7th Heaven: Daytona makes ‘Best Places to Retire’ list

Jill Smith, a retired schoolteacher from Deerfield Beach, was amazed to wake up one morning to see three deer in the front yard of her newly purchased home in Ormond Beach.
“You never see that in South Florida,” she said. “In South Florida, it’s just buildings, buildings, buildings — literally. … I have the best of both worlds here: forest areas and beaches.”

Smith, who retired in 2011, said she considered areas in multiple states before choosing the Daytona Beach area.

She could soon get a lot more company.

U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Daytona Beach as No. 7 in its inaugural list of the nation’s “Best Places to Retire.”

The ranking was based on a number of factors including housing affordability, retiree taxes, quality of health care and overall happiness of each area’s residents. Sarasota at No. 1 was the only other Florida city to make the top 10.

U.S. News & World Report’s website, where the list was published, includes an article by local travel writer Gary McKechnie that describes Daytona Beach as “a popular vacation spot” that is also “a good place to live.”

Amenities touted in the article include the Volusia-Flagler area’s beaches, abundance of places to fish and golf, and Daytona International Speedway. In addition to outdoor pursuits, “life in Daytona Beach is balanced by museums, theaters, performing arts centers, antique markets, restaurants, malls and colleges that combine to make Daytona Beach one of Florida’s most well-rounded metro areas,” the article stated.

The ranking comes on the heels of a feature story published last month by Bloomberg News titled, “The Future of Retirement Is Margaritaville,” about Minto Communities’ planned 6,900-home Jimmy Buffett-inspired 55-and-older community on the north side of LPGA Boulevard, just west of Interstate 95.

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