Best Cities for Successful Retirement Living: The 2014 Update

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

December 15, 2014 — Most “best places to retire” lists are highly subjective and based on somebody’s personal opinions. Some others use a certain set of criteria, such as crime, climate, health care availability, etc. Another example is the annual “100 Best” lists at Topretirements, which are based on popularity – the city reviews on our site that were read most.

But there is at least “Best Places” list that truly is almost completely objective and data driven – the “Best Cities for Successful Aging” from the Milken Institute. Although you might not like all of its choices (in fact the reader comments to our 2012 version of Best Cities generated more than a few “you’ve got to be kidding” remarks), it is so fact based that it is hard to criticize objectively. The Milken Institute, which developed the list, is a West Coast think tank dedicated to the idea of encouraging cities to champion a new model of healthy, productive, and purposeful aging for their residents. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AARP, and the Transamerica Institute provided support and ideas for the project.
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The Milken Institute came up with 2 different lists for its Best Cities for Successful Aging Index – Best Large Metros and Best Small Metros. There are 100 “best” metros on each list, and additional facts about each top 20 list. There are separate lists for people 65-79 and 80+, since there needs are different.

Criteria Used
To develop the highest ranked cities Anusuya Chatterjee and Jaque King, the authors of the study at Milken, sorted the Metros on 8 major criteria below. Their goal was to identify the places where the living is easy for people 65+. Note that climate is not one of the considerations:

General indicators
Health care
Wellness
Living arrangements
Transportation/convenience
Financial well-being
Employment/education
Community engagement

Each of the eight sub-components is comprised of multiple individual indicators — 84 individual indicators in all (the 2012 report used 78). The Institute’s overall objective was to recognize and help seniors be safe, affordable, happy, healthy, financially secure, respected and fulfilled, and have access to the living arrangements, mobility, and transportation that suit their needs. They even go so far as to encourage mayors of U.S. cities to sign a pledge of their commitment to make their cities work for older residents (such as housing options, health care, safe streets, transportation, etc.), and provide opportunities for them to work in volunteer and paid positions, along with training. Finally, the Milliken report provides a review of some of the leading initiatives that are helping retirees live happy and productive lives.

Observations
1. Not so many in the Sun Belt. Many of the “best” choices are towns in states that many people will not want to live in, e.g.; Iowa, Massachusetts. These metros might be great on all these 86 indicators, but they flunk the weather and location test. Others are undoubtedly very nice, like New York and Honolulu, but are very expensive.

2. Data driven. We applaud the Milken Institute for their data-driven approach to finding a great place to retire and age. Unlike most “best” lists, this one is not subjective. They are also a non-profit, so sales of magazines and ad space is not driving the list.

3. Categories of aging. One of the very nice aspects of the Milken study is that it differentiates aging into categories – early aging (65-), and older (80+). We like that because our priorities change as we age, particularly when it comes to transportation, healthcare, and activities. We have excerpted the early aging rankings in this article, since that reflects our audience better.

4. Each attribute is ranked by city. The best news here is that you can customize your own list – because the ranks and scores for each attribute are included. So if, in an extreme example, you are concerned about soda consumption under the “health care” attribute, you can weed out towns where sweet tooths are too acute.

5. These lists are important. We fully expect that many of our members will quickly dismiss these lists on the basis of high taxes, cold weather, or other reasons. Being close to family is a good reason to choose a place. But we urge you to use this list as as stimulus to think a little more deeply. Our opinion is that too many of us retire thinking that we are never going to age. Whatever age we have in our head as our self-image, it won’t change. But that is not realistic. Thinking ahead to the future might not be pleasant, but it is smart to consider. Availability of medical care, public transportation, employment possibilities, convenient shopping, appropriate housing, recreation – our needs and use of all of these factors is going to change over time. So the best plan is to try to find a place to retire that can meet those needs for the long term. Low taxes and a warm climate are nice, but they are not everything if you can’t get your most basic needs satisfied.

The Milken Rankings
The Institute ranked the top 100 metros for both small and large cities. Here are the top 10 in each (overall), with a few notes from the report about each one. See their full report for all of the top 100, along with more detailed notes.

Top 10 Large Metros for people aged 65-79:
Five of the top 10 best metros for young aging are in what we would consider the Sun Belt (Utah(2), Hawaii, Mississippi, and Texas).
1. Madison, WI. Plus: Great health care, education, culture, recreation. Minus: Pricey housing.

2. Provo-Orem, UT. Plus: Healthy lifestyle, public safety. Minus: Cost of housing.

3. Omaha/Council Bluffs, NE/IA. Plus: Work opportunities, convenient living. Minus: Safety risks and unhealthy behavior.

4. Boston, MA. Plus: Health, culture, transportation. Minus: Cost of living, “big city blues”.

5. Salt Lake City, UT. Plus: Healthy economy, health care, healthy lifestyles. Minus: Housing for 65+, public transport.

6. Honolulu, HI. Plus: Favorable economy, healthy lifestyle. Minus: Pricey.

7. Des Moines, IA. Plus: Available health care, cultural opportunities. Minus: Lack of medical specialties for older folks.

8. Jackson, MS. Plus: Availability of health care, easy living. Minus: Quality of health care.

9. Austin-Round Rock, TX. Plus: Robust economy, a happy place. Minus: Health care infrastructure for older residents.

10. New York, NY. Plus: Transportation, culture, easy access, health care. Minus: High cost of living.

Top 10 small metros for people 65-79:
One obvious drawback of this list is that 9 out of the 10 cities are in cold parts of the country like Iowa, South Dakota. Although the ice fishing is generally good, winter golf and boating are tough in these places. Midland, Tex was the only Sunbelt winner.

1. Iowa City, IA. Plus: Outstanding health care system, healthy lifestyles, high public transport ridership. Minus: High tax structure

2. Sioux Falls, SD. Plus: Good health care, community involvement, robust economy. Minus: Low public transport ridership, home health care

3. Columbia, MO. Plus: Abundance of health care professionals, University of Missouri, expanding and strong economy. Minus: Community engagement, income disparity.

4. Bismark, ND. Plus: Booming economy unemployment is 2%, quality and efficient healthcare. Minus: Housing shortage, low public transport ridership, seniors have access issues.

5. Ithaca, NY. Plus: Plenty of fitness centers, low obesity, low unemployment. Minus: High costs, and low volunteerism.

6. Ames, IA. Plus: Highest public transport ridership, strong economy and learning environment, very safe. Minus: Home health care options.

7. Cheyenne, WY. Plus: Strengthening economy. Minus: Unhealthy behaviors, lack of services.

8. Rapid City, SD. Robust economy and low 65+ unemployment, recreation, culture. Minus: Long distances for shopping, too much fast food.

9. Midland, TX. Plus: Strong employment for 65+, good healthcare, affordable lifestyle. Minus: Too few transport options, health care.

10. Ann Arbor, MI. Plus: Good health care and smart lifestyles, good use of transport. Minus: Sticker shock on housing, income inequality.

What do you think? Has the Milken Institute developed a list that works for you? Or are some our your top priorities neglected. Let us all know in the Comment section below.

For further reading:
Our report on the 2012 Milken Report

Posted by Admin on December 16th, 2014

87 Comments »

  1. I think the best place to retire is where your heart is. My family and friends are in the northern suburbs of Chicago. We have fabulous Lake Michigan and a big city with lots to do (culture,education and entertainment) and great healthcare.
    Active Adult Communities get it right but there are not enough of them and they can be too pricey for many of us. To sell a house, dispose of 50 years of stuff and move is overwhelming and then to take a chance and start over in a different state is not acceptable. I know many friends and family who have done it and regret the decision. No place is “perfect”. But, familiarity, tolerance and consistency to me are key. It is fine to think you can be objective but in the end it is always subjective.

    by Linda — December 17, 2014

  2. I’ve looked at this list in depth (I work at a Gerontology Institute, so have to!), and so just want to provide a comment about #5 on best small cities: Ithaca, NY. It’s true, there are a lot of things there that would help with aging — our county Office for the Aging is just superb, and there are a LOT of services in the city. That said, however, the combination of steep hills WITH the many months of snow and ice do make it precarious for footing, and I myself would rather live somewhere flatter if I’m going to put up with winter. The main problem (and noted in the report) is cost — especially housing costs. Very few housing options for older people who may still wish to own but don’t want regular housing — few condos, those available are overpriced and (unbelievably) most are at least 2 stories — not a place to age in place. And in spite of efforts to try to attract more cluster housing developers, they’re not interested. The student housing market is so strong that rentals trump condos. So, again, it really depends on how much money you have, and what your own loves and priorities are. I know enough about the aging process that when I can retire it will be to a place with more elder housing available, lower cost of living, and better medical options. Thanks to topretirements.com, however, for bringing attention to this very thorough report. It’s great data!

    by Paula — December 17, 2014

  3. So I looked at this list and would only even consider one of the twenty as viable (Austin…although even that is tenuous as we found it expensive). For each of the rest there are one or more aspects that make the place a “no go” for consideration as a retirement haven; mostly it is cost or weather. Some of these listed would be ok if one has the resources or interest in being a snowbird. However, the snowbird picks aren’t balanced out with a winter choice (e.g.: If you spend your summers in Wisconsin or Michigan, where would you go for your winter?)

    by Lynn — December 17, 2014

  4. This comment came in from Steve:

    List of cities where all the residents are:
    – polite
    – happy
    – smiling
    – friendly
    – courteous

    If I could find a place (large or small) with those types of people, I wouldn’t care about medical facilities, cost of living, weather, etc.

    by Admin — December 17, 2014

  5. Steve, I cannot judge how happy my fellow residents of Las Cruces, NM are, but almost everyone I run into is polite, smiling, friendly, and courteous. Of course if you exhibit those traits yourself it is likely many others will respond in kind wherever you are.

    by Barb — December 17, 2014

  6. Several years ago we retired and relocated to Brewton, Alabama. Brewton is a small town in what the residents call LA (Lower Alabama), approximately eight to ten miles north of the Florida state line. For retirees Brewton is wonderful. Pros: Very low taxes, good, inexpensive housing, within forty-five minutes of malls/shopping in Pace/Pensacola, Fl., a country club community with a Jerry Pate designed golf course (very reasonable dues), great climate, fine people (they welcome Yankees), churches of all denominations, award winning hospital and medical care. Con: twenty to thirty minutes to Interstate 65. If you are thinking of retiring we suggest you look into this fine community. PS. We are not in any way associated with the city or county, we just like it here.

    by Bill — December 17, 2014

  7. This list is for the birds(badly behaving birds). If climate is mot the criteria, which is the most important factor for seniors, then I can show you a log more places that sre far better than these. How about Iceland? Not lusted here.
    Oahu is pricey only when it comes to housing and all tefrigerated items coming from mainland otherwise it is pretty reasonable. Also you get what you pay for applies here.
    What could elderly people do in sub-zero temperatures that can last for six months, in places listed above? Staying indoors for half of the year is very bad for health.

    As a senior citizen, I can tell you that good, warm, sunny weather is THE MOST important thing.

    Thank you.

    Dinyar Dalal

    by Dinyar — December 17, 2014

  8. well, lists are lists and someone or something is always going to come out on top.

    That said, with the possible exception of Austin, none of these cities interest me as a place to move in retirement. Either the winter weather sucks, they are too expensive — Honolulu and NYC, really? and I live in Seattle! — or they are out in the middle of friggin’ nowhere!

    So, taking the written report at face value, it isn’t very useful to me for the reasons above. Ultimately we all have personal reasons for picking the places we live and this list is just another data point. So while I don’t place much value in the top 10 cities listed here or on the written report, there is a lot of data on the Milken Institute website for all of the cities on this list (250 cities for both large and small metro areas) that can be used to compare cities that I might be interested in if I want to drill down further after using sites like topretirements.com.

    Here’s the link for the entire report – http://successfulaging.milkeninstitute.org/

    by Chris — December 17, 2014

  9. Reply to Steve – the people of Boise, Idaho are polite, happy, smiling, friendly, and courteous. If you ask where something is located in a store, they won’t just say asile 11, but they will actually take you there to the product. Ayoung girl backed into my car in a parking lot and panicked leaving the scene. Two people went to the trouble following her, getting her license plate number and coming back to leaving a note on my car to let me know who backed into me. They also left a phone number so I could give the police a witness contact.

    by Kathy — December 17, 2014

  10. By the very fact that the authors have chosen to include some factors and exclude other (important) factors like climate, the results become subjective.

    by Ron M — December 17, 2014

  11. 100% agree that the BEST place to retire is where your heart is. Am recent retiree, recently turned “the Big 62”, and am happily taking the “early” SS. While climate certainly is an important factor, it isn’t always everything. My wife and I live in sunny San Diego, but our retirement hearts are in the Keystone State, where we’re happily looking forward to retiring. Pass the shoo fly pie!

    by David — December 17, 2014

  12. If it’s covered in snow and ice in the winter, I’m not going to live there in the winter no matter how great. We will be snowbirds for as long as we can afford it. We live in a Twin Cities suburb, which I think is fabulous six months of the year. But winters can be so brutal, one becomes a shut-in for the other 4-6 months. I think it’s life-extending to get out of here.

    by Toeser — December 17, 2014

  13. last report i read about jackson mississippi was very scary. rape was a very serious problem in that city. not sure i would ever use any of these cities on your list. the list does not fit my common sense list.

    by davefh — December 17, 2014

  14. After searching for 3 years in Florida, Colorado and southern Missouri we have found the beautiful Hill Country of Texas at Kerrville, to be most desirable in all criteria.

    by Claudia Richner — December 17, 2014

  15. I live just outside of Tucson now, which is a great place to live – and the benefit for us in the summer is that visitors are pretty much somewhere else, and we have a quiet city! Hot, but it’s much easier to live with the heat than somewhere with harsh winters.

    And here it is again, climate. I would like the above list to group cities by climate (cold winters; hot summers; rainy; humid; dry; etc.) so that climate would be included, but not as a variable. I think it would be a much better list then, since some people want a warmer climate, while others a colder climate, but we still want to compare different locations by other factors. Climate may be involved in other indicators (public safety, transportation. financial stability, wellness, etc.), so not including it negates the usefulness of this study to me.

    by Elaine — December 17, 2014

  16. Give me where we live, Asheville, NC! Lived the first half of my life in WI – no thanks to those long winters! Climate here is perfect, people friendly, great hospital system, and gorgeous surroundings in the Blue Ridge Mts. Our kids grew up here and stayed, so the most important thing is, our family is nearby!

    by Sonja — December 17, 2014

  17. We moved from South Florida to Columbia, SC–been here for 1 year plus. It has an SEC university, affordable housing, beautiful countryside, change of season without extreme cold, polite people (who don’t get off on the Kardashians), the State capitol, Fort Jackson military base, and fine dining in several parts of the metropolitan area, tax
    breaks for >65 yrs-old., and several excellent hospitals.
    Otherwise it’s horrible. Get a condo in Florida; it’s nice and warm, the people are rude and own more BMWs per capita
    than here.

    by Richard Garfield — December 17, 2014

  18. I have a friend who describes those 80+ as “seriously old” which I thought amusing!

    For a place where the people are polite, happy, smiling, friendly and courteous, the Grand Valley in Colorado comes close! When I first moved here, I had to get used to people waving and saying hello, even if I never saw them before! Culture shock.

    Could you provide the $$ and climate info for each of these cities?
    When I consider other places to retire, I have to prioritize my own requirements first.
    What are the most important criteria? And which things will I put up with or adapt to.

    Try to mentally design the ideal place for yourself and your situation. Then prioritize.
    Then you will be able to see which places match you the best.

    by Lulu — December 17, 2014

  19. Every issue has a different list with different “best” places. C’mon, give us a break.

    by Lan Sluder — December 17, 2014

  20. John, I’ve been around data analysis for a long time and understand how Milken might have reached their conclusions. That said, I wouldn’t retire to any of these areas. Too expensive, cold or land locked. At least the list helped me confirm where I don’t want to be. As I inch up on retirement I think finding the right retirement destination will be like looking for our next, perfect job. Read, Network and Visit. We’re building our lists, checking them twice and determining which areas (for us) are naughty or nice :).

    by Dave — December 17, 2014

  21. Wow, what an unappealing, goofy list. how many of us that read this website are looking for “pricey housing”? some of the pluses, minuses are plain silly.

    by joan — December 17, 2014

  22. Editor’s note: We warned you guys that not everyone would like this list! But we are always happy to get your honest comments.

    Gosh Lan, sorry to disappoint. We are all ears for your suggestions for future articles. Jan, we’ll have to disagree about the pluses and minuses being “silly”. As for “pricey housing”, I agree, nobody probably starts looking for that. But there is a great variety of kinds of people who visit this site. Some have amazing resources, some have very little. The people who can afford it want to live in a nice place, and that usually means spending to get there. We try to publish information to help everyone, that’s why we publish so many “affordable lists” too.

    by Admin — December 17, 2014

  23. I love this site it’s so full of information. I agree that climate is important as well as family. I’m happy where I am but I can’t find an adult community that could draw me away from here.
    My biggest problem, regardless of where I look, is the size of the homes offered in many of the nicer retirement communities. As a single woman I find many too big and expensive. I think the builders are missing out on an entire segment of the aging population by ignoring the single woman.

    by Ann — December 18, 2014

  24. Ann,
    I agree. Although i’m not single, i still don’t want a huge house to keep clean, heat, cool, decorate, etc. I’d love to see beautiful medium sized homes with tasteful architectural details available. Also, fewer bathrooms! Talk about not wanting to spend my retirement cleaning!!!

    by ella — December 18, 2014

  25. Lulu,
    You may want to check out Sperlings Best Places for the info. you’re looking for. Best to you!

    by ella — December 18, 2014

  26. Those northern cities better have GREAT medical care to handle all of the broken hips in older folks falling on the icy walks! Just picking up the mail would be an agility test! No thanks -already deal with 6 months of winter and we can not wait to escape permanently!

    by SandyZ — December 18, 2014

  27. Ann, Couldn’t agree more with your comment about housing for single woman. We usually live longer than men yet our needs don’t seem to be addressed by builders. Such as affordability, we only have one income! Would also be nice to have more trustworthy maintenance options available on site. Not just grass cutting and snow removal. DEVELOPERS/BUILDERS OF ACTIVE ADULT COMMUNITIES ARE YOU LISTENING?

    by Linda — December 18, 2014

  28. I need some information on CA ; does anyone know about Laguna Woods or the surrounding area in Orange county? Just returned from a month renting in Laguna Woods CA. to visit my two children who moved to CA in the last few years (my husband has a brother near by also) We are both born & raised in NY and have been Florida snow birds for the past 4 years. However we have no family in FL. so we have decided to check out CA. There doesn’t seem to be much info on this web site for CA except that it is expensive, which we know but I feel the need to be near family. I think LW has a lot to offer even though it is a much older development, the maintenance is also high ($550. + taxes) but I hear they’re working on that? Any ideas would be appreciated.

    by virginia — December 18, 2014

  29. Seems to me that quite a few folks are acting like their feelings are hurt over this list. A good place to retire is any place that meets the retiree’s needs and interests within budget. Problem solved. Janet

    by Janet — December 18, 2014

  30. Re Cheyenne, what does unhealthy behaviors mean?
    Thanks,
    Sam

    by Sam — December 18, 2014

  31. Ouch! Waaay too many numbers. The weights are inconsistent, e.g., “healthcare” is more important overall than it is to either of the subgroups.

    I don’t agree with many of the categories, e.g., most of “general” belongs elsewhere.

    I don’t agree with the specific metrics, e.g., I don’t think that “cost of living” is only real estate.

    And then there are all of the overall results, that many have suggested are crazy.

    Maybe there should be a metric for “% of retired people who are ‘sunbirds'”.

    by Stephen — December 18, 2014

  32. Virginia– my wife (CA native) and I live in San Diego area, and I’ve worked in Orange county area, including near Laguna area. Southern CA, like anywhere, has pluses and minuses. Some pluses are warm climate, low humidity, no mosquitoes, lots of beaches, and access to quality medical care. Negatives include high housing cost, heavy traffic congestion (especially in Orange County…and getting worse!), population explosion, smog, and little traditional “seasons”. As for the surfing life and the beaches, been there done that, and now ready to move on (to a place where the lakes freeze cold enough for my hockey skates!….We can always snowbird in sunny Palm Desert if we want to!). Done the “California thing”, and now–having retired–ready to move on to “greener”, less expensive, and less stressful pastures. (See my 12/17 comment, above). If warm climate is your main criteria, go for it! Overall, the BEST place to retire is where your heart is!

    by David — December 18, 2014

  33. I’m still trying to find a place. This is much harder than expected.

    by john hickey — December 18, 2014

  34. The biggest problem with data-based lists is that people don’t (and shouldn’t) make decisions based on data. They make decisions based on emotion, then they select data that will back up their choice.

    That said, the Milken report does contain some useful information. If you’ve narrowed down your list of retirement destination choices to your top few, this information could help you pick one over the other, or alert you to problems or benefits that might not be obvious when your visit.

    In addition to cost of living and climate, here’s another factor that might play significantly into which location is right for you: What do you plan to do with the rest of your life? Does the place you’re considering offer the recreational and cultural amenities you need to enjoy your pursuits?

    For example, if you’re an avid golfer, does a given area offer good golf courses and a climate that will allow you to play for most of the year?

    If you enjoy attending concerts, are the performers that you enjoy likely to stop in your city when they’re on tour? Are there local performers who can deliver concerts that you’ll want to attend?

    My parents chose to remain in Springfield, Ohio, the city in which they spent most of their adult lives and in which I was born and raised. I would never want to retire there, but for my mother it was a perfect choice. She was a talented artist. Springfield has an impressive art museum for a city of its size, and it offers art classes and member art shows. This was perfect for my mother. Larger cities with more prestigious, high-profile art museums probably don’t provide such a meaningful outlet for local talent.

    I enjoy hiking, so Phoenix is a great choice for me. There’s unlimited hiking in all kinds of terrains and temperature zones within two hours of home.

    Dave Hughes
    retirefabulously.com

    by Dave Hughes — December 18, 2014

  35. I lived in Newport Beach, which is near Laguna. Laguna woods is older and a bit expensive! For me I could not take the congestion there, after living in California for 15 years I decided to move for a better quality of life. I do visit when I want my beach fix in the summer! Works for me!

    by Loralee — December 19, 2014

  36. I think you need to find out what seniors think is the most important and have “weighted” ratins.

    by allan — December 20, 2014

  37. To Virginia~My husband and I retired 18 months ago and moved from a Chicago suburb to Seal Beach CA (“Mayberry by the Sea”) which is just north of Laguna Woods. We moved here to be near his kids and we are paying an outrageous rental fee. My aunt lives in Laguna Woods and loves it but she bought 25 years ago. She told me the board recently agreed to allow rentals because the HOA fees are so high that places weren’t selling. As a renter, you don’t pay the HOA fees there. If being near family is important and you’re wealthy, it’s worth considering. I’m sure there are many other senior living places in Orange County. Leisure World in Seal Beach is loved by many and considered “affordable,” but it didn’t appeal to us and we are leaving CA. Can’t take the horrific traffic, the very rude drivers, and can’t afford the terribly high cost of living. We will miss the glorious weather, but that’s all.

    by Peg — December 20, 2014

  38. I have lived in the Los Angeles metro area 57 out of my 64 years. You pay dearly for a climate that is 2nd to none, by enduring the stresses of living here: A extreme high cost of living, and massive traffic congestion. I exercise outside 365 days per year. I have traveled the United States the past 40 years, and I am so well aware of how Southern California compares with the rest of the country. So for me unfortunately, I am addicted to the climate.

    by Bubbajog — December 20, 2014

  39. I grew up outside of Boston, in Arlington, MA. Loved it. Still love it and many family and friends are still there. I’ve been from the East Coast to the West Coast, north and south, however I am retiring in Pittsburgh, PA. It has it all in a small city. Anything to your liking or interest is there. Great medical facilities, education, community involvement, transportation, no state income tax at retirement, cost of living, cost of housing.
    Unfortunately there is no ocean but many rivers, ponds, lake (Erie) and mountains. No mud slides, hurricanes, tornaedo’s, though occasional flash flooding. It’s a Norman Rockwell bubble that has not yet really been found out.

    by Judith — December 20, 2014

  40. Loralee,

    Where did you move? I am thinking of moving somewhere with no traffic but warmer climate!

    by Raman — December 21, 2014

  41. Need input please. I now live in Port Charlotte in SW Florida. I have been looking for a 55 community in Florida where I can find a house with a great water view that is not right on top of your neighbor.. I have looked in Sun City Center FL and Valencia Lakes; but can’t find a house that meets my criteria. Can anyone give me a suggestion of where else I can look?
    I have Macular Degeneration; and other health issues; so I need to be close to specialists – not too remote.
    I found a few houses in Solivita that looked like the houses were nice; and on great lots. The problem is that I have read that there is a great deal of crime just outside the community – very noisy, not safe. No stores close by. Can anyone confirm this.
    Sorry to be so wordy; but can anyone suggest a 55 community, with water view houses available, in a low crime area in Florida? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Marianne

    by Marianne Marienski — December 22, 2014

  42. I live in and love Boston but the winter is long, gray and cold. Still looking for a ‘warm weather Boston’ and wondering if it exists?

    by Penny — December 22, 2014

  43. Thank you All so much for the responses, I know there are so many other places we can pick but it keeps going back to the ‘kids’ and CA. We also like the fact that there is so much to do in CA compared to FL. I love the beaches in FL for sure and we are water/beach people but there’s not much else unless you have a boat or love to golf? The trip to FL this FEB & March should help us decide, otherwise we’ll just continue traveling to CA & FL from Long Island and continue paying over $8,000. in taxes a year ? Who thought retirement would be so confusing? Don’t get me wrong we are so blessed that we have the opportunity to have choices.

    by Virginia — December 22, 2014

  44. to: Marianne Marienski, The following is an excellent 55+ park In Ormond Beach, Fl = couple miles above Daytona Bch on the East Coast.
    The name is ABERDEEN – again in Ormond Beach. A very nice well kept park with water view and homes on the water edge of ponds. We lived there some years ago. WARNING = Great Park but HIGH LOT RENT. If you call or go there tell “Judy” Bob Gardner told you. No – I don’t rcv any compensation. We would move back there but the lot rent is too high for our budget now. Good Luck

    by Robert — December 23, 2014

  45. BTW = I have recently reconsidered my position with regard to Lot Rents. Depending on the amount of Lot Rent in these 55+ parks and considering what you can purchase a “real nice” mobile home for it’s really not so bad when you realize that you cannot even find a 1 br/1ba decent apartment for the same amount. Yes, you have to put some up front money to purchase a mobile home (55+) BUT if one chooese wisely and doesn’t go overboard ($100,000 for a depreciable mobile home) it won’t be that much. I can purchase a fine (not new) mobile home for around $25,000 (EST) all that additional money for a “stick/block built home” is savings in my pocket to invest or whatever. In Fl there is no RE tax on the mobile home except for the original purchase price of (I think) 6 or 6.5% – one time fee. From then on you pay a yearly vehicle registration fee. Anyhow these are my thoughts and of course their are many other opinion that I am open to hear. Orig my position was lot rent money out the window and mobile homes depreciate which for the most part is true BUT if I get, water, sewer, trash, cable tv, swimming pool and club house activities for $550.00 a month I NOW THINK = GOOD DEAL!! I getting tired of trying to figure all this out anymore/ lol. Going with the 55+/lot rent park as soon as I sell my house in Pa. WHEW – bet ur glad this is over?

    by Robert — December 23, 2014

  46. Robert, I agree with you going the mobile home route. There are some beautiful ones out there and some of these companies will work with you to customize them if you choose to buy a brand new one. My biggest gripe with any of these places when you have to pay HOA’s or lot rental is that they always find a way to get more money out of you with special assessments. All of a sudden the club house needs a new roof, the roads need paving, the pool needs resurfacing. Oh, just force the owners into a special assessment for $1,000 a year for 5 years, no biggie! Maybe renting in a MH park is different and they can’t do that. I am not familiar with special assessments there.

    The amenities you mention are a good deal but I would suggest that others make sure all the amenities you have listed are part of the $550.00 package because my girlfriend pays for cable and I think water. She also has to pay someone mow her postage stamp size lot and shovel snow. There are no club activities that she has mentioned and the pool is usually occupied by tons of children, she is not in a 55 restricted community. She never uses the pool, the club house and the MH’s are very close together. She lives very close to a undesirable family that leaves junk in their yard and are either on drugs or drunk half the time. She has seen grown men out in the yard at 3 am wrestling and using foul language. It is very hard to choose who you live next to and that can be the case in any neighborhood!

    Robert, have you considered buying a small lot? Some lots, depending where they are, might have city sewer and city water. If not, you can have a septic system put in and have a well drilled. I live in a stick built home that we built when we were in our 20’s and drilled a well and put in a septic system for our home. You just have to find out what the town or city allows in regard to putting in a mobile home. If you have a specific area you are interested in, go to a realtor and they should know what property is available and where MH’s can be placed. This is just a suggestion and if you have time while your current home is being sold, this is another avenue you could investigate.

    This is another idea I have been tossing around in my head (scary, LOL). I have seen a few mobile homes with property advertised that have some really ratty run down MH’s on the property that I wouldn’t let livestock live in! So my idea would be to buy the property with the run down MH and tear it down or give it away if someone would take it and put in a new one. If there is an existing septic system and a well or city sewer and water all you’d have to do is hook up! However, I would have a septic expert check out the septic system. Septic systems need to be pumped every two to three years depending on how many people are living in the home. These records should be available from the local sewer commission.

    Good luck in whatever you decide to do!

    by Louise — December 23, 2014

  47. For those interested in purchasing a mobile home, here is a website that you can search by zip code and there are drop down boxes to choose how many bedrooms, bathrooms, 55+ communities or private property. Some listing will tell you what the property rent is and others you have to contact seller.

    https://www.mhvillage.com/Mobile-Homes/Search.php

    by Louise — December 23, 2014

  48. Marianne,
    My cousin lives in Solavita in Kissimmee and loves it; feels like it’s the best move of her life. She has never complained of noise or a lack of safety within the community. Perhaps with a community of that size, you consider it a town and don’t worry about what goes on outside. Hoping you find just what you’re looking for.

    by ella — December 23, 2014

  49. Robert,
    Where did you retire to? 550.00 a month and 25,000 for a mobile home sounds wonderful!! Thank you!

    by Debbie — December 23, 2014

  50. Does anyone have any suggestions for “nice” inexpensive areas in Florida to begin looking for MHParks? I’ve been reading that many areas have become trashy and run down due to so many foreclosures. Looking for coastal areas. We’ve been wanting to move to warmer, SUNNIER climate for some time but didn’t know where to start until I found this blog. Love it and appreciate it being created. We currently live in cold, gloomy northern IL. Thank you for your time! Happy Holidays to you!

    by Debbie — December 23, 2014

  51. To Dave- sorry to be a pest, but what places in Palm Springs would you snow bird to? I didn’t have a chance to visit Palm Springs but I would like to on my next trip to CA. Pease keep us posted on your future visits to new retirement possibilities and I will do the same. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

    by virginia — December 23, 2014

  52. Here is another website for MH Parks http://local.sun-sentinel.com/search/en-US/s/FL-Pompano-Beach/Mobile-Home-Parks you can try other areas. Here are seven located in the Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach area. I personally know that GolfView is a nice (or at least used to be)mobile home park, but the lot rent was $400 15 years ago so no doubt are higher now.

    by EMA — December 23, 2014

  53. To Louise & Debbie – regarding ur suggestions = Been there done all of that and at this time of my life (75 years young) not interested in doing it all over again. That is why we are now fixed on moveing into a 55+ (Only) park. I would advise everyone to go to the State and area that they are considering and really check it out before making a move. We looked at NE TN, Conway, SC and Florida (again) which we lived before and decided after considering all options taxes, weather, etc to relocate back to Florida. One must always check with the park to see what the charges are and what it includes. Ride thru the park. Meet the manager and spend some time there riding around and talking to residents. Get the parks rules and regulations. All lot rents are not the same and HOA fees are different with each park. See how old the park is and the condition of the existing mobile homes, swimming pool and club house. If one does there due diligence you can pretty much determine how things REALLY ARE. Neighborhoods are extremely important you especially do not want to be in a high crime area. As in all areas there are “trailer trash” parks but for the most part FL (IMO) has the best well kept and decent living conditions. I have not found that to be so in other states so BEWARE. I have also concluded that 55+ parks are the best with well kept house and property. It seems like people in our age group come from a different planet in the univers and take pride in their homes and surrounding. Most parks have rules pertaining to your home – just make sure they abice by these rules. I could go on and on about this subject but my fingers are getting tired.

    To Debbie, These types of parks and homes are all over Florida – we are locating in Central Fl – don’t want to go any further South than that because it gets to hot.
    Just remember that mobile home DEPRECIATE AND IMO it doesn’t make sense to buy a real expensive one when you can always improve on a much more affordable one. You can BANK of if you ever want to sell you would be extremely lucky to get exactly what you paid for it. Lifestyle in our retirement age is the purpose not making a profit for a unforseeable future. FINITO – hope this helps someone. – excuse spelling and grammer = “furgitaboutit”

    by Robert — December 24, 2014

  54. Does anyone know of a website with a list of sale prices for manufactured homes? I know realtors have recent “comps” however, I want a long term list of sale prices like you can find at the assessors office for homes that have tax bills. Also if you “google” an address you can find the last sale price for most single family homes but not for manufactured homes.

    by Linda — December 24, 2014

  55. Thank you Robert, appreciate your response and yes it’s helpful! Debbie

    by Debbie — December 24, 2014

  56. Linda, Trulia has a drop down for property type and mobile/ manufactured is listed in the drop down. Not sure how useful it is, but at the bottom of a listing, you find the history of that listing and a list of similar listings.

    by EMA — December 25, 2014

  57. Try Zillow, then put in the zip code, and in the filters just check Manufactured Homes. There’s a nice park in Sebastian where you own the land, HOA are around $54/month. There are 5,000 homes, some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They have over 100 clubs and organizations, 3 pools, a golf course, tennis courts, bocci – pretty much anything you could want. It’s located in zip cod 39276 in FL.

    by Gail — December 25, 2014

  58. Gail, can you provide the name of the Sebastian mobile home park. I have searched for it but what I have come up with doesn’t seem like the right place. The zip code is 32958 rather than 39276 you provided. It’s called Park Place and is a Solstice community. Also, wanted to point out that some of the estimated home insurance prices listed under homes for sale are kind of strange! Several I saw were $67 monthly and another one I saw was $600 monthly? Typo perhaps? If not and are looking at some of these places do your homework!

    by Louise — December 26, 2014

  59. Louise: the park name is Barefoot Bay (barefootbay.net and barefoottattler.com (their newspaper). The zip code is 32976. If you put in that zip code in Zillow, you should get quite a few homes for sale, but you need to remember that there are 5,000 homes in the community. We lived there for two years and, like I said, very friendly people and loads and loads to do if you want to. We were busy almost every day (by choice). They have a nice executive golf course, tennis courts, 3 really nice swimming pools, and large community building where they have many social activities, then, of course, just about every club you can think of. If you log into the newspaper (which comes out once a month), the last 8-10 pages are club news. If we were considering FL, I’d go back there in a heartbeat. You own your land, and the do enforce (nicely) the requirement that you keep your property up.

    by Gail — December 26, 2014

  60. I just noticed, in my first posting about Barefoot Bay, I put in the wrong zip code, but it’s correct in the 2nd posting. So sorry about that.

    by Gail — December 26, 2014

  61. Hi! Anyone familiar with Barefoot Bay FL?

    by Debbie — December 26, 2014

  62. My parents have a home in Barefoot Bay, and we have visited several times. They are snowbirds, so only there January through early April. They really like it there, although my dad has remarked that they have lifted a number of the restrictions in recent years, and there are too many homeowners that don’t take good care of their properties. But the pools and the clubhouse are great, and it’s in a nice location near the intercoastal and the ocean.

    by Kim — December 26, 2014

  63. To Steve:

    You wrote about finding a place where people are polite, happy, smiling, friendly and courteous. I found such a place when I traveled back east from California for a wedding in October. It’s Mystic, Connecticut, just outside New London. Since we have family in the northeast, I inquired of a local realtor where an active couple might want to retire. I told her we’d like to find a compact town with a village atmosphere with shops, restaurants and activities. She pointed me toward Mystic. The morning I went there on my way to Cape Cod. Got to Mystic as the place was waking up. There were lots of walkers, joggers, bike riders, and people milling about having their morning coffee. In all, I must have passed about twenty people as I walked around taking in the scenery of this picturesque harbor town. EVERY single one of them smiled and said “hello” or “good morning.” Where I live in California, I pass by the same people on my morning jog and say hello to them. Not one has ever said hello back. But in Mystic, people said “hello” even before I made eye contact with them. Plus, it’s in a lovely corner of Connecticut that isn’t as expensive as most of the rest of the place.

    As my wife and I consider retirement, finding a place where it’s easy to make friends is probably top on our list. Mystic belongs there.

    by Craig — December 26, 2014

  64. I’ve read many comments on this and other articles about places to retire. I’ve seen several saying, in essence, how important it is to stay near family and others that it is important to move to an area that makes you happy. We have a different situation. We live in Seattle, love the city, have friends, groups that we do charity work with and our jobs (for a year or two more). We love the scenery, the climate and our community. Frankly everything we need is here. There is one problem–our family moved away.
    Our daughter, her husband and our baby grandchild live in Chicago. They love it there. Our daughter runs her own business and her husband is a professional. They wouldn’t want to live anywhere else than in the city (and they are in the city–not in the suburbs).
    So, our problem. Do we move there to be near our only family and in doing so leave our community and friends that we love? Or do we stay here and try to travel often enough to see them but still miss out on their day to day lives? Chicago would not be on our radar for any other reason than the fact they are there. We like the size city we are in and the climate and other factors in the Midwest (I’m originally from the Midwest) are not attractive to us at all.
    Has anyone else faced or are facing this situation? What are you deciding?

    by John M — December 26, 2014

  65. I live in a mobile home park in Tucson AZ. I’m always surprised this website is so eastern-centric. Arizona has many wonderful mobile home communities where you could easily buy a home for $25000 and pay $550 or less monthly.

    by Ginger — December 27, 2014

  66. Thank you Kim, I appreciate the information. There are just SO many places to look I’m overwhelmed with the choices. Pretty sure we want to move to Florida for all of the tax breaks for seniors. Long ago I promised myself that I would one day live by the ocean. It’s now or never. We are not wealthy so it has to be a less expensive but nice, safe area. I saw someone on here refer to a 210,000. house as being reasonable. My idea of reasonable are the homes Robert speaks of at 25,000. Just want a small, safe quiet place where I can enjoy the ocean. That we can afford. And too I don’t care to be in the hottest areas of Florida. Anyway, thank you!

    by Debbie — December 27, 2014

  67. John: My opinion about moving closer to adult children and grandchildren is it can be just ONE consideration, but not the only one. I would have to really like the area, find that there are opportunities for volunteer work, a community with an active social life so that your adult children are not going to be your whole social experience. It sounds as though where you are now is filling many, many of your needs; I would think long and hard before leaving an area that is currently bringing you so much happiness.

    If you moved to Chicago, and your daughter and her family moved, would you be happy there? If the answer is no, I wouldn’t do it. Good luck making the decision, it’s a really tough one. We moved once to be nearer my husband’s only childe (son) and grandchildren, father and son had a falling out, we’ve not seen them or heard from them in 8 years.

    by Gail — December 27, 2014

  68. Craig,
    Concerning MYSTIC, CT – my daughter lives one town over in Westerly, RI and we visit quite a bit. Mostly to take a beautiful walk around the water where beautiful homes are built. As much as i enjoy the area, i need to point out that financially it is a very expensive retirement. The state income taxes and property taxes are high. I haven’t looked for a while; however social security may be taxed, and there may even be an estate tax upon death.
    I don’t want to ruin any dreams for anyone, just want this looked into before plans are made. My best to you, enjoy New England (a great place!)

    by ella — December 27, 2014

  69. John M.
    I am certainly not an expert on what you should do with your family living in Chicago but she is your only child. I am an only child too and it was wonderful being around my parents till they both passed. I have no children and developed a very close relationship with both my parents. I also have a friend who has an only child and when her Mother passed in CT, she moved to Michigan to be closer to her Son. He was in the process of getting married and she knew they planned to have children and she wanted to be closer so she could enjoy them. Now she has two grandbabies and couldn’t be happier. I can’t say she is thrilled to be in Michigan but she made the sacrifice to be close to her Son and Grandchildren and moved away from friends and other family members. If your Daughter lives in the city, maybe you could consider living in a rural area where you might have to drive or take public transportation to get to the city, but you would be closer to your family and be able to enjoy their company and your Grandchild. You can also invite your friends to come out and stay with you and maybe they could reciprocate and invite you to their home so you can spend a few weeks back in your town to visit with friends. There is no right or wrong but you certainly will miss out on family events. Maybe if you saw a real estate agent and explained that you are interested in a nice rural community but close enough to the city they could help you find something you could love! Another thought is maybe you could rent your home for a year and then rent a place in Chicago and get your feet wet. If it is something you can deal with then sell your home in Seattle. If not, you can go back to your home. The real answer is in your heart!

    Also with your charity experience, you would be an asset to a new community! You can always make new friends and you will always have your old friends!

    Talk to your daughter and discuss your feelings.

    by Louise — December 27, 2014

  70. For a reasonable 55+ community in California, I moved to Four Seasons in Beaumont and like it. 1 1/2 hrs to Orange County beaches, 1/2 hr to desert resorts. Less traffic and at 2700 ft it’s cooler.

    by John H — December 27, 2014

  71. Has anyone heard of roomates 4boomers.com. It matches people (55+) with roomates to share expenses and for people who want companionship. It sounds like match.com. I’m a little leery about the whole concept. They are suppose to screen applicants but there are so many ways people can scam other people especially people a little older. My friend thinks it should be wonderful but I’m not so sure. Any feedback on this would be appreciated. Thanks

    by jeb — December 28, 2014

  72. John M

    We grew up in Chicago and would never return. There are certain neighborhoods that are pleasant. These, for the most part, are on the near-north side. It costs a lot to live there and parking and traffic is awful. Public transit isn’t too bad. The rest of the city is big and lacks much in the way of cultural activities. It is such a big city and has so much traffic that if you lived ten miles from your family it would be the equivalent of living fifty miles away any other place. Although there is a goodly amount of public transit, it is time consuming to use and occasionally not safe. A few suburbs have trains that will take you into the city. These suburban areas (west and northwest of the city) serviced by trains are also pretty expensive. Trains are commuter trains so mostly run on the week days. And…then there is the awful weather. Winters are long, cold, and snowy. We still have family in the Chicago suburbs and have found that there are few community services available for senior citizens. The senior center where they live has one activity per month. Everyone needs to be able to drive in the suburbs so that makes it challenging for older folks. If you have a lot of money and don’t mind the cold, this is the place for you.

    by Lynn — December 28, 2014

  73. Admin:

    It seems that after awhile these threads deviate from the topic. Perhaps you could just stop taking new comments after a certain period. I only mention that because my daily email from you is classified by the original topic and yet if I go into the thread, I find that the comments don’t relate to the topic. For example, this is supposed to be on retirement cities.

    by Lynn — December 28, 2014

  74. The topic is “Best Cities…” however, I’m not too sure about how many people want to retire in a city. Most cities are noisy, congested, lack parking, have crime, are dirty and are expensive. I have found that most retirement communities are outside the cities. I’m sure that there are exceptions particularly with smaller cities not in major metro areas. The ideal of walking everywhere for shopping and entertainment is achievable only in a very few places. Just my view.

    by Charlie — December 28, 2014

  75. Oh and something else about living in Chicago. Many people who have infants and toddlers will stay in the city. But…once those children reach school age, than things change. Public schools have problems so many folks will choose to send their children to private schools, if they can afford them, or just move out of the city so that they can send their children to free public schools. Again not a problem if money isn’t an issue.

    by Lynn — December 28, 2014

  76. To John M; I sympathize with you, we live in NY and both our children have moved to CA. Even though its expensive there we are considering the move to be close to them. I think the rental idea mentioned above is a good way to begin, that’s what we’ll be doing in the near future, this way if we don’t liike it we can come home and figure out plan B?? Good Luck
    To John H: thanks I wiill check out Beaumont

    by virginia — December 28, 2014

  77. As you move inland away from the coast; Southern California housing costs drop substantially. And you still have the fantastic weather.

    by Bubbajog — December 28, 2014

  78. Jeb,

    I have heard of roomates4boomers.com. Like anyone else you encounter in life which can even include family or long-term acquaintances, you have to be careful. As people get older they can become more of a target. I like the situation my mother lives in. It is assisted living and she has her own apartment. She is on her own for breakfast and lunch. Dinner for all the tenants is served in the dining room. They have activities everyday so she is not alone. They also take them grocery shopping, retail stores and bank and have a coffee shop in the building if tenants want to have lunch there. I think a better way to go if you are concerned.

    by Janice — December 29, 2014

  79. This article has good information on each states taxation of Social Security and Pensions.

    http://www.cch.com/wbot2014/008retire.asp?fr=print

    by Louise — December 30, 2014

  80. Thanks for posting that,Louise.

    by Caps — December 30, 2014

  81. Hi! So far I haven’t seen any mention of the cost of homeowners insurance in coastal or even inland Florida for one place. I was just looking at this factor and see that the rates can be outrageous. Example in the Tampa area a 900 sq. ft. home can cost you 17,000. a year in coverage. Can this be for real?

    by Debbie — December 30, 2014

  82. Lu Lu, i have lived in the Grand Valley for more than 50 years. i have seen it change for the worst and not the better. although family is here, I do not wish to live here in my retirement days. i always hated having to go over mountains to go anywhere, even to Denver, and when the pollution gets trapped in the valley, it is hard to breathe. The legalizing of marijauna makes it a higher crime area, and gangs prevail. The pluses are the climate and the scenery. I do not find people friendly here, unless i already know them. The friendliest people you will find are in the south, not in the west.

    by Cheryl Coverly — December 31, 2014

  83. They are totally on point with Ann Arbor. I live 40 min west of there, and I truly despise having to ever go there. Yes they have top-notch health care (the only reason I venture that way), but the traffic,the poor road conditions, the sense of entitlement many have, and yes even the cost of eating out make it unattractive to me.
    That said, there are lots of things to do and see, and beautiful parks. You had better like winter, because “baby it’s cold out outside” and snow and ice only add to the road issues they already have.

    by Kim — January 7, 2015

  84. We just bought a townhouse in Punta Gorda Florida, hopefully we made a good choice on a place to retire. Would appreciate comments and thoughts from those who have or are considering Punta Gorda for retirement. We do not plan to spend our summers there, hopefully we can work to fulfill our dream of doing the Great Loop with our boat.

    Ben MO

    by ben monette — February 15, 2015

  85. Friends of mine moved to Punta Gorda many years ago and would not live anywhere else. They are very happy.

    by JoyceR — February 16, 2015

  86. Debbie,
    Insurance in Ocala will run you about 900 a year

    by Alexander — February 16, 2015

  87. Ben,
    What made you choose Punta Gorda? Did you do much research before making your decision? Thanks.

    by Tessa — February 16, 2015

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