Where Do Seniors Citizens Live?

The question “Where do senior citizens live?” is really two very different questions.

  • What is the nature and location of the senior’s living accommodations?
  • Where are seniors physically located geographically?

Senior Citizen living accommodations

First, let’s take a look at living accommodations. Aging in place is the first option. Aging in place means that a senior resides as long as they can in the residence of their choice for as long as they are able to maintain their style of living safely. It includes having the support services in place that may be necessary as a senior continues to age.

Aging in place: What does it mean?

Aging in place means that a senior makes a conscious decision to stay in the residence of their choice as long as they can with the comforts that are important to them. To make this possible, additional services may be necessary to maintain their quality of life and facilitate their living conditions.

Aging in place: How to plan for it?

Planning for aging in place needs to begin early in the working years. For many seniors, that planning has been procrastinated or avoided altogether. However, planning for aging in place involves more than just financial planning. It involves planning for our physical and mental well being as well. To age in place, a senior has to have the physical health to stay at home. Addressing health concerns and physical fitness concerns are paramount to being able to age in place.

Planning ahead to age in place means not buying a two-story condo when in a few years the stairs will be a challenge. Planning ahead means exercising regularly before we get to our senior years so we have the strength and mobility to live alone. Planning ahead means adjusting our lifestyle early to deal with the issues of diabetes before we surrender our ability to live independently to the reality of diabetes. Planning ahead means not moving to a home with a huge yard just because you can afford it. The list could go on and on.

Aging in place: What are the challenges?

The adage that Father Time is undefeated is more than an adage. It is a reality. Vision, hearing, flexibility, mobility, agility, and mental acuity all diminish with age. The changes are inevitable. To age in place, a senior needs to be able to meet the requirements of self-care called the Activities of Daily Living or ADLs. Among them are:

  • Maintaining one’s home indoors and out.
  • Being able to drive and or use public transportation.
  • Participating in social activities without difficulty.
  • Taking care of one’s health including managing doctor appointments and administering medications accurately and on time.

Aging in place: How Important is it?

The importance of aging in place is enormous for a senior. Properly done, aging in place has a tremendous impact on quality-of-life issues. After all, is not the human animal most at ease in familiar surroundings doing familiar things?

However, the importance of aging in place goes well beyond just the seniors. It has a societal impact as well. In 2000, there were just over 35 million American citizens aged 65 or older. By 2030, according to the US Census Board, there will be about 70 million Americans aged 65 or older. That would make this age group almost 20% of the total US population. The more seniors can age in place and the longer they can age in place, the more positive will be the societal impact in terms of maintaining the country’s aging population. The sheer demographic weight of baby boomers coupled with declining birth rates has the potential to break our country’s overall economic system. It is simple: take care of yourself to take care of the country.

Aging in place: What does it mean to you and your family?

It is important to start making a list of what is important to you. Aging in place means you will ultimately need to ask yourselves some hard questions:

  • What is the ideal way for you to spend your retirement years?
  • Where exactly – what type of home environment you see yourself in – individual, community, assisted?
  • What special health care do you require or think you will need?
  • What other types of supplementary services will you require?
  • What options have you provided for in case of emergencies, life-changing events, accidents, etc.?

There is a huge difference between aging in place and aging well in place. Aging in place well means you plan out your future years in advance of it becoming urgent and life-changing. It requires one to make choices and preferences clear to family and friends. Remember, however, that Aging in place does not mean that you need to do everything for yourself. View it as an ala carte-type situation. You can choose to do as little or as much as you want, can, and are capable of. Resources and technology, such as medic alert systems from Amazon, allow seniors to live at home more safely for longer.

What are my options beyond aging in place?

If aging in place is not for you, other options are plentiful. I wrote about five other options for retirement living in the article What Do Seniors Look For In A Retirement Community? You can read it here.

Where are seniors physically located geographically?

The second question is geography. If you are an active senior and you are looking to make a change, it might be helpful to know where other senior citizens are located. The senior population is not evenly spread throughout the country. For example, Florida has the highest concentration with 17.3% and Alaska the lowest with 7.7% of its population being 65 or older. Alaska might not be the best place for seniors for many reasons.

According to the 2010 United States Census, following is a rundown of how all 50 states fared when it comes to seniors. They are broken into four groups:

  • Very high level of senior population
  • High level of senior population
  • Median level of senior population
  • Low level of senior population

Distribution of senior population

Very High Level of Senior Population

  • Florida – 17.3%
  • West Virginia – 16.0%
  • Maine – 15.9%
  • Pennsylvania – 15.4%
  • Iowa – 14.9%
  • Montana – 14.8%
  • Vermont – 14.6%
  • North Dakota – 14.5%
  • Arkansas – 14.4%
  • Rhode Island – 14.4%
  • Delaware – 14.4%
  • South Dakota – 14.3%
  • Hawaii – 14.3%

High Level of Senior Population

  • Connecticut – 14.2%
  • Ohio – 14.1 %
  • Missouri – 14.0%
  • Oregon – 13.9%
  • Michigan – 13.8%
  • Arizona – 13.8%
  • Massachusetts – 13.8%
  • Alabama – 13.8%
  • Wisconsin – 13.7%
  • South Carolina – 13.7%
  • Nebraska – 13.5%
  • New York – 13.5%
  • Oklahoma – 13.5%
  • New Jersey – 13.5%
  • New Hampshire – 13.5%

Median Level of Senior Population

  • Tennessee – 13.4%
  • Kentucky – 13.3%
  • New Mexico – 13.2%
  • Kansas – 13.2%
  • Indiana – 13.0%
  • North Carolina – 12.9%
  • Minnesota – 12.9%
  • Mississippi – 12.8%
  • Illinois – 12.5%
  • Wyoming – 12.4%
  • Idaho – 12.4%
  • Louisiana – 12.3%
  • Maryland – 12.3%
  • Washington – 12.3%
  • Virginia – 12.2%
  • Nevada – 12.0%

Low Level of Senior Population

  • California – 11.4%
  • Colorado – 10.9%
  • Georgia – 10.7%
  • Texas – 10.3%
  • Utah – 9.0%
  • Alaska – 7.7%

White, Deborah. “Senior Citizen Population by State.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/senior-citizen-population-by-state-3325157.

For the most part, rapid growth states are young and the seniors are diluted in the total population. The top export of many of the communities at the top of the list is kids. Kids go out of the community to school and never return leaving an older population. Of course, there are exceptions. Florida and Arizona are both high growth states but they are meccas for retirees, pushing the percentage of older population upward.

Where does your state stand and how does it affect your senior lifestlye?

What cities are best for seniors?

Often, the best place to retire is right where you are. Your doctors, friends, and diversions are already in place. However, if you are thinking of relocating in your senior years, some cities are better than others. According to a USA Today article in 2019, the Midwest is the best for seniors. In the article, nearly all of the 30 best cities for seniors are in the Midwest. Wisconsin placed eight cities on the list, Minnesota had five, Iowa had four, and Illinois, North Dakota, and Missouri had 2 apiece. Rochester, Minnesota topped the list. Here is what the rest of the list looks like:

  1. Rochester, Minnesota
  2. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  3. Iowa City, Iowa
  4. Grand Island, Nebraska
  5. Wausau, Wisconsin
  6. La Crosse-Onalaska, Wisconsin-Minnesota
  7. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  8. Sioux City, Iowa
  9. Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  10. Dubuque, Iowa
  11. Madison, Wisconsin
  12. Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa
  13. Springfield, Illinois
  14. St. Cloud, Minnesota
  15. Lima, Ohio
  16. Bloomsburg-Berwick, Pennsylvania
  17. Pittsfield, Massachusetts
  18. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
  19. Casper, Wyoming
  20. Grand Forks, North Dakota
  21. Jefferson City, Missouri
  22. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  23. Duluth, Minnesota
  24. Carbondale-Marion, Illinois
  25. Appleton, Wisconsin
  26. Billings, Montana
  27. Bangor, Maine
  28. Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin
  29. Columbia, Missouri
  30. Fargo, North Dakota.

Obviously, the authors of the study must have concluded that the weather doesn’t matter much to seniors. Many of the cities on the list have some of the most brutal winters in the country. They did use factors like the percentage of the population 65 and older, fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65 and over, physicians per 100,000 residents 65+, and average retirement income. For me, the weather would have to be on the list!

Where are the cheapest places for seniors to live?

Although the USA Today report did included retirement income, it ignored cost of living as a criteria. For most fixed income seniors, cost of living has to be included when consider the quality of a place to live during the senior years.

MarketWatch published a list last fall that looks entirely different than the list above. Its list, driven by WalletHub, lists the 10 least expensive communities for retirees. Here they are:

  1. Laredo, Texas
  2. Memphis, Tennessee
  3. Knoxville, Tennessee
  4. Huntington, West Virginia
  5. Fort Smith Arkansas
  6. San Antonio, Texas
  7. Amarillo, Texas
  8. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  9. Toledo, Ohio
  10. Jackson, Mississippi

According to the story, WalletHub “used cost-of-living-index data from the Council for Community and Economic Research on 270 urban areas — which measures the costs of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services — and then adjusted that data to increase the weight of health-care expenses, as these are increasingly important in retirement.”

The story also warned that seniors tend to significantly underestimate the cost of healthcare.

MarketWatch has a cool tool that lets you input what is important to you and then it sorts out a list of communities that fit your criteria. It is fun to play with. You can play with it here.


It is more comfortable and more cost-efficient to stay in your own community, in your own home, with your own friends and family nearby but above all, be safe. Help is available. No matter what age you are and where you are in the aging process, it is not too late to start the planning and preparation process.

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