Retire well in Seattle, for a price
Seattle area is a great place to retire, especially if you've stashed away a lot of cash.
Seattle Times staff columnist
It's never too soon to think about where you'd like to retire, assuming you get to retire.
But hey, we live in the Seattle metro area, so what's to think about, unless you want a little more sun and maybe less traffic?
When I got an email about a new report on the best places to age well, I figured this area would be near the top. It's got great medical care, a rich arts and culture scene, restaurants galore.
Still, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area ranked 58 out of 100 large cities.
Provo-Orem, Utah was No. 1. Portland, Ore., ranked 24.
So what gives? Well, it's mostly about money. Around here, it takes a lot of it to live really well.
The report, which was compiled by the California-based Milken Institute, uses publicly available data, not surveys, to rank cities.
The report is called "Best Cities for Successful Aging," which captures the idea that growing older is about more than sitting in a rocking chair, and might not include retirement at all.
The data is organized into eight categories, health care, wellness, finance, employment, living arrangements, transportation and community engagement.
Communities all around the country are making adjustments as a huge wave of baby boomers enters retirement age with expectations different from those of previous generations.
So the report takes into consideration opportunities for employment and education as well as health care and housing. It's about active, engaged living as much as assisted living.
The Milken approach mirrors that being taken by the nonprofit agency Senior Services in its Aging Your Way initiative for seniors in King County.
The idea behind the report and the initiative is to nudge people to start now, at whatever age you are, working to build the kind of community you'll want to live in when you are old.
So what needs attention in our metro area?
According to the Milken report, housing is expensive, investment in public transportation and transportation for seniors is near the bottom, but we are adding more.
The weather got low marks, but not much we can do about that.
Tax rates lowered the ranking and the report calculated that there are not enough community colleges for the population.
The area ranked high in the number of doctors, but also among the highest in the cost of health care.
Altogether the report puts numbers to what we know, Seattle has a lot going for it, but it costs a lot.
Money's not an issue for everyone, of course. The day before I got the email about Milken's report, I read a story on retirement places that singled out Hunts Point.
Bloomberg News reported this week that the country's wealthiest retirees live in Hunts Point.
Based on census data, Bloomberg said, the average retirement income there is $200,431, which is nine times the national average. The data compares communities with at least 100 residents. Hunts Point has about 400.
Accumulating millions is an effective strategy for successful aging, but there are others, among them community engagement now to help shape your future.
Joanne Donohue, Senior Services vice president/chief planning officer (Senior Centers) mentioned some of the strategies adopted by attendees of senior gatherings that Senior Services has held around the area.
To mitigate high housing costs, some people proposed cohousing projects. Others are participating in time banks in which they share skills, or in tool banks.
Many of the ideas that came from gatherings are being put into practice. Senior Services has details, 206-448-3110, seniorservices.org.
And, you can read the Milken report at seati.ms/OK1adw.
I don't think it will persuade you to move to Utah, but it should stir a few conversations about how to make our turf greener.
Jerry Large's column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or email@example.com. Twitter @jerrylarge.
About Jerry Large
I try to write about the intersections of everyday life and big issues. I like to invite readers to think a little differently. The topics I choose represent the things in which I take an interest, and I try to deal with them the way most folks would, sometimes seriously, sometimes with a sense of humor. My column runs Mondays and Thursdays.
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