The most important component of a happy retirement? It's not financial security (although that's nice to have) or proximity to family and friends. It's good health.
With that in mind, we chose retirement destinations that are havens for healthy living, with lots of opportunities to pursue an active lifestyle and great medical facilities. Using data provided by Trulia (opens in new tab), the online real estate marketplace, we identified neighborhoods that have quiet streets, trails, parks, golf courses and other amenities, and easy access to hospitals and pharmacies.
12 Great Places to Retire for Your Good Health
- Naples, Fla.
- Lynchburg, Va.
- Billings, Mont.
- Greensboro, N.C.
- Omaha, Neb.
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Columbus, Ohio
- Austin, Tex.
- St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Augusta, Ga.
Our destinations span the country and range from walkable neighborhoods in big cities to small towns with top-ranked hospitals. Most of our neighborhoods are in cities with good air quality (which is why you don't see any Southern California cities on the list) and low crime rates. And with the exception of Omaha and Billings, all are in states that are tax-friendly or tax-neutral for retirees. Take a look:
The city's growth has been fueled by a torrent of retirees attracted by miles of beaches, gracious homes and giant banyan trees. But you don't have to be retired to like living here. The Naples–Marco Island area was ranked number one in the 2014–15 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index, which measures residents' views about health, financial security, community and sense of purpose. Read more about Naples, Fla..
Lynchburg's natural beauty makes it easy for retirees to stay active. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and overlooking the James River, the City of Seven Hills has more than 18 miles of urban trails for hiking, running and biking. Blackwater Creek Trail, for instance, hugs a creek and passes a waterfall and a historic train tunnel on its way through the city. Lynchburg was named the outstanding runner-friendly community by the Road Runners Club of America in 2011. Read more about Lynchburg, Va.
Billings attracts retirees who enjoy the great outdoors but like their urban amenities, too. You can spend the morning hiking or mountain biking on nearby Phipps Park Trail or Swords Park Trail and be back in town by noon for a burger and a beer at Montana Brewing Company. During baseball season, you can spend the evening at Dehler Park rooting for the Billings Mustangs, a farm team for the Cincinnati Reds. Billings is in the midst of a decade-long project to connect a series of trails in and around the city. People often use the trails to bike to work, says Ed Ulledalen, a financial adviser for Raymond James and former deputy mayor. Read more about Billings, Mont.
Deciding whether to retire to the mountains or the beach? Split the difference in Greensboro, N.C., just three hours by car from the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Atlantic beaches. But you won't need to leave town to stay active, engaged and healthy. Greensboro's downtown offers a wide variety of restaurants (mostly independently owned), plus brew pubs, bars, coffee shops and theaters on or near Elm or Greene streets. The Farmers' Curb Market, founded in 1874, is open year-round. Read more about Greensboro, N.C.
B.J. Reed is in awe of how fast Omaha has grown in the past decade. A resident for more than 30 years, Reed, 67, has seen his city evolve from an insular industrial town to a multicultural diamond in the rough in the Great Plains. "It's becoming more of a 24/7 city," he says, with an increasingly diverse mix of restaurants, retail and leisure activities. Such activities, coupled with an expanding health care system, appeal to the many retirees who are making Omaha their home. "They like its pace and its people," says Reed, a senior vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO). Read more about Omaha, Neb.
Millennials are moving to Music City in droves to grab jobs—the economy is as hot as a Merle Travis guitar lick—but retirees are finding a lot to like here, too. Beyond the construction and traffic of downtown, you'll find quiet old Nashville neighborhoods, such as Sylvan Park.
Sylvan Park is a 15-minute drive from downtown Nashville and as little as a 40-minute walk to Vanderbilt University, in Nashville's West End. The neighborhood, whose modest homes and quiet streets give it a southern, small-town sensibility, is bordered by two parks. Richland Park hosts a farmers market on Saturdays, and McCabe Park has a greenway, with walking and biking trails, that leads to a new community and fitness center and a 27-hole public golf course. Read more about Nashville, Tenn.
Although Grandview Heights is just minutes from downtown Columbus, this small city (population 7,300) has a distinctly small-town vibe. Many of the town's Arts-and-Crafts-style homes have big front porches, which means people know their neighbors, says Teri Alexander, a certified financial planner and longtime resident. Most neighborhoods have sidewalks, and the town's small size—about 1.3 square miles—and mix of commercial and residential buildings throughout the city make it easy to get places without a car. "It was meant to be walkable," says Ray DeGraw, the city's mayor for the past 13 years. Local businesses include an independent bookstore and record store, along with a wide assortment of nonchain restaurants. Grandview is also a hotbed of microbreweries, with at least half a dozen places to sip some suds. Read more about Columbus, Ohio.
The Emerald City's urban center is surrounded by parks, nature trails, waterways and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, making it a gem for active urbanites and nature lovers alike. Downtown, locals can explore historic Pioneer Square, take in a performance at the Seattle Opera or Pacific Northwest Ballet, or wander the iconic Pike Place Market. Outside Seattle, they can take advantage of the lush Pacific Northwest, including visiting Mount Rainier National Park, trekking to the 270-foot waterfall at Snoqualmie Falls and wandering Vashon Island’s trails and beaches. Read more about Seattle.
The city where Whole Foods was founded takes its healthy living seriously. Residents of the Zilker neighborhood, for instance, are steps away from Zilker Park, a green space of more than 350 acres. Outdoorsy options include sand volleyball courts, disc golf, botanical gardens and Barton Springs Pool, a natural, spring-fed swimming hole that’s open year-round. (Residents older than 62 pay only $1; once you hit 80, you get in free.) On Lady Bird Lake, a reservoir on the Colorado River, you can canoe, kayak or float on stand-up paddleboards. The park also hosts free Shakespeare productions, musical theater and concerts. Read more about Austin, Tex.
For retirees eager to keep their mind and body in motion, Philadelphia offers no shortage of activities. The culturally inclined can take in the art at the city’s world-class museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation. Or they can attend concerts and lectures at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, whose fall lineup includes the touring cast of An American in Paris and chef and author Anthony Bourdain. Read more about Philadelphia.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
North East Park, Old Northeast and the rest of the inner northeast side of St. Petersburg offer a mix of bungalows, Craftsman-style cottages, large ranchers and enough Spanish-influenced design to suggest you’re in Pasadena or Santa Monica instead of Florida. You can easily bike or walk to neighborhood bars and restaurants and to St. Pete's artsy downtown, anchored by the marvelous Dali Museum and the antique district on Central Avenue. Read more about St. Petersburg, Fla.
Recognized by AARP as an age-friendly city, Augusta is revitalizing its downtown area to add housing, public transportation and sidewalks, making it more attractive to seniors and empty nesters, says Mayor Hardie Davis. Augusta is also home to Augusta University Health, a health care network that includes the 478-bed Augusta University Medical Center. The network offers a long list of specialists, including doctors who focus on oncology, geriatrics and senior health. Read more about Augusta, Ga.
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