by Gonzalo Sanchez
In many ways, an ideal place for retirement will have the amenities and benefits of a well-managed city that anyone, and not just retirees, would enjoy. We wanted to find the best cities in the US for active retirement, so in our criteria we put an emphasis on cities tailored to staying active. Many of the categories we analyzed aggregate a wider set of data, giving a more holistic view in that category.
For example, the Health Score looks at access to health care, patient satisfaction, as well as taking into account resident behaviors like smoking. See below for our ranking criteria:
?Walk Score - Taking a stroll is a great way to get your heart rate up and to run quick errands. It's definitely easier in some cities than others. This score gauges how pedestrian-friendly a city is based on distance to nearby places. Data from www.walkscore.com.
?Bike Score - When the weather permits, bicycling is a great alternative to driving. This score measures the biking infrastructure for a city, including factors such as trails, hills, presence of bike lanes, road connectivity, and distance to nearby locations. Data from www.walkscore.com.
?Average Temperature - It's much more appealing to go outside to exercise when the weather is nice, even if you're just heading to the gym. This ranking favors mild weather over extreme hot and cold temperatures. Data from www.usclimatedata.com.
?Acres of Parks (per capita) - Having parks nearby provides lots of options to stay active and enjoy the weather. This is calculated per capita, since crowded parks can limit your ability to use them.
?Environment - Having clean air and water are important factors when choosing a place to live comfortably. This score is also affected by the city's actions and policies to promote energy efficiency. Data from livabilityindex.aarp.org.
?Health Score - A city with a higher health score has better prevention, provides better healthcare, and makes getting care more accessible. Data from livabilityindex.aarp.org.
We analyzed 100 of America's biggest cities and scored them with six different criteria. Those scores were added up and cities were ranked from highest scoring to lowest. Many of these top-ranking cities would likely make a fine place for an active retirement, but we looked a bit deeper in order to rank the top 10 cities on our list:
1. Irvine, CA
A neighborhood view from one of Irvine's many lush, green parks. Photo by Maziar Hooshmand.
This city tops our list as the best city for an active retirement in America. Irvine is a master-planned city in Southern California, developed by The Irvine Company, with distinct villages that each have their own services and amenities.
This city ranks 6 for bike score out of the 100 cities we looked at. Irvine has provided an impressive 301 miles of on-street bike lanes, and an additional 54 miles of off-street bike paths for cyclists to enjoy. Needless to say, there are very many active cyclists here. It's impressive that this city also ranked 13th in park acres, with 19 community parks and over 40 neighborhood parks and facilities.
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