Not everyone can retire like the Golden Girls, moving in with a group of sarcastic and sassy buddies in a warm-weather climate. For some, staying close to family and friends is the most affordable and comforting choice.
But if moving is an option, there are pros and cons for senior living in each U.S. city.
A recent analysis by personal finance website WalletHub compared the “retiree-friendliness” of more than 180 U.S. cities based on 48 measures, and then gave each city an overall score out of 100 points.
The analysis examined factors affecting affordability, quality of life and health care — which even included the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
To no one’s surprise, Florida cities scored high — but one of the nation’s most legendary cold-weather cities snagged the No. 5 spot, and another famously snowy zone landed at No. 6. Here’s a look at the top-ranked towns.
Total score: 58.04 out of 100 points
Georgia’s capital city came in at No. 10 on the 2021 list, and this peachy keen town has plenty of what retirees seek. If you want an active retirement with plenty to do, put Atlanta on your list to consider. WalletHub ranked it No. 6 for activities, considering such elements as golf courses, museums, theaters and even bingo halls.
Total score: 58.05 out of 100 points
If Miami was good enough for the Golden Girls’ retirement, maybe it’s just right for you, too.
Beaches and sunshine? You got ‘em. Major league sports? Miami is home to the NFL’s Dolphins, the NBA’s Heat and the MLB’s Marlins. Activities? The iconic seaside city came in at No. 12 for things to do, from fishing to art galleries.
8. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Total score: 58.37 out of 100 points
Fort Lauderdale is a regular on WalletHub’s annual ranking of the best places to retire, and it’s easy to see why. You likely know about the ocean beaches and enviable winter weather. The city also buzzes with activities, coming in at No. 26 in that category, and scored high for health care, landing at No. 35 in the category.
Fort Lauderdale is just one of four Florida cities that made this top 10 — the most of any state. It helps that, like Wyoming, Florida is among the few states that have no state income taxes.
Total score: 58.7 out of 100 points
Dynamic Cincinnati is new to WalletHub’s top 10 this year. The Ohio city may not have the warm weather and beaches of Florida, but it scores in other ways, including the lively atmosphere of a city with multiple major sports teams, including football’s Bengals and baseball’s Reds. It’s no wonder the city scored the No. 3 spot in WalletHub’s activities ranking.
Total score: 59.45 out of 100 points
Ski-haven Colorado’s capital city may not be the first that jumps to mind when you think of retirees, but Denver handily beat out warmer places such as Tempe, Arizona, (No. 14) and Las Vegas (No. 38) to snare the No. 6 spot — moving up from No. 10 in WalletHub’s 2020 survey.
Active retirees will find plenty to do in the Mile High City, which scored big when WalletHub looked at recreational offerings, such as golf courses, fishing facilities, music venues and museums. The city scored the No. 7 spot when ranked for activities.
Total score: 59.98 out of 100 points
There’s no denying that Minneapolis doesn’t offer the 12 months of sunshine found in the Sun Belt cities on this list. So, for that winter wonderland to score this high, you know the City of Lakes has to make up for it in major ways. And so it does: Only Washington, D.C., beat it in the activities category, snow days and all.
Minneapolis also lands at No. 11 for health care. The world-famous Mayo Clinic — which recently ranked as the best hospital in the nation — is in nearby Rochester.
4. Tampa, Florida
Total score: 60.38 out of 100 points
Sunny Tampa, Florida, is a regular in the WalletHub annual analysis. Its No. 8 ranking in the activities category helped it stay where it is. And if your retirement dreams involve a rod and reel, and lazy days waiting for the big one to bite, here’s your new home. To no one’s surprise, Tampa tied with several other cities, including Miami, for first place as far as cities boasting the most fishing facilities per capita.
3. Scottsdale, Arizona
Total score: 60.58 out of 100 points
If you’re OK with triple-digit temperatures all summer long, Scottsdale, Arizona, could be your retirement hot spot. The city jumped up from No. 6 on WalletHub’s 2020 list to No. 3 in 2021, and there are plenty of reasons to ponder retirement here.
And this is far from Scottsdale’s only national recognition. The city also landed at No. 12 on an unrelated list of the most relaxed cities in America in 2021, winning praise for its entertainment options and the physical and financial health of its residents.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
Total score: 61.97 out of 100 points
Don’t overlook charming and historic Charleston, South Carolina, when doing your retirement-community math. The city landed at No. 2 on WalletHub’s 2021 list, helped by a No. 15 ranking in the activities category and a No. 30 ranking in the affordability category.
1. Orlando, Florida
Total score: 61.14 out of 100 points
Mickey Mouse has a little place in Orlando, and maybe that city would make a mice place for you, too. Just as in 2020, Orlando, home of Walt Disney World, once again topped WalletHub’s list of the best U.S. cities for retirees.
Its affordability surely helped, as Orlando came in at No. 13 when such factors as cost of living, taxpayer-friendliness and the cost of in-home and adult day health care were considered.
Of course, it ranked even higher, No. 9, for its wealth of activities.
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