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Where to Retire to Have Fun and Stay Active

where to retire

What does retirement look like for folks who don’t plan to slow down? For those whose idea of a good time might include learning a new sport or meeting new people through a volunteer activity?

Many soon-to-be seniors already have ideas about how to stay active in retirement and they’re looking into where to retire to maximize opportunities for engagement.

Attitudes around what life after retirement could look like have changed – and for the better. Since the first wave of baby boomers began to turn 65 in 2011, the national conversation around post-work life began to shift, just as a 2010 Pew Research Center report predicted it would: “By force of numbers alone, [boomers] almost certainly will redefine old age in America, just as they’ve made their mark on teen culture, young adult life and middle age.”

Part of that shift included understanding the importance of physical activity and intellectual engagement in post-retirement life.

Top City Rankings

Where will you find your best opportunities? For those in the planning stage, “best of” lists can help get the conversation started with a checklist of factors to consider.

In one of the most informative we found, Wallethub’s data-driven lists factor in affordability, activities, quality of life and healthcare. Their top five picks overall are Orlando, Fla; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tampa, Fla,; Denver, Colo.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

But wait! When the list is re-ranked for “activities,” (such as senior centers, golf, and museums), the “top five” changes to Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Seattle, Wash.

It shifts again when ranked for “quality of life” (an elder-friendly labor market, walkability and so on); the top five in this category are Henderson, Nev.; Fremont and Glendale, Calif; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and San Jose, Calif.

You might also want to consider the least expensive cities to retire in the country.

Hiking, Biking and Active Pursuits

Staying active is important at any age, but it’s vitally important for seniors. Regular exercise helps you keep your edge, maintain freedom of movement and can even help treat (or manage) common age-related ailments like arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes.

If hiking, biking and the great outdoors are your thing, Kiplinger recommends (among others), tax-friendly Huntsville, Ala. (bass fishing, biking trails at Monte Sano); Boise, Idaho (kayaking, boating, golfing and skiing); and Lynchburg, Va., for “more than 18 miles of urban trails on the city’s 300-acre greenway.”

If nice weather is crucial for your outdoor happiness, stick to California: Glendale, Riverside and Bakersfield are the top three in Wallethub’s “Best Mild Weather” ranking.

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Part-Time Jobs, Learning and Volunteering

Staying active also includes social engagement – whether that’s helping out at church, volunteering in the community or taking a class at a nearby college.

It could also mean staking out a second-act or “encore” career. In fact, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that by 2026 some 30% of workers ages 65 to 74 will be working full- or part-time jobs. Even if the extra cash isn’t a financial necessity, some retirees return to the workforce simply because they want to keep busy or can’t imagine not doing what they love anymore.

For cities with better-than-average rates of volunteerism, a recent study from CNCS (the federal agency that includes AmeriCorps and Senior Corps) gave the highest marks to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Rochester, NY; Salt Lake City, Utah; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Portland, Ore.

And while any college town can work for retirees, the top five “best suited to retirees” according to CNBC are Athens, Ga; East Lansing, Mich.; Iowa City, Iowa; Kalamazoo, Mich.; and Lawrence, Kan.

As for the best cities for encore workers? A recent article by Money put Flower Mound, Texas – home of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital – at the top of a list that includes Ashburn, Va., and Palm Coast, Fla.

Planning for a Fun and Active Retirement

For today’s retirees, chilling out on a rocking chair is only a part of the picture – as a place to chill out after a round of golf, a class on a topic of interest or as a place of well-deserved rest after a day of biking, hiking or volunteering.

The bottom line: Be sure your plans for fun don’t get derailed by finances. While you’re still in the planning stages, consider getting expert help. Be sure to enlist experts assistance like AAA Financial Services can help with advice, loans and more.

Do you have any ideas about where to retire or how to stay active in retirement? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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