College Towns Ranked Among Best Locations for Retired Life

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Seniors may benefit from low cost of living in college towns as well as the cultural amenities and healthcare options related to universities, according to a new report.

College towns aren’t just about frat parties and tailgates. For retired people, some of the best places to live are college towns, according to a new report. 

The Senior Living Report from ranks several small to mid-sized cities closely identified with their big public universities on its top ten list of the best cities for seniors, while also including major cities that are home to multiple schools.  

College towns in the top ten Madison, Wisconsin at number four; Chapel Hill, North Carolina at number six; and Boulder, Colorado at number nine. Boston, home to many universities in the city and in neighboring communities, came in at number three, while Washington, D.C. was ranked seventh. St. Paul, Minnesota, home to part of the University of Minnesota campus, was 10th.

The new report takes factors like healthcare, housing options, transit, and affordability into consideration.

College towns have been hailed as good spots for retirees, thanks to the often low cost of living in those locations that can help retirement funds go further. Cultural amenities or adult education courses offered on campus can also be an attractive resource for seniors looking to keep their minds sharp.

Boston ranks high on the list for its access to leading healthcare facilities, many of which are associated with the city’s numerous universities. The city has a higher than average number of primary care physicians, dentists and other healthcare providers than the rest of the nation. It also ranked high because of access to public transit and overall quality of life including easy access to grocery stores and parks, according to More than 76,000 seniors call the city home and Boston operates two dedicated senior centers. also ranks Madison high on its list, noting the activities offered by the University of Wisconsin and care provided by its affiliated hospital system. Cultural activities offered by the Madison Senior Center and the local art museum, as well as the university’s arboretum may also make the college town attractive to seniors. More than 33,000 seniors currently reside in Madison.

Chapel Hill, where the University of North Carolina is located, has a smaller senior population with fewer than 6,000 seniors calling the city home. Transportation options are boosted by a free shuttle for seniors that provides transit to local shopping centers, and a senior center.

Boulder may be an attractive option for active seniors, with easy access to many outdoor activities. The state also offers low taxes on retirement income and was ranked as having a high availability of multiunit housing and a low housing cost burden. More than 10,000 seniors live in the town, which is home to the University of Colorado., a website that offers information about senior living and care, ranked the cities based on an assessment of 300 cities across the United States.

The top ten cities identified by the website are:

  1. San Francisco, California
  2. Fredericksburg, Virginia
  3. Boston, Massachusetts
  4. Portland, Maine
  5. Madison, Wisconsin
  6. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  9. Boulder, Colorado
  10. St. Paul, Minnesota

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

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