I always tell people planning for retirement that the first step is to determine the life style you want in retirement. The money issues all spring from that. Joseph Coughlin, a longevity researcher at M.I.T., has a good example in which he compares the “Florida retirement” to the “New York City retirement.” As he points out, you can prefer either type of retirement without having to live in either Florida or NYC.
What New York has that makes it conducive to living in old age is what researchers like myself call livability. Many parts of New York City have livability in spades. It has supportive infrastructure such as a seamless public transportation system, great healthcare, robust social services, and plenty of stuff to do. Its most “unlivable” quality is easy to guess: the cost of living.
New York is far from the only place in the U.S. that boasts these qualities. A New York retirement need not be in one of the densest most expensive cities in the world. Cities as far-flung as Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Madison, Wisconsin are also highly livable, as measured by AARP’s Livability Index (Florida, for what it’s worth, has middling scores across the state). In fact, college towns, not cities, often offer a New York retirement with their density and intensity of things to do combined with easy accessibility to enjoy them. Many offer the added benefit of ready access to advanced medical care.