Special Report

30 Best Cities for Older Americans

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30. Fargo, ND-MN
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 11.8% (bottom 10%)
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 116 (top 10%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 305
> Avg. retirement income: $19,803 (bottom 25%)

Fargo, North Dakota, ranks as one of the 30 best cities for older Americans for a number of reasons. It has a relatively high concentration of leisure and amusement options per capita, including theaters and dinner companies, fitness and recreation centers, museums, and more.

A higher share of Fargo seniors reports feeling in good health compared to the average across all U.S. cities. Just 12.2% of seniors in the area say they are in either fair or poor health. Nationwide, 16% of seniors do.

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29. Columbia, MO
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 12.1% (bottom 10%)
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 158 (top 10%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 757 (top 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $28,888 (top 25%)

Older Americans are at increased risk of physical injury and certain chronic diseases and conditions. As a result, they often require more frequent medical treatment and screening — and access to medical care can be critical. In the Columbia, Missouri, metro area, there are 757 physicians for every 100,000 residents 65 and older, a greater concentration than in all but eight other metro areas.

Remaining active in one’s golden years can also help support good mental and physical health. In Columbia, there are 158 sports, recreation, or fitness centers for every 100,000 residents 65 and older, the second greatest concentration of any U.S. metro area.

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28. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 15.7%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 67
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 318
> Avg. retirement income: $19,235 (bottom 10%)

As their risk of health problems increases, many elderly Americans need an increased level of care and move into assisted living facilities. Nationwide, there are 37.7 such facilities for every 100,000 persons 65 years and older. But in the Oshkosh-Neenah area of Wisconsin, there are nearly 90 facilities per 100,000 seniors, giving elderly residents a greater range of choices for their care.

Oshkosh area seniors also tend to have some of the best financial safety nets. Area retirees who get supplemental security income receive an average of over $11,000 per year, one of the highest averages in the country. There is also a relatively high share of area seniors receiving social security income, at 93.6%.

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27. Bangor, ME
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 18.0%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 55
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 278 (bottom 25%)
> Avg. retirement income: $22,660

Bangor is the only metro area in Maine and the broader New England region to rank among the best cities for older Americans. For entertainment, the metro area boasts a greater concentration of museums, golf courses, and country clubs per retirement-age resident than is typical nationwide. For elderly-specific health care needs, the metro area also has a far greater than typical concentration of nursing care facilities and assisted living communities.

Older, retired Americans often live on a fixed income — and in Bangor a dollar goes further than across the country as a whole. Goods and services in the metro area are about 4% less expensive than they are on average nationwide.

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26. Billings, MT
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 17.2%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 125 (top 10%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 223 (bottom 25%)
> Avg. retirement income: $21,064 (bottom 25%)

It is important for seniors to stay active — both mentally and physically — in their golden years. Those in Billings, Montana, have among the best access to theaters, golf courses, and museums, as well as fitness and recreational centers.

Billings also has a relatively high concentration of doctors and dentists per capita, likely helping senior populations receive medical and dental care in a timely manner. Many seniors face a struggle with social isolation, but there is a high number of social associations, 13.1 per 10,000 people, in the Billings area that can help keep seniors engaged in their communities.