In order to become a retirement destination, a city needs a few key things: nice weather, great entertainment, and a sense of community. A select few have managed to get it right. Need proof? Almost a quarter of these eight cities’ populations are made up of senior citizens. Ready to see what U.S. cities are the most densely populated with retirees? Here’s a look at eight U.S. cities that are getting the retirement lifestyle right.
1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Forbes ranks Pittsburgh as the oldest city in America, where 23.6 percent of the metro area’s population is over 60. The biggest reason this city’s so old? Migration deficits. The city has only lost about 2 percent of its population to other places over the past decade, and ranks second to last in the number of immigrants it has attracted from abroad.
A Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement report ranks the city as the third best city for seniors. “The city’s seniors enjoy a satisfying spiritual life, with numerous places of worship and a large number of congregants. Scoring high in many livability rankings, the city also boasts a solid transportation network of buses and a light rail system,” according to the report.
2. Palm Bay, Florida
Palm Bay has a metro population of 543,376 and 20.2 percent of its population is comprised of residents who are over 65, per Kiplinger. This area has seen an increase in its senior population as of late, which is likely a result of Florida’s lack of a state income tax, in addition to its taxes per capita falling well below the national average.
The area offers 29 parks and 10 golf courses in the surrounding county. Seniors can also enjoy the sun and sand on any of the nine nearby beaches (like Fort Myers, pictured above.) According to Kiplinger, Port Canaveral, a short drive from Palm Bay, is the second busiest cruise port in the world. Still looking for a reason to head to beautiful Palm Bay? Its average temperature is a balmy 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Surprise, Arizona
With a population of 117,517, this city has 22,327 people who are 65 and older — 19 percent of the population. How’d this come to be such a retirement hotspot? Early on, there were several retirement neighborhoods developed that drew in a steady stream of seniors, according to MSN Money. Since then, the area has continued to be a popular senior settlement.
The city is packed with “housing and recreational amenities all along the income spectrum, which has broadened the base of retirees,” Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott says to MSN Money.
A fun fact about Surprise: The city has adapted to its retiree population by allowing golf carts to be driven on surface streets that have speed limits lower than 35 miles per hour. There’s also a Senior Idol program, based on American Idol, where seniors can dance, sing or perform comedy sketches before a panel of judges. It’s no surprise (get it?) this city is popular.
4. Hialeah, Florida
Hialeah has a population of 224,669. Of those, 42,864, or 19.1 percent, are 65 and older. It’s just eight miles northwest of downtown Miami, ensuring that on-the-go retirees have plenty to do.
MSN Money writes that city officials have worked to keep up with the bustling senior population by building adult centers, which offer daily lunches and group activities. South Florida also provides great healthcare; Weston has its own Cleveland Clinic branch and Hialeah Hospital opened a new senior care emergency room a few years ago.
5. Scottsdale, Arizona
In 2010, this city had the highest percentage of people 65 and older among places with 100,000 or more people at 20 percent, compared to the national average of 13 percent. CNN writes that its population of 223,500 is comprised of 43 percent of people over the age of 50.
“Scottsdale, like much of Arizona, has attracted a large number of older migrants from other parts of the country,” Victor Agadjanian, director of the Center for Population Dynamics at Arizona State University, said to U.S. News & World Report.
Curious about what there is to do there? The city’s only 20 minutes away from downtown Phoenix, making it an easy drive for a day trip. On Thursday nights, galleries and studios are open for ArtWalk, a free event that lets residents admire the city’s beautiful art.
6. Buffalo, New York
In 2010, Buffalo’s population consisted of 21.6 percent who were 60 and older, according to Forbes. Additionally, Nerd Wallet gave it a place on its Best Places for Baby Boomers list, saying the city’s affordability and public transportation make it a great place for baby boomers to settle.
The city also offers many cultural attractions, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Burchfield Penney Art Center. The Buffalo News writes that the Sportsmen’s Tavern, Allen Street Hardware, and the Colored Musicians Club are also great places for the city’s mature residents to visit. Retirees can also take advantage of events and audit classes at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, Canisius College, and several other colleges, per The Buffalo News.
7. Hot Springs, Arkansas
You’ll find that 20.8 percent of Hot Springs’ population is made up of senior citizens, according to Business Insider. The high senior population is partially attributed to the city’s inexpensive cost of living. It’s nearly 16 percent below the U.S. average, and the median home price sits at around $100,000, per MarketWatch.
Of course, with all great retirement communities, there is always plenty to do, and Hot Springs is no exception. It has a great historic district that protects the thermal waters and the historic buildings that sit on Bathhouse Row. Top Retirements writes that there are plenty of great restaurants, great art galleries, and fun community festivals that help seniors stay busy.
8. Clearwater, Florida
Of the city’s 107,685 residents, 19.8 percent, which translates to 21,330 people, are 65 and older. What’s so appealing about Clearwater? This Gulf-front barrier island is a little piece of paradise. Its selling point? It’s the beaches that wow most people. In fact, USA Today writes that the Clearwater Beach is one of the best in the country.
The area also has a strong sense of community, and it offers residents a plethora of locally owned restaurants and stores to enjoy. There are also plenty of cultural offerings, such as the Clearwater Public Art and Design Program, in addition to Capitol Royalty Theatre.