The Best Retirement Cities: Move Here to Live and Age Well

Best Places to Retire

There are hundreds of places across the country where you can choose to live when you’ve finally saved enough and are ready to retire, but some areas are better for your retirement than others, regardless of whether you’re into urban city living or small town peace and quiet.

The Best Cities for Successful Aging, a data-driven report released by the Milken Institute, measures and ranks 352 U.S. metropolitan areas based on how well they enable successful aging.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, the Milken Institute’s mission is to advance innovative economic policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance the health of people living around the world.

How to Really Assess the Best Places to Retire?

Cities that provide the infrastructure, amenities and opportunities both to serve and benefit the country’s rapidly aging senior population are those Milken deems best suitable for successful aging.

And there are some common themes among these places earning them distinction, said Anusuya Chatterjee, Milken Institute senior economist and one of the authors of the report.

“These include economic strength, abundance of health resources, active lifestyles, opportunities for intellectual stimulation and access to amenities,” Chatterjee writes.

The report examines various factors that most affect the quality of life for older adults, including:

  • Safe, Affordable and Convenient Environments: Cost of living, employment growth, jobless rates, income distribution, crime rates, alcoholism and weather…
  • Health and Happiness: General wellness was assessed by looking at obesity, smoking and other factors.  Access to recreation and health pursuits was considered.  Also the number of doctors, hospitals and eldercare options.
  • Financial Security: Taxes, small business growth, poverty levels and employment rates and opportunities for those 65 plus.
  • Living Options for Mature Residents: Assessments in this category include: costs of home ownership and availability of rental housing, nursing homes and assisted living facilities and home health providers.
  • Mobility Access: This category looks at commute times, public transportation and the number of grocery stores and other retailers.
  • Engagement with the Community: The Institute looked at volunteerism, fitness, recreational facilities, training and education, enrichment programs for older adults, museums, libraries and more.

Best Places to Retire?  Consider These Large Metropolitan Areas

Here are the The Miliken Institute’s top 10 ranked metropolitan areas.  These localities offer a broad range of living options:

  1. Madison, WI
  2. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
  3. Provo-Orem, UT
  4. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  5. Salt Lake City, UT
  6. Jackson, MS
  7. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
  8. Toledo, OH
  9. Austin-Round Rock, TX
  10. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

Best Smaller Cities for Retirement

If you think you would prefer a smaller community, then consider Miliken’s top ranked smaller cities:

  1. Iowa City, IA
  2. Sioux Falls, SD
  3. Columbia, MO
  4. Bismark, ND
  5. Rapid City, SD
  6. Ames, IA
  7. Rochester, MN
  8. Ann Arbor, MI
  9. Cheyenne, WY
  10. Fargo, ND-NH

Cost of Living and Lifestyle Factors

When relocating, picking a destination that is in line with your lifestyle choices and financial situation should be more heavily considered than simply choosing a destination because of its climate or environment.

In addition to assessing what you want to be doing in retirement, “You have to ask yourself how much you can really afford,” says Jon King, principal and founder of Pegasus Financial Solutions, a financial planning firm based in Austin, Texas. “Your quality of life might be better going somewhere less beautiful than Hawaii, for example.”

A big factor to consider is the state income tax of the place you’re planning to move. Some states like Texas and New Hampshire for instance, don’t have state income taxes, but they do have some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

“If you want to make your funds stretch, you might want to go someplace where you can afford a lot more house and where the cost of living is less,” says King.

Cities that scored highly in the Milken Institute report for their reasonable costs of living, as well as favorable tax implications, include Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA; Provo-Orem, UT; Jackson, MS; Des Moines-West Des Moines; Toledo, OH; and Austin-Round Rock, TX.

A Surprising Where to Retire Consideration?  Job Opportunities!

Retiring doesn’t necessarily signal your final exit from the workforce.

Sure you’ve reached the point where you’ve accumulated enough savings to no longer have to work a nine-to-five every day, but you may find that you’ll want to work part-time even after you’ve retired.

“A lot of people like to continue working when they’re retired,” King says. “If you do have a specialty and want to work part-time for a while, you want to be in an area where you can do that.”

Doing some research into what cities or metro areas have high opportunities of employment for older adults is definitely something on-the-move retirees should consider before relocating, King says.

Cities with high employment growth for older adults include Madison, WI; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH; Jackson, MS; Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA; Austin-Round Rock, TX; and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT. Many of these metros also boast low levels of poverty among adults age 65 and older.

If you are nearing retirement age, or are already there, and are considering packing up and living out your retirement years in another city, state or metro, be sure to choose a destination where you’ll not only find happiness, but retirement success.

How Important Is Access to Healthcare?

It is important.  Beyond the availability of doctors, doctors that accept Medicare and hospitals is the availability of specialty care for seniors.  The vast majority of retirees want to age in place and at home.  However, the reality is that 25-50 percent of those same retirees will require some form of long term care at some point in their lives.

You should consider if you are equipped to handle a move to another area for long term care or make sure that there are options available to you in your desired retirement location.

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