Madison, Wis. tops the list of the best cities for successful aging, according to a 2014 Milken Institute report. Two Utah cities also top the list, with Provo at No. 3 and Salt Lake City rounding out the top five, which also included Boston and Omaha, Neb.

More than 80 million Baby Boomers are reaching or just above retirement age, and many are moving to Active Adult communities. Important factors to determine the best large cities for successful aging include safe and affordable environments, opportunities for financial security, mobility, living options for retirees, beneficial opportunities for community engagement, and health care infrastructure,  according to the Milken Institute.

The Milken Institute’s list is useful for builders aiming to reach the Active Adult buyer, who might look to these top cities for both initial affordability and the longer term prospect of home value appreciation.

Using data from Metrostudy, here is the BUILDER breakdown of the top five markets from Milken. A snapshot of each housing market includes the interactive look at price ranges (for closings in which there is a recorded price) dominating new-home sales in 2012, 2013, and those recorded so far in 2014.


Madison

New-Home Closings

2012

598

2013

782

2014 (p)

518

1. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison tops Milken’s list of the “Best Cities for Successful Aging,” for ages 65 through 79, though it comes in third for ages 80 and up. Home to the University of Wisconsin, the booming college town boasts an excellent health care system, strong economy, and plenty of opportunities for a healthy and active lifestyle. From 2012 through 2014, Veridian Homes has led sales in the market with 303 closings at a median price of $264,600. While the cost of living is higher than the area outside Madison, and affordable new-homes are becoming scarce with significant price hikes, the bulk of new-home sales are still below the $300,000 price point. In addition to being an ideal market for aging, Madison is also attracting Millennial buyers.

Omaha-Council Bluffs

New-Home Closings

2012

1,479

2013

1,787

2014 (p)

1,544

2. Omaha—Council Bluffs, Nebraska

The Omaha market is ranked second on Milken’s list. Omaha is a strong employment market for Active Adults and has many opportunities to otherwise stay involved in the community beyond retirement. Health care options are abundant, but there are safety and security concerns with high crime in some parts of the city. The new-home market has been stable over the last few years, with Celebrity Homes far outselling any other builder—a whopping 1,122 closings from 2012 through 2014 so far, at an affordable median closing price of $176,700. While the $200,000 to $400,000 price range dominate new-home sales, there’s still plenty of opportunity to find an affordable new home for retirement. In addition to being an ideal city in which to age, Omaha is ranked as a top city for having a family.

Provo-Orem

New-Home Closings

2012

1,679

2013

1,761

2014 (p)

1,645

3. Provo—Orem, Utah

The Provo—Orem market, although third on Milken’s list overall, ranks second for ages 65 through 79 and first for ages 80 and up. The area fosters a healthy and active lifestyle for retirees, has a vibrant economy, and has safe and tight-knit neighborhoods, despite a shortage of health care professionals. New-home closings in Provo closings will likely trump 2012 and 2013 numbers by the updated count after the end of the year. The market began to see more sales at higher price points in 2014, with a spike in new-home sales above $500,000. Edge Homes led new-home sales in the last few years with 662 closings from 2012 through 2014 so far, at a median closing price of $294,300.

Boston-Cambridge-Newton

New-Home Closings

2012

2,476

2013

2,375

2014 (p)

1,538

4. Boston—Cambridge—Newton, Massachusetts

In fourth is the largest metro to make Milken’s top five “Best Cities for Successful Aging,” although it hasn’t been a strong market this year for new-home sales. Boston not only ranks fourth on Milken’s list for ages 65 through 79, but comes in second for ages 80 and up. High cost of living and pricey health care are marked as the downfall for retirement in the big city by Milken, but employment opportunities and proximity to the nation’s top hospital system put it on the list. Pulte Group has led new-home sales in the market over the past few years with 809 closings, but with a median price of $402,400, highlighting the problem of affordability for the retiring buyer planning for future financial stability.

Salt Lake City

New-Home Closings

2012

2,246

2013

2,563

2014 (p)

2,278

5. Salt Lake City, Utah

Ranked fifth by Milken’s “Best Cities for Successful Aging” for ages 65 through 79 and overall, and sixth for ages 80 and up, Salt Lake City has strong financial and health-care infrastructure for an aging population. Ivory Homes has led the market in sales from 2012 through 2014, closing 890 new homes at a median price of $311,800. The majority of new homes sold in about the last three years have been between $300,000 and $400,000, with a spike in new-home sales in 2014 below the $200,000 price point. Despite a lukewarm market in 2014, Utah’s capitol is likely to finish out the year with numbers approaching 2013 sales with already a slight increase in closings compared to 2012.