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Baby boomers pick Pittsburgh to live golden years

| Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 8:51 p.m.
Debra Gilbert Taylor with her son David at concert of the Wailers in June at South Park.  Taylor and her husband bought a house here and eventually plan to retire here.
Debra Gilbert Taylor with her son David at concert of the Wailers in June at South Park. Taylor and her husband bought a house here and eventually plan to retire here.

Baby boomers Debbie Gilbert Taylor and her husband Jim Taylor were looking for a place to retire, and she had seen many of the rankings that placed Pittsburgh among the best cities to live in the country.

So Gilbert Taylor, 59, of Stratford, Conn., and a friend scouted Pittsburgh in October. They visited the Strip District, the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, some leafy neighborhoods and suburbs and sampled ice cream at Dave & Andy's.

“I just fell in love with it. It's beautiful,” she said. Despite no previous connection to the city, she and her husband, 65, moved into a house in Churchill, which they are renting. They hope to retire there this year.

The Taylors are among the folks who have decided to make the 'Burgh the place where they spend their golden years. The website Livability.com named Pittsburgh the fifth-best city in the country for retirees in 2013, based on a national survey of 2,000 adults. Cincinnati topped the list. No city from Florida or Arizona made the top 10.

Matt Carmichael, editor of Livability.com, said many prospective retirees found that they had not saved enough to retire. In addition, many decided to retire in place — close to their grandchildren — rather than move across the country. That put affordability in the top tier of factors.

“People are looking for a wider variety of things in retirement rather than just 365 days of golf. That reflects the boomers' pretty diverse preferences for culture and entertainment,” Carmichael said,

The website praised Pittsburgh's safe neighborhoods, abundance of fitness and recreation centers, large concentration of older adults and low cost of living. The city received high marks for its health care and cultural offering. The presence of universities is another key factor because it may offer continuing education classes for senior citizens.

“I'm disappointed we're not No. 1. Pittsburgh has everything,” said Lynn Decker, registrar/manager of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. The continuing education organization has a waiting list of about 1,000 people.

The availability of Osher was one factor that attracted Gilbert Taylor. “I will learn until I die,” she said.

Gilbert Taylor, a nutritionist and fabric artist, said Asheville, N.C.; Seattle; and Portland made her final cut of cities. She chose Pittsburgh for its low cost of living, culture, education and health care.

In addition to Livability.com, Pittsburgh has received these accolades since 2012:

• No. 1 city where boomers should retire by NerdWallet;

• Among the 10 best places to live on $100 a day by AARP;

• One of five American destinations where it's possible to live on a Social Security paycheck, according to Yahoo!Finance;

• Seventh-best American city to retire by DailyFinance.com; and

• One of the best places to retire in 2012, according to Forbes magazine.

Gilbert Taylor does not mind shivering in winter here. She and her husband are from New England.

“The whole idea of living in Florida makes my skin crawl,” she added.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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