Have you thought about where you want to retire? Making a decision on the perfect location for retirement is a personal choice that should be researched and well thought out. There are many factors to consider, which we will get to in a minute.
I recommend writing down your most important factors, or indicators, that have the most impact on your life. It is also helpful to write down the pros and cons of each potential location according to the preferences of you and your family.
The Milken Institute researched the “Best Cities for Successful Aging” based on public data and 83 indicators that experts cite as important to age-friendly environments. These 83 indicators are filed under nine general indicators which I will discuss. I encourage you to visit their website for further information and to view the report. The report lists the best 100 large cities and best 281 small cities and shares data on the ranking the city received of the following indicators.
- General Livability. This comprises items such as cost of living, weather, crime rate, employment growth and fatal car crashes. For some, weather is very important for keeping an active lifestyle. Cost of living is significant and it is helpful to know your annual budget when choosing a location. Also in this category is Internet access which is important for keeping in touch with family and friends and necessary for many jobs.
- Health Care. This crucial factor covers availability of health care providers and hospitals, aging related health care services, Medicare enrollment and ER wait time. Accessible, high quality and affordable health care is crucial to retirees so weigh this topic carefully when researching locations.
- Wellness. Dove tailing off the Health Care indicator, Wellness is equally important in maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. Areas researched were life expectancy, health risk factors, air quality, health problems common in older adults and accessibility to fitness center and recreation such as golf courses. Quality of life and a healthy lifestyle go hand-in-hand so this is a good indictor to research and check out the cities where it ranked high.
- Financial. Financial security for older Americans encompasses their bills and budget and with that, the study researched each area’s number of banks and financial institutions, tax burden for retirees, capital gains, income growth and reverse mortgages. Small business growth was also included as that helps increase jobs and can stimulate the financial success of a community.
- Education. This is important for anyone wanting to take classes, pursue another career or simply be a lifelong learner. This factor includes numbers of colleges and universities as well as educational attainment. Not only does learning keep your mind fit, it promotes social wellness with community members in diverse backgrounds.
- Transportation and Convenience. Older adults need to be mobile to remain independent, have social interactions and maintain their lifestyle. This category includes a location’s walkability, access to stores and other necessities, public transportation and the mobility of getting to where you want to go to remain independent as long as possible.
- Employment. Some retirees choose to embark on a new career or get a part time job after retirement. They can provide their wisdom and experience to a company while networking with a younger generation. This category includes employment growth as well as employment rates for those 65 and older. Industries studied were health, education, leisure and hospitality, as these are relevant in the lives of older Americans.
- Living Arrangements. Most older adults want to age in a home environment rather than a care facility. This indicator studied median prices for home purchases and rentals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, older adults in family homes as well as the pricing averages for each type of residence and type of care or assistance an individual may need.
- Community Engagement. Having a purpose in life is associated with longevity and positive health. Most retirees will agree that creating a new purpose other than work is crucial to their happiness. This category studied recreation, libraries, civic and religious organizations for older adult’s community involvement, volunteerism and recreation.
Once you have researched these topics as well as the best cities on the list, you will be armed with the knowledge to make an informed decision on where to retire.
Another option is retiring where you currently live, as some people want to stay close to family, friends and the community they are familiar with. But if a destination retirement location is what you are looking for, there are unlimited choices for you. Just do your research first so you can select the best location for you.
I encourage you to view the report for further information and the Best Large and Small Cities selected from the report. The website is http://successfulaging.milkeninstitute.org/.
The report can also be downloaded here: http://successfulaging.milkeninstitute.org/2017/BCSA-2017.pdf.
“Your Journey. Our Passion.”
“Best Cities for Successful Aging,” Milken Institute, March 2017, www.milkeninstitute.org.