Florida and Arizona were once the go to places for retirees. Now an entirely new crop of cities and suburbs are transforming themselves in an effort to lure baby boomers.
Selected by Kiplinger as the number one "Best City for the Next Decade," Austin, known as the live music capital of the world, prides itself on its culture and quirkiness. The city has been listed as one of the 10 best bicycling communities in the country and has many public golf courses, according to TopRetirements.com.
Austin is also home to the fastest growing "pre-senior" (aged 55-64) population in the country, having increased 110 percent over the past 10 years. Many of the retirees take classes through the University of Texas at Austin's Continuing Education program, and the thriving university system is a primary reason baby boomers decide to relocate. The university system is the engine that drives the cultural offerings of the community, including museums, galleries, open air markets and multiple performing arts theaters. Austin is not only vibrant, but inexpensive. It has a low cost of living, no state income tax and its cost of housing is 15 percent below the national average.
For retirees looking for a quiet and cool place to settle down, Austin may not be your ideal. The summers are hot and humid, and with a population of more than 650,000 the city is fairly large and fast-paced.
Atlanta rose in prominence thanks to the 1996 Summer Olympics and since then has been attracting many retirees looking for an international city that's not overwhelming. The city is home to numerous colleges including Georgia Tech and Emory, as well as multiple professional sports teams. Culturally, Atlanta has the museums and performing arts offerings one would expect from a major city.
One of the major selling points for the city is price. Atlanta and its suburbs offer a wide variety of communities and pricing options. It also has a fairly low cost of living. The downside to the city besides its summer heat and humidity, is its growth. Atlanta is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and as the population increases so does the amount of traffic and crime.
Portland is renowned for its unique downtown areas, great public transportation and beautiful scenery. According to TopRetirements.com, the climate is ideal for gardening, and outdoor activities like skiing and hiking are never more than a short trip away. The city has 227 parks and more than 250 miles of bike lanes and paths. Portland also bosts robust cultural offerings. The city made American Style's list of 25 best Big City Arts Destinations and is home to more than 75 art organizations.
The major complaint about Portland is the weather. On average, the city receives about 150 days of rain a year.
While many Bostonians complain about the hills, the winters and the cost of living, for some there is just something about the city they don't want to leave. Others are drawn to the Mecca of American history, even though they concede the city gets harder to live in as they get older.
To help ease the difficulties, Beacon Hill Village was started by Susan McWhinney-Morse to support aging residents of the city. For an annual fee, anyone 50 or older can become a member and receive a variety of services that include personal training, field trips and rides to appointments.
Like Boston, the winters may be frigid, but retirees who call Milwaukee their home say they wouldn't have it any other way. They rave about the many ethnic neighborhoods, including German, Polish and Italian, and the dozens of festivals that take place throughout the year.
The city of Milwaukee has worked to maintain its appeal by building a river-walk system and by trying to make the city pedestrian-friendly. The city also operates five fitness centers where older adults can work out for free. For many Milwaukee is a cost effective alternative to Chicago.
The city in the land of 10,000 lakes has almost 400,00 residents and a downtown that is covered so people can walk for blocks inside, avoiding Minnesota's brutal winter weather.
It is also the location of Golden Girl Homes, a nonprofit organization that offers divorced, widowed or never married women resources to help them find another woman to live with. Golden Girls does not match women, but rather offers networking events and listings.
|Santa Fe, New Mexico|
Santa Fe is a cultural destination at the perfect altitude. It is known for its art and music, and at 7,000 feet its climate is fairly moderate year-round. The city offers breathtaking views and has a rich Indian and Spanish history.
It is also home to more than 300 art galleries and more than a dozen museums, according to TopRetirements.com. Georgia O'Keefe lived and worked in Santa Fe, and today the Georgia O'Keefe museum is located in the city that inspired her.
With a population of a little over 70,000, Santa Fe has become a sought after retirement destination and its popularity has caused housing prices to be relatively high.