The Best Places to Retire or Rewire.

January 25, 2021

The Best Places to Retire or Rewire.

May 29, 2023

Each year, Money magazine publishes its well-known top 10 “best places to retire.” And, each year, I scratch my head wondering about their criteria. It’s not that I quarrel with lovely places like Madison, Wisconsin, Boise, Idaho, or Asheville, North Carolina.

It’s just that their lists rarely include any big cities, small towns, or out of U.S. locations. If you’re looking for an alternative, here’s my past blog post on my 10 best places to reinspire, not retire.

When you study Money magazine’s data, you see some logical criteria: they eliminated any location that had more than double the national crime risk, less than 85% of its state’s median household income, or a lack of racial diversity. They also filtered-out expensive housing markets (had to have a median sales price of a home of $550,000 or less) and filtered-in good weather, entertainment amenities, walkability, and proximity to a substantive airport.

But here are a few questions I have for Money magazine as I think their criteria may be too focused on a retiring, not a rewiring Boomer population (FYI, these are questions you might also want to ask yourself):

  1. What metrics would help you determine the amount of intergenerational collaboration there is in a particular community? Diversity isn’t just about racial or ethnic variation. It’s odd that they give extra points to communities that have a larger percentage of residents over 50. Sun City is our mecca? That would seem to be a form of age-apartheid.

  2. How could you measure the percentage of residents 50+ who are entrepreneurs? We know that the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the U.S. is from this demographic. It’s also likely that communities that score well here have a great network of older entrepreneurs.

  3. Which local employers have shown evidence of hiring older workers? A growing number of people 65+ want to work part-time late into life, so living in a community that highlights companies that recruit older workers makes sense.

  4. How many local institutions offer “long life learning” programs? As we outlined in our white paper, The Emergence of Long Life Learning, people in midlife and beyond are looking to cultivate and harvest their wisdom and to live a life as deep and meaningful as it is long.

  5. Do elements of the “Blue Zones” communities exist here? Dan Buettner’s bestselling book shows that certain places in the world create happier and healthier longevity due to cultural norms that focus on healthy social networks, life purpose, and religious or spiritual values.

In sum, our MEA team was encouraged by the fact that Santa Fe, New Mexico, was in the top 10 list as it’s a place we’ve had our eye on. And, here’s a poignant, and sometimes painful, documentary that just came out on The Villages in Florida, the largest American retirement community, Some Kind of Heaven.

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