Best Cities is not about the best places to retire. To the contrary, it offers a broad focus on livability across the life course.
Four important realities underpin our focus on aging in metropolitan areas:
- As is the case across much of the world, the U.S. population is aging at an unprecedented pace.
Demographers project that one in five Americans will be 65 or over by 2030 as the nearly 80 million baby boomers age.
- Older people want to age in place.
AARP surveys find that the vast majority of people - including nearly nine in 10 of those 65 and older - do not plan to pack up and move to the Sun Belt but want to age in their current homes and communities.
- The number of older residents in metropolitan areas is expanding.
Globally, the World Health Organization anticipates that by 2030, about three of every five people will live in cities, a large segment of them over age 60. In the U.S., 80 percent of people 65 and older already live in metropolitan areas large and small, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Longevity is linked to location.
Life expectancy differs significantly depending on where people live. Not everyone is sharing in the benefits of longer lives. A widening longevity gap, including within cities, highlights the need to ensure that health and prosperity are spread. The variation is tied to factors that include education, income, access to health care, food choices, smoking rates, exercise, safety of housing, and pollution.
We include 83 indicators from publicly available data on criteria that experts commonly cite as important to age-friendly environments. Learn more about our methodology.
Mayors across the United States are embracing a new vision of population aging in which all people contribute to the vitality and productivity of their communities. We created the Mayor's Pledge in 2014 to encourage local leaders to join the movement for purposeful, healthy aging and create cities that are livable for all. Has your mayor taken the Mayor's Pledge?
In addition to its age-friendly rankings, we've highlighted Programs With Purpose
and Initiatives for Innovation
. These programs and initiatives provide opportunities for older adults to engage and thrive in their communities.
100 Best Large Cities
281 Best Small Cities