G. Scott Thomas' column "On Numbers" in the American Business Journals, rates Sebring as No. 1 in the South region for retirement.

March 11, 2013 at 09:32 PM

SEBRING - We're No. 1. That's from G. Scott Thomas' column "On Numbers" in the American Business Journals. Thomas spent four days analyzing the popularity of retirement destinations in the different regions of the country. After crunching all the numbers, Sebring rose to No. 1 in the South region, over the Bradenton-Sarasota and The Villages markets. Seaford, Del., and Ocean City, N.J., were tops in the East; Branson, Mo., was the best of the Midwest; and Prescott, Ariz., beat out Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz.

"I think it's fabulous," said Dana Knight in Highlands County's tourism office. "This will probably bring more people here. They'll be curious and want to find out what Sebring has to offer. If you've not been here, you'd want to check it out, wouldn't you?"

Two weeks ago, Knight said, Reader's Digest named Lake Placid as America's Most Interesting Town. Now Sebring. "Well, Sebring is a great place to live," Mayor George Hensley said Friday.

"It's got a lot of things going for it. We've got a state college. People come here who want to get away from the high cost of living. We've got a lot of restaurants and shops."

Tourists who choose Florida but decline the high cost of coastal living and metropolitan traffic gravitate here, Hensley said. "We've got a lower housing cost and a lower cost of living." "It's impressive that we fall into that category," Hensley said. "It's an honor." All four of the top-rated areas were in Florida, Thomas found. "On Numbers' formula gives the highest scores to markets that already have high concentrations of people who are 65 or older — and that consistently attract additional seniors from other parts of the country," Thomas wrote. "Sebring certainly fits that definition. Almost a third of its residents (32.1 percent) are seniors, compared to the national average of 13.3 percent. Its median age of 51.5 is 14 years above the national median of 37.2."

Thomas' database contained breakdowns for 604 metropolitan and micropolitan areas.

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