Friday, August 03, 2012

Retiring in Boston? Snowbirds stay home.

Every once in a while, my husband mentions that he would like to retire to NYC.

Much as I love New York – if I won the lottery I would be delighted to have a pied-à-terre in Manhattan, and get my pieds there once a month or so - I inevitably point out to him that most people retire to someplace where it’s cheaper to live, not more expensive.

When it comes to retiring, I’ll be content to stay put: walking distance from the best hospital in the US – at least according to the latest rankings – and to the library.  A wonderful neighborhood hardware store; a wonderful neighborhood drugstore; a wonderful neighborhood dry cleaners – none of them chains. (May they live long and prosper.) The loveliest public park in the country – IMHO – in my front yard. Pretty good public transportation.  Excellent interesting weather. And, in this particular ‘hood, an organization – Beacon Hill Village – which:

…provides programs and services so members can lead vibrant, active and healthy lives, while living in their own homes and neighborhoods.

Benefits include access to discounted providers who can help you manage your household, stay active and healthy, and serve your driving needs. Our social and cultural programs are always changing to support member interests.

The one downside that I can think of is that the part of Beacon Hill where I live is The Flat, which is built on land-fill. Come the melting of Greenland and the polar ice cap, and, well… Will Beacon Hill Village be able to supply me with bailing cans?

Other than that, I understand entirely why Boston has been ranked among the top (large metropolitan) places to grow old in. (Source:

Metropolitan Boston fourth nationally as a desirable place to live as you age, according to a study that finds that the region has a wealth of physical therapists, nurses, orthopedic surgeons, and fitness centers, along with convenient public transportation and employment opportunities for people over age 65.

And for people 80 and over, it takes top prize.

The Milken Institute, which worked with the AARP on the report, studied a whole raft of factors (including weather). Despite the weather factor, there were no places in Florida and Arizona that made the list. (I guess I’m way too congenitally gloomy to entertain the idea of living in a place that’s sunny. Must be the combo of Irish-German heritage, plus growing up in New England.)

Boston did get beaten out by Provo, Utah; Madison, Wisconsin; and Omaha, Nebraska. (The Sage of Omaha apparently knows something.)

Even though I’ve never been there, the one place on this short list where I can imagine living is Madison, Wisconsin.

New York City, by the way, came in 5th, for much the same reasons that Boston came in 4th.

The study apparently studied metro areas, which would explain why no prefab sunbelt geezer communities made the list. But there is, of course, much to be said for growing old in a city, as opposed to in a suburb, or in some sort of planned elder-only paradise. (Yuck to that: I like seeing people of all ages, even though I do risk getting mowed down by an occasional jogging stroller.)

In a city, you don’t need a car. There are sidewalks to walk on. And interesting places to walk to. Free stuff to do. Top-notch hospitals. Neighborhood shops.

Of course, that’s if you live in a safe, secure, beautiful, and well-to-do neighborhood, as I do. I certainly realize that there are plenty of outposts in Boston where the sidewalks are crumbling, the bus service is spotty, the gangs are scary. Where the walking-distance stores sell junk food and lottery tickets only. Where the parks are littered with broken glass and dog turds.

I am most fortunate, of course, that The Other Boston isn’t where I live.

So I will be pretty happy to retire here. If only I didn’t have that irksome little worry about the 100 year storm that’s going to make our bedroom part of the Charles River.


Ain’t nothing perfect, is there?


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you and Jim are planning on staying put and retiring in I currently am. Just too bad the South End doesn't (yet) have a South End Village program like Beacon Hill. Margueri

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you and Jim are planning on staying put and retiring in I currently am. Just too bad the South End doesn't (yet) have a South End Village program like Beacon Hill. Marguerite

Anonymous said...

Hey, I live in that Other Boston...