Which cities are best for “aging in place”?

We read a lot about “aging in place” and there’s no doubt it’s a hot topic for SuperAgers. A survey from Today’s Homeowner, reported here, indicates that 89% of Americans over age 55 wish to age in place. Much of the coverage of this topic deals with how to modify your home to enhance your ability to stay there. We have considerable material on this in our book, including checklists to help to the current state of your home and determine what changes may be required.

But aging in place can be a function of more than just the home itself. What about the wider community? Are some cities better than others for aging in place?

Today’s Homeowner developed a rating system that analyzed 13 metrics, grouped under three main categories:Finances, Health and Safety, and Community.

Under Finances, they looked at average housing costs, average grocery costs, median retirement income for people 65+, and capital gains tax.

Under Health and Safety, they considered number of health care establishments per 10,000 people; number of home health and personal care aides per 1,000 people; percentage of home that are one story; average snowfall, and climate risk (calculating risk across 18 different types of natural disasters).

Under Community, they looked at the percentage of seniors living in the area; how walkable the city is; entertainment establishments per 10,000 people, and restaurants per 10,000 people.

The results had some surprises. While retirement hotspots like Florida and Arizona might have been expected to top the charts, no Arizona city made the top 30, while only two Florida cities (Ft. Lauderdale at #6 and Cape Coral at #18). Both states suffered from having high housing costs compared to income and higher risks for natural disasters.

Another possible surprise: despite the region having the highest percentage of seniors, no New England community made the top 30. Negative factors in this region included high housing costs relative to income, and the low percentage (21%) of single-story homes.

Who came out on top? Here are the top 10:

1. Corpus Christi, TX (pictured)

2. Spokane, WA

3. St. Louis, MO

4. Pittsburgh, PA

5. Amarillo, TX

6. Ft. Lauderdale, FL

7. Springfield, MO

8. Little Rock, AR

9. Chattanooga, TN

10. Akron, OH

Of course, any rating system like this depends on the criteria being used, and there will be other analytical frameworks, using other priorities, that will produce different lists of “winners” and “losers.”

What’s important is the value in making the lens wider, and considering “community” as vital in the first place. “Aging in place” definitely must go beyond the four walls of your home.

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