May 9, 2014

Study: Best Cities for Retirement


As baby boomers continue to enter retirement, many of them are seeking new beginnings. They’re either downsizing or just looking for a change in surroundings. With that shift in mind, we’ve found the best small cities for retirees to lay new roots.

Think your city is a great place for retirees to call home? Read on to see if it made the list.

Study Methodology

  • Percentage of population 60 years and older
  • Percentage of multi-unit structures
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people
  • Number of cultural attractions
  • Population growth

We looked at cities with populations of about 525,000 to 1.1 million people, where they can get a bit more bang for their Social Security buck than in larger metropolises.

To determine the cities most conducive to senior living, we first found the percentage of each city’s population that is 60 years and older, giving newly-retired and transplanted people a better chance at making new friends. Cities with older populations are also more likely to have special programs geared towards this demographic.

Next, we looked at the percentage of housing structures that are multi-unit rather than single family homes. Not only do condos and apartments have less space to clean, the condo associations and landlords usually provide maintenance, meaning retirees can spend less time and money taking care of their home (they’ve paid their dues by now).

We also assessed the number of healthcare practices to ensure that seniors’ medical needs can be met. The more practices, the better the likelihood of access to affordable, quality care as retirees continue to age.

Retirement can also bring forth more free time, so we found the number of cultural attractions in each city, including museums and historical sites. Many of these institutions offer senior discounts for entry or membership, putting a little less stress on retirees’ wallets.

Finally, we looked at population growth. This marker indicates a strong and growing economy from which retirees can benefit, such as public programs, community development, new infrastructure, and more.

10 Best Cities for Retirees

10. New Haven, CT

  • Population 60 years and older: 20.6%
  • Multi-unit houses: 41%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.73
  • Cultural attractions: 20
  • Population growth: 0%

New Haven combines the ease of small-city living with the convenience of being less than two hours away from New York City. This city has a large percentage of multi-unit houses, though with Yale University being the major economic driver, this number may reflect a fair amount of student housing. On the plus side, living alongside one of the top-rated universities in the nation affords a number of benefits, such as lectures, exhibits, and more.

9. Allentown, PA

  • Population 60 years and older: 21.9%
  • Multi-unit houses: 21.2%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.88
  • Cultural attractions: 29
  • Population growth: 0.2%

Moving down the East Coast, our next best city for retirees is Allentown, which is just over an hour away from Philadelphia. Ranking high in cultural attractions and healthcare practices, this city gives seniors plenty of opportunities to fill their schedules. In addition to the typical symphonies and art museums, Allentown features America on Wheels, a museum devoted to automotive transportation, the Da Vinci Science Museum, and the Liberty Bell Museum.

8. Cape Coral, FL

  • Population 60 years and older: 32.6%
  • Multi-unit houses: 27.4%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.33
  • Cultural attractions: 10
  • Population growth: 2.2%

For many people, the dream of retirement involves warm weather and pristine beaches. With an average high of 77 degrees in February and a rich canal system leading to the Gulf of Mexico, Cape Coral can make that dream a reality, clearly reflected in its large population of seniors aged 60+. Outdoor lovers will appreciate the city’s wildlife, boat launches, and rookeries.

7. Charleston, SC

  • Population 60 years and older: 18%
  • Multi-unit houses: 22.9%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.48
  • Cultural attractions: 27
  • Population growth: 2.3%

Retirees can enjoy some Southern charm by escaping to Charleston. It has the highest population growth of the cities we analyzed in addition to a relatively high number of cultural attractions. In fact, the city hosts one of the world’s largest performing-arts festivals each spring, the Spoleto Festival USA. With warm weather year round and a bustling harbor, this city provides many advantages for retirees.

6. Albany, NY

  • Population 60 years and older: 21%
  • Multi-unit houses: 36.2%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.77
  • Cultural attractions: 34
  • Population growth: 0.2%

For retirees who prefer colder climates, Albany may be a good choice. Ranking second for cultural attractions, Albany sits on the scenic Hudson River and is home to the USS Slater, a destroyer escort from World War II that has since been turned into a museum ship. The city also boasts the New York State Museum, the Irish American Heritage Museum, and other interesting places to visit. There are also plenty of condos and apartments to choose from when making Albany home.

5. Springfield, MA

  • Population 60 years and older: 21.1%
  • Multi-unit houses: 36.2%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.81
  • Cultural attractions: 30
  • Population growth: 0.1%

Just north of Hartford, Connecticut, Springfield boasts many museums, historical sites, and multi-unit properties. Many vibrant festivals also take place throughout the year, including the Hoop City Jazz Festival, the Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend, and the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast. This city is a convenient place to reside, with beautiful landscapes and inviting drives through the Berkshires just around the corner.

4. Tucson, AZ

  • Population 60 years and older: 19.4%
  • Multi-unit houses: 34.2%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 3.06
  • Cultural attractions: 37
  • Population growth: 0.7%

Tucson provides retirees with a unique desert environment surrounded by sweeping mountains. Not only that, nearly 20% of the population is over 60 and the healthcare industry is also booming. The city is brimming with interesting attractions, like the Center for Creative Photography, featuring work by Ansel Adams and others, and the International Wildlife Museum. For retirees who enjoy a bit of nature and culture, Tucson is a great destination.

3. Bridgeport, CT

  • Population 60 years and older: 22.9%
  • Multi-unit houses: 23.2%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.83
  • Cultural attractions: 20
  • Population growth: 0.5%

Just over an hour outside of New York City, Bridgeport has much to offer retirees. Some of the city’s largest employers include hospitals and a retirement community, showing the breadth of services available to seniors. Additionally, the city boasts a cabaret theatre, the Barnum Museum (full of circus artifacts) and Seaside Park, which spans more than 375 acres.

2. Honolulu, HI

  • Population 60 years and older: 20.9%
  • Multi-unit houses: 44.2%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 2.61
  • Cultural attractions: 24
  • Population growth: 1%

For retirees dreaming of paradise, this is it. The gorgeous city tops our list for number of condos and apartments, and also has many cultural attractions (besides the beach!) to enjoy. Seniors can stroll through the Foster Botanical Garden or peruse the Asian exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art. For fitness-minded retirees, the city also hosts several running events throughout the year.

1. Sarasota, FL

  • Population 60 years and older: 35.9%
  • Multi-unit houses: 24.7%
  • Healthcare practices per 1,000 people: 3.34
  • Cultural attractions: 15
  • Population growth: 1.6%

Ranking first for both its 60+ population and healthcare facilities, it’s no wonder that Sarasota tops out our list. Population growth is also high, so retirees looking to settle down in this coastal resort town better get there quickly. Retirees can enjoy golf year round as well as sports fishing. Residents also look forward to the Whiskey Obsession Festival each year.


Retirees can certainly make a happy home wherever they live; but the factors we analyzed here, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, serve as a great starting point for any senior thinking about a change in scenery. Getting ready to retire in the next few years? Check out our Retirement Savings Statistics.

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Follow @CreditDonkey or write to Lauren Ward at lauren@creditdonkey.com

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