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, each U.S. city has its pros and cons for senior living.
A recent analysis by personal finance website WalletHub compared the “retiree-friendliness” of more than 180 U.S. cities based on 46 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 how each city’s health infrastructure is positioned to handle the coronavirus outbreak.
To no one’s surprise, Florida cities scored high — but one of the nation’s most legendary cold-weather cities snagged the No. 8 spot, and another famously snowy zone landed at No. 10. Here’s a look at the top-ranked towns.
Total score: 56.53 out of 100 points
Ski-haven Denver may not be the first city that jumps to mind when you think of retirees, but Colorado’s capital city handily beat out warmer places such as Tempe, Arizona, and Las Vegas to snare the No. 10 spot.
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.
Like most places in the top 10 for 2020, Denver’s appeal is fairly consistent — it ranked at No. 6 on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best cities for retirees.
9. Jackson, Mississippi
Total score: 56.65 out of 100 points
For a warmer climate than Denver, consider Mississippi’s capital city of Jackson, which didn’t appear in WalletHub’s top 10 in 2019.
If cash is a concern, give Jackson a chance — WalletHub ranked it as No. 5 for affordability out of the more than 180 cities considered. And if you hate crowds, note that historic Jackson has seen one of the steepest population declines in the country over the past decade, as we detail in “The 15 Fastest-Growing Cities in America — and 5 That Shrank.”
Total score: 56.89 out of 100 points
There’s no denying that winter wonderland Minneapolis doesn’t offer the 12 months of sunshine found in the Sun Belt cities on this list. So, for it 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., and San Francisco beat it out in the activities category, snow days and all.
Minneapolis also lands at No. 9 for health care. The world-famous Mayo Clinic — which recently ranked as the best hospital in the nation — is 90 miles away in Rochester.
7. Casper, Wyoming
Total score: 57.13 out of 100 points
Casper, Wyoming, may be the most surprising city on this year’s list, as it’s neither a Sun Belt staple nor a big city such as Denver or Minneapolis. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Casper has fewer than 60,000 residents. But the city ranked No. 6 for quality of life, a category that reflects such factors as air and water quality, and crime rate.
Want to keep on learning in retirement? Casper College made WalletHub’s recent top 10 list for community colleges, as we detail in “The 10 Best Community Colleges by Cost and Quality.”
6. Scottsdale, Arizona
Total score: 57.57 out of 100 points
If you’re OK with triple-digit temperatures all summer long, Scottsdale, Arizona, could be your retirement hot spot. Although the city fell from No. 3 on WalletHub’s 2019 list to No. 6 in 2020, there are plenty of reasons to ponder retirement here.
Scottsdale even came in at No. 1 on a recent Zippia ranking of the 10 best U.S. cities in which to be quarantined, thanks in part to a generous 124.3 acres of parkland per 1,000 people.
5. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Total score: 58.31 out of 100 points
Fort Lauderdale held this same spot on WalletHub’s 2018 list, 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. 15 in that category, and scored high for health care, landing at No. 29 in the category.
Fort Lauderdale is just the first of several Florida cities that made this top 10. It helps that, like Wyoming, Florida is among the few states that have no state income taxes.
Total score: 58.54 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 MLB’s Marlins. Activities? The iconic seaside city came in at No. 6 for things to do, from fishing to art galleries.
And if your health allows you to keep active in retirement, you should know that we recently cited Miami in “The 10 Most Walkable U.S. Cities.”
3. Charleston, South Carolina
Total score: 58.99 out of 100 points
Don’t overlook charming and historic Charleston, South Carolina, when doing your retirement-community math. The city landed at No. 3 on WalletHub’s list, helped by a No. 18 ranking in the activities category, and a No. 29 ranking in the affordability category.
2. Tampa, Florida
Total score: 60.17 out of 100 points
Tampa, Florida, held on to its No. 2 spot in the WalletHub annual analysis for another year. Its activities rank of No. 14 and affordability rank of No. 18 helped it stay where it is.
According to another recent retirement-city analysis — this one from SmartAsset — the tax burden for Tampa senior citizens is just 14.51%, and the senior unemployment rate is 4.1%.
1. Orlando, Florida
Total score: 61.02 out of 100 points
Mickey Mouse has a little place in Orlando, and maybe it would make a mice place for you, too. Just as in 2019, Orlando, home of Walt Disney World, once again topped WalletHub’s list of the top U.S. retirement cities.
Its affordability surely helped, as Orlando came in at No. 6 when such factors as cost of living, taxpayer-friendliness, and the cost of in-home and adult day health care were considered.
Orlando even made Zippia’s recent ranking of the 10 best cities in which to be quarantined, thanks in part to spacious housing options and plenty of takeout dining.
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