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Best Places for Baby Boomers

June 2, 2013
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Many baby boomers are trying to maximize their dollars as they start thinking about retirement, as well as trying to continue learning, working and socializing.  NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for baby boomers, many of whom strive to have active and social lives while keeping costs low.

NerdWallet calculated the overall score for baby boomers according to the following factors:

  1. Can you afford to live there?  We included ACCRA’s cost of living index, weighted at 40% of the overall score.  100 is the average cost of living score for all cities.  The cost of living is comprised largely of housing costs (27.02%) and healthcare costs (4.06%) as well as other factors.
  2. Is healthcare accessible?  The number of physicians per 100,000 people was included to ensure healthcare accessibility.
  3. Can you have an active social life?  The percentage of the population between 50 and 70 accounted for 20% of the overall score.
  4. Can you get around?  We included public transportation coverage as a factor.

For more information, check out our Cost of Living Calculator and City Life tool.

Best places for baby boomers

1.    Pittsburgh, PA

Over a quarter of Pittsburgh’s population is between the ages of 50 and 70, and health providers are highly accessible.  Lifelong learners can benefit from the variety of continuing education classes offered in Pittsburgh, including architecture classes at AIA Pittsburgh, the Certificate in Spiritual Formation from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and classes in fully equipped  laboratories at the Edward J. Forrest Continuing Education Center.  For those who enjoy the arts, the 14-block Cultural District showcases theater, music and art.

2.    Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH

Cleveland has plenty of doctors per capita as well as an award-winning hospital system, the Cleveland Clinic, which is ranked as one of the top five hospitals in the nation.  Baby boomers can participate in the wide variety of continuing education programs at Cleveland State University, where they can learn English as a second language, take computer and business classes, take a nursing refresher and more.  Artistic baby boomers can take art and design classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art.  The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the best in the country, and the Cleveland Art Museum offers rare works of art as well as the popular Summer Solstice music festival.

3.    Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY

Buffalo’s affordability and public transportation make it a standout city for baby boomers—plus, a full quarter of the city is between 50 and 70.  Buffalo State offers useful continuing education programs in teacher certification and autism spectrum disorders.  Check out the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Burchfield Penney Art Center for cultural attractions as well.

4.    Baltimore-Towson, MD

Residents have access to the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medical Center as well as a whopping 511 physicians per 100,000 residents.  Additionally, the Community College of Baltimore County offers a variety of life enrichment classes—you can learn a new form of art, a language, a sport or a life skill.  The city offers plenty in entertainment as well–Free Fall Baltimore is a city-wide arts celebration that presents hundred of activities.

5.    Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

Miami has it all.  This metro area has the weather that appeals to many retirees, but still entices the younger crowd with its active social scene.  The University of Miami offers over 100 non-credit courses baby boomers can take, as does Miami Dade College.  Baby boomers can relax on the stretches of gorgeous beaches as well.  The city is also great for sports fans, as it has all four major sports teams.

6.    Louisville/Jefferson County, KY

The Louisville/Jefferson County metro area has a low cost of living, making the area an ideal place to save money but retain a high quality of life.  The University of Louisville has plenty of continuing education courses for lifelong learners, and Bellarmine University offers an entire catalogue of non-credit summer classes.  Sports-lovers will be excited to follow the area’s college basketball as well.

7.    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle’s excellent public transportation and large population of older Americans contributed to their high ranking on our list.  Seattle is great for active baby boomers, as the city has nearby hiking, biking and camping spots.  Seattle University offers continuing education classes at five colleges, including the colleges of business, arts and sciences, education, law and theology.  The University of Washington lets students take online classes, making this a great option for those who don’t want to commute.  Additionally, South Seattle Community College offers over 150 classes covering everything from computers to cooking.

8.    St. Louis, MO

St. Louis’ low cost of living makes this city attractive to baby boomers, as evidenced by the fact that almost ¼ of the population is comprised of boomers. St. Louis Community College’s continuing education program teaches over 40,000 students per year, both on campus and online.  For those who want to earn certificates the University of Missouri-St. Louis offers certifications in digital media marketing, software and other subjects.  St. Louis is a great city for history buffs as well, and the Missouri History Museum is a must-see.

9.    Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

The Milwaukee area offers easy access to health providers and plenty of other baby boomers to socialize with.  The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offers more than 1200 programs per year in their School of Continuing Education.  With this incredible variety, baby boomers are sure to find stimulating classes in everything from business to writing to photography.  Milwaukee is great for outdoorsy people as well as dog lovers, as the city has plenty of parks and woods to explore.  With great beer and plenty of summer festivals, this city is a great place to live.

10.  Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA

Philadelphia offers good public transportation coverage, a large baby boomer population and plenty of physicians. Interested in the arts?  Check out The University of the Arts’ adult programs to learn Photoshop, photography and more.  Temple University Center City offers adult education programs, resources for veterans and meeting spaces. Philadelphia’s thriving music scene makes it a great place for music lovers as well.

Rank Metro area Cost of living index Percent of population 50-70 Physicians per 100,000 residents Public transportation coverage Overall score for baby boomers
1 Pittsburgh, PA 95.7 26.70% 415 67 79.9
2 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH 101.9 25.60% 476 66 78.2
3 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 99.2 25.20% 373 78 76.8
4 Baltimore-Towson, MD 118 24.00% 511 68 72.2
5 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 108.1 23.00% 359 89 71.8
6 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY 91.6 24.10% 355 60 69.9
7 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 116.2 22.80% 390 85 69.4
8 St. Louis, MO 89.6 24.00% 348 57 69
9 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 101 22.90% 399 67 68.7
10 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA 122.8 23.50% 425 77 68.4


The following factors were included in the analysis:

  1. ACCRA’s cost of living index, weighted at 40% of the overall score
  2. Number of physicians per 100,000 people from the U.S. Census, weighted at 20% of the overall score
  3. Percentage of the population between 50 and 70 from the U.S. Census, weighted at 20% of the overall score
  4. Public transportation coverage from the Brookings Institute, weighted at 20% of the overall score

50 of the most populous U.S. cities were included in this analysis