- Combining proprietary ratings data and user reviews, Age Friendly Advisor has ranked Silver Spring, Maryland first in terms of “age friendliness” out of more than 29,000 cities and towns in America, making it the best place to retire in the U.S
- According to respondents, Silver Spring is noted to have easy public transportation, proximity to higher learning institutions, and diversity, all of which contributed positively to its score across 6 dimensions critical to well-being in older adults.
- Other cities that scored highly using the unique methodology include Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.; Raleigh, N.C.; New Orleans, La.; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; and Atlanta, Ga.
- World Health Organization expert says new system fills a need for tracking ongoing resident sentiment on a large scale.
Sept 17, 2019 - Age Friendly Advisor, the pioneering site launched earlier this year 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. The list showcases the towns and cities that enable older Americans to most easily stay in their community. After gathering tens of thousands of reviews, Silver Spring, Md. has topped the list.
“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, Maryland 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 big elderly population with lots of activities for them.
Long-time Silver Spring resident Marc Bloom, age 62, 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."
Other notable inclusions in the Top 25 Best Places To Retire list include Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.; Raleigh, N.C.; New Orleans, La.; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; and Atlanta, Ga.
How To Tell What Towns Are Best Places To Retire
Users of Age Friendly Advisor (agefriendly.com) 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 in Aging
“Factoring in the opinions of people who live in a town has always been a critical part of the designation process,” says Dr. Alexandre Kalache, who led the creation of the Age Friendly Cities program while heading the World Health Organization’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.” Governor Charlie Baker convened a Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, whose work began with statewide listening sessions so policy makers could hear directly from residents about their needs. With the help of Age Friendly Advisor (agefriendly.com), policy makers at all levels of government in any state or locality can now supplement such face-to-face efforts by listening online to, and communicating back with, residents about their needs as older adults.
Selecting where to live in one’s later years requires careful consideration about finances as well as what types of housing options are available.
“It’s gratifying to see so many towns and cities stepping up to strengthen their resources for aging residents,” remarks Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual US. “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.”
“Our conversations with Baby Boomers have revealed that they’re developing, in many ways, an entirely new set of expectations when it comes to living in their later years,” says Tom Grape, founder and CEO of Benchmark. “We are excited to be at the forefront of rolling out highly desirable, urban solutions for the 55+ population in a number of locations on the Top 25 Best Places to Retire list!”