That’s where realtor.com®’s data team comes in. We figured out the best metros for middle-agers who may just be starting to slow down—or, now that the kids are gone, just starting to rev up. “Our current generation of boomers don’t want to do those for-old people things,” says Jana Lynott, senior policy adviser on livable communities for AARP. “We encourage [people to consider] neighborhoods where you can walk to a variety of services you access on a daily basis, like banks, public transportation, shopping, restaurants.”
To determine the best places to age in place, we took the 300 largest metros and evaluated them for affordability and health services, and then made sure these were locations people would really want to spend their golden years. To ensure geographic diversity, we limited the list to one per state. Here are our final criteria:
- Number of homes already adapted for seniors, looking at realtor.com listings with keywords like “universal design,” “ground-floor master suite,” “senior-friendly,” and “no-step entry”
- Percentage of residents older than 65*
- Low cost of living*
- Number of home health aides per senior*
- Number of hospitals per capita*
- Number of senior centers per capita*
- Number of singles 55 and up*
- Number of sunny days*
- Number of golf courses per capita*
One shocker: Florida did not come out on top. Miami—once known as “God’s Waiting Room,” for its preponderance of elderly residents—ranked only as the 113th best U.S. city to age in place. The very worst to age in place is Burlington, VT. But we didn’t make access to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream one of our criteria. Our bad.
Want to know more? Put on the designer spectacles and keep reading.
1. Florence, SC
Median home list price: $165,200
Michael Miller, head of Florence’s Chamber of Commerce, concedes that this city was once known as the “Denture Capital of the World.” But don’t be put off: This has become a lively and diverse place. Since 2010, the city has been hard at work on redeveloping its downtown area, which now boasts an $18 million library and a new art, science, and history museum—just the thing for folks with increasing amounts of time on their hands.
The area is also a regional medical hub, with one of the nation’s highest concentrations of hospitals and home health aides. And more than 22,000 of its housing units have been designed or modified to accommodate older residents. This may be why several of local Realtor® Laraine Stevens‘ clients in their 50s have relocated to the area from the oh-so-much-more-expensive Northeast. More of her buyers are seeking single-story homes or residences with ground-floor master suites.
“The cost of living is very affordable, and our taxes are lower compared to bigger cities,” says Stevens, of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. “You have a more temperate climate. You’re not fighting the snow and the blizzards.”
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