Dream Retirement Forget Florida. The best cities for retirees

Forget Florida. The best cities for retirees

November 18, 2014: 8:37 AM ET

best place to age madison
Click on the image above to see the 5 best cities to grow older in.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Sure, spending your golden years on a beach in Florida sounds like a great idea, but that’s not going to cut it for many of today’s retirees.

Seniors are living longer, craving more fulfilling lifestyles and working well into their retirement years and that has upended traditional notions of where — and when — we should retire, according to the Milken Institute’s Best Cities for Successful Aging report.

See: The 5 best cities to grow older in

The report analyzed a broad range of quality-of-life factors, from employment data and crime rates to stats on binge drinking and the number of doctors in a specific metro area.

Topping the list of the 100 major metro areas was Madison, Wisc., which scored highly for health care, community engagement and education and employment opportunities.

The city not only has 11 highly rated hospitals in the area, but thanks to the University of Wisconsin there are plenty of jobs, cultural events and classes to take. Residents also reported low rates of smoking and diabetes, and that they walked a lot. One weakness was that prices, especially some health care costs, are high.

Calculator: Will you have enough to retire?

Other major cities that ranked high on the list included Omaha, Neb., Provo, Utah, Boston, and Salt Lake City.

Among the 252 smaller metro areas, many colder cities came out on top. Iowa City, Iowa, Sioux Falls, S.D., Columbia, Mo., Bismarck, N.D., and Rapid City, S.D.

Many of these cities offered low unemployment and taxes, as well as reasonable costs of living. Community engagement also tended to be high with numerous local seniororganizations and charity groups.

Related: America’s oldest workers: Why we refuse to retire!

Overall, employment opportunities are an increasingly important consideration for seniors. According to AARP, the number of Americans between 65- and 90 years old who are working full time has doubled over the past 10 years to 4.8 million.

Retiree ditches U.S. for ‘paradise’ abroad

“A big portion of the Baby Boom generation wants to or needs to continue to work,” said Paul Irving, president of the Milken Institute.

And few want to head off to the beach. According to AARP, 90% of those nearing retirement age say they prefer to age in place.

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