Health & Medicine

Lexington a great place to retire

In 2004, Gerard Badger retired from his second career and moved with his wife, Rita, to Lexington from New Jersey.

They came here looking for good veterans health care, for good neighbors and for a sense of community.

They had visited four years before moving here and left with a sense that Lexington is where they wanted to be and where God was leading them.

"Given where we were living, Lexington was as close to paradise as we were going to get," Rita Badger said. "We had looked at the Carolinas and other pretty places, but everybody from where we were was going there, and they were taking their ugly with them.

"Pretty soon, that place would be ugly, too," she said.

According to new findings published in Black Enterprise magazine, the Badgers made a good decision.

Lexington ranked fifth in the magazine's 20 Best Places to Retire listing. It is part of the magazine's annual retirement guide in its October issue, which is on newsstands today.

Topping the list was Durham, N.C.

The list was based on quality of life, affordable health care and other considerations.

The top eight locations scored the highest for housing prices, public schools, standard of living, continuing education opportunities, crime levels, traffic congestion and access to air travel.

Most of the locations are in the South, but climate played a minor role in the listing.

The magazine called Lexington one of its health care all-stars, a characterization the Badgers would agree with.

The VA Medical Center "is absolutely excellent," Rita Badger said.

Gerard Badger is a retired Army sergeant with health problems that include congestive heart failure.

Black Enterprise also noted Kentucky's low property taxes as an advantage for retirees. Property, sales and income tax combined are 15 percent of a city's total.

"The list's overall winner, in terms of lightest tax burden: Lexington," the article said.

Rita Badger said she also liked the country feel Lexington presented when they first moved here, although it looks nothing like that now.

"It feels like country but it isn't," she said. "And if you need a big city, you've got Louisville and Cincinnati not that far away."

In ranking the cities, the magazine's editors gave quality of life the heaviest weight, at 40 percent. Health care was 20 percent of the score, with taxes and leisure activities rated 15 percent each. Culture and climate each were 5 percent.

Rita Badger said she saw a similar ranking after they had decided to make the move to the Bluegrass. It was just confirmation.

"We have found what we needed here," she said.