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10 Places Where Retirees Enjoy the Best Quality of Life in America

senior woman in field
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Some 4 million Americans will turn 65 in 2024, Yahoo Finance reports. That’s about 12,000 newly minted seniors each day.

Where will they spend their final years?

Finance website WalletHub looked at that question by comparing the retiree-friendliness of 182 American cities. Its researchers analyzed 45 data points, including taxes, cost of living, health care, affordability and more.

Here, we look at the top locations that this research finds have the best quality of life. When awarding points for quality of life, WalletHub looked at such factors as an “elder-friendly” labor market, the share of elders living alone and the share living in poverty. Also considered: crime, transportation, elder abuse protections, air and water quality, the walkability of a community and the weather.

Read on to learn the places with the best quality of life for retirees, ending with the absolute best.

10. Henderson, Nevada

Henderson, Nevada aerial photo
Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com

Henderson has a relaxed vibe, says real estate site Mansion Global. It has the feel of a close, old-fashioned community yet also has the liveliness of the city, according to Molly Hamrick, president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker Premier Realty. And if retirees want even more liveliness, the Las Vegas Strip is not far away.

9. San Diego

San Diego Food Market
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Finance website GoBankingRates agrees that San Diego a retirement mecca. It cautions, however, that prices in the Southern California city might render retirees “warm, tan and flat broke.”

Instead, the site recommends Yucca Valley, east of Los Angeles, as a more affordable alternative. Although, as a smaller community, Yucca Valley may not offer the same amenities that led WalletHub to name San Diego as a top choice for retiree quality of life.

8. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin
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Seniors often enjoy living in college towns for their affordable campus activities and services that can enrich life for retirees.

Madison, home to the 48,000-student flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin, has that and more. Dane County, home to Madison, offers a rich array of senior services meant to help elders stay independent and living in their homes.

A few examples:

  • The county’s elder legal services program helps seniors navigate the welter of legal challenges and government services and programs affecting older people.
  • The county has support and help for family caregivers.
  • There are 28 locations where people 60 and older can socialize and eat a nutritious meal.
  • Transportation services are available for rides to medical appointments, senior centers and dining sites and shopping.

7. San Jose, California

The skyline of San Jose
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Life in San Jose combines the attractions of city life with the charm of mild Northern California weather. The city on the southern end of San Francisco Bay lies between the Diablo Range to the east and the Santa Cruz Mountains and Pacific Ocean to the west. There are plenty of outdoor activities, good food and rich ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity.

It would be a perfect retirement spot except that the high cost of real estate in this Silicon Valley hotspot is a big obstacle, especially for retirees on a limited income. The average home price in San Jose is $1.3 million, according to real estate website Zillow. Sounds high? That’s almost 5% less than a year earlier.

6. Scottsdale, Arizona

Old Town Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Preseason professional baseball makes the life of retirees especially fun in popular Scottsdale, just northwest of Phoenix.

The Cactus League stadiums of the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies offer major league excitement in Scottsdale and the nearby Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

5. Glendale, California

Glendale, California
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If you are considering moving to Glendale, California, for retirement, be certain that you will be able to afford it. The cost of living in this Los Angeles County enclave is 64% higher than the national average, according to Payscale, which compiles compensation information.

Here, the average home price is $1.1 million, Zillow finds.

4. Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland
KhanIM / Shutterstock.com

Columbia, home to the University of Maryland, has an intriguing history. Mall developer, banker and self-made millionaire James Rouse conceived it as a beautiful, perfectly sized city “that fostered economic, racial, and cultural harmony.”

Rouse developed the city in the mid-1960s as a series of villages, each with schools, libraries, hospitals and high-quality, traditionally designed homes and buildings, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Although not all of the idealism survived, today, “Columbia consistently ranks on lists of the best places to live in America,” the magazine notes.

Columbia is located northeast of Washington, D.C., and southwest of Baltimore. The average home price is a very affordable $475,000, according to Zillow.

3. Fremont, California

Fremont, California
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WalletHub’s research ranks Fremont at No. 163 for affordability among all 182 cities studied, making it one of the least affordable places for retirees. For context, No. 182 — the least affordable city in the report — is New York City.

But we are talking here about quality of life, and for that, Fremont, with its population of about 224,000, excels. Fremont is on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay in a corridor known as the East Bay that stretches between San Jose and Oakland.

The Diablo Range of mountains lies just east of the city, offering hiking and natural beauty. And if you enjoy proximity to the big city, then San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco all are within easy reach.

Overall, WalletHub ranks Fremont No. 88 across all metrics, below the middle of all of the cities it considered for retirees.

2. Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii
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WalletHub puts Hawaii’s capital among the cities with the highest cost of living.

Honolulu is world-famous, however, for its wonderful quality of life. (The worst quality of life? This study says that’s in Detroit.)

Most places in Honolulu are within a short walk to a beach, says real estate website Movoto, lauding both the city and state for their relaxed attitude toward just about everything.

Honolulu’s food is varied, good, and influenced by the many cultures here. Cooking at home? You’ll find farmers markets with fresh, local produce. The Bus, the ubiquitous public transportation system, stops frequently in the city and covers most of the island of Oahu.

1. Pearl City, Hawaii

Homes in a residential community near Pearl City, Hawaii
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Pearl City residents have won the lottery for the high quality of life in their town. Located on the north shore of Pearl Harbor, Pearl City is less than 30 minutes by car from Honolulu.

According to Millie, a relocation service catering to military families:

“Being in the center of the island, it’s in a prime position for commuting to any of the island’s military installations. Additionally, the 95 feet of elevation above sea level helps to catch the coveted, cooling breezes from the Windward Side.”

Living here is the absolute best, WalletHub finds. But there are downsides. Although Pearl City is a good place to live, Millie says that the town of about 45,000 can be clogged with commuter traffic.

Before packing up to retire here, consider that, besides the great quality of life, WalletHub finds that Pearl City has one of the highest costs of living among all 182 cities considered. Actually, when it comes to the adjusted cost of living, Pearl City shares the honor of the highest expenses in a five-way tie along with New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and San Jose.

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