Special Report

30 Best Cities for Older Americans

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25. Appleton, WI
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 14.3%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 86 (top 25%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 351
> Avg. retirement income: $19,676 (bottom 25%)

The Appleton metro area boasts a wide range of entertainment and recreation options for retirement age Americans. There are far more theatres, golf courses, country clubs, fitness centers, recreation centers, and full service restaurants in Appleton per 100,000 65 and older residents than there are nationwide.

Like most metro areas on this list, Appleton is affordable. Goods and services in the Wisconsin metro area are about 8% less expensive than they are on average nationwide.

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24. Carbondale-Marion, IL
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 16.7%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 62
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 476
> Avg. retirement income: $31,655 (top 25%)

Many seniors face financial hardships towards the end of their lives if they outlived their savings. But in the Carbondale, Illinois, area, seniors are less likely to face this issue. Area retirees earn more on average than those in almost all other parts of the country, with an average annual retirement income of $31,655. For context, the average American retiree’s income is $26,258.

Seniors in Carbondale also have more opportunities to be social than those almost anywhere else, as the area has 18.2 social associations per 10,000 people — more than double the national concentration and the fifth highest concentration in the country.

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23. Duluth, MN-WI
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 18.4% (top 25%)
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 64
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 145 (bottom 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $21,156 (bottom 25%)

The Duluth metro area is home to over a quarter million people — and 18.4% of them are 65 and older, a larger share than the vast majority of U.S. cities. Nationwide, 15.6% of the population is retirement age. The metro area also has a greater than typical concentration of facilities that specifically cater to the elderly like nursing care facilities and assisted living facilities. For entertainment, the number of museums per 100,000 65 and older Duluth residents is nearly triple the comparable national concentration, and the concentration of golf courses and country clubs is more than double the national average.

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22. Eau Claire, WI
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 16.3%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 84 (top 25%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 220 (bottom 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $19,728 (bottom 25%)

Eau Claire, Wisconsin has the seventh greatest concentration of nursing care facilities and the second greatest concentration of assisted living facilities among U.S. metro areas. As is the case in most other metro areas on this list, retired Eau Claire residents — many of whom live on a fixed income — benefit from a low cost of living. Goods and services are 8.8% less expensive in the metro area than they are nationwide on average.

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21. Jefferson City, MO
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 17.2%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 55
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 224 (bottom 25%)
> Avg. retirement income: $22,810

Retirement-age Americans often live on a fixed income and must rely on careful budgeting. In Jefferson City, a dollar goes further than nearly anywhere else in the country as goods and services are 17.8% less expensive in the Missouri capital than they are, on average, nationwide. The metro area’s low cost of living likely contributes to greater financial security among the older residents. Just 4.1% of Jefferson City’s 65 and older residents rely on food stamps or SNAP benefits, and 11.9% of residents live below the poverty line, well below the comparable 8.9% and 14.6% national rates, respectively.