As much as we worry and lament and even gripe about the state of things here, America is still the best place on Earth to live.
Now consider this: You live in one of the best places in America.
That's not according to us -- it's according to RelocateAmerica, a website that profiles communities for those who are relocating, and which ranks the top 100 cities to live each year.
It just ranked Augusta in the top 10 -- seventh, to be exact -- amid the fine company of Austin, Texas, Raleigh, N.C., Boulder, Colorado and our friends just up the road in Greenville, S.C., which came in at sixth.
"Augusta exemplifies the classic South," the website boasts for us, "from the warm hospitality to the antebellum mansions that grace our neighborhood streets. Its charm and appeal is evident from the temperate climate to the year-round greenery that defines its designation as the Garden City."
Pointing to the area's low cost of living and affordable housing prices, RelocateAmerica speaks right to retirees, noting that Augusta is a "beautiful historic" city "with a diverse culture, vibrant arts community and mild climate. There are more than 40 retirement communities, assisted living and nursing home facilities in the Augusta and Richmond County area."
Then there's the stable economy -- annually ranked among the nation's most resilient in tough times, and buttressed by large businesses, Fort Gordon, the Savannah River Site and the huge and growing medical complex.
The climate offers a Florida feel without the hurricanes, and the Savannah River is not only a lifeblood but a magnet for strollers and outdoor enthusiasts; it's become a regional and even national mecca for sports and recreation, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Augusta Sports Council, the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Metro Chamber of Commerce and more.
Oh, and it's a college town, with Paine College, Augusta State and more -- the latter home to the reigning back-to-back NCAA Division I golf champs.
And there's a fun little golf tournament here every April.
The best part of Augusta, though, we'd have to say are the people. We can't tell you how often visitors remark about the friendliness and southern hospitality here.
RelocateAmerica isn't the only one that sees Augusta for the great city it is. In its September/October issue, Where to Retire magazine cites Augusta as one of "8 Enticing Money-Saver Towns."
"As Augusta is the second-largest metro area in Georgia, one would expect
higher expenses, but that's not the case," writes editor Mary Lu Abbott. "Its cost of living is well below average, and retirees get ample entertainment options and a regional medical center along with excellent buys in homes."
Guess what: Once we get through the current national unpleasantness, things in Augusta are poised to get even better. For one thing, Where to Retire, which could help attract retirees here, notes that, "Generally, relocating retirees are healthier, better educated and more affluent than those who choose to not relocate. They bring significant economic benefits to their new states and hometowns."
In addition, there can be no doubt that Augusta's riverfront contains some of the most desirable -- and available -- riverfront development land east of the Mississippi. We honestly haven't done much with it -- but with the building of the new convention center on the river, that may begin to change.
National experts certainly see the potential.