The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about how a small group of retirement-age Americans are rejecting traditional ideas about retirement in favor of growing old in major urban metropolises. While many people think of big cities as having crowded, dirty streets and crammed subway cars, many retirees are finding that these big cities come with perks. They can get rid of their cars and maintenance-heavy single-family homes and be closer to cultural institutions and a wider variety of restaurants.
After having lived in London for a couple of months, and then Singapore, I fell in love with city living. When we went to London, we took a limo to the airport, and the next time we were in a car was when we landed in New York two months later, and took a limo back home. We also never drove while in Singapore, but we did use Uber a few times. Everything we needed was within walking distance, and if we wanted to venture out a bit further, the public transit system was outstanding in both cities.
I’d be very happy living in either of those two cities, but they are a bit far from family and friends.
But it’s not like we have a shortage of big cities in the U.S.. New York City is a wonderful city, and I’d live there in a heartbeat except for two issues: 1) I probably couldn’t afford it and 2) it gets a little chilly in the winter.
Philadelphia is also quite viable; I know the city quite well, having lived in this area my entire life. Plus, it’s much more affordable than New York. But again, the winters are cold here as well.
I am sure there is no ideal city, but I do enjoy researching possibilities.
I’ve mentioned before how Sarasota, Florida seems like a wonderful place to live, but I’m guessing it doesn’t have the big city feel of New York or Philly. But it has amazing weather, and it now has multiple locations of the iconic Philly convenience store – Wawa.
So getting back to the WSJ article, here are some of the quotes and experiences from some of the retirees who have moved into a big city:
- “Now, I meet people on the elevators, I meet people in the lobby and I meet people at the pool and at the bar. I love it.”
- He doesn’t need to drive much, and he takes comfort in the security that comes with condo living: There’s no worry about someone breaking into his house and “if anything were to happen to me, the staff would be there to take care of me immediately.”
- In the city, she’s already made a group of friends; their biggest problem is deciding which museum, show or restaurant to enjoy on their weekend get-togethers, she said. From her
- “Snow plowing and lawn mowing and home maintenance and all that crap,” are now gone.
- They enjoy being surrounded by the youthful energy of students from the surrounding colleges, like the Berklee College of Music and MIT, and said they feel spoiled by the staff at the building, who help them with their groceries and are at their beck and call call if they have issues. The proximity to some of the country’s best hospitals is also comforting as they age. “I haven’t opened a door for myself in two years.”
- “If we want to travel, we fly out of Logan and we’re home in 10 minutes. If we want to go get pasta in the North End, we’ll just hop on the T and off we go. If there’s a snowstorm coming, I really don’t give a damn because I’ll UberEATS something.”
All of those perks sound quite enticing to me.
So who knows when retirement will happen and where we will end up. But as they say (well, I say), planning is half the fun.
And there’s always the chance I stay right where I am, in the Philly suburbs, being sure to take a daily nap…
*image from Discover Philadelphia