urban versus rural retirement

Here’s a pattern familiar to all of us: a retired married couple with an empty nest sell their overpriced home in the city centre and move to the country to enjoy peace, quiet, gardening and fishing. ….But there are signs the trend may be reversing. And indeed, there are some very good reasons why this reversal is a good thing. ….

When you consider the plethora of free or low-cost cultural services available to older adults in London alone – free bus fares, admission to the best museums and galleries in the world, discounts at cinemas and theatre – the question becomes not whether you should retire to the country. Instead, it is “Why leave the city at all?” ….

Among other factors, the inability to drive a car is often an immediate precursor to the greatest threat to elderly wellbeing: social isolation. In other words, retirement and old age spent in a rural setting without close family nearby can be the opposite of idyllic. ….

[F]or those looking to maximise their chances of a comfortable retirement, the signs are pointing in one direction: move to the city!

Norma Cohen, “City living is good for you“, Financial Times, 3 May 2014.

Journalist Norma Cohen is demography correspondent at the Financial Times.

I agree that urban living trumps rural living. I would add that retirees living in high-cost cities like London and New York should – unless they are very affluent – relocate to a less expensive city. Any selected city must, however, offer public parks, cultural amenities and – above all – good public transportation. I relocated from New York to such a city in central Europe, where many attractive, inexpensive cities exist. The United Kingdom also has wonderful, smaller cities where living costs are much lower than London. North America is difficult, because of a car culture and lack of public transportation. Desirable North American cities with good public transit systems (such as New York City and Vancouver) tend also to be very expensive.

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