153 Midwestern cities:
• No. 38: Salina
• No. 52: Topeka
• No. 56: Wichita
• No. 57: Hutchinson
• No. 147: Lawrence
• No. 148: Manhattan
The top five overall in the Midwest are:
• No. 1: Branson, Mo.
• No. 2: Brainerd, Minn.
• No. 3 Fergus Falls, Minn.
• No. 4: Sandusky, Ohio
• No. 5: Marinette, Wis.
You can see the full list, here.