Columbus, Ohio in the top 100 cities for Senior living? Yes! Researchers at the Milken Institute looked at eight categories to evaluate the best cities for those aged 65 and over: general indicators, health care, wellness, living arrangements, transportation and convenience, financial well-being, employment and education, and community engagement. The results weren’t all sunshine and beaches! Take a look at the top big-city pick of Provo, Utah, and small city winner Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Not your usual retirement city picks! This is a great article on not only the cities that researchers picked, but important aspects of senior living to consider when you plan your own retirement destination…showing that staying in Columbus may be a great choice for you!
Surprise Results on Best Cities for Seniors
When you think of retirement, what cities pop to mind first?
Des Moines, Iowa?
A new list of top retirement spots offers some surprises.
For one, the usual suspects–those glimmering, sunny cities known for being boomer and senior magnets–don’t rank among the top 10 or even 20 on the list.
In fact, the majority of the top spots require North Face gear and boots during a good part of the year.
More than sunshine:
Such are the findings of a study, Best Cities for Successful Aging, by the Milken Institute, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank, which took a quantitative approach to measure the senior-friendliness of various cities.
Researchers gave cities composite rankings based on eight categories– general indicators, health care, wellness, living arrangements, transportation and convenience, financial well-being, employment and education, and community engagement.
And within those eight categories, researchers examined 78 individual indicators, ranging from the employment future and the number of fast food outlets, to transportation, housing costs, grocery stores, and arts and education.
The report measured both large and small metros and assessed their friendliness for two groups, those aged 65-79 and those in the 80-plus group.
Here are Milken Institute’s top picks for large and small metros.
Among the 100 largest metros:
- Provo, Utah
- Madison, Wis.
- Omaha, Neb.
- Boston, Mass.
- New York, N.Y.
The 259 smaller metros:
- Sioux Falls, S.D.
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Bismarck, N.D.
- Columbia, Mo.
- Rochester, Minn.
What’s the common denominator among top cities? The report says, “… common themes include opportunities to work and volunteer, a learning environment, top-notch health care, an active lifestyle, great connectivity, and easily accessible conveniences.”
Gazing into your future:
Beyond the enjoyment of a quirky top-ten list, the Milken insight could have implications for you, especially if you’re pondering a move to a senior-friendly spot.
When you’re making your decision, think about how a place serves your needs today and how it will serve you over the next 10 or 20 years.
Here are seven considerations.
- Stay put.
If you’d been considering a move and you live in a top spot, maybe it’s worth staying put and further exploring your local options.
For instance, if you like your house, consider upgrading your property with universal design elements, such as ramps, walk-in shower stalls, and grab bars, that will let you age in place.
And if it’s feasible, think about reconfiguring some space to accommodate a relative or caretaker, should you need live-in assistance as you age.
If you’re looking for local contractors who can help with aging-in-place upgrades, see: NAHB Aging In Place.
- Cut operating costs.
The Center for Housing Policy’s study, Housing an Aging Population – Are We Prepared? , finds that housing cost burdens can increase with age, even for those who have paid off their mortgages.
Rising taxes and operating and maintenance costs continue eating up financial resources.
So consider ways to slash that burden.
For example, making energy efficiency upgrades, such as installing a tankless water heater, replacing appliances, and installing new windows, could help you cut energy expenses for the long term.
Small changes outside also could yield savings.
Here’s one simple fix. Eliminate lawn care costs by swapping lawns for ground cover, vegetable gardens, and perennial flower beds.
- Marketing leg-up.
If you live in one of the top retirement cities and you’re thinking about selling your property, be certain that the real estate practitioner you work with knows about the Milken ranking and the positive attributes of your city.
It’s something worth promoting, especially if your real estate practitioner has the SRES® Designation, offered by the Seniors Real Estate Specialist Council , and serves a large pool of baby boomer and senior clients.
The senior-friendliness of your city could give your property a marketing leg-up among such buyers. The Milken site, allows you to view slide shows of top cities, see where your city ranks, and sort the data by what interests you.
- Downsizing in place.
If your house is too big, consider the downsizing options, such as 55-plus communities, in your city.
Total up your big housing-related expenses, such as taxes, utilities, repairs, and insurance, along with the small ones, such as snow removal, lawn care, and the endless little repairs–gutters, sump pumps, water heaters, and so forth.
You may find that downsizing within your city lifts an enormous financial burden and frees up cash for travel or hobbies.
Just be sure to talk with your tax professional to see, for instance, if you’ll be facing any capital gains if you sell a property you’ve held for many years. Also talk with a financial planner to assess the best options for your circumstances.
- Ranking your wishes.
When you’re making your list of must-haves in a retirement venue, look beyond just 350 days of sunshine. After all, how much pool sitting and golf can you do?
Weigh some of the amenities, such as art and culture, health care costs, and economic viability which will have the greatest impact on your life.
And don’t overlook public transportation options. Transit in many towns and cities is iffy or non-existent for aging residents.
Maybe you don’t need a bus today. But if you stop driving at some point, you’ll want the flexibility and freedom to move around and get to activities and appointments.
- Household makeup.
Another consideration is how your household makeup will change with age.
According to the Center for Housing Policy findings, some seven out of ten 65+ men live with spouses, but less than half (42 percent) of older women 65+ do. That means women’s longevity is yet another consideration.
If you’re a woman, will you feel safe and comfortable living alone in your house or the new place you’re considering?
And will you be able to maintain the property, both financially and physically, by yourself?
If you reach a point where you require care and can no longer live alone, what are your assistance options in a given community?
After all, you still want to remain in a city that feels like home and where you have family and social connections and activities that you enjoy.
Look to the Milken study to see how cities score on home health providers and assisted living costs.
Article written by: Elyse Umlauf-Garneau