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Five Best Cities for Baby Boomers and Seniors to Live and Retire

Best cities for seniors and aging boomers serve as models for other communities


Atlanta, Piedmont Park
Giorgio Fochesato/The Image Bank/Getty Images
What are the five best cities in the United States for people in the 50+ age group to live and retire?

According to the annual list published by AARP The Magazine, the five best cities for 2007 are:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Portland, OR
  3. Chandler, AZ
  4. Boston, MA (specifically, Beacon Hill)
  5. Milwaukee, WI

AARP The Magazine, which reaches 22.5 million households and claims to be the world's largest circulation magazine, also named the top four cities to watch: Austin, TX; Burlington, VT; Mankato, MN; and Traverse City, MI.

What Makes the Five Best Cities Great for Boomers and Seniors?
The September/October 2007 issue of the magazine takes an in-depth look at why these cities rank highest on the livability scale and are ideal for older residents. The selections were based on specific criteria for what makes a community livable: new urbanism, smart growth, mixed-use development, and easy-living standards.

"The places we chose are ahead of the curve in providing services for empty nesters, active retirees, and everyone in between and we're thrilled to recognize them for their efforts," said Steve Slon, editor of AARP The Magazine, in a news release. "City living may cost a bit more, but urban communities also deliver peak value in the form of culture, work options, mass transit and fitness opportunities, and this year's selections really cover the spectrum."

50+ Senior Population is Growing Fast
AARP The Magazine's selections of the best cities for baby boomers and seniors focus on livable community characteristics in each location including mass-transit systems so residents can drive less, expanded sidewalks to encourage walking, better health care, and a wide range of mixed-use housing.

These qualities attract members of the 50+ age group, a segment of the U.S. population that spends more than $2.2 trillion on goods and services each year and is expected to expand by 32 percent over the next 15 years.

Cities Prepare for More Senior Residents
With the senior population growing rapidly as baby boomers age, cities nationwide are looking for proven strategies and best practices that can help them prepare to meet the complex needs of older residents—including services, systems and urban design that support healthy aging.

According to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, many communities are not prepared to cope with an aging population and the changes it will bring. Lists of best cities for seniors and baby boomers help to identify communities that can serve as models for other areas facing similar challenges.

AARP's Five Best Cities for Seniors and Baby Boomers in 2007:

  • Atlanta, GA: A sophisticated metropolis with southern charm, Atlanta offers abundant volunteer and cultural opportunities. Older residents don’t care for Atlanta’s sticky-hot summers, but they appreciate the wide range of housing options.

  • Portland, OR: European charm meets environmental nirvana in this environmentally progressive city. Portland’s 50+ residents may not like having 155 days of rain each year, but they love the miles of safe bike lanes and the many charming neighborhoods, including a revitalized Pearl District.

    Portland also tops the list in another survey, 50 Best Cities for Seniors.

  • Chandler, AZ: Gracious desert living combined with an activist twist that encourages residents to get involved with the spirit of the town. Downsides in Chandler include inadequate public transportation that still makes driving a necessity, but plenty of parks and open space provide ample recreation opportunities.

  • Beacon Hill in Boston, MA: This historically genteel part of Boston is full of culture and great restaurants. Seniors complain about Boston’s cold winters and high housing costs, but the Beacon Hill Village provides aging residents with concierge style access to a network of support services, including transportation, healthcare and entertainment.

  • Milwaukee, WI: An example of urban renewal at its best, Milwaukee features picturesque river walks and affordable waterfront living. Older residents don’t like shoveling snow during those long Wisconsin winters, but they applaud innovative programs in Milwaukee that help retirees stay fit for free and age in place.

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