Best Cities for Successful Aging – Head for the Midwest

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

March 27, 2017 — The authors of the Milken Report on Successful Aging have identified the best places in the country to retire for successful aging. In fact they have two different lists – larger Metros and smaller Metros (we will focus on the smaller Metros). Their selection process is the most rigorous of any we know of; it actually has 83 different criteria including access to good healthcare, transportation, security, employment and recreation opportunities, livability, community engagement, and livability.

Most boomers live in Metropolitan areas, and plan to stay there
The authors of the report refer to this as the “anti-retirement” list of best places. They think the idea of retiring to a gated 55+ community in Florida is over, instead they prefer to focus on towns where baby boomers can stay active, engaged, and healthy. Their report notes that most Americans over 65 live in Metropolitan areas, and some 90% of boomers are not interested in moving in retirement (Topretirements Members are much more focused on moving than the population at large). Their focus on finding Metropolitan areas that are suitable for retirement ended up with all 10 of their small Metro cities being located in cold climates. In our opinion that focus misses another important retirement factor: a lot of boomers are tired of cold weather and dreary winters – they would rather be outside in a warm winter climate.

The 10 Best Small Metros for retirement – but don’t give away your winter clothes!
Cold climates or not, the Milken Report’s list, all college towns, has some top notch places to retire. Seven of them are located in the Midwest.

1. Iowa City, Iowa. Home to the University of Iowa and its famous writing programs, this college town has plenty of culture to offer.

Iowa City

The city ranked 1 for healthcare in the Milken Report and #14 for transportation convenience, and also has a low unemployment rate for its older citizens.

2. Manhattan, Kansas made the top 10 for Education and Healthcare. Kansas State University adds a lot to the city. Military retirees will like the proximity of Fort Riley and its military facilities. The report mentions that volunteerism and opportunities for engagement are plentiful in Manhattan.

3. Ames, Iowa. Great health care, education, and employment opportunities are among the top advantages for boomers who retire in Ames. Iowa State University has a big and vital presence in town.

Cafe Beaudelaire, photo courtesy of Wikipedia


Midwest friendliness and neighborhood spirit are other pluses that make it appealing.

4. Columbia, Missouri is nicknamed “College Town” or “The Athens of Missouri” because it has so many colleges in one town. There is a plethora of restaurants, bars, live music, indie films, book stores, art galleries, and loft apartments near the University of Missouri campus.

Sioux Falls

5. Sioux Falls, South Dakota makes all kinds of “best places” lists for many good reasons. The economy is strong (Citibank has a huge presence), there is no income tax, and it has a lovely setting. The city has many lovely parks including Falls Park on the city’s namesake waterfalls on the Big Sioux River.

6. Ann Arbor, Michigan. The University of Michigan calls Ann Arbor home. The city is named for its many groves of trees (and supposedly the founders’ wives were named Ann). There are music stores, sidewalk cafes, bars, bookstores, and shops. Sports fans can cheer the Big 10 sports events held here. Strong zoning keeps it nice.

Ithaca

7. Ithaca, New York is the rare New York State city that makes a best places to retire list. The college in this University town is Cornell. The students and the businesses catering to them give the city a lively aura. Restaurants like the Moosewood vegetarian restaurant are a good example. Cornell’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, which was designed by architect I.M. Pei.

8. Lawrence, Kansas is the second city in the Sunflower State to make this top 10 list (Iowa also had two). The University of Kansas has a very pretty campus and is a major influence on the town. There is also the Haskell Indian Nations University, the North vs. South Music Festival, La Prima Tazza is one of Lawrence’s many unique coffee shops, plus many independent book stores. Cost of housing is below the national median.

Logan, Utah

9. Logan, Utah. This city of 60,000 is 90 miles north of Salt Lake City. It is drawing retirees and other new residents because of its religious diversity and tolerance. It has low unemployment rates and is known as one of the America’s safest cities (crime is almost non-existent). Utah State University makes it a college town.

10. Fairbanks, Alaska made the Milken list because of it cultural amenities, cultural spirit, and social environment. The climate is not exactly sunbelt, but the summers are glorious.

Comments: What do you think about the 10 towns on this list? Would they be on yours. How do you feel about their selection criteria – do they work for you or does climate trump a lot of other things.

For further reading:
the complete Milken Institute Report on Successful Aging



Posted by Admin on March 26th, 2017

41 Comments »

  1. The metrics used to compile this list don’t appear to consider climate, taxes, crime, cost of housing and proximity to features such as mountains, beach or lakes. Much of the discussion on Topretirements revolves around these topics. The report heavily weights livability, wellness, education, employment, healthcare and other metrics that might be more important to the pre-retirement population. The report is interesting but I don’t believe I would be moving to any of the large or small cities mentioned in it.

    by LS — March 27, 2017

  2. When this data was compiled, did anyone notice that the Cornell Medical Center is in the New York City area, not Ithaca?
    Is there any data about the number and age of people who actually retire to these places?

    by Sandie — March 27, 2017

  3. “The authors of the report refer to this as the “anti-retirement” list of best places. They think the idea of retiring to a gated 55+ community in Florida is over, instead they prefer to focus on towns where baby boomers can stay active, engaged, and healthy.”

    Don’t tell that to any of us who have retired to Florida. I’m more active and engaged than I ever was in Minnesota. There, I had to worry about falling on the ice and breaking a hip. Here, I go outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather and tons of activities. Sometimes I need a day or two off from too many activities!

    Can’t say I find any of the cities listed attractive places to retire. We do have hospitals and doctors and universities and colleges in Florida, you know.

    by Linda — March 27, 2017

  4. Linda, I love your comments that you are a retiree in Florida, very active and enjoying your lifestyle there. That is exactly how I wish to live when I retire. My husband and I are planning an early retirement next year in the Orlando area. The reason for Orlando is that there is a major airport there which will give us more flexibility for travel. Are there decent hospitals and health care there if we move to one of the suburbs of Orlando? We are moving from California because of the high cost of living and we want to be closer to our children who live on the east coast now. I would appreciate feedback on the cost of homeowners insurance, utilities, services, etc. for a 2000 sq. ft. house built after 2000. Thank you for the wealth of information I find on this website.

    by Mimi — March 28, 2017

  5. I would like to at PORTLAND, MAINE to that list. We have visited there and love the smaller city atmosphere and it is easy to get around. There are lots of educational opportunities, cultural venues, music, food, etc. We have been watching real estate listings and are making plans to move there within the next year. It is so beautiful and so active, has terrific medical support and tons of things to do. We’ll pay a little more in taxes but looks to be worth every penny! As we done our research and investigations, we keep running into other people, also making plans for Maine. We have been in the SE, for work, the last 10 years and we really miss cooler weather and winter season. Can’t wait to go HOME!

    by Holly — March 28, 2017

  6. Mimi, I wouldn’t move to Orlando just for access to that airport. I really know nothing about the Orlando area except that it is overrun with tourists 24/7, twelve months of the year. Do you really want to put up with that? It would drive me batso. I have a neighbor who has taken a job down here who is moving from the Orlando-Kissimmee area and they can’t wait to get out of there.

    I hear you about airports. I came from Minneapolis-St. Paul which afforded me nonstop flights to just about everywhere in the world. I don’t have that with RSW, although I can still fly back to MSP nonstop from here. I have discovered there are workarounds. Better flight choices from FLL and MIA. One great thing about Florida is that 1-way car rentals here are very common and they don’t charge you as if you were buying the car! I’ve rented a car here, driven to Miami, dropped the car, and taken a nonstop to Barcelona, for example. My next trip involves driving to Ft. Lauderdale, leaving my car in a lot there, and flying nonstop to San Juan on Southwest for $75. To fly to San Juan from here would have involved going through Atlanta or Charlotte.

    California to Florida is a big leap. Completely different places. I’d advise renting first. I love California! Used to go there at least once a year from Minnesota. But you’re right, it’s expensive.

    Good luck with your search!

    by Linda — March 28, 2017

  7. Mimi,

    The climate in California versus the climate in inner Florida are quite different! The high humidity, the bugs and the heat are drastically different than in most cities in California. Have you and your husband visited the Orlando area?
    I would suggest you go there in July or August as this is typical of most of the year.
    If you live in the LA area you are used to traffic if not the traffic in the Orlando area is quite heavy during the May -December time frame.
    Before you choose an area spend some time there. Rent a property for several months

    by Ron — March 28, 2017

  8. Holly,

    What is the tax situation in Maine ? I have never been there but my parents were very fond of that area. Most Northeast communities unfortunately are plagued with high State and local and city tax. I wonder if you could advise on this ?

    by Ron — March 28, 2017

  9. Ron-
    For more information on ANY city – try http://www.city-data.com. There is also http://www.tax-rates.org where you can look up income tax, business tax, property tax, gas tax, etc. by state. I created a spreadsheet to compare east coast locations. Maine, generally, falls somewhere in the middle of most everything.

    Maine has an income tax but they do not tax Soc. Sec. and there is a pension exemption and possibly a veterans exemption. It depends on the county and for Portland – inside the city limits – property taxes are higher than surrounding areas. The farther from the coast you go, the cheaper it gets.

    We pay practically nothing where we are now but there are no services to speak of and although TN has no income tax, we pay the highest sales tax in the US. We have to pay to “join” the library, they don’t plow the side streets if it snows and the power goes out every time it rains. So…..we are hoping to get more for our money.

    We flew up in Oct. 2015 for a week of fact-finding. The cost of living comparison tools show it is more expensive to live in Maine but I think that is misleading. We did a walk-through of a comparable supermarket and I found the prices to be CHEAPER than where we are and the quality of the meat & produce better. We visited a “Medically Oriented Gym” aimed at cardiac rehab and Parkinsons patients – loved it! We drove around through rush hour, met up with two couples already retired there who toured us around, and really looked around with purpose. The coast is popular and expensive – houses are going under contract in a matter of days lately. There are hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams, if you like water. Check out “Northwoods Law” on TV (Animal Planet channel) for hunting/fishing, etc. Go have a good look around!

    by Holly — March 28, 2017

  10. For retirement, one must consider terrain. Ithaca NY is way too hilly. Lawrence KS is also hilly.

    All your cities have cold winters.

    Being 55 or 60 is different from being 75 or 80. Please consider what a person actually needs as he/she ages —
    and it’s not cafes.

    by Ann Boyer — March 29, 2017

  11. Sandie,

    Here’s specific info to answer your question (assuming you’re asking where retirees are really moving). https://smartasset.com/retirement/where-are-retirees-moving

    Hope this helps. It is based upon actual US Census info.

    I have lived in or near five of the top ten listed in the Milken Report. I think these Midwest/Plains cities are great places to raise families but not to retire. Just my opinion.

    by Doug — March 29, 2017

  12. We moved out of California last year and after looking into several options, we decided upon Meridian Idaho. Our community is a relatively small age 55+ with no amenities other than a clubhouse. The people both in our community and the Boise area are so friendly. This is a conservative state so guns are welcomed and PC isn’t prevalent. Drivers are for the most part polite, the roads are smooth and good restaurants are plentiful and reasonably priced. This last Winter was very unusual and the amount of snow had not been this much in the last 30 years. The Summer is hot but in the shade isn’t uncomfortable. The plus is that the air is dry (altitude 2700′). McCall is a two hour drive and reminded me of a smaller Lake Tahoe. The Boise River is lined with 25 miles of pathway for jogging, walking and biking. Nothing is really that far away and medical facilities seem to dot almost every block. We are thrilled to have moved here where the cost of living is so much lower than in California (but then where isn’t it?). BTW, we didn’t know anyone other than the realtors who sold us our house but it has been easy making new friends. I even ran into a lady with whom I use to work in LA 40 years ago!

    by Katherine — March 29, 2017

  13. Depends on what you want to do in retirement. If you think you are going to be into tennis, golf, or other recreational activities outside, you better think hard about cold climes because you are going to be stuck indoors. Plus, you can only take so many college classes and go to so many college sports venues before that gets old quickly. I would not reject the 55 plus active retirement communities. Everything is at your fingertips and it’s much more peaceful and stress free around older adults. If you want the college town atmosphere, why not find a retirement community that’s close to a college but still affords you the stress free, laid back lifestyle in a setting where the climate fits your hobbies? Want fishing and water sports you better think about the Southeast. Want to hike, have meals outdoors, abundant sun, lots of space and less traffic, then think about the Southwest. You get a combination of both in California, but it’s expensive, lots of hassles, people, traffic, etc.

    by mike t — March 29, 2017

  14. Although we now live “adjacent” to the Midwest in Colorado, my husband and I grew up, went to college and raised our family in the Midwest. Choosing a place to live in retirement isn’t just about health care, taxes and climate. Factors such as living near family, churches, synagogues, mosques, plus options such as maintence provided neighborhoods, recreation choices, access to enjoy hobbies as varied as quilting or choral groups, interesting nonprofits and ways to volunteer, theaters and cultural enrichment, friendly helpful neighbors, and good public services ….these are also strong factors in choosing a place to live in retirement. Diverse, well-educated people and communities are common in our wonderful Midwest area of the United States!

    by Deborah — March 29, 2017

  15. At first glance, my opinion of this report is the same as my opinion of the 2014 report. It is, as you say, the most thoroughly researched, data-driven analysis of retirement cities and towns I have ever seen, and for that the study authors are to be commended.

    I think the curious results are due to the fact that they actually evaluate too much data. They consider 109 different factors, many of which are of little or no concern to most people as they evaluate where they want to retire. For example, they consider output of service sector/manufacturing (weighted at .247), smoking rate (.053), and total bank deposits per capita (.06).

    All of the minor factors crowd out the amount of weight they are able to give to factors that most of us would consider significant, such as tax burden (.174), weather (.258), median house price (.141), crime rate (.127) and air quality (.074).

    So in this study, the output of service sector/manufacturing is weighted more heavily than tax burden, median house price, crime rate, and air quality.

    No wonder the results are so counter-intuitive.

    Dave Hughes
    RetireFabulously.com

    by Dave Hughes — March 29, 2017

  16. I have no problem with the small cities listed here as good places to retire, although the top 10? I lived in Lawrence, KS, for a year, and it was not for me. I would not put it in the top 10 to retire to as I would be rather bored there. My town of choice (Fayetteville, AR) was not listed, but maybe it is too small. Nothing boring, though, about that little slice of the Ozarks.

    by Elaine — March 29, 2017

  17. No matter how great a place is, many of us won’t move away from family or will move only if we have family or close friends in that area. I still work full time and can manage independently with no problem (age 69) now, but what about when I do need some help in the future, especially as a single female? Also, I’ve lived away from any family members across country for 9 years now, and at times it is difficult, for example, when I need a ride home from a medical procedure in which I’m not allowed to drive myself. I don’t want to move somewhere where I don’t know a soul no matter how great the place sounds.

    by Kris — March 29, 2017

  18. I can vouch for Number 4, Columbia, Missouri! Our daughter has lived there for five years while attending Mizzou and finishing her Master’s Project. We have several favorite restaurants (Flat Branch Restaurant, Cafe Poland, and JJ’s Cafe,to name a few). There is a great library, walking/biking trails. There are also several hospitals in CoMo. And, it’s easy to get around by car!

    by Anna — March 29, 2017

  19. There is a decided theme to this list. Except for Fairbanks and Sioux Falls the remaining cities are all big college towns. All of them are, essentially, in the middle of nowhere. I lived in Ames for 20 months while in graduate school. Nice town. Don’t think I’d like to retire there. I’ve been to Fairbanks, Ithaca, Iowa City and Ann Arbor. Fairbanks is an absurd choice for a retiree. The winters are brutal and the 2 hours of daylight per day in December is depressing. It is a nice town, but even if you are not that picky about climate the climate there is extreme. The others are nice enough (Iowa City has been called “The Athens of the Midwest”), but all of them are isolated from bigger cities with more cultural and recreational choices. At least Ames is a 30 minute drive from Des Moines.

    These “data driven” lists tend to border on the absurd because the weightings that are given to various factors represent no one person’s personal weighting which makes them essentially worthless. I don’t care about what THEY think is important. I care about what *I* think is important.

    by JeffD — March 29, 2017

  20. There isn’t one place on this list I would now or have ever considered moving to. We moved from Wisconsin to Texas at 40. Loved Texas until I reached retirement age and there was few activities geared towards retirees, taxes and insurance became so high we couldn’t afford to own a home anymore, after fixing the foundation twice because of the shifting grounds in North Texas with the possibility of major repairs down the line, after losing the roof twice due to the huge hail, and due to the horrible traffic in the suburbs, ice and snow, and lawn maintenance, 7 years ago, we decided it was time to look elsewhere. We looked in Florida (eliminated due to high humidity and hurricanes), California (eliminated due to too expensive and earthquakes), Southern Nevada (too much traffic and too expensive), New Mexico (loved it but everywhere we went just didn’t feel right). One night 5 years ago, I was on topretirements.com and I saw something about a town in Arizona highly recommended for retirees. Back then topretirements talked more about Green Valley than they do today. The more I read about it the more I thought it sounded like a place I’d like to live. I casually mentioned it to hubby. He kind of just blew me off. I continued researching. Finally 3 years ago I mentioned Green Valley area has 11 golf courses. He said let’s go check it out. So we flew out, and after a week knew it felt right and was where we wanted to be. We went back to Texas, did more repairs on the house, and sold it 10 months later. We have been in Green Valley 2 years and it seems like 2 months. We are so busy all the time, time just flies. We bought a house larger than the one in Texas in a nicer neighborhood and the taxes and insurance are 1/4th of what they were in Texas. Electricity is less. Cable, internet, and phone are about the same. No worries about hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, major earthquakes, shifting foundations, and cutting grass. We are so grateful to topretirements.com to leading us to our Utopia. We still love Texas and visit a few times a year, but are always happy that we get to come to our home in Green Valley.

    by Joanne — March 29, 2017

  21. Holly: I also work on spreadsheets. I first narrowed down my list to locations based on criteria such as being within an hour or so of a major airport, good medical care, being within two hours of a major city, etc. I got my list down to Eastern PA, Western PA, and certain towns in NC, SC and FL.

    After I found some possible retirement destinations using lifestyle criteria, I’ve used spreadsheets to compare costs of living. My baseline is my current home in SC near Charlotte, NC. I try to keep it as an apples-to-apples comparison, using comparable homes in each location. I try to consider as many costs as possible, looking at my current spending and lifestyle. I expected FL to be cheaper, and PA to be the most expensive. I found that the net costs weren’t as different as I expected. For ex., PA didn’t have a state tax on my retirement income or personal property tax on cars, which set off some of its higher real estate taxes. FL’s insurance costs on my comparable home were higher. I still think of things to check, but so far FL is coming out as more expensive for me (about $400 more a month from baseline), PA and NC are in a race for the middle spots (about $300 more a month from baseline) and SC is still cheapest – in large part due to such things as SC’s low real estate and gasoline taxes. If I add travel costs to see my kids into the spreadsheet, the gap narrows even more.

    Ultimately, the cost spread between my current options probably won’t keep me from moving where I want at the end of the day. On the other hand, pulling together the cost info is helping me to feel more informed about what I’m getting into whenever I move, and did give me an excuse to drop FL as I try to narrow my list.

    Before I make a final decision, I will also follow my own advice and get updated elder law advice from a lawyer in each state. For ex., when I lived in PA I learned that PA is a state in which adult children may be legally responsible for the costs of care of their parents (Medicaid recovery program). While I don’t plan to burn through my assets and end up in a nursing home on Medicaid, this is something that I will consider. If I’m going to be informed about my possible car insurance bill and electric bill or whether the public library has enough books, I also want to get input on estate and elder law issues in that state to avoid really unpleasant suprises down the road.

    by Kate . — March 30, 2017

  22. Hello….I’ve not seen any comments regarding Kentucky……..We moved to Lexington, Ky from Seattle, and we know no one here except our realtor. However, people are friendly, the sun is frequently out, food is cheaper and there’s a lot to engage us when we have the energy. Real estate is cheap, book stores are plentiful, and traffic a dream, after Seattle. Winters are fairly mild, and there are many shopping areas is that’s for you…….the scenery around here is beautiful, and there’s so much to do. A fabulous farmers’ market on Saturdays, with smaller ones in various neighborhoods during the week. Check it out!

    by Jay kastel — March 30, 2017

  23. Jay, sounds like you found a great place to live!

    by Louise — March 30, 2017

  24. Don’t forget about Tyler Texas – voted one of the top 20 cities to retire in the United States. Located 14 miles from Lake Palestine (26,000 acre lake) and Eagle’s Bluff Country Club & Community [one of your advertisers].

    We are in the medical capital of east Texas, along with 2 colleges, culture, antiques, fantastic restaurants, attractions, the Rose Festival and more.

    by Jay — March 30, 2017

  25. Katherine,

    Thanks for review on Meridian. We have relatives who live in there.
    Nice area. Was on our list of possible retirements places.
    Saw the numerous days of very cold weather this year and have
    Reservations about that area now… Lifelong SF Bay Area resident
    Not sure if I could handle that cold (call me wimpy, lol)

    How is the area quality? I read reports of poor air/congestion.

    Mike

    by Mike — March 30, 2017

  26. Joanne,
    Will have to check out Green valley when we
    Do our Arizona scouting trip this spring…

    Out 1st spot to lookout will be Prescott.

    by Mike — March 30, 2017

  27. Joanne, you must have been living in a place more expensive than we live in: San Antonio. Go to Sperling Cost of Living. Green Valley is 3% more expensive than San Antonio. Like you we lived in Wisconsin and got out as soon as we retired. Traveled and researched several years and ended up here in a Del Webb. Still go to Wisconsin for the summer. Still thrilled with the decision we made. Have even researched the cost of being in a nursing home. It is far more expensive in Wisconsin than in San Antonio. Guess you could say I am a compulsive researcher.

    by Susan — March 30, 2017

  28. Mike,
    My only concern about moving here were the Winters having lived all my life in California. I decided that if that was the only thing keeping from moving here, I would take a chance. Having never lived where it snowed, I enjoyed the beauty of it all. Everyone told me that in the Winter, you may get an inch or two but the sun comes out and melts it away. Well, this year was the biggest snow that this area received in the past 30 years. I would bundle up, get in my car and head to the store. I survived. There is a large mall in Boise where one can shop and be warm. I didn’t mind it at all.
    You are in the Bay area? Let me tell you, the first thing you would notice is that traffic flows here, even in the commute hours. The roads are smooth and drivers are for the most part courteous. My pastor is from SF and even sports a Jerry Rice jersey during football season. Just ran into a lady from Los Gatos today and I would say most Californians I met are from Southern Cal.
    I was told about the “inversion layer” during January but didn’t notice it. I have heard that the air quality isn’t good but I haven’t had a problem with the air here.
    The biggest thing I noticed is the cost of living is so much lower. My auto registration was $161 for two years. The utilities are lower and gas prices (check gasbuddy.com ) are significantly lower than in California. If you sold your home in the Bay area and bought here, you would have money left over if you would want to go to Arizona during the Winter. Best decision we ever made.
    One other note is that because of the drier air (altitude 2700′) the heat and cold are more tolerable.

    by Katherine — March 30, 2017

  29. Has anyone actually retired to the St. Mary’s , GA area? Hoping to go down to take a look at Osprey Cove.

    by Roberta — March 31, 2017

  30. Roberta
    Try using the search bar to search St Mary’s to find articles and blog topics. You can also check out the forum and post questions there. Also check out the retirement guide for Georgia for more information.
    Hope this helps!!

    by Moderator Flo — March 31, 2017

  31. I never thought I’d ever consider moving this far north, but one of my kids is a health care provider at the Cleveland Clinic and is encouraging me to consider suburbs of Cleveland as a retirement destination. Now another in health care may accept a job there, so there’s even more pressure to consider moving to OH.

    I know there’s fantastic medical care (top US News rated hospital), museums, great food, sports, reasonable real estate taxes, lake activities, good airport, churches, festivals, etc. I’ve even been told that all that snow is really pretty (I’ve lived in Pittsburgh, so I have an idea of the weather). Anyone from Cleveland who can give me their thoughts on retirement there?

    by Kate . — April 1, 2017

  32. We have a small apartment in Cleveland Heights–not for full-time retirement, but to visit our son and family who live in Cleveland. We LOVE the city. We are cultural people, and the ease of visiting such a wide variety of museums, orchestra, and tons of other concerts, as well as Botanical Gardens, etc. is so much easier than Boston or NY. That being said, there is always “lake effect snow” during the winter which people seem to take as a way of life. The 1-3 inches is sometimes cleaned up fast, sometimes not, but except for a larger storm, doesn’t seem to affect people’s everyday life. I wouldn’t say it’s “pretty” unless you are in the suburbs, at least 30 minutes outside of Cleveland.

    There are a myriad of volunteer activities, great shopping (Ohio city West Side Market and Mitchell’s Ice Cream are two examples), and plenty of sports. Except for the Northeast weather, I wouldn’t mind retiring there permanently. In the interest of fairness, we are there about 2-4 weeks at a time 3-5 times throughout the year, although we just bought a snowbird home in Sarasota and will be spending most of our winters there.

    Be aware of taxes–many towns are extremely high, although you do get a lot of services. And although cheaper than New England, where we’re from, it’s not as cheap as Florida.

    by Wendy — April 1, 2017

  33. Kate,

    Cleveland is a wonderful retirement area if you don’t mind the grey skies and cold winters. Culturally Cleveland has a lot to offer and the park system is the best in the Nation.
    Great museums sports and athletic venues abound.

    The Cleveland suburbs are very nice but they change from time to time. Aurora Ohio is a very nice suburb. Strongsville is also.

    Ethnically I miss the great diversity of foods available in the Downtown and close in suburbs.

    by Ron — April 1, 2017

  34. Who makes these lists? Polar bears? Too cold all of them! This is just ridiculous.

    by Craig — April 1, 2017

  35. Yes – I agree. I wish they divided the country into the four regions and applied the analysis.

    by JoannL — April 2, 2017

  36. Thanks Wendy and Ron. With two kids putting down roots in the area (funny, one kid just put an offer on a house in Strongsville!), I will add it to my list. I might consider not using my whole housing budget for a place in Ohio though, and maybe also getting a tiny condo in the Carolinas or FL to escape, if the cold gets to be too much for me. I have to keep reminding myself that retirement can have several phases, and that I can have a plan for ages 66-76 and another plan for ages 76-ashes.

    by Kate . — April 2, 2017

  37. I look at these “best places for retirement” lists as mainly food for thought. As long as the methodology is explained, we can judge for ourselves whether we would enjoy living in the places listed. Weather is a big factor for many, but I think statistics would show that a large majority of people who live in colder areas stay there in retirement. It’s a matter of weighing all factors, family and financial resources often being at the top. So show me a variety of these “best” lists. They’re quite interesting and helpful, even If I personally don’t agree with all their picks. To each his (or her) own! The topretirements blog and comments give us the opportunity to hear other people’s thoughts, especially those who may have first-hand experience. I appreciate that.

    by Clyde — April 2, 2017

  38. I definitely want to be able to see the criteria that the developers of these lists use. How do they weight the various factors. Even my husband and I cannot agree on criteria. Those of us looking for a place to move would vary considerably in how we weight various factors. And we would likely weight them differently at different ages. One of the problems that I see with lists is that they adversely affect the real estate market. Greenville, South Carolina, a perennial on these kinds of lists, has become a target for “flippers” who push up the housing prices. I’m beginning to think that I should have as one of my criteria, “not on any ‘best places’ list”.

    by Lynn — April 2, 2017

  39. Lynn – We have an active “flipping” industry in Beaufort County as well. A house here on Dataw Island just went on the market for $159,000 and was scooped up in just a few days. Since it is three properties away from my house, I am delighted to see that is being upgraded and spruced up! It will help my property value! Without the flippers, run-down eyesores would sit on the market for years – believe me, we have a few of those as well! I suggest that you connect with a realtor who is NOT in the flipping business, as many realtors are. Realtors have knowledge of what is about to hit the market and you may be lucky enough to get in there and find a true gem before the flippers pounce! By the way, I love Greenville – we discovered this beautiful little city during the hurricane last year! Sorry – this is not about the mid-west, but flippers are everywhere and will impact the “best” places to retire!

    by SandyZ — April 3, 2017

  40. I’m looking for a different retirement. I have dogs and horses, looking for a retirement property where I can ride with others. Want rural, but not too far from amenities. Many of the articles here talk about city life. Any suggestions on articles about retiring rural?

    by Jan — April 7, 2017

  41. I retired from rural Louisiana (a home & guest house on 30 acres) to downtown Lawrence, KS ten months ago. I am currently in remission from cancer. My husband is traveling back & forth until our business in Louisiana sells. WE LOVE IT HERE! He is 64 and I am 58. Our health insurance is $800 a month cheaper. Homeowners & auto insurance are cheaper. Property tax is more expensive. We are extremely happy with all of our healthcare providers. We can walk to the farmers market, museums, and wonderful restaurants & shops. We have season tickets to college sports. Kansas City is just 35 miles away. We enjoy the hilly terrain, it keeps us in shape, and love having four seasons.

    by Barbara — April 11, 2017

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