WalletHub analyzed the 150 most populated cities in the United States to determine where retirees were better off spending the winter of their lives.
Cities with a lower score would do well to attract more older citizens, according to Maurice MacDonald, professor of personal financial planning at Kansas State University and a commenter on WalletHub’s expert panel. “Communities that can attract new people at any age or with different backgrounds are inherently more vibrant and interesting. Today’s retirees maintain youthful attitudes and many have more financial resources and time to participate in community activities as spenders and donors than the average community resident.”
He suggested cities develop moderate-income housing and better medical services to meet those older citizens’ demands, as well as invest in the cultural and outdoor activities that are unique to that city.
Cities were scored in four equally weighted categories: affordability, activities, quality of life and health care. The scores were then ranked from 1 to 150, with 1 being the best.
(See who made the top of the list in 10 Best Cities for Retirement: 2015.)
To determine the affordability score, WalletHub considered a city’s adjusted cost of living, and gave a half weight to the annual cost of in-home services and the state’s ranking in WalletHub’s Taxpayer report (that data is only available at a state level).
Jan Cullinane, author of “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement” and another WalletHub panelist, pointed to taxes as a particularly important consideration for retirees considering a move.
“Few people move to a new state just to reduce the tax bite, but if a decision is made to move for any or all of the other personal reasons (climate, proximity to relatives, overall cost of living, good medical care, infrastructure, etc.),” she said, retirees should also “consider the tax consequences of [their] move.”
The activities score was based on the concentration of recreation and senior centers, fishing facilities and public golf courses; volunteer opportunities for adults; and WalletHub’s Recreation report ranking. WalletHub also considered hiking areas at a lower weighting.
Quality of life was measured by the percentage of the population over 65; the labor market’s friendliness to elder workers; and violent and property crime rates. The city’s rank in WalletHub’s Mild Weather report was double-weighted, and air and water quality were given half weight.
The health care score was based on the concentration of family and general physicians, dentists (at half weight), nurses, health care facilities and home care facilities.
Public hospital rankings and the death rate for people 65 and older, data for which was only available at the state level, were also considered.
Data for the report was drawn from WalletHub’s own research as well as the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report, the Environmental Working Group, the Trust For Public Land, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Charity Navigator, Healthways.com, Yelp.com and Golf.com.
Here are the 15 worst cities for retirement, according to WalletHub:
15. Fontana, California
- Affordability: 97
- Activities: 148
- Quality of Life: 69
- Health Care: 135
14. Buffalo, New York
- Affordability: 105
- Activities: 70
- Quality of Life: 141
- Health Care: 127
13. Washington, D.C.
- Affordability: 126
- Activities: 30
- Quality of Life: 142
- Health Care: 123
12. San Bernardino, California
- Affordability: 97
- Activities: 145
- Quality of Life: 94
- Health Care: 119
- Affordability: 139
- Activities: 101
- Quality of Life: 103
- Health Care: 105