Cold cities, warm heart? Many New Englanders eyeing retirement fantasize about becoming Florida snowbirds, but most can find what they need closer to home. The Milken Institute, a think tank that focuses on what makes societies thrive, recently published a report that found metropolitan Boston to be the fourth most attractive destination for seniors. Boston scored high for health care, public transportation, fitness opportunities, education, community engagement, cultural enrichment, and employment of people over 65. And the older you get, the better Boston becomes. It ranked No. 1 for people over 80.
Boston shared the top-10 limelight with New York and Washington. But the truly eye-opening finding in the report, which was partially sponsored by AARP, was that none of the top 10 were from the traditional retirement havens of Florida and Arizona. Instead, there were cities in Utah (Provo and Salt Lake City), Nebraska (Omaha), Iowa (Des Moines), Wisconsin (Madison), Ohio (Toledo), and Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh). Who knew that the ski belt, the corn belt, and the rust belt were better for seniors than the sun belt? It may not yet be a cliche to hear a new retiree boasting of moving to Boston or Omaha, but the report suggests that true warmth is not in the sun. It is in service, culture, and community.