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Aging is a big topic in today’s culture. A huge and influential generation—the baby boomers—are reaching retirement age, so the idea of “successful aging” is relevant to many people in the United States. Successful aging is a relatively new concept, popularized during the 1980s, and refers to overall well-being in older age. It reflects the shifting attitudes toward older people and society’s emphasis of the positive aspects of growing older. The Center for Future Aging, part of the Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank, is a leading research center that strives to promote healthy, productive, and purposeful aging. The Center recently released their 2017 report analyzing the best cities in which to successfully age—let’s take a look!

Successful Aging Cities: Qualifications

What components make a city the best for successful aging? The Center included several key criteria: community engagement, general livability, health care, transportation and convenience, education, wellness, living arrangements, and financial security. Using these criteria, the researchers were able to more accurately assess which cities are the best to age in, rather than just using typical criteria like weather or living costs. Researchers took an in-depth look at things like the number of hospital beds, availability of recreation, commute times, volunteer statistics, and much more to narrow down the best cities in America for older people to successfully age.

Successful Aging Cities: The List

After compiling their list of 20 cities, researchers realized that the common thread among all the best metropolitan areas was the presence of higher education. Many cities are college towns and all included have a high percentage of older residents with degrees. Here is the list in full, with summaries of the top ten cities:

  1. Provo-Orem, Utah: A 3-time winner of the number one spot, Provo-Orem is close to five national parks, Brigham Young University, an healthy culture, and high employment across the city
  2. Madison, Wisconsin: This big city is home to the University of Wisconsin and ample medical services, making it a fun and convenient places for seniors to grow older
  3. Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina: There is a bustling economy and plenty of things to do thanks to North Carolina’s Research Triangle (Duke University, NC State, and University of North Carolina).
  4. Salt Lake City, Utah: Two Utah cities break the top five! SLC, as it is known, is a great city for snow bunnies due to its access to mountains—and its access to quick primary care, in case there’s a mishap on the slopes! There is also a low rate of older-adult poverty and a high rate of senior volunteers
  5. Des Moines, Iowa: The low cost of living is a huge draw, as is the large service industry that employs many older workers
  6. Austin-Round Rock, Texas: An excellent city for the crowd who is looking to live a more alternative lifestyle in their older age. Austin boasts a thriving small business climate and short ER waits—two reasons why older adults are electing to move here and help “Keep Austin Weird!”
  7. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska-Iowa: This metropolis spans two states and is home to Warren Buffett’s home and company headquarters. The area’s low poverty, short commutes, and significant funding for older-adult programs are all reasons to check out this Midwestern haven
  8. Jackson, Mississippi: Jackson’s affordable cost of living and civic engagement make it a good choice if you choose to successfully age in the Deep South
  9. BostonCambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire: Despite its high cost of living, the proximity to top universities, quality medical care, and a culture of wellness make the Boston area an excellent choice (if you can withstand the winter weather)
  10. San FranciscoOakland-Hayward, California: Excellent weather, walkable communities, high income levels, and cultural activities all secured the Bay Area a spot in the top ten

The next ten cities round out the top ten:

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey
  2. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado
  3. Toledo, Ohio
  4. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin
  5. Springfield, Massachusetts
  6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
  7. Rochester, New York
  8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
  9. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Virginia
  10. Syracuse, New York

By: Elena McPhillips