NEW YORK — Sure, spending your golden years on a beach in Florida sounds like a great idea, but that’s not going to cut it for many of today’s retirees.
Seniors are living longer, craving more fulfilling lifestyles and working well into their retirement years and that has upended traditional notions of where — and when — we should retire, according to the Milken Institute’s Best Cities for Successful Aging report.
The report analyzed a broad range of quality-of-life factors, from employment data and crime rates to stats on binge drinking and the number of doctors in a specific metro area.
Topping the list of the 100 major metro areas was Madison, Wisc., which scored highly for health care, community engagement and education and employment opportunities.
The Des Moines metro came seventh in the large metro category.
“Des Moines’ thriving economy, inexpensive living, ample health care and cultural and community offerings make an attractive package,” according to the poll. “For people who need specialty care, however, problems may arise in quality and availability of options.”
Council Bluffs-Omaha came in second.
Among the 252 smaller metro areas, Iowa City came out on top.
“With a top-notch health-care system, a strong economy, and low unemployment, Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, is an attractive option for encore careers and those seeking good health services,” the report described. “Chronic disease rates are low with residents making healthy lifestyle choices. A caveat to the upbeat economic picture: The area may be pricing itself beyond the reach of many older people.”
Ames came sixth.
Overall, employment opportunities are an increasingly important consideration for seniors. According to AARP, the number of Americans between 65- and 90 years old who are working full time has doubled over the past 10 years to 4.8 million.
“A big portion of the Baby Boom generation wants to or needs to continue to work,” said Paul Irving, president of the Milken Institute.
And few want to head off to the beach. According to AARP, 90% of those nearing retirement age say they prefer to age in place.