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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published May 13 2013

Ryan Bakken: Shoveling snow is no kind of retirement

GRAND FORKS - A recent report said that North Dakota is a great place to retire.

Apparently, the research was done before our most recent winter, which finally has exited after a six-month stay.

As a possible explanation for the unlikely designation of North Dakota as a retirement Mecca, you might consider the source. The report came from Bankrate.com, a financial-information website. Although the website said the likes of medical care, crime rates and cost of living rates also were considered in the rankings, I’m guessing by the domain title that financial matters weigh heavily on its perspective.

With oil picking up the tab for everything from soup to (road) ruts in North Dakota, our taxes are lower than fact standards for radio talkers.

The state has so much money that even Republicans in the Legislature agreed to spend it. Apparently, the state treasury ran out of vault space.

So I get that part.

Sun, not shovels

However, when I envision retirement, I don’t picture North Dakota, at least not in winter.

The tentative retirement plan is to live in North Dakota or Minnesota for much of the calendar. But coexist with cold and snow?

Only if my 401(k) becomes a 001(k).

North Dakota is not the only surprise in the rankings. The top three are Tennessee, Louisiana and South Dakota, none of which are exactly Hawaii for climate.

Arizona, the destination of most middle-class snowbirds from this area, is No. 33. Florida, a step above Arizona in wintering cost, is No. 19.

Those numbers makes no sense. Perhaps financial experts have a different definition of retirement.

To me, retirement is a reward for 40-plus years of working and saving. Retirement is a time for trading appointment times for tee times. Retirement is for shoveling BS, not snow. Retirement is when the only scheduled activity is a nap.

It’s about sunshine, pars, pinochle and gin-and-tonics on the 19th-hole patio in January. Eventually, it probably also will mean supper at 4 o’clock and bedtime at 7:30.

However, no matter what Bankrate.com says, I define retirement as never looking out a picture window at a blizzard.