The Best Places to Retire: Boomers Imagine Heaven on Earth

How would you describe the perfect retirement town or environment? We asked more than 500 Baby Boomers this question—they mentioned 16 features, and it sounds like paradise to us, rich in culture, learning, nature, and social connection. Does it to you? What’s missing from the list? If you know of any places this list describes, please tell us in the comments!

Lots of Cultural Stimulation | Boomers want culture!

“The arts would be most important, especially music and theater.”
“A city with an old movie theater that shows original silent movies with an orchestra and sound effects.”
“Active theater community.”

Close to Nature | They also crave the peace and restorative qualities of nature.

“Green space and parks.”
“Nearer the mountains, the better.”
“Close to the ocean.”
“Surrounded by nature.”

Recreational Opportunities | Staying busy is important.

“Sports and exercise programs.”
“Access to recreational activities such as biking and hiking trails.”
“Year round swimming.”

Moderate Weather | Neither too hot nor too cold, please.

“Clean air, climate with three seasons but moderate snowfall.”
“Not humid, not too cold, not too rainy.”
“No shoveling snow.”

Strong Sense of Community | Friends and family all around.

“Community of people who watch out for each other.”
“Welcoming to singles.”
“Lots of opportunity for meaningful community interaction.”
“Near family and friends who share our interests.”

Educational Resources | Keep your brain in shape!

“A regular speaking program would be a part of the community, reflecting a wide variety of topics.”
“Opportunities for intellectual stimulation.”
“Large libraries.”

Walkability | Leave that car at home.

“Ability to walk everywhere.”
“Walkable, with trails and paths in areas away from traffic.”
“Pedestrian and bike friendly.”
“Easy walk to shops and restaurants.”

High Quality Healthcare | Well, we’re all aging.

“Major university with medical school.”
“Easy access to first-class medical care.”

Great Restaurants and Food | Boomers are definitely foodies.

“Sources of naturally raised food.”
“Farm-to-table restaurants.”
“Farmers markets to get fresh produce and baked goods.”
“Good wine store.”

Convenient, Human Scale, Shopping | Small, not mall...

“Small, local businesses.”
“No big box stores, local butchers and bakers and candlestick makers, so to speak.”
“Mom and pop stores.”

Smaller Scale | That small-town feel

“Location without major urban traffic issues.”
“A thriving, multi-generational small town.”
“Quiet.”

Affordable

“No tax on social security.”
“Affordable small homes.”
“Reasonable overall cost of living.”

Good Public Transportation

“Ability to function without a car.”
“Comprehensive light-rail system.”

Accessible to Larger City and Airport | A small town, please, but we do want to travel!

“Access to air or train transport to anywhere in the world.”
“Close to a city for cultural activities.”

A College Town | A nearby university brings with it a lot of amenities

“Proximity to a university for access to concerts, plays, sporting events.”
“I would prefer a college town for the constant change and energy.”

Diverse Population

“An international, multiracial, multi-cultural community.”
“Multiracial with LGBTQ residents and really welcoming to same-sex couples.”
“Compatible citizens of a variety of ages, ethnicities, interests and backgrounds.”

A place with all of these characteristics may exist only in our imagination, but it’s a compelling vision nevertheless. Do you know of a place that comes close?

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