Retirees today are living longer, more active lives than in years past. The average life expectancy is 78.8 years, with women expected to live 81.2 years and men living to an average of 76.4 years. Today’s retirees aren’t quietly sitting home knitting or on their front porch rocking. They’re getting out and about and doing things.
This makes choosing the right retirement location in which to live out those golden years a decision of critical importance. We’ve ranked 12 of the best retirement cities in the U.S. according to a wide range of criteria including:
- Access to Health Care
- Public Transportation
- Golf Courses Nearby
- Affordability of Housing
- Access to Employment for Seniors
- Cultural Attractions
- Physical Activity
- Healthy vs. Unhealthy Lifestyles
These are the 12 cities we believe to be real winners for seniors.
1) Ann Arbor, MI
In addition to being the home of the University of Michigan Wolverines and all the educational opportunities it provides, Ann Arbor is also the home of several hospitals and medical facilities, including top-rated specialty services for geriatric medicine, as well as Alzheimer’s care. Ann Arbor is known for relatively low obesity rates (in comparison to Baton Rouge, La, Mobile, Alabama, and Corpus Christi, Texas, for examples) and and one of the best public transportation systems in a town of its size.
The City of Ann Arbor is committed to seniors. It offers educational, social, and active opportunities for seniors through the local senior center. The city offerings extend to an impressive range of educational and employment opportunities for seniors – particularly those interested in supplementing their incomes in order to accommodate a higher than average cost of living during retirement.
2) Cheyenne, WY
Cheyenne is an attractive retirement community for many reasons, not the least of which is the proximity of this city to some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. Fans of the Wild West or old western movies will find many local attractions and museums to be fascinating to visit over and over again — and may even enjoy employment of volunteer opportunities in the museums.
The economy in and around Cheyenne is strong, allowing for employment opportunities for seniors, and community engagement in the city is quite high for seniors.
Don’t forget the low cost of living, low crime rate, and wide open spaces – all of which are cited as reasons that Bankrate listed Wyoming as the best state for retirement living.
3) Cleveland, OH
Cleveland not only offers outstanding access to health care for specialty care conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and geriatric medicine, but it is home to the widely respected Cleveland Clinic. The city also boasts of short emergency room wait times.
On the economic front, Cleveland offers a low cost of living and easy access to groceries, learning opportunities, and education, with transportation available if needed.
The city of Cleveland also takes its attractiveness as a retirement location seriously by offering a Department of Aging that addresses the needs of seniors in the area and abundant opportunities to enjoy cultural entertainment and remain active through community events and organizations. The city offers several indoor and outdoor pools for year round aquatic activities and several golf courses to perfect that golf swing in retirement.City of Cleveland
Cleveland is considered the 16th most walkable city in the United States, according to Walk Score.
4) Columbia, MO
In addition to a strong economy with many employment opportunities for seniors, Columbia, MO offers numerous chances for seniors residing there to volunteer and socialize.
The community has a strong commitment to its seniors with a 50 Plus Program offered through the Columbia Parks and Recreation system. This program offers activities, crafts, music, and dance opportunities along with theater and museum trips for residents over 50 as well as trips, ball game outings, and other special events each month.
The University of Missouri creates a wide range of educational and cultural opportunities for seniors to enjoy, along with a health-care system sufficient to meet the needs of area residents.
5) Gainesville, FL
Florida is widely known as a tax-friendly state for retirement living. In fact, it is solidly on Kiplinger’s top ten list of most tax-friendly states for retirees, thanks to its absence of state income taxes and generous homestead exemptions.
Gainesville is also home to the University of Florida, providing educational opportunities and stimulation seniors appreciate. The economy, largely driven by the college presence, is thriving, creating countless employment opportunities for seniors. Its healthcare system, bolstered by local medical schools, provides an abundance of quality healthcare access for seniors.
Gainesville also made the Forbes list of best places for seniors to live based on the relatively low cost of housing and above average air quality. Lest not forget the amazing weather throughout the year.
6) Iowa City, IA
An excellent city on many fronts for retirement living, Iowa City ranks number one of the Livability.com list of top 10 cities for affordable healthcare.
The city’s large healthcare network associated with the University of Iowa is a major boon on the healthcare front for seniors, as is the certified primary stroke center and cancer and heart care centers at Mercy Iowa City, which are recognized by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
Healthy living is strongly encouraged in Iowa City, which touts of lower than average obesity rates and fewer fast food restaurants per capita than other cities of its size.
Additionally, Iowa offers a tax friendly place for military retirees to live by making the move to either only partially tax military pension to not taxing them at all. All-in-all, this helped the state of Iowa to rank sixth on the CBS list of best U.S. states for retirement.
7) Jackson, MS
Jackson, Mississippi offers two important distinctions for seniors living on fixed incomes: it has a relatively low cost of living and is very tax friendly for seniors, making it one of the most affordable retirement areas for seniors.
Additionally, job opportunities for seniors are abundant, as are learning opportunities through community colleges and universities located in and around the city. Health care is widely available and relatively affordable.
The City of Jackson offers a wide range of services for seniors, including transportation programs, recreational programs, health screenings, and advocacy services. The low cost of living makes groceries, housing, and entertainment more affordable.
Its relatively close proximity to the city of New Orleans and the MS Gulf Coast make day trips to exciting locations possible.
8) Madison, WI
Madison rates as number one on the Milken Institute’s 2014 list of Best Cities for Successful Aging among large metro areas. Many reasons are cited for its top billing on the list, including strong employment opportunities for older adults, low crime rate, and intellectual engagement through the University of Wisconsin.
This is in addition to healthy lifestyle opportunities, along with recreational and cultural activities within the community. The outstanding Madison health care system includes 11 hospitals along with specialized care for treating Alzheimer’s patients and short wait times in area emergency rooms.
Then there is the Senior Citizen, which is a community organization dedicated to promoting “successful aging” in the Madison area. There you will find classes along with socialization, entertainment, intergenerational activities, and educational and volunteer opportunities.
9) Midland, TX
Midland makes the grade as one of the best places to retire for many reasons, including an expanding economy, low unemployment rates, abundant job opportunities for residents over the age of 65, and a low cost of living.
The mild year-round climate is something many retirees find appealing, as well as the ample opportunities for residents to volunteer in the community and take advantage of affordable housing designed to accommodate the needs of independent living seniors as well as those who need some assistance.
10) Salt Lake City, UT
In addition to high employment among seniors in Salt Lake City, the city offers easily accessible groceries, health care, banks, and other services. Transportation is widely available for seniors to health care appointments and facilities, and there are many affordable assisted living communities in and around the area.
Combine that with a wide range of senior-friendly community activities and a community college system for job training and education, and this city makes an attractive choice for many seniors.
Salt Lake City also has a high Mormon population (more than 50 percent), and access to snow-capped mountain views (Wasatch Mountains of Utah) and lake views thanks to the Great Salt Lake.
Salt Lake County also offers a wide range of services and volunteer opportunities for seniors. In addition to various neighborhood senior centers, the county also offers computer classes, volunteer work, and the option to serve as foster grandparents for a small stipend. Not only does this service act to foster supplement retirement incomes, but it also an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in the community.
11) Syracuse, NY
Low costs of living and a strong sense of community sets Syracuse apart from other cities of its size when it comes to creating an attractive location for retirement living. The city offers numerous grocery stores, museums, libraries, and other opportunities for socialization for seniors. It’s considered a somewhat walkable city, according to Walk Score, with some errands being able to be accomplished on foot.
Healthcare is another major plus in Syracuse with many doctors, hospitals, rehab facilities, and new technology and innovation in the medical field – largely driven by area medical schools.
The local government also offers many programs, including several senior centers, designed to help meet the needs of the growing senior community in the city and surrounding areas.
In 2013, U.S. News & World Report, indicated that Syracuse was one of the best cities to retire on for $75 a day.
12) Toledo, OH
Golf lovers are sure to appreciate the many excellent golfing opportunities in and around Toledo, Ohio. Combine that with access to fitness centers public transportation, and affordable, quality health care and there’s a lot to love about Toledo for retirees.
Toledo offers a wide range of senior dining centers that offer socialization, activities, and access to information for seniors throughout the Lucas County and Toledo area. A lake-front city setting and access to affordable housing rounds out the many reasons Toledo paints a pretty picture for retirement living.
While it’s likely you have your own set of interests and requirements when it comes to retirement living, these cities all have something special to offer those who choose them for retirement.