Tucson Named A Best Place to Retire

Slider3Today’s retirees want more than just sunshine and golf courses. More and more older adults say they want to experience something new and look to move into vibrant communities that offers lots of things to do.

To create our “Best Places to Retire 2014”  list we considered even more factors for an even deeper look at how cities can accommodate older adults. In addition to overall quality of life factors we examined economic data, natural amenities, golf courses, weather, preventable hospital stays, walkability and much more.

Warm weather, favorable tax policies and an array of retirement communities draw many retirees to Tucson, AZ. The city offers an urban atmosphere surrounded by rugged mountains and desert terrain where activities like hiking, mountain biking, hunting and camping can be enjoyed. Tucson scored high on our assessment of the best places to retire in the categories of health care, housing affordability, golf options, employment and taxes.

With approximately 30 retirement communities, plus condos and apartments to choose from, retirees can easily find places to live that don’t come with the hassles of owning and maintaining a house or yard. A network of sidewalks and bike trails allows residents to easily navigate the city without a car. Reduced fares on Sun Tran and Sun Link, Tucson’s bus and streetcar system, are offered to people 65 and over. Entertainment districts like Main Gate Square, which is located near the University of Arizona, hosts a variety events from concerts to wine tastings while offering up an assortment of shops and restaurants.

Ranked one of Kiplinger’s “10 most tax-friendly states for retirees,” Arizona offers low income tax and no tax on food or prescription drugs. Arizona does not tax Social Security benefits.

How did we create our Top 10 list of best retirement cities?

First, we spent some time considering who was retiring and what retirement might look like for them. Each day, nearly 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65. Retirement is within reach. It’s time for days of leisure, travel, golf, and playing with the grandkids. Nearly four in 10 Boomers plan to move when they retire, so this list is meant to provide some suggestions.

Today’s retirees are living longer, more active lifestyles. Access to affordable and quality health care is an important consideration. We used data from Esri and the County Health Rankings to find cities that have access to a large number of hospitals and doctors, and yet still have low health-care costs. We also looked at factors related to the quality of care including making sure that seniors and other at-risk groups have access to social and emotional support.

We looked for areas that have an active population and ways to stay active. Natural amenities, a temperate climate (as measured by the difference in January and July temperatures), golf courses, Walk Score and the number of golf courses were all considered.

For people on a fixed income, affordability is often an issue, so we looked at housing affordability measured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Location Affordability Index. Overall cost of living was factored in as was the crime rate.

Most of these measures were selected from our overall Best Places to Live metrics with special attention paid to specific concerns of seniors and Boomers. But we also wanted to add some senior-specific metrics. We looked at Census data and data from Esri’s consumer segmentation system, Tapestry, to find areas with heavy concentrations of seniors and businesses and services that cater to them. Research has shown that people are staying in the workforce later in life, so we also analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find areas with low unemployment for seniors. Finally, using data from Kiplinger, we gave bonus points to cities located in states that have a tax climate that is especially friendly to retirees.

The result is a geographically dispersed group of cities. Not all retirees want to settle down in Florida and Arizona or golf 365 days a year – but we have options for those who do, as well as those looking for some place with four seasons.

Article Courtesy of Mitch Cline at Livability.com – http://livability.com/best-places/top-10/best-places-to-retire/best-places-to-retire/2014/tucson

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