The 10 Best Places to Retire and Age Happily

The 10 Best Places to Retire and Age Happily

Living out a happy, successful life can have a lot to do with your location in the world. So, how do you choose where you want to be?

If you’re like a lot of other retirees, you have plans to move South, or most notably, somewhere in Florida.

But, what if moving later in life isn’t as simple as the weather?

A recent report from Milken Institute evaluated 381 U.S. metropolitan areas to find out where the ideal places to live out your life are.[1]

The study measured the places based on 84 different factors that affect our quality of life the most. A few of these factors are:

  • Education
  • Income
  • Access to health care
  • Food choices
  • Smoking and drinking rates
  • Exercise
  • Safety of housing
  • Pollution

You can get a quick snapshot view of what they found in the map below, and you can also take a closer look at it here.

Best retirement cities

So, what ended up making the top 10?

Let’s dive right in!

#10 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

Best retirement cities

If you aren’t prepared to pay the cost of living here, and you can’t stand a troublesome commute, you should run from San Francisco with bells on.

However, this high-tech area is amazingly strong for the older population. There are lots of transit options, the culture and education options are aplenty, the healthcare system is strong, and the weather is top-notch.

If you want to live by some of the most-talked-about places in the nation, this part of the world is a great place to live out your years.

#9 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Best retirement cities

If you can afford to live here, this New England metro area is fantastic for retirees. The hospitals are world-class, the transit options are plentiful, the neighborhoods are gorgeous to walk through, and many seniors 65 and up work here.

Thanks to Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and MIT, this area is known as one of America’s smartest cities. There is no lack of things to do in this history-rich area, either.

There are gorgeous parks, historical buildings, aquariums, trails, museums, and the list goes on. If you love learning and experiencing new things, this area will guide you through the aging process with ease.

#8 Jackson, MS

Best retirement cities

While Jackson isn’t No. 1 on the list due to a lackluster economy and high rates of obesity, the area is great in terms of lower living costs and a fantastic healthcare system.

This cultural city boasts the Jackson Zoo, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, the Russell C. Davis Planetarium, and loads of interesting parks to visit.

Full of history, Jackson also hosts many senior-specific activities and events, such as line dancing, volunteering, and even senior fashion shows.

#7 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

Best retirement cities

If this area is good enough for Warren Buffett, it’s good for us, right? In all seriousness, this city scored off the charts for cost of living, gerat healthcare, loads of entertainment, and thriving work opportunities.

The area has lots of interesting places to see and explore, such as the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, Harrah’s Casino, Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum, and the Hitchcock Nature Center.

If you have grandkids, this is also a great place to bring them. There are loads of parks and kid-friendly recreational facilities to visit.

#6 Austin-Round Rock, TX

Best retirement cities

If you enjoy music and entertainment, this is the city for you. Home to the South by Southwest music and film festival, this high-tech area is full of entertainment and age diversity.

The city boasts the University of Texas, and there are lots of work opportunities here for older workers. The financial security is strong — it’s no doubt that this fax-friendly area is known to be a great place to live for seniors.

#5 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

Best retirement cities

Even though there’s not very good public transit in this area, there is a lot to make up for it. The funding is strong for older adult programs, which means there are lots of opportunities and events specifically for seniors.

Libraries are all over the city, there are a lot of recreational facilities, and many seniors enjoy volunteering here.

The economy is strong, the healthcare system is scored highly, and the cost of living is a bit lower than many other metro areas.

#4 Salt Lake City, UT

Best retirement cities

If you aren’t scared of the snow, Salt Lake City is a gorgeous place to live. This city continues to lead in the finance and technology industry, and the healthcare here is very strong.

The employment opportunities are diverse, and the older population here is known for their volunteering efforts.

If you’re drawn to snow and you love giving back, this city might be the best place to age happily.

#3 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

Best retirement cities

This city is booming due a recent population growth spurt. The area is home to three state-of-the-art universities — Duke, UNC, and North Carolina State — making it a center of research and growth.

The people here are friendly and diverse, and if you’re looking to continue working as you age, the employment opportunities are vast.

This city ranked No. 1 in the Healthcare category, so you know your health will be in good hands, which is a huge concern for many baby boomers.

#2 Madison, WI

Best retirement cities

Ah, the home of the University of Wisconsin (for better or for worse). Madison is a great place due its exceptional medical services and its highly educated population.

There are a lot of recreational things to do here such as visit the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the Henry Vilas Zoo, and the Wisconsin State Capitol, and if you’re in for it, you can even take the grandkids to the Madison Children’s Museum.

The safety and community is top-notch, and believe it or not, many people in this city walk to work.

#1 Provo-Orem, UT

Best retirement cities

This city is multigenerational, which is perfect for those looking to live in a family environment. The metro area is safe, it’s home to Brigham Young University, and it boasts 5 national parks.

Oh, and we’re not done. It has a very low unemployment rate and is ranked No. 1 among all of the 100 big cities in the Wellness category. Drinking and smoking rates are low.

If you’re looking to live in a peaceful, hospitable, and beautiful place, Provo-Orem might be your best bet.

We don’t know if you noticed, but pretty much all of these cities are college towns. Why would that make a great retirement haven, you ask? Well, these areas are economically sound, and they’re generally full of employment opportunities and great healthcare systems.

However, other studies have come out with “best retirement places,” too, and they make the decision that much more complicated.

For example, check out this state ranking system. Each state is ranked 1-50 from best to worst in 6 major categories:

  • Cost of living
  • Crime rate
  • Community well-being
  • Health care quality
  • Tax rate
  • Weather

You’ll notice that cities that were the best in the previous study aren’t the best in this state study.

In some ways, it’s a complicated decision to make, and in other ways, it’s quite simple.

After all, 95% of seniors stay right where they are.[2]

Whether it's family, nostalgia, or the inability to make a big move, sometimes home is where you want to stay.

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