Best cities to retire in /

People like to be surrounded by the familiar. The greetings of a longtime neighbor, the knowledge that number seven is the dairy aisle in the grocery store or the blooming of the same lilac bush every spring are all markers that we are home, where we belong. For no demographic is this truer than for seniors.

Research indicates that 90 percent of America’s graying population prefers to age in place, where friends, family and a lifetime’s worth of routine and experience abound. But is your area really the best place for an aging senior?

As much as you love the small town you live in, think about moving to a city as you get older. Currently live near a city? Think about staying. They offer lots of great resources for seniors, such as cultural and educational possibilities, transportation options and universities with top-notch hospitals.

“There’s more to happiness than just sunny days,” said Paul Irving, senior managing director and chief operating officer of the Milken Institute, a California-based, nonprofit think tank. “People need to continue to work, stay engaged, stimulated and productive in order to maintain a strong sense of community involvement and happiness.”

In 2012, the Milken Institute released a study, “Best Cities for Successful Aging,” that ranks, compares and measures 359 metropolitan areas. The rankings were based upon 78 indicators, such as health care, wellness, living arrangements, transportation and community engagement, and looked at issues as diverse as cost of living, availability of fitness centers and access to cultural activities.

While not all of the locations earned high marks in categories, most feature opportunities for seniors to live healthy, active and engaged lives.

Best large metros

1. Provo-Orem, Utah

2. Madison, Wis.

3. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb./Iowa

4. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass./N.H.

5. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, New York/N.J./Pa.

6. Des Moines, Iowa

7. Salt Lake City

8. Toledo, Ohio

9. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Va./Md./W. Va.

10. Pittsburgh

Best small metros

1. Sioux Falls, S.D.

2. Iowa City, Iowa

3. Bismarck, N.D.

4. Columbia, Mo.

5. Rochester, Minn.

6. Gainesville, Fla.

7. Ann Arbor, Mich.

8. Missoula, Mont.

9. Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.

10. Rapid City, S.D.

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