THE SIXTH EDITION OF “RETIREMENT Places Rated” ranks Florence, Ore., as the best U.S. destination for Golden Agers. The statistical study ranks 203 locations according to six major factors: cost of living, climate, crime, economy, ambience, and services.

Though two Florida destinations—Melbourne-Palm Bay at No. 4 and Daytona Beach at No. 9—are still in the top 10, the survey shows a continuing shift away from Florida as the primary retirement hot spot to areas in the Northwest, Rocky Mountains, and desert Southwest. Study editor David Savageau says the state is losing favor because of “population growth, crime, hurricanes, politics, and because boomers view it as their gray-haired parents' retirement spot.”

The report also shows that Las Vegas has fallen out of favor due to high housing costs, and California is attracting more retirees despite economic and weather-related problems there.

Scottsdale was ranked the nation's second-best place to retire. The author cited the city's safety, affordability, and natural resources.

Many in the boomer retiree generation say they plan to continue working part time or full time during their retirement, making a strong local economy more important than ever. The author compares job prospects in the three industries of greatest interest to seniors: finance (including insurance and real estate), retail, and services, focusing on the availability of part-time employment.

Certain cities are highlighted for specific areas of excellence, such as Iowa City, which is praised for its arts scene. The 2004 edition of “Retirement Places Rated” is published by Wiley Inc. (