MILWAUKEE MIGHT NOT JUMP TO MOST people's minds as a retirement hot spot, but it's one of five cities—along with Atlanta, Boston, Portland, Ore., and Chandler, Ariz.—noted in a new AARP report on great places for seniors to enjoy life.

AARP was looking for towns with several qualities, including various housing choices at affordable prices, opportunities to stay active and involved, natural beauty, and an “array of mobility options,” says Elinor Ginzler, AARP's director for livable communities. “That's not to say, ‘no cars,'” she says, “but we looked for an opportunity for people to be engaged in their community without a car if they choose.”

In identifying five great places to live, Ginzler says there are plenty of other wonderful communities for retirees and those preparing for retirement. That's good, she notes, because the vast majority of AARP's members want to age in place. In a survey of its members, 89 percent want to stay in their homes for as long as they can, and if they can't stay in their homes 86 percent would at least want to stay in their own communities.

Any community that rethinks its transportation, housing stock, and services to accommodate older citizens is going to be livable, says Robert McNulty, president and CEO of the Washington-based, nonprofit policy organization Partners for Livable Communities.

To that end, McNulty says that builders, architects, municipalities, and mortgage lenders could be a bit more imaginative in coming up with housing options from the standpoints of design, financing, and government regulations.

“What we're calling for is a little more creativity and brainstorming, developing some prototypes we can show to communities,” McNulty says.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LIVABLE COMMUNITIES, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AT WWW.BUILDERONLINE.COM, CLICK ON “THE MAGAZINE” TAB, AND THEN CLICK ON “BUILDER ARTICLE LINKS.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Milwaukee, WI, Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Portland, OR.