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America’s Best Cities for a Healthy (and More Affordable) Retirement

Retirement used to mean heading South to bake in the sun, spending the rest of one’s life playing tennis, golf and shuffleboard. Not anymore! The combination of retiring earlier and living longer means that retirement is increasingly the start of a new phase of life that is anything but sedentary.

This new study from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement and Sperling’s BestPlaces shines a light on the places where retirees are better able to live well and even thrive.

“It’s increasingly apparent that our choice of home is important,” says BestPlaces founder Bert Sperling. “We’re affected by the social structure which surrounds us, and we progressively depend on local resources as we age. These cities provide a great balance between lifestyle and affordability which should be considered by anyone nearing retirement.”

Cities that topped the list had above-average scores for wellness and access to healthcare, as well as high scores for overall life satisfaction and social/emotional support. They also boasted natural beauty and a wealth of outdoor and cultural activities.

The Top 10

  1. Seattle, WA
    While it’s one of the more expensive cities on our list, the Emerald City boasts natural beauty, a moderate climate and a wealth of outdoor and cultural activities — from the nearby Olympic National Park to the recently expanded Seattle Art Museum — all of which make it the ideal locale for active retirees.

  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
    We know. It’s cold. But education and volunteer opportunities abound, and retirees there report high levels of satisfaction and social and emotional support. Not to mention, the Twin Cities’ proximity to the Mayo Clinic puts world-class healthcare within reach.

  3. Denver, CO
    Outdoor adventurers will love the endless opportunities the Rocky Mountains provide. The Mile High City also receives high marks for thriving cultural health, with the epicenter at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, one of the largest centers for the arts in the U.S.

  4. Portland, OR
    The Rose City has long been a hot spot for young people, but many of the attractions and features that make it popular for youth also make it great for retirees. Plus, the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital is nationally ranked in five adult specialties, including oncology and geriatrics.

  5. Hartford, CT
    Hartford boasts one of the most affordable home healthcare industries in our study. The city has one of the highest concentrations of Boomers in the U.S. and some of the highest levels of civic involvement and volunteering.

  6. Omaha, NE
    Omaha’s economic health is strong, with low cost of living, housing prices, unemployment, and crime. Boomers there also report high levels of satisfaction and support.

  7. Baltimore, MD
    Healthcare is one of Baltimore’s specialties, with Johns Hopkins Hospital, Mercy Medical Center and UM Medical Center ranked among the best in the country.

  8. Pittsburgh, PA
    The Steel City is among the most affordable cities on our list. But affordability is not all it offers. Yinzer retirees also enjoy low crime, top cultural institutions (including the Andy Warhol Museum and Pittsburgh Public Theater) and a high concentration of Boomer residents.

  9. Cleveland, OH
    The Cleveland Clinic is among the country’s top hospitals for cardiology, urology, geriatrics, oncology and a dozen other specialties. Clevelanders also enjoy low housing prices and Playhouse Square, one of the nation’s top theater districts.

  10. Salt Lake City, UT
    SLC residents are some of the most physically healthy in our study, with low levels of smoking, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. One of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and surprisingly good public transportation round out this Rocky Mountain paradise.

The Categories

  • The Healthcare category examines the number of physicians and hospitals per capita, hospital ratings based on patient reviews and the affordability of home healthcare.

  • Economy and Affordability includes sales tax, the local unemployment rate, and any taxes on Social Security or pension income. (compare Cost of Living rates)

  • Social considers the size of the current senior population and includes their satisfaction with life, their social and emotional well-being; and the number of four-year colleges, libraries and civic and volunteer opportunities in the area.

  • Wellness includes life expectancy; smoking, obesity and depression rates; and mortality from cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Activities includes opportunities for physical activities such as golf and tennis, 5K’s and marathons, gym memberships, and hiking and walking trails. The availability of cultural activities such as farmers markets and community gardens, museums, symphonies and operas, theater and dance, and zoos and aquariums were also considered.

  • Environment includes the number of sunny days, summer heat index, clean air levels and water measurements, the presence and accessibility of bodies of water, and the number of local and state parks. (compare Climates)

  • Transportation includes public transportation accessibility and the percentage of commuters using mass transit.

  • Crime includes violent crime rate and property crime rate.


America’s Best Cities for a Healthy (and More Affordable) Retirement was commissioned by the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement. It was conducted in April 2015 by the independent research firm Sperling’s Best Places.

The research ranked the 60 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. on a universal set of criteria that are directly or indirectly indicative of health and quality of living, from health and wellness to culture and the environment.

Cities that ranked in the top 15 percent most expensive for cost-of-living index, median housing price and median rental price were removed from consideration for the final overall list.

America’s Best Cities* for a Healthy (and More Affordable) Retirement – Full List

  1. Seattle, Washington
  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Portland, Oregon
  5. Hartford, Connecticut
  6. Omaha, Nebraska
  7. Baltimore, Maryland
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Cleveland, Ohio
  10. Salt Lake City, Utah
  11. Warren, Michigan
  12. Newark, New Jersey
  13. Richmond, Virginia
  14. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  15. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  16. Cincinnati, Ohio
  17. Kansas City, Missouri
  18. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida
  19. Chicago, Illinois
  20. Providence, Rhode Island
  21. St. Louis, Missouri
  22. Tucson, Arizona
  23. Buffalo, New York
  24. Columbus, Ohio
  25. Atlanta, Georgia
  26. Indianapolis, Indiana
  27. Austin, Texas
  28. Dallas, Texas
  29. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  30. Raleigh, North Carolina
  31. Sacramento, California
  32. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  33. New Orleans, Louisiana
  34. Louisville, Kentucky
  35. Orlando, Florida
  36. Nashville, Tennessee
  37. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  38. Miami, Florida
  39. Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
  40. Phoenix, Arizona
  41. San Antonio, Texas
  42. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  43. Charlotte, North Carolina
  44. Houston, Texas
  45. Detroit, Michigan
  46. Las Vegas, Nevada
  47. Riverside, California
  48. Memphis, Tennessee
  49. Nassau County-Suffolk County, New York
  50. San Francisco, California
  51. Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, Maryland
  52. Boston, Massachusetts
  53. San Jose, California
  54. Washington, DC–Arlington, Virginia
  55. Anaheim, California
  56. Oakland, California
  57. San Diego, California
  58. Honolulu, Hawaii
  59. New York, New York
  60. Los Angeles, California

*Includes surrounding metropolitan areas, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, including one or more central cities and the surrounding county or counties (which comprise the suburbs).

About Sperling’s BestPlaces

Bert Sperling has been helping people find their own best place for over 30 years. In a feature article, the New York Times described him simply as “The Guy Who Picks the Best Places to Live.” His clients include major firms such as AARP, USAA, American Heart Association, Intel and McDonald’s. Sperling also has a website which provides tools and resources for two million visitors each month, at www.bestplaces.net.

About the Center for a Secure Retirement

The Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement is the company's research and consumer education program. Its studies and consumer awareness campaigns provide insight and practical advice to help everyday Americans achieve financial security in retirement.

About Bankers Life

Bankers Life focuses on the insurance needs of middle-income Americans who are near or in retirement. The Bankers Life brand is a part of CNO Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: CNO), whose companies provide insurance solutions that help protect the health and retirement needs of working Americans and retirees. There are more than 5,000 Bankers Life insurance agents at over 300 offices across the country. To learn more, visit BankersLife.com.


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