The New Retirement Hotspots: They’re More Than Golf Courses


If you want to live in young city, move to Orlando, Miami or El Paso. These metro areas are losing seniors – or at least, the balance of young to old is shifting. But if you’re looking for a community of seniors and hope to capitalize on buffed up services, then here’s the scoop: A new batch of senior hotspots is emerging.

According to research by personal finance site NerdWallet, 10 American metro areas have seen significant growth in the 65-and-up demographic as a percentage of the total population.

NerdWallet analyst Sreekar Jashti told us that most of these up-and-coming senior cities share strong retirement communities – and something else: “After ranking the places based on the numbers we crunched, we then researched the top metro areas and included relevant amenities such as golf courses.”

Golf courses?

Because we’re not pretty sure that most of us are looking for way more than golf courses (and maybe don’t even plan to set foot on one), we decided to take our own look at NerdWallet’s metro areas and ask ourselves why older Americans might want to make beelines.

Here, in order of senior population growth are Nerdwallet’s top six. For the whole top 10, check out “America’s Fastest Growing Retirement Places” on NerdWallet. (And if you are looking for retirement communities and golf courses, NerdWallet has several suggestions in each locale.)

1. Phoenix, AZ

NerdWallet says “With great weather and over 200 golf courses, the Greater Phoenix area is a popular destination for the retired. Located within the region are the popular retirement communities of Sun City and Sun City West.

We say Downtown Phoenix is revitalizing. That means not only a light rail that can take you to to the Arizona State University campus, but also a cultural life and loft living with amenities like gyms and pools. Real estate prices in Phoenix took a dive during the recession and are still lower than in many metro areas. Plus, as NerdWallet says, there’s the weather….

2. Portland, OR

NerdWallet says “The northwest city is home to many retirement living centers such as Rose Villa and its many microbreweries and golf courses are a hit with the growing retired population.”

We say If you’ve watched the series “Portlandia,” you’ll know this is a seriously hip city, with a super-healthy foodie culture and bike-friendly streets. There’s also good publcic transportation. Wine country is a short drive away, and it’s a thriving cultural capital with frequent festivals. Plus, you can take longs walks in one of the country’s largest urban forests. If food carts and microbreweries float your boat, the rain might not be such a turnoff.

3. Vegas, NV

NerdWallet says “The state of Nevada offers diverse geographic locales that allow for many outdoor activities, and no income or inheritance tax are appealing to the retired. There are many senior living communities in the Las Vegas region.”

We say Can’t sleep? This is a 24-hour city – without the real estate costs of NYC (OK, there really is no comparison besides the 24/7 availability of a Belgian crepe). Vegas might be in the middle of nowhere, but it’s full of open-minded people who aren’t put off by drinking, sex and other immoral activities – a plus for seniors who want to age with attitude. And the entertainment is legendary.

4. Detroit, MI

NerdWallet says “Livonia, a large suburb of Detroit has been a popular place for the retired with communities such as Woodhaven, a full-service Continuing Care Retirement Community.”

We say We’re stumped. According to NerdWallet analyst tk, a rise in the total senior population as a percentage of the total population in a metro area might simply mean that large numbers of younger people fled. Could this be the case with the Detroit area, where according to NerdWallet, “the number of residents ages 65+ actually increased… despite the overall population in the Detroit metro area declining by 4% during that period”? If you know anyone who moved to this area to retire, let us know in the comments below.

5. Raleigh, NC

NerdWallet says “Raleigh provides access to several premier healthcare facilities due to the presence of several medical schools, and the region’s mild seasonal weather is a bonus.”

We say This is edu. central – lots of colleges and universities and more PhDs per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. The Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement – now part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Network – develops its curriculum in response to student interests and thrives on the exchange of views among students and faculty.  The density of colleges also makes for a vibrant cultural scene.

6. Atlanta, GA

NerdWallet says “A low cost of living and a pleasant climate are possible reasons for the Greater Atlanta area’s status as one of the fastest growing places for retirement in the last few years. Sandy Springs and Marietta are popular suburbs for the retired, but the city of Atlanta also has many options for those in search of a retirement community.

We say Multicultural, International, cultural – Atlanta is a hub.  The city that also serves as a transportation hub – great for people who like to travel. For $125 per quarter you can enroll in classes at Emory University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Would you consider moving to or do you live in any of these cities? Take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments below!


4 responses to “The New Retirement Hotspots: They’re More Than Golf Courses

  1. I have lived in the Atlanta area since 1987. It is NOT “senior friendly” unless you have a ship-load of money to spend. Traffic is a bloody nightmare – public transport is a nightmare *if* available at all. If you are not interested in golf, or sports in general – nd you are not Bible Thumper of some sort – then you are pretty much screwed socially unless you have folks to introduce you – you *could* of course BUY YOUR WAY IN if you have the money — and this included a near-by Chamber Of Commerce, the leader of which made a religious joke at the expense of Jehovah’s Witness within five minutes of meeting her – but she is a Good Southern Baptist so her bigotry is OK of course…..

    Business in general is mostly corrupt or incompetent – the la is corrupt and incompetent, usually useless in my cases, often worse than useless. The Utilities are about the same – took over two years to get one error corrected, and he refund had no interest assessed by the courts = yet if I had not over-paid just to keep the loights on then I would have been evicted from m own property due to electricity being a legal requirement.

    The Hospitals are extortionist nightmares.

    Even the BBB failed in its Duties.

  2. These are not some cities that would be senior friendly, I would have thought. So it is good to hear that they are changing and can be a senior hotspot. I have been to several of these cities and they are really nice and the weather is very good. Couple has a bit to much shoveling of snow for me, but the others sound really good and since I am at that point in my life, I may just investigate these a bit more. thanks

  3. I’m surprised that closeness to family members isn’t mentioned. I haven’t read the article totally, but access to work/jobs & the necessary public transport. Consideration of those who don’t drive, sidewalks, etc.
    Thanks for this article!

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