Best Places to Live

2013 Best Places to Retire

When choosing where to retire, today's older adults consider the best places to retire as communities where they can stay active, healthy, engaged and inspired.

Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964 (and now aged 49 to 67), currently make up the largest part of the U.S. population. So for at least the next decade, Boomers' lifestyle habits will continue to impact communities, particularly as they redefine traditional ideas of what retirement means. These retirees prefer to keep learning and experiencing new things as they age, and tend to seek more diverse climates, demographics and activities. In other words, places offering little more than just sunny days on the golf course and heated games of bingo and bridge have become less appealing.

To better understand what retirees are looking for in a community, we worked with the Martin Prosperity Institute to parse the data in our exclusive livability survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. They helped us measure the relative importance of livability criteria for retirees versus the population as a whole. We found that health care, housing and cost of living were most important to seniors, followed by transportation, parks, crime and cultural amenities. Starting with data used in compiling our Top 100 Best Places to Live index, we focused on those data points that mattered most to people at or near retirement age. Weather wasn't so much a factor. 

Many of our picks have colleges that provide residents with continuing education opportunities, and often free or discounted classes, lectures and workshops for senior citizens. The cities we found all fall into the midsize range with populations between 90,000 and 320,000 residents.

Considering where to retire? Take a look at our picks.

Ranking Criteria
Percentage of ages 55 & Up
Healthcare spending
Median home price
Low cost of living
Presence of college
Cultural amenities
  • 10

    Syracuse, NY

    Population: 144,564
    Photo: Charles Wainwright

    A high concentration of libraries, parks and golf courses, walkable neighborhoods, and health-care providers makes Syracuse, NY one of the best places to retire.

    We know what you're thinking. Yes, it gets cold here in the winter. Syracuse does get covered in snow, but this is a city well equipped to handle a freeze. Plus, all that snow offers recreational opportunities like skiing, sledding and snowmobiling. Residents can also opt for many indoor entertainment options, from bowling alleys and skating rinks to indoor soccer fields and swimming pools.

    Spring, summer and fall bring enjoyable weather for partaking in a myriad of outdoor activities in Syracuse, such as hiking at the nearby Beaver Lake Nature Center, riding at Cranx Bike and Sports Park, visiting wineries in the Finger Lakes, or playing in community parks. More than 20 golf courses in and around Syracuse challenge golfers of all levels. Residents are treated to a variety of sports spectacles including football, basketball and lacrosse at the Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University, minor league baseball at NBT Bank Stadium and racing at four nearby speedways.

    The arts and cultural scene in Syracuse includes an assortment of museums and galleries, as well as theater companies and historical sites. The city hosts many festivals throughout the year including a film festival, Winterfest and Empire Brewfest. The Great New York State Fair takes place in the nearby town of Geddes. Syracuse University offers theatrical productions, art exhibits and lectures that draw many residents.

    When it comes to dining out, Syracuse's culinary scene roars. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que earned national acclaim as one of the best BBQ restaurants in America from a variety of media outlets. It's one of several restaurants in Syracuse that has gained national recognition.

    Many affordable housing options as well as easy access to medical care provided by more than eight area hospitals also attract retirees.

    Read more about living in Syracuse, NY.