2017 Best Cities for Seniors to Retire

When it comes time to retire, think small and look outside the typical destinations for settling down.

That’s a takeaway from the data crunched by GoodCall’s analysts, who reviewed 1,662 cities and towns in the U.S. and ranked them as the 2017 Best Cities for Seniors to Retire.

The top 10 best cities for seniors to retire were:

  1. Chesterfield, Mo.
  2. Leawood, Kan.
  3. Naples, Fla.
  4. Prairie Village, Kan.
  5. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  6. Aiken, S.C.
  7. Matthews, N.C.
  8. Germantown, Tenn.
  9. Madison, Miss.
  10. Brentwood, Tenn.

Analysts aimed to take into account a wide variety of metrics that would make a city great for retirement. Some retirement-focused metrics included migration rates for residents age 65 and older, health care costs, weather, and restaurants and amenities.

Chesterfield, Mo., came in at the top of the list. The suburb sits west of St. Louis and just south of the Missouri River. The suburban feel has been attracting retirees lately: While the overall population barely changed from 2010-15, the number of residents age 65 and older jumped 15%. Chesterfield stands out in several categories, including its abundance of health care establishments (5 per 1,000 residents), high education rate (69% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher), low crime rate (17.7 per 1,000 residents), and home ownership (more than 77% of residents own their homes).

Key takeaways

  • Top cities tended to be smaller. The top 10% of cities averaged about 45,000 residents, while the bottom 10% averaged more than 96,000.
  • Top cities tend to have many more homeowners. In the top 10%, an average of 68% of residents are homeowners. Only about 48% of residents are homeowners, on average, in the bottom 10%.
  • Health care costs are lower in top cities. While some of the top cities tend to be areas with slightly higher cost of living, they also tending to have lower costs for health care than those cities near the bottom. On average, cities in the top 10% had health costs about 5% below the national average, while the bottom 10% of cities averaged about 5% higher than the national cost.
  • The top cities tend to be places where older residents are flocking to. The top 10% of cities averaged about 13% growth in population of people age 65 and older. The lowest tier averaged less than 5% growth, around the national average.
  • Populous coastal areas tend to be ranked lower. Very few of the top 10% of cities were in New England, Texas, or the northern Pacific regions. Instead, top cities were spread throughout the South and Midwest.

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View and download the full rankings.

Methodology

Analysts ranked 1,662 cities based on 12 metrics. Here’s a look at the breakdown of the GoodCall system:

Community of Seniors

  • 10% – Percent of population that is age 65 or older. Data comes from the 2015 American Community Survey 5-year population estimates by city.
  • 5% – Senior migration. This represents the change in the percentage of the population was is 65 or older from 2010-2015. Data comes from the American Community Survey 5-year population estimates.

Affordability

  • 10% – Cost of health care. Cost of living data from Sperling’s bestplaces.com 2016 data by city. Adjusted based on Kiplinger’s 2016 rating of how tax-friendly each state is for seniors.
  • 10% – Cost of Living not including health care. Data comes from Sperling’s bestplaces.com 2016 data by city. Adjusted based on Kiplinger’s 2016 rating of how tax-friendly each state is for seniors.
  • 5% – Percentage of residents that live in homes they own. Data from the American Community Survey 2015 1-year estimates by city. This rate indicates areas where home ownership is affordable.

Desirable area

  • 10% – Education rates. Includes both the percentage of 25+ population with a high school diploma and the percentage of 25+ population with a bachelor’s degree. Data comes from the American Community Survey 2015 1-year estimates by city.
  • 10% – Amenities. The number of arts, entertainment and recreation facilities per 1,000 residents, taken from the Geographic Area Series 2012 for economic places.
  • 5% – Restaurants and bars. The number of food and drinking places per 1,000 residents, taken from the Geographic Area Series 2012 for economic places.
  • 10% percentage of sunny days. Sunny days are counted as those with fewer than than 50% clouds. Data is from 2016 proprietary data by city.
  • 10% – Crime rate. The number of crimes per 1,000 people, taken from the FBI 2015 data by city.
  • 10% – Access to Health Care. The number of ambulatory care services, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities, taken from the Geographic Area Series 2012 for economic places.
  • 5% – Net Migration. This shows the percentage change in the overall population from 2010-2015, based on the American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

 

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