Age Friendly Advisor, the site where users help produce an age-friendly score for every city in America, has released its list of the Top 25 Best Places To Retire, highlighting the towns and cities that enable older Americans to most easily stay in their community.
After gathering tens of thousands of reviews, Age Friendly Advisor says Silver Spring, Md. tops the list.
Other cities on the Top 25 Best Places To Retire list include Boston, New York, Raleigh, N.C., New Orleans, Ft. Lauderdale, and Atlanta.
"We sought to build an innovative, technology-driven platform that would allow users to provide their feedback directly and in real-time," said Tim Driver, the founder and CEO of the site's parent company, Age Friendly Ventures. "The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we congratulate Silver Spring and the state of Maryland for their collective approach to solving the challenges facing older Americans. This survey will get even more refined as we gather more reviews, not unlike the way review sites like TripAdvisor have evolved over time".
Silver Spring landed the top spot with an overall score of 4.53 stars out of 5, primarily driven by its strong rankings in education, transportation, and general livability, which includes items like weather and cost of living. Residents cited easy transportation, the fact that it's "very diverse," has colleges and universities nearby, and that Silver Spring has a large older population, and "lots of activities for them."
Longtime Silver Spring resident Marc Bloom, 62, told Age Friendly Advisor he agreed with the assessment: "Silver Spring has been an excellent place to age. It has universities nearby, ample public transportation with metro and bus lines, and top-tier care facilities. I couldn't imagine a better place to retire."
How To Tell What Towns Are Best Places To Retire
Users of Age Friendly Advisor can view and submit reviews on how age friendly their town is across different categories. These are mapped to the official domains established by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO's Age Friendly Cities program now boasts more than 1,000 age friendly cities worldwide.
Reviews submitted to agefriendly.com are combined with third-party data on categories such as cost of living and transportation to provide a final score for each town or city. There are over 29,000 rated communities on the site currently, and there are plans to expand the site internationally. Age Friendly Advisor uses many of the same data sources as other "Best Places To Retire" lists, but has a unique categorization method and incorporates user feedback of towns and cities to contribute to a full picture of what aging there is like.
Crowd-Sourced Reviews Make It Easier for Policy Makers
"Factoring in the opinions of people who live in a town has always been a critical part of the designation process," according to Dr. Alexandre Kalache, who led the creation of the Age Friendly Cities program while heading WHO's global program on aging. "What we lacked until now was the capability for ongoing tracking of residents' sentiments as well as the ability to collect comments on a large scale. This has been a missing ingredient."
It is not only cities that are becoming designated as age-friendly. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts took the step of becoming designated as an age-friendly state. This was fueled in part by the state leadership's objective of making Massachusetts the most age friendly state and to spur innovation, establishing it as the "Silicon Valley for innovation in aging."
"It's gratifying to see so many towns and cities stepping up to strengthen their resources for aging residents," Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S. - MassMutual Financial Group, told Age Friendly Advisor. "Many of today's retirees are looking to live their later years the way they've envisioned them, and being able to view real-time reviews by members of various communities can not only help them see whether or not a community can support that vision, but whether or not their financial picture aligns with it, as well."