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Best Cities to Retire for Public Parks Lovers

Ben Hanowell
By Ben HanowellJuly 24, 2017
Elder on a park bench

For those who love the outdoors, the only thing better than a day at the park is living as close to beautiful public parks as possible. To help parks lovers decide where to retire, we combine our Senior Living Cost Index with data from Walk Score, a Redfin company, to show the cities with the most affordable active senior living and assisted living communities within walking distance of public parks.

Need to Live Close to Public Parks? You’re Not Alone

30% of active senior living consumers find walking distance to a public park very important or mandatory.

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In a recent survey of nearly 1,000 families searching for senior housing and care, we found that nearly 30% of active senior living consumers find walking distance to a public park very important or mandatory in their search. Even 17% of assisted living consumers, most of whom have mobility issues, strongly prefer to live within walking distance of parks. The majority of families in both senior housing categories factor park proximity into their decision about where to move.

17% of assisted living consumers strongly prefer to live within walking distance of parks.

Living Close to Public Parks Is Probably Good for Your Health

A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) identified eight ways that living close to urban green spaces promotes cardiovascular health, cognitive function, mental health and protection against diabetes risk, leading to lower mortality.

How Living Near Public Parks Promotes Mental and Physical Health

  • Greater awareness and stewardship of the natural environment
  • Healthy doses of natural light, which promotes vitamin D production and better sleep
  • Less exposure to excessive heat from urban heat islands
  • Lower air pollution
  • More chances for social interaction
  • More physical activity
  • Noise buffering and exposure to natural sounds
  • Relaxation and restoration

No wonder you want to live close to public parks. After reading that WHO report, I’m glad I do.

Parks promote exercise and social interaction, improving physical and mental health, according to the World Health Organization.

Best Cities to Retire for Public Parks Lovers

Walk Score, a Redfin company, scored the proximity to public parks of over 7,300 A Place for Mom partner communities in three senior housing categories:

  • Assisted living is for older adults who need daily assistance with personal care, and includes meals as well as light housekeeping
  • Independent living is for independent older adults and includes meals and housekeeping but no daily assistance
  • Senior apartments are apartments for independent 55+ adults and do not typically include meals or housekeeping

If money was no object, where should a park-lover retire?

Top 10 Cities for Parks Lovers

Here are the top 10 cities for each senior housing category based on the average Walk Score of their senior living communities. We included only those cities with at least two partner community offerings in a given senior living category, and that had parks ratings for each option.

Park-lovers’ paradises are where you’d expect them, either in big densely populated cities or upscale suburbs. Walkable areas tend to have higher cost of living, which is why the most parks-friendly cities for senior apartments (a more affordable, often income-restricted option than independent living) are further from parks than independent living communities.

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1. Cambridge, MA

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,823—$8,694 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,960 per month

2. Chevy Chase, MD (Silver Spring, MD Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,882—$8,642 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,985 per month

3. Cross Plains, WI (Madison, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,463—$6,825 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,099 per month

4. Monterey, CA (Salinas, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,460—$6,929 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,113 per month

5. New York, NY

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $3,044—$9,462 per month
  • Median Cost: $5,371 per month

6. Washington, DC

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,574—$7,245 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,322 per month

7. Santa Barbara, CA (Santa Maria, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,415—$6,972 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,099 per month

8. Boston, MA

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,235—$7,222 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,036 per month

9. Kew Gardens, NY (New York, NY Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,706—$8,288 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,735 per month

10. San Leandro, CA (Oakland, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,425—$6,897 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,088 per month

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[tab_item title=”INDEPENDENT LIVING”]

1. Evanston, IL (Chicago, IL Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,645—$4,890 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,844 per month

2. New York, NY

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,323—$7,286 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,109 per month

3. Reading, PA

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,123—$4,011 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,115 per month

4. The Bronx, NY (New York, NY Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,542—$5,079 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,797 per month

5. San Leandro, CA (Salinas, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,680—$4,880 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,878 per month

6. McHenry, IL (Chicago, IL Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 99
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,707—$4,996 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,916 per month

7. Oakland, CA

  • Parks Score Average: 99
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,382—$4,350 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,448 per month

8. Arcadia, CA (Los Angeles, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 99
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,684—$5,240 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,969 per month

9. Waterloo, IA

  • Parks Score Average: 98
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,327—$3,930 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,283 per month

10. Santa Monica, CA (Los Angeles, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 98
  • Typical Cost Range: $1721—$5,346 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,026 per month

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1. Fitchburg, WI (Madison, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 97
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,089—$2,132 per month
  • Median Cost: $1,089 per month

2. Neenah, WI (Oshkosh, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 90
  • Typical Cost Range: $507—$2,010 per month
  • Median Cost: $1,008 per month

3. West Allis, WI (Milwaukee, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 89
  • Typical Cost Range: $421—$1,817 per month
  • Median Cost: $872 per month

4. Kent, WA (Seattle, WA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 88
  • Typical Cost Range: $490—$2,207 per month
  • Median Cost: $1,042 per month

5. Essex, MD (Baltimore, MD Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 87
  • Typical Cost Range: $497—$2,121 per month
  • Median Cost: $1,023 per month

6. Saint Louis, MO

  • Parks Score Average: 84
  • Typical Cost Range: $359—$1,738 per month
  • Median Cost: $790 per month

7. Cleveland, OH

  • Parks Score Average: 76
  • Typical Cost Range: $335—$1,711 per month
  • Median Cost: $757 per month

8. Alexandria, VA (Washington, DC Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 73
  • Typical Cost Range: $691—$2,501 per month
  • Median Cost: $1,312 per month

9. Toledo, OH

  • Parks Score Average: 72
  • Typical Cost Range: $329—$1,735 per month
  • Median Cost: $756 per month

10. Lincoln, NE

  • Parks Score Average: 71
  • Typical Cost Range: $433—$1,898 per month
  • Median Cost: $908 per month

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Cities With the Most Affordable Senior Living Near Public Parks

Not everyone can afford park-lovers’ paradises like Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Chevy Chase, Maryland. That’s why we made another list of cities categorized by Walk Score as a Walker’s Paradise (parks proximity rating 90 and above) ordered from most to least affordable based on our Senior Living Cost Index.

These cities have on average slightly less walkable senior living than the most parks-friendly areas, but not by much.

10 Most Affordable Cities to Retire for Parks Lovers (Assisted Living) by A Place for Mom Content

Top 10 Most Affordable Park-Lovers’ Paradises

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1. New Orleans, LA

  • Parks Score Average: 96
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,877—$5,299 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,143 per month

2. West Allis, WI (Milwaukee, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 99
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,119—$5,941 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,547 per month

3. Rancho Cucamonga, CA (Riverside, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 91
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,229—$6,3,65 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,760 per month

4. Edina, MN (Minneapolis, MN Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 90
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,247—$6,477 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,822 per month

5. Milton, WI (Janesville, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 90
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,318—$6,361 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,842 per month

6. Lemon Grove, CA (San Diego, CA)

  • Parks Score Average: 93
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,320—$6,544 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,891 per month

7. Tracy, CA (Stockton, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 90
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,298—$6,679 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,930 per month

8. Forest Grove, OR (Portland, OR Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 92
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,318—$6,705 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,935 per month

9. Fallbrook, CA (San Diego, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,364—$6,613 per month
  • Median Cost: $3,959 per month

10. Boston, MA

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $2,235—$7,222 per month
  • Median Cost: $4,036 per month

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[tab_item title=”INDEPENDENT LIVING”]

1. Minneapolis, MN

  • Parks Score Average: 96
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,157—$3,899 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,120 per month

2. Reading, PA

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,123—$4,011 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,115 per month

3. Waterloo, IA

  • Parks Score Average: 98
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,327—$3,930 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,283 per month

4. Monroe, MI

  • Parks Score Average: 94
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,323—$4,054 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,312 per month

5. Lebanon, OR (Albany, OR Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 94
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,400—$4,239 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,434 per month

6. Oakland, CA

  • Parks Score Average: 99
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,382—$4,350 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,448 per month

7. Lemon Grove, CA (San Diego, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 93
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,569—$4,585 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,685 per month

8. Rancho Cucamonga, CA (Riverside, CA Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 90
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,584—$4,600 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,691 per month

9. The Bronx, NY (New York, NY Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,542—$5,079 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,797 per month

10. Evanston, IL (Chicago, IL Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 100
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,645—$4,890 per month
  • Median Cost: $2,844 per month

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Only two of the cities we looked at have senior apartments that are on average in a park-lover’s paradise.

1. Fitchburg, WI (Madison, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 97
  • Typical Cost Range: $1,089—$2,132 per month
  • Median Cost: $1,089 per month

2. Neenah, WI (Oshkosh, WI Metro)

  • Parks Score Average: 90
  • Typical Cost Range: $507—$2,010 per month
  • Median Cost: $1,008 per month

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10 Most Affordable Cities to Retire for Parks Lovers (Independent Living) by A Place for Mom Content

It’s Easier Than Ever to Spot-Check the Parks Near Senior Living

Our Senior Living Advisors are local experts. If you haven’t contacted one to help you find senior housing that matches your needs and budget, you really should. They have deep knowledge about the area surrounding senior living communities, including nearby amenities like parks.

Google Maps is your friend. Just type “Parks near [the senior living community’s name]” into the search bar and hit search. You’ll quickly get a sense of how many parks are within a few blocks, and you can top on those parks to learn more about them.

Balance parks proximity against affordability. You can use our Senior Living Cost Index to look up typical senior living costs in your target area.

The best way to learn about a senior living community’s surroundings: take a tour. It’s hard to know if a community and the parks near it are right for you without seeing it in person.

The Takeway

Given the obvious health benefits, it’s no surprise many people want to retire in a neighborhood near public parks. We showed the best cities in America for parks lovers, then showed you the cities with a good balance of park proximity and affordability. We hope it helps you find a great place to live. See you at the park.

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Ben Hanowell
Author
Ben Hanowell

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