Ah, “best places” lists. Tweak a formula a little, and they can change, sometimes dramatically.
The latest one we’ve run across — for best places to retire — is kind of fun, though, and each county in the U.S. has been scored and put on this interactive map. Johnson County scores well, and neighboring Douglas County, home of the Jayhawks, is almost as good as it gets by this index. And many area counties score above 90 on its 100-point scale.
Hover over the Kansas City area, and you’ll see these scores:
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The list was compiled by FindTheHome.com, a website that would like you to use it to find the next home you buy. As these formulas go, it’s not bad. Its composite scores for each county combine how each county scored in five categories:
Care (quality of local hospitals, nursing homes and home health centers).
Entertainment (amount of universities, recreational facilities, libraries and parks per capita)
Convenience and transportation (grocers and restaurants per capita, and ease of walking to essential places)
Community (high percentage of population over age 65 with college degrees)
Housing (including median sale prices and high percentage of properties with rent under $1,500 a month)
You’ll notice, however, that the formula is missing anything about the weather. So lots of interesting and easy-to-get-around places in New England and around the Great Lakes rate well, so they won’t be for people looking to leave cold winters behind.
The top five include warm and cold places, and Orange County, but not the one in California. This one is home to Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina. The top five (with their scores): Martin County, Fla. (100), Barnstable, Mass. (99.06), Orange County, N.C. (98.61), Beaufort County, S.C. (98.40), and Grafton County, N.H. (98.39).
And No. 10, Albemarle County, Va., scores 97.72, rounded up from 97.7189, just a smidge higher than our Douglas County, rounded up from 97.7152.
FindTheHome, besides not being able to find a couple of spaces to put between words, didn’t release a bottom 10 list. But a quick scan says the index might have given its coldest shoulder to the Wade Hampton Census Area in Alaska. Despite its no doubt excellent view of Russia, it rated 30.25.