May 5, 2015


Best Urban Places to Retire

One of the biggest decisions in life is choosing where to retire. Many Americans making this decision will consider several factors, such as finding a place with other retirees nearby that’s affordable and has good weather, too.

NerdWallet analyzed the following variables in the 75 largest U.S. cities to find the best urban places to retire:

1.    Presence of fellow retirees: We included the percentage of the population over age 65 in each city to assess if there is a peer group.

2.    Affordability: We included the cost of living index (the average cost of living index is 100 across all U.S. cities) to measure the level of affordability in each city. We also included the average cost of a visit to the doctor’s office and annual cost of in-home services to assess health care and assisted living costs. In-home, or homemaker services, include basic household assistance such as shopping, laundry, personal hygiene and meal preparation that allow older individuals to live in their homes as they age.

3.    Weather: Many seniors prefer to enjoy their retirement in warmer climates, so we incorporated average annual temperatures into our rankings  — the warmer a city, the better.

4.    Walkability: Retirees in urban locations like to have easy access to local sites and services, so we assessed how easy it is to live without a car by looking at the Walk Score of each city.

For more information on affordability in each of these places, check out NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator. For similar studies and more, visit NerdWallet Cities.

1.    Miami, Florida

With nearly 16% of its population over age 65, sunny Miami is our top place for retirees. Seniors can take advantage of the city’s walkable layout and many beaches while enjoying relatively low average doctor and homemaker costs. The Miami area offers several community services for the elderly, such as care planning, home care and a retired and senior volunteer program.

2.    New Orleans, Louisiana

For those who like hot and humid summers, milder winters and a low cost of living, the Big Easy is a good place to consider. Retirees in New Orleans enjoy a rich culture, festivals and great food. The New Orleans Council on Aging provides several resources and amenities for the elderly, such as homemaker services, community service programs and events for seniors.

3.    El Paso, Texas

Compared to other major cities, El Paso boasts a very low cost of living, especially for seniors. The annual cost of in-home homemaker services is lower here than in any other place on our list. Bienvivir Senior Health Services is a community-based program that has helped the elderly live in their own homes for nearly 30 years.

4.    Mesa, Arizona

Mesa is a popular location for retirees — almost 16% of the city’s residents are over 65. With its warm weather, many golf courses and a relatively low cost of living, this Phoenix suburb boasts many characteristics to attract older residents. The City of Mesaand East Valley Adult Resources offer various resources and services to aid local seniors.

5.    Corpus Christi, Texas

Retirees in Corpus Christi enjoy a very affordable lifestyle with the city’s cost of living index at 92.07, which is among the lowest on our list, and the annual cost of homemaker services at a low $33,176. Active seniors can take advantage of local outdoor opportunities such as golfing, boating and fishing.

6.    Tampa, Florida

Florida is a popular state for seniors, and Tampa is among its best cities for retirees thanks to its moderate weather and a low cost of living. The city also boasts museums, performing arts venues, parks and golf courses. Retirees will find a great resource in Seniors in Service, an organization that engages people, especially those 55 and over, in volunteer activities in the community.

7.    Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore offers retirees an urban and highly walkable city, along with the lowest average cost of a doctor’s visit of the top 10 cities on our list. With more than 4,900 acres of parkland, performing arts draws such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and various historical sites, the city provides its residents with many attractions. The Maryland Department of Aging, which is located in Baltimore, protects the rights and quality of life of the elderly throughout the state.

8.    Honolulu, Hawaii

This tourist destination is also a favorite place for retirees — nearly 18% of Honolulu’s population is over 65, the largest percentage of any major city in the country. Although the cost of living is high, the tropical weather, beaches and many attractions help retirees enjoy a relaxed lifestyle. The Aging and Disability Resource Center in Honolulu offers services and assistance to improve quality of life for seniors.

9.    Henderson, Nevada

Henderson has become a home for many retirees as its population of older residents has grown to just under 17%, the second-highest percentage of all 75 cities. The city, about 15 miles southeast of Las Vegas, boasts dozens of hiking trails and is surrounded by mountains. Henderson also has a 6,000-square-foot downtown senior center that features a variety of programs.

10. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is an attractive place for retirees due to its high affordability: it boasts a cost-of-living index of just 84.91, the lowest of any major city in the U.S. The city also has a rich history in culture, music and the arts. The Memphis Park Services’ Senior Centers offer services and activities such as field trips and classes to provide leisure, wellness and educational opportunities for residents 55 and older.


Tips on Selecting a Retirement Community

Today’s boomers are retiring in record numbers and many are challenging a number of popular stereotypes about retirement and aging.

For instance, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, the percentage of active seniors has continuously increased since 1998, and many are seeing the benefits of their activity. A recent report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that adults who lead an active lifestyle live up to 5.5 years longer than those who don’t.

The desire to be more active as they age is also driving many changes in what boomers demand from retirement communities and the menu of amenities that those communities offer.

To help boomers find a community that’s a good fit for a retiree with a more active lifestyle, here are some tips from Equity LifeStyleProperties (ELS), a leading national operator of active-adult communities.

• Consider unconventional sports, such as pickleball or Zumba, both of which are resident favorites at ELS’ ViewPoint community in Mesa, AZ.

• Those looking for something more traditional should ask the property manager if the community offers sports such as tennis, golf or softball.

Social Activities

While the benefits of an active lifestyle are commonly known, the benefits of strong social connections are also valuable. A study published in PLoS Medicine found that social support increases survival by about 50 percent and lack of social support equates to the mortality risk of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

• When searching for a retirement community, look for a range of social activities that will help you stay engaged and that align with your interests.

• Look for ways the community brings residents together. For example, does it host community happy hours? Are there holiday parties and potlucks? How do they create opportunities for residents to interact?

• Think outside the box. Many of today’s retirement communities offer unique social activities such as woodworking, silversmithing and jewelry making, and outdoor group adventures.

Know Your Neighbors

• Good neighbors may be good for your health. A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that having good neighbors and feeling connected to others in the local community may help to curb your heart attack risk.

• Before moving in, talk with current community residents to get a feel for the “personality” of the community and how engaged its members are in offerings and activities.

By fully evaluating potential retirement communities, boomers can go a long way toward finding a community that supports an active and social lifestyle, both now and for years to come.

For more information on ELS’ active-adult communities, visit

Top Publishes List of Best and Worst States for Retirement

The size and growth of the senior population, economic factors and crime were some of the key five categories used to rank Hawaii as the No. 1 and Iowa as the No. 2 states to retire in based on the latest findings from

Weather and life expectancy at age 65 were also considered for the ranking of the best and worst states to retire in 2014, according to recent study, which ranked Alaska at the bottom of the list.

“You might not expect to see Hawaii and Iowa listed side by side,” writes Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for, noting that while Iowa did not excel in any one category, it was well above average in four out of the five. “Its strongest suit was low crime rates, with a combination of low property and violent crime rates placing Iowa in the top 10 nationally in that overall category.”

Top Five States For Retirement:  While Hawaii scored well for its climate, the category in which Hawaii ranked No. 1 out of all 50 states was life expectancy for people at age 65 today.

“There is just something about the place that agrees with people,” Barrington says. “One caution is that Hawaii has the highest cost of living of all 50 states, but it does somewhat offset that by having the lowest property taxes as a percentage of property value.”

Rounding out the list of the top five states to retire in are Idaho, Florida and Vermont, respectively.

Florida is a shoe-in for most retiring Americans, boasting the highest percentage of its population age 65 or older of any state.

“Obviously, the climate is also a plus, but choose your neighborhood carefully,” Barrington warns. “Florida is one of the 10 worst states for crime.”

Worst Five States For Retirement: While some might assume Alaska’s ranking as the worst state to retire is attributed to its cold climate, it’s actually the state’s economy and low population of those 65 and older that catapults the state to last place.

“Alaska has a high cost of living and a weak job market — a bad combination,” Barrington says. “But those are just some of the problems, as Alaska ranked below average in every category in this study.”

Alaska is preceded by Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois and Nevada, respectively, as the worst five states to retire.

And, the combination of a weak job market and high property taxes put Illinois in the bottom 10 for economic factors.

“If you are wondering how the job market affects people who are retired, keep in mind that more and more older Americans are taking part-time jobs these days, plus living in an economically disadvantaged area is unpleasant whether you are looking for work or not,” Barrington says.

Overall, he adds, retirees live in states that both rate as the best and worst for seniors.

“And no doubt many of them enjoy life there,” he says. “However, if you are considering relocating, the above may just give you a timely warning about what to look out for before you settle on one of these states.”

For access to the 50-state list click here.


New Book Looks at Age Friendly Housing Options

Investing for a Lifetime is designed to make saving and investing understandable to the investor. Wharton Professor Richard C. Marston, 2014 recipient of the Investment Management Consultants Association’s  prestigious Matthew R. McArthur Award,  guides an investor through the main investment decisions throughout a lifetime.

Investing for a Lifetime shows:

  • how younger investors can set savings goals
  • how both younger and older investors can choose investment portfolios to achieve these goals
  • how investors can sustain spending once reaching retirement.

Younger and older investors alike should understand savings goals that will provide enough income to sustain spending in retirement.   They should devise rates of saving that allow them to reach their goals by the time of retirement.  Though retirement is often the main goal of investing, it’s not the only one.  Marston discusses how funding a child’s education or saving for a down payment for a home affects overall saving.

Sensible investing is also necessary for savings goals to be realized.  Investing need not be complicated, but Marston explains that a diversified portfolio should include a mix of different types of U.S. stocks, foreign stocks, real estate as well as bonds. He describes each of these asset classes and shows how they fit in an investor’s portfolio.  He shows how investors can monitor the performance of their portfolios by establishing benchmarks for each asset class to judge how well their investments are doing.

The 272-page book, published in June, costs about $37.00 (hard cover) and is available at most booksellers.


Apps Especially for Retirees

Many smartphone applications can be particularly useful to retirees with time to manage their lives and pursuits. The apps listed below can help keep track of finances, plan trips and generally make life in retirement a little easier.

TRAVEL Perhaps the most appealing thing about retirement is the freedom to travel. The best travel apps simplify the logistics and planning that go into any major trip. Free to download and use, Skyscanner easily searches for and books flights. The app is so intuitive that you should beware if you have a quick trigger finger: It’s tempting to reserve a cheap flight to Tokyo without thinking twice about it. Skyscanner’s customizable searches are also useful. If you’re simply not up for a long layover or flying after midnight, the app can take those conditions into consideration when picking the best flights.

If you are traveling domestically, check out Localeur once you arrive at your destination. Available in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Austin, Tex., and other United States cities, Localeur provides recommendations from locals about where to go and what to do while in their city. Multiple suggestions are often compiled by a single user (“the tastiest fried chicken in Atlanta,” etc.) so once you have determined that you like someone’s taste, you can continue to return to that person’s favorite places.

Another similar useful service comes in the self-explanatory Big Keyboard. The app makes it easier to see which letters you have just typed on the iOS touch screen.

FINANCE One of the main concerns of retirement is managing your finances. Betterment offers customizable plans for investing in index and exchange-traded funds. The app does not aggressively push customers to take risks, instead providing responsive advice and guidance. While some may consider apps an unsafe way to deal with financial planning and savings, Betterment’s professionalism and ease of use go a long way toward soothing those fears. There is a fee, however. Betterment charges 0.15 to 0.35 percent of the money it manages annually.

BRAIN TRAINING – Some doubts have been cast on the efficacy of brain-training services like Lumosity, which offer entertaining little games under the premise that they keep the mind sharp. But some apps are meant to teach you something specific. Brainscape is a platform for digital flashcards that can help you learn subjects as diverse as Spanish, basic physics and bartending. It’s easy to use, whether you have a moment to relax during a commute or you’re settling down for a longer period of study.

Duolingo does not have Brainscape’s wide range of subjects, but it, too, is a good way to study on a foreign language. Though neither app will grant you fluency, either should at least give you the confidence to greet your hosts in Italian on your next trip to Rome (which, of course, you will have booked through Skyscanner.)

AARP –provides a suite of apps to retirees or those approaching retirement, many of them quite useful. The flagship app (which is listed in the app store simply as AARP) is full of news, tips and ephemera that will be of interest to baby boomers — last week, the app featured an article on Bob Dylan’s career, along with others on caregivers and Americans who refuse to retire.

The Member Discounts app alerts you to deals available based on your AARP membership status. You might be shocked by how much money you can save just by living to a certain age — in which case, the Member Discounts app is a good wake-up call.


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