One of the myths about retirement is that people move to a new retirement location. Data indicate about 80% of people don’t move or don’t move very far after retiring or even later in retirement. But if you’re one of those considering a retirement or even a pre-retirement move, consider a new study. The authors sought to determine America’s aspirational cities. These are cities were people move to improve their lives. An aspirational city is one that provides attractive economic and cultural structures and also is low cost. They crunched the data and ranked the cities in the U.S. Some probably will surprise you (New Orleans is #2 and Richmond is #7) and some probably won’t (Austin, Texas is #1).
Not all our top aspirational cities are in Dixie. If there’s enough growth and opportunity, solidly blue-state regions can perform well enough to stay near the top of these rankings. Such cities include No. 8, Washington, D.C., and No. 10, Minneapolis–St. Paul, as well as No. 12, Seattle; No. 16, Denver; and even No. 22, Boston. In these cities, high-tech and professional-service growth has created enough wealth to offset higher costs while offering the next generation the chance to live in a culturally vibrant place where affording a home and raising a family are still possible.
Perhaps more surprising is the high aspirational ranking of some old Rust Belt and Great Lakes cities. The middle part of the country has been losing people and jobs for half a century, but more recently several urban areas within or bordering the Midwest have established enough of an aspirational culture to reverse the pattern of out-migration and begin luring people from the coasts. These include such diverse places as No. 15, Columbus, Ohio; No. 17 Louisville, Kentucky; No. 21 Pittsburgh; and No. 23, Indianapolis.