Milken Institute Reveals Best Cities for Successful Aging: Austin Makes the Top 10

Austin scored highly for healthy eating habits of older AmericansA brand new study on the best U.S. cities in which to age successfully was released by the Milken Institute this week. Austin made the top 10 rankings based on a broad set of factors. Unlike lists that name the best cities in which to retire, the new list includes cities that offer an aging population social engagement as well as continued employment or volunteer opportunities for the aging adult who chooses to work into their later years. Although the list did consider factors that read similarly to other “best cities” lists ranking metros based on their strong economies, affordable housing and attractive social scenes, the Milken Institute considered factors that the new aging generation seems to prefer when choosing a place to call home.

A New Slant on Aging

While conducting the study, it was revealed that the maturing American isn’t necessarily interested in a quiet lifestyle defined by solitude and introspection. Senior Americans appear to be more interested in engaging with the community, social connectivity and even working into later years. To reflect the newly discovered needs, the Institute had to consider each city on a wide breadth of factors, including economic and job conditions, housing, transportation, and “social engagement factors that help create safe, affordable and connected communities.”

In a report that announced the study findings, Anusuya Chatterjee, Milken Institute senior economist and one of the authors of the report was quoted as saying, “Our research finds common themes among the top-ranked cities… These include economic strength, abundance of health resources, active lifestyles, opportunities for intellectual stimulation and access to amenities." The findings underscore a need to rethink what aging in the twenty-first century looks like and how best to utilize a growing demographic of Americans who are not only looking for ways to stay productive, but also for ways to be a resource for their communities.

Sustaining the Strength of Austin's Economy

Successful Aging represents long-term economic sustenance for AustinIt’s a concept that represents a significant economic advantage over generations past, where the ideal retirement lifestyle was spent in leisure in smaller cities or towns with comfortable climates and that afforded retirees with an aspect of retreat from the workaday world. Based on the study findings, Austin is providing what aging adults are looking for when considering a place to take up residence and contribute to their communities. Cultivating the city’s offerings to attract and enable maturing citizens’ preference for productivity will provide a sustained resource for the city that can be relied upon even if Austin’s current trendy allure fades.

"With the demographic shift proceeding across America, enabling successful aging could not be more important for our future," said Paul Irving, president of the Milken Institute. "Best Cities for Successful Aging is not just an index, it's a movement. We hope our findings spark national discussion and, at the local level, generate virtuous competition among cities to galvanize improvement in the social structures that serve and empower older adults."

The Mayor's Pledge: Taking Action to Provide Successful Aging Environments

Acting on the idea of the Successful Aging Movement, The Milken Institute has reached out to mayors across the U.S. and asked them to sign the Best Cities for Successful Aging Mayor's Pledge. At the time of the report, one-hundred thirty-seven mayors from across the political spectrum had committed to make their cities work better for older adults and to “enable older adults to strengthen their cities and improve lives for all generations through purposeful work and volunteerism.” The mayors and their cities are listed on a site devoted to the Mayor's Pledge:

Pledging to make the city work better for older adults and to create an environment that provides and encourages purposeful work and volunteerism enhances the lives of all the residents of the city. The effects of this will be seen in the public across all generations who are inspired to participate in contributing to their communities while satisfying their needs for financial or social enhancement.  People of all ages will continue to gravitate to Austin and take up real estate in the city that provides for all their lifelong needs.

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