By Steve Moran

US News and World Reports just released its 2020-2021 Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire rankings. I am not sure “The Best Places to Live” has a lot to do with senior living. But it would seem logical that “The Best Places to Retire” and the best place for senior living should have some correlation, maybe even the same thing?

Top Places to Retire

Here are its top three places to retire:

  1. Sarasota, Florida 
  2. Fort Myers, Florida
  3. Port St. Lucie, Florida

As you move down the list, Florida is the big winner, but other states include Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan, and South Carolina. Furthest west are Colorado and Seattle at #50.  


The rankings are based on an overall retirement score that looks at a weighted average of six factors:

  1. Happiness Index
  2. Housing Affordability Index
  3. Health Care Quality Index 
  4. Retiree Taxes Index 
  5. Desirability Index 
  6. Job Market Index

Implications for Senior Living

How senior living operators choose locations for new communities is complicated and includes opportunistic sites, demographics, and corporate footprint. It would seem on the surface that building into the top 3, 5, or 10 markets would make a lot of sense. Except that if people are using this list to make retirement decisions, they are going to still be 15-plus years from being ready for senior living.

The other big dilemma is this: Do these metrics really matter to boomers who are heading into retirement? Will low cost of living and lots of other older people be the driving factor in making retirement decisions? I am retirement age, just barely, and a long way from retiring. But I am starting to have conversations with friends who are thinking about retirement. I am only hearing people talk about tax rates and affordability. Mostly though what I hear is that people are staying in place or putting themselves in close proximity with family.

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Purpose Index – the Opportunity

I believe that as this generation and future generations age and start thinking about retirement, the ability to create purpose in life will be incredibly important. It turns out that while there are some people playing with purpose indexes for the workplace, no one seems to see value in looking at this for retirees. If metropolitan areas can figure this out it will be a huge win for senior living, for the metro areas, and or older people.

A Crazy Dream

Imagine for a moment that Chicago, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles created a program that brought teachers, or even people who have never been teachers but have teaching skills, in as volunteers to pour out their wisdom and experience into the very lowest performing schools. The school districts would have to do a lot to help with safety and classroom discipline. 

It would take work and creativity, but it would change the world, and save lives. What about a senior living community that would take something like this on as its mission?

Maybe it is just crazy dreaming, but why not?