LEWISTON — You could hardly say that Edward A. Barrett was stunned by the news.
Forbes on Friday named Lewiston one of the top 25 places to retire and for City Administrator Barrett, that was simply news just waiting to be announced.
“Lewiston is a unique community; there are no two ways about it,” Barrett said. “We have very interesting history, certainly a beautiful setting, close to the mountains, close to the ocean and a great river runs through it.”
To come up with its list, Forbes sifted through information on 550 communities across all 50 states, before coming up with the top 25.
“We strove to find places that provide what we think is the best retirement value — meaning costs, including housing costs and taxes, play a big role in our choices,” according to the Forbes article. “But we also look at access to medical care; quality of life indicators (including crime and air quality); and factors which can make for a healthy and fulfilling retirement, including opportunities for volunteering and exercise.”
Again, said Barrett. Where is the surprise?
“One of the things I really liked about their rating was the emphasis on how safe the community is,” he said. “That’s certainly the word we’ve been trying to get out to people: that we have one of the lowest crime rates of any city in the state and that’s something we should be proud of.”
Rebecca Swanson Conrad, president of the Lewiston-Auburn Chamber of Commerce, said retirement isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when she thinks of this community, although she can see the logic in Forbes’ choice.
“Maybe it’s kind of an odd thing for us to be cited for,” Conrad said. “We’re not on the beach, we’re not on the golf course, but we are certainly a great destination for people to have a terrific access to the Maine lifestyle, with all the cultural things that we have in Lewiston-Auburn and all of the wonderful recreation opportunities. I’m thrilled to hear that we were cited as a retirement destination.”
The Forbes listings aren’t ranked, meaning there is no No. 1 spot. On its website, the 25 cities are listed alphabetically. Here’s what they had to say about Lewiston:
“Woodsy city of 36,000 near the coast in southeastern Maine. Pros: Cost of living 5 percent below national average. Median home price $179,000. Above-average physicians per capita. Good air quality. Very low serious crime rate. Cons: poor state income tax climate for retirees, with state income taxation of Social Security benefits. Low rank of Milken Institute list of best cities for successful aging. Cold winters. Noted: Somewhat walkable. So-so economy.”
Maine actually does not tax Social Security benefits, but it does have above-average property taxes and an estate tax with an exemption half the size of the federal estate tax.
For some who have settled here, the Forbes inclusion of Lewiston seems right on the mark.
“I can only speak for me,” said Sandy Rozanski. “Being an original Bostonian coming to the area 30 years ago, I have lived in both the twins and love it here, love Maine and this is my home until the old bell tolls for me. Then I am down the street to the little cemetery. So, yes. I agree — it is a wonderful place to retire.”
Marta Clements of Bryant Pond studies her hand during a game of bridge at the Lewiston Senior Citizens Center at the Lewiston Armory in 2014.