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12 Best Small Cities for Successful Aging: 2017

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If you’re determined to truly enjoy your retirement—or your extended career—and be able to age in place, rather than moving just in time for retirement, you’ll find that some cities are more congenial to that—possessing an ambiance that provides all, or nearly all, an aging adult needs in pleasant and nurturing surroundings. With luck, you already live in one.

But if not, there are more suitable places, with better features that are more supportive of people growing older even as they begin a new phase of their lives. And with that in mind, the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging, in collaboration with the Institute’s Research Department, have released the third edition of their “Best Cities for Successful Aging” report and index.

(Related: 12 Best Big Cities for Successful Aging: 2017)

Pointing out that longer lifespans can mean living into our eighties, nineties or even to or past the century mark, the report points out that “[w]hile the health and economic challenges of aging remain significant concerns, an increasing number of today’s older adults are redefining the experience. They are launching companies and nonprofits, climbing mountains, creating apps and mentoring youth.”

Not that they want to relocate to do so, however—this is not a snowbirds-moving-to-Florida crowd; they want to stay where they are and age in place as they embark on the next stage of life. To do this, some crave smaller settings, while others hunger for the fast pace of the big city and would miss the excitement if they had to function in a scaled-down atmosphere.

But in large or small cities, to fulfill all those lofty ambitions, they’re demanding more of their communities in support of their efforts—as well as in support of their needs. After all, even if older minds can be wiser and more creative as they work at projects that perhaps have waited years for creation, older bodies could have a tougher time keeping up, requiring more and better medical attention.

(Related: 15 Cheapest States for Long-Term Care: 2017)

Obviously some cities, both large and small, do far better at that than others. To determine the best cities for older adults, Milken ranked 381 metropolitan areas, “using refined methodology and updated data in nine categories,” as well as 83 indicators of livability, to find which are the most livable, not only for older adults but of other ages, too.

Among the criteria Milken used are general livability, health care, wellness, financial security, education, transportation and convenience, employment, living arrangements and community engagement. And with other studies indicating that longevity is linked to location, the study points out that the variation is tied to many factors, including education, income, access to health care, food choices, smoking rates, exercise, safety of housing and pollution.

Here are the 12 small metro areas that Milken found to be the best for successful aging.

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