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The place to live depends on the criteria used to satisfy a particular person's preferences. For myself, weather is critical. I don't like average temperatures over 90 in summer, below freezing in winter, I want clean air, as little snow as possible, humidity around 30 percent, and 15 to 20 inches of rain a year. I would also prefer to live in an area not prone to natural disasters.

Searching through and compiling a multitude of weather maps from many sources, I developed the following map of the USA:

The red areas designate areas prone to natural disasters: earthquakes in the west, tornados in the central portion of the country, and hurricanes in the south. These are the first areas to be avoided.

The gray zone shows areas with average summer highs above 90 degrees. Yellow shows areas of high average humidity.

The blue area in the north denotes areas that are too cold in winter.

The small green zones in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah are areas with 15-20 inches of rain.

Looking at the map it's interesting to note that as large and varied as the USA is, there are surprisingly few places that have, by my criteria, optimal weather.

Having narrowed down the areas that have the best weather, the next step is to establish additional criteria. For me this would be to live in or near a town with around 250,000 people. This size population guaranties that there will be adequate shopping, entertainment, and support services available. While there are half a dozen cities that satisfy this criterion that lay in the good-weather zone, closer examination of all of them shows that only two also boast low crime rates, high education levels and reasonable prosperity (at least at the time I conducted this study): Fort Collins in Colorado (labeled 2 on the map) and Santa Fe in New Mexico (labeled number 1 on the map.)

Fort Collins is cheaper to live in by $3,000 per year. But, it has a slightly higher crime rate, doesn't have quite as clean air, slightly lower education level, and can get severe thunder/hail storms in summer.

Santa Fe is more expensive but for that investment you get everything that is desirable in a town: extremely clean air, agreeable weather, low crime rate, and a highly educated population. If I were to move this would be my choice and well worth the extra expense over Fort Collins.

Now, having said all this I have to make two important qualifications. First, the best place to live is really where your family lives. In my case my children and grandchildren live within a few miles of me. Being able to see them regularly and easily is more valuable than any other consideration. Second, this study to locate the best place to live was only a paper study. I have never been to Fort Collins or Santa Fe to see for myself what they are like.

UPDATE!!! I received an email from Mr. Dean Krause who's spent time in both Fort Collins and Santa Fe. He said that Fort Collins is greener whereas Santa Fe is more arid and sophisticated.


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