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Best US Cities for Seniors 2011

Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement recently commissioned a survey of the Best U.S. Cities for Seniors. Conducted by research firm Sperling’s Best Places, the July 2011 study ranked 50 cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas on a universal set of criteria, from transportation and housing to healthcare and the environment.

To determine the rankings, Sperling’s Best Places assembled and reviewed independent data from existing city and state government records, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Medical Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medicare databases and a number of other verified sources.

Top 25 U.S. Cities for Seniors 2011
  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Pittsburgh, PA
  4. Cleveland, OH
  5. Denver, CO
  6. Milwaukee, WI
  7. San Francisco, CA
  8. Portland, OR
  9. Kansas City, MO
  10. Newark, NJ
  11. Nassau-Suffolk Cty, NY
  12. Philadelphia, PA
  13. Edison, NJ
  14. St. Louis, MO
  15. Baltimore, MD
  16. Oklahoma City, OK
  17. Salt Lake City, UT
  18. Providence, RI
  19. Seattle, WA
  20. Indianapolis, IN
  21. Cincinnati, OH
  22. Columbus, OH
  23. Washington, DC
  24. Austin, TX
  25. Chicago, IL

Criteria

In order to rank the 50 metropolitan areas in terms of their suitability for seniors, we examined data in nine categories that are key to seniors’ quality of life: healthcare, transportation, housing, social, environment, economy, health and longevity, spiritual life and crime.

High scores in these areas correlate with cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas that offer places to live that are conducive to senior living and healthy aging. Ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, categories that have a greater impact on seniors are more heavily weighted in determining a city’s total score and ranking.

Healthcare (Weight: 10)

Widespread availability of physicians specializing in geriatric issues—such as cardiology, oncology and orthopedics—is critical to supporting a senior population. The study also examined the number of hospitals per capita and their ratings based on patient reviews, the number of nursing homes per capita and their ratings, and the presence of continuing care retirement communities.

#1 metro for healthcare: Indianapolis, IN

Economy (Weight: 8)

This category presents a snapshot of the region’s economic health, taking into account everything from average consumer prices and sales tax to the local unemployment rate.

#1 metro for economy: Pittsburgh, PA

Health and Longevity (Weight: 8)

In the category of health and longevity, the study looked at depression rates and mortality from cancer and heart disease in addition to life expectancy at birth and at age 85.

#1 metro for health and longevity: San Jose, CA

Social (Weight: 8)

A satisfying social life depends on numerous factors, from the existence of a sizeable peer group to recreational opportunities. The study first determined what percentage of the overall population is 65 or older, and then reviewed surveys discussing seniors’ social and emotional well-being and satisfaction with life, along with data on the number of four-year colleges, libraries, restaurants and performing arts venues in the area.

#1 metro for social: Boston, MA

Environment (Weight: 6)

The ability to walk to a nearby lake or state park can ease stress and contribute to both physical and emotional health. In ranking the 50 cities in terms of the environment, we considered multiple factors, including number of sunny days per year, local air and water quality, presence and accessibility of bodies of water, and the number of local and state parks.

#1 metro for environment: San Francisco, CA

Spiritual Life (Weight: 6)

Spirituality is a source of comfort and strength for many seniors. Ranking each city’s spirituality involved computing the number of religious congregations per capita and the percentage of the population with a religious affiliation.

#1 metro for spiritual life: Salt Lake City, UT

Housing (Weight: 5)

Affordable housing plays a large role in determining quality of life. The study weighed indicators such as median home price, property tax rates and rental costs to determine how each city fares in terms of providing housing options for seniors.

#1 metro for housing: Oklahoma City, OK

Transportation (Weight: 5)

Transportation often poses challenges for seniors with limited or dwindling mobility. To rank cities in this category, the study looked at the accessibility of the city’s public transportation system, if one exists, and the percentage of commuters who use mass transit.

#1 metro for transportation: San Francisco, CA

Crime (Weight: 3)

In your senior years, concerns about personal safety shouldn’t intrude on your enjoyment of life. The top-rated cities in terms of crime were ranked the safest metropolitan areas in the nation because they had the lowest rates of property crimes and violent crimes.

#1 metro for low crime: Nassau-Suffolk Cty, NY