The 50 Best Cities to Spend Your Golden Years—Ranked
Surprisingly, they're not all in Florida.
The U.S. Burden of Disease Collaborators recently released an assessment of the U.S. states in which people statistically live the longest, ranking Hawaii as the best place to live if you want to lengthen your lifespan. But if you’re already retired, and you care about quality more than quantity, you might want to consider one of cities that Magnify Money recently identified as the ones where you can most relish your golden years.
The researchers looked at the the largest metros in America with an eye for four main factors: lifestyle (how many seniors live in the area and the opportunities the community has to offer them), cost of living (median monthly housing costs and prices for local goods and services), medical cost and quality (the average cost Medicare pays per enrollee in the area and the rate of discharges from local hospitals), and the availability and quality of assisted care (the amount of nursing homes, private nurses, and continuing care retirement communities, and their ratings).
Click on to learn the best cities for spending your golden years—ranked from least desirable for seniors to most desirable for seniors. And for some inspiration for things to do in any of them—or wherever you’re living—check out the 40 Best Bucket-List Experiences for People Over 40.
New York, NY
As vibrant and exciting as the Big Apple is, it’s definitely a city for the young. There isn’t much community work among seniors, the healthcare isn’t great, and the cost of living is insanely high.
The average Medicare ratings for nursing homes is the lowest of any metro on the list, and there’s very little assisted care available. Not to mention, it also performed very poorly for medical care quality and cost. And for some great tips on aging properly, check out the 50 Things No Man Over 40 Should Ever Say.
A lot of retired people move to Florida, in part due to the good weather, but Miami certainly isn’t the mecca you’d expect it to be. Senior volunteer rates are the lowest of any city on the list and the average cost per Medicare enrollee is the highest.
All it’s really got going for it is the quality and availability of assisted care facilities, where it earned a score of 46.9, compared with the 50 metro average of 38.4. Not to mention, it’s pretty pricey, which is why it’s home to the richest zip code in America. Oh, and speaking of seniors, if you’re looking for an amazing gift for dear-ole dad this year, check out these fantastic gift last-minute options.
Los Angeles, CA
Another city for the young and the restless, LA scored low on, well, pretty much everything—except the fact that it’s a very health-oriented town.
Las Vegas, NV
As exciting of a city as it is, it’s lifestyle score was only 29.7, perhaps because it doesn’t have a lot to options unless you’re really, really, really into gambling. But if you are, know that This Is the Easiest Way to Double Your Money in Vegas.
3.2% of people aged 65 or older have relocated here from elsewhere, and 20.1% of seniors volunteer, so there’s a real sense of community here. But the city, which is only a stone’s throw away from LA, shares many of the same aforementioned drawbacks for the elderly.
San Jose, CA
82.2% of the population here gets physical activity, no doubt thanks to the lush nature that surrounds it. But with an average monthly rent of $2,013, it’s also one of the most expensive cities on the list. The good news is that medical costs here are surprisingly low.
Home to the world-famous Dallas Cowboys and their beloved cheerleaders, the city posted a high 69.5 for cost of living, but it got a score in the low 30s for basically everything else.
The city of brotherly love lives up to its name, which is why its lifestyle score was relatively high when compared to other cities low on the list.
Despite the fact that its his hometown, Obama’s healthcare plan isn’t as strong here as one would like, and the average healthcare cost per Medicare patient is $10,315 (compared to only $7,778 in San Jose). And for more on aging smarter, here’s How You Can Walk Your Way to a Longer Life.
Once again, Florida reveals itself to be less of a draw to seniors than you’d imagine. Only 2.7% of those aged 65 or above move here from elsewhere, and not many of them volunteer. Their medical quality and cost score was also lower than you’d expect, as was its score for the quality and availability of assisted care.
San Antonio, TX
It doesn’t have all that much of a senior citizen community, but at least it’s cheap. And who said you need to spend all of your retirement hanging out with other people when you can go on contemplative walks, drink wine, and catch up on your reading? And if you’re thinking of traveling soon, check out the 15 Most Haunted Places in America.
This city is definitely cheaper and slightly more engaged than its Florida counterparts, and it has an abundance of assisted care. Its medical cost and quality score, however, is at all appallingly low 26.0.
It’s expensive, but 3.9% of seniors move here from elsewhere, 32.8% of them participate in volunteer work, and 78.9% of the population gets physical activity. So if you’re looking for an active, and perhaps even politically conscious retirement, this is the place to be.
It got a median score all across the board, but their seafood is world famous. And recent studies have shown that seafood provides an enormous boost to your sleep cycle, your brain health, and even your sex life.
There’s plenty to do here, and 4.4% of seniors move here from elsewhere (one of the highest numbers on the list).
It’s gotten a bad rap over the last few years, but the cheap housing options have given birth to an unexpected artistic renaissance in the area.
San Francisco, CA
Spoiler alert: it’s super expensive. But its medical cost and quality score was extremely high. Not to mention, it was recently voted the best American city for expats, thanks to their low levels of crime, wealth of attractions and activities, and state benefits.
If you absolutely must move to Florida, this was the highest-ranked city in the state. It’s not terribly expensive, and it got high marks for the quality and availability of assisted care facilities. Plus, the weather is great, and you’re right by the beach!
A whopping 5.9% of seniors move here from elsewhere, suggesting it’s an increasingly attractive city for people aged 65 and above. With a thriving country music scene and world-famous barbecue, it’s no surprise that this is an up-and-coming area for retirees.
A frequently overlooked city, Atlanta has a good rate of seniors who moved here from elsewhere (3.8%), as well as modest medical and monthly rent costs. The downside is that its score for the quality and availability of assisted care was fairly low.
Only 1.6% of seniors move here from elsewhere, probably because it’s an easy city to forget about. But given that its score for cost of living was excellent (average monthly rent is only $806), you might want to consider putting it back on the map.
San Diego, CA
As you’d expect, it’s pretty pricey. But 84.5% of the population makes use of the amazing weather all-year-around through physical activity. which is what makes it one of the fittest cities in America. It’s also home to one of the best wine clubs in the entire world.
Its lifestyle score was pretty low, and only 69% of its population gets physical activity, but it scored high for the quality and availability of assisted care.
This Southern gem got extremely high points for the cost of living and medical care, which is probably why it’s one of the best cities in America in which to buy a mansion.
With so much to do, it’s no wonder it got top marks for lifestyle. It also snagged the highest score on the list for medical cost and quality. But those attracted to its intense coffee culture scene should be warned that too much caffeine can actually kill you.
New Orleans, LA
Given its lively jazz scene and wealth of restaurants, this city scored surprisingly low for lifestyle. But, for such a vibrant metropolis, it got high marks for cost of living, so it’s a great option for someone who wants to live in one of the hardest partying cities in America on a budget.
It’s become a veritable mecca for musicians, so music-lovers will want to bookmark this one, especially because the number of seniors who volunteer here indicates that people like to go out and socialize.
St. Louis, MO
It got average marks across the board, but it’s particularly wallet-friendly. Surprisingly, it’s also got one of the best singles scenes in America, and it’s one of the best places in the country to get married.
Virginia Beach, VA
The senior engagement here isn’t as high as you would think given the popularity of this destination among retirees, but with one of the best beaches in America, who needs people?
Despite its fame, it’s actually cheaper than its country-music competitor Austin, as the average monthly rent here is only $985 (versus $1,234 in Austin). Perhaps that’s why it has the second-highest percentage of seniors moving here from elsewhere, with 5.9% of people aged 65 and above relocating to the vibrant city.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of socializing among seniors here, but it’s got one of the highest cost of living scores on the entire list.
It scored pretty low on the quality and availability of assisted care, but the healthcare is affordable and relatively highly rated. And if you like running in warm weather, you can use the heat to get the secret benefit of exercising outdoors in the summer.
Oklahoma City, OK
It’s not the healthiest city, but, hey, at least it’s cheap. It also happens to be one of the 100 drunkest cities in America.
Sacramento is a lot less expensive than San Francisco, and it’s got plenty to do, which is probably what makes it one of the most sleepless cities in America.
Ohio comes up a lot on this list, chiefly because many of the cities in this state are shockingly affordable.
It’s one of the most expensive places to live in America, but if you can afford it, it’s got a whole lot of country clubs and golf courses where you can leisurely spend your days.
Given how low the rent and local goods are, the healthcare here is pretty high, which is probably why only 27.2% of those 65 and older are up-to-date on core preventative services.
There aren’t that many nursing homes, but it’s cheap, 80.7% of the population gets physical activity, and another 30.8% of seniors volunteer.
The average monthly rent is only $826 and the cost of healthcare is relatively low, so you’ve got plenty of cash leftover to make use of all of the attractions the city has to offer. The only downside is that it gets pretty cold in the wintertime, but it gives you the chance to reap the many benefits of working out in the wintertime.
It’s more expensive than you’d think, but 74.7% of the population get physical activity, no doubt thanks to the fine weather.
The average monthly rent here is only $874, which means you’ve got plenty of money left over to enjoy the many attractions this midwestern gem has to offer.
With an average monthly rent of only $924, and the relatively cheap goods and services, it’s got one of the highest scores on the list for cost of living.
There’s a sparse amount of assisted care facilities, but with 37.6% of seniors who volunteer, there’s a lively community for people over the age of 65.
The cost of living is higher than you’d expect, but Rhode Island got one of the highest scores for the quality and availability of assisted care facilities.
Kansas City, MO
The low cost of living makes this another great choice for seniors looking to save money, as does the fact that 71.8% of the population get physical activity.
It scored low on lifestyle, but the lower-than-average rent makes this an appealing options for budget-conscious seniors.
Colorado is one of the fittest states in America, so it’s no wonder that Denver ranked as one of the top three places where residents get the most physical activity. The rent is a little higher than average, but it has the the third lowest rate of hospitalizations, and the the fourth highest percentage of seniors who moved into the metro from elsewhere. Not to mention it’s one of the healthiest cities in America, and one of the best ones for runners.
Salt Lake City, UT
With 40.3% of people over the age of 55 volunteering, Salt Lake City has the liveliest senior citizen community on the list by a long shot. It’s not that much of a draw for seniors (only 1.5% of them moved there from elsewhere), which is too bad because their abundance of activities for those aged 65 and above and their lower-than-average medical costs makes the Utah capital a great option for the elderly. And if you like to ski, or simply enjoy having a well-deserved aprés by the fireplace, many of the country’s best resorts are a stone’s throw away.
The fact that Portland had the highest rate of senior citizens who moved there from elsewhere made it obvious that it was a highly desirable location for people over 65. It might have fallen short in the assisted care facilities department, but the low cost of goods and services, the relatively modest cost of housing, and the 82.6% activity rate makes it an extremely attractive city for adults looking to enjoy their twilight years.
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