Planning your retirement as a single person means have slightly different criteria for your destination than your coupled counterparts -- namely the opportunity to socialize and hang with other older singletons.
With the acknowledgement that older singles, like singles of any age, are looking for a thousand different things, the AARP recently came up with a list of American cities that might particularly appeal them based on the size of their older populations and the opportunities they provide to socialize, as well as more general criteria such as access to and cost of healthcare.
Milwaukee, for example, made the list as a "manageably sized city populated by fun-loving locals" with good public transportation and extensive cultural offerings, while larger cities such as San Francisco also made the cut despite a higher cost of living because of their "sheer single-friendliness."
Check out the slideshow below for five of these "great cities for older singles," and be sure to click over to the AARP's site for the full list. And don't forget to add any other cities you feel deserve a mention as great retirement places for older singles in the comments.
Romance, as we age, blossoms from ever deeper wells of the soul. True, probably, but it helps to have a charming, waterfront city to help get things rolling. <a href="http://www.aarp.org/home-family/livable-communities/info-06-2012/great-cities-for-older-singles.3.html" target="_hplink">Boston</a> manages to meld scrappy and intellectual -- a relatively small city that is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world, bolstered by culture, parks and a fine quality of life. Greater Boston (population 4.5 million) includes the city of Boston (617,594) and more than 100 cities and towns. The smaller places range from 17th-century villages (Plymouth) to some of the oldest suburbs in America (Brookline and Braintree). Many area towns were built in the 18th century and most feature central squares surrounded by small businesses and residential neighborhoods. In 2011, Boston was ranked the fifth most literate big city in the United States, and a high share of area residents have a college degree. The city's parks are big and exceptionally good, with several designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard is one of the finest in the world. The Massachusetts Audubon Society's Boston Nature Center has opened on the grounds of the old Boston State Hospital. The metro area also offers nearly 120 miles of Atlantic coastline and lots of dedicated bike paths. Locals bond over sports: The Red Sox and New England Patriots have become regular contenders; the Celtics are synonymous with Boston hoops tradition; and the Bruins have the second-most Stanley Cup victories by a U.S. team in NHL history. Massachusetts is a great place to be retired from a government job or the military because most payments from public pensions are exempt from state taxes. And metro Boston is a major center of medical talent, with a very high concentration of physicians, hospital beds per capita and teaching hospitals. Rates of smoking and obesity are low, so the metro area has low mortality from heart disease and low rates of hypertension. Because traffic congestion is a serious problem in the city, many locals use the region's excellent subway system or walk or bicycle to work. Boston's coastal location means it does get severe storms, including nor'easters, blizzards and the occasional hurricane. That's when it's time to curl up on the couch with that special someone and watch the weather roll in.
<a href="http://www.aarp.org/home-family/livable-communities/info-06-2012/great-cities-for-older-singles.11.html" target="_hplink">Milwaukee</a> is like Philadelphia with some of the rough edges sanded down -- a manageably sized city populated by fun-loving locals, with a dollop of Midwestern wholesomeness stirred in for good measure. But Milwaukee isn't lacking excitement: The city has matured nicely since the days when breweries and manufacturing ruled, with smart riverfront development and a slate of things to do to quench most tastes. Milwaukee is a collection of villages. A historic district packed with trendy shops and cafes on Brady Street is just a few miles south of Harambee, an up-and-coming African American neighborhood whose name means "let's all pull together" in Swahili. Once the sun sets, older singles tend to steer away from the youthful exuberance of downtown for more, um, demographically friendly venues like Kiko's on West Bluemound Road, where live bands fuel the dancing on weekends, or one of the dozens of corner bars dotting Milwaukee's neighborhoods. This metro area of 1.75 million covers four counties in southeastern Wisconsin. The center of Milwaukee (population 594,833) hugs Lake Michigan about 80 miles north of Chicago. As the local economy has been forced to relinquish its reliance on manufacturing, most job growth now occurs in services and health care. Thanks to its excellent public schools and unusually large number of higher educational institutions, Milwaukee enjoys a well-educated labor force. The largest schools are the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (enrollment 30,000) and Marquette University (11,000). The city also has a large and well-funded public library system. The extensive local and regional transit systems offer connections to Chicago and Minneapolis. The many miles of Lake Michigan coastline provide oodles of recreation opportunities. Milwaukee's French and German heritage helps explain its tradition of supporting classical music. A Beethoven Society was founded even before the city was incorporated, and the local symphony maintains an active schedule. The city has a large theater district and multiple museums, including the striking wing-shaped Milwaukee Art Museum (designed by Santiago Calatrava) and Harley-Davidson Museum. The concentration of physicians and specialists is high, but so are rates of obesity and diabetes. But the people here are comfortable with themselves, and that makes it easy to find good conversation and dance partners.
In the 1960s and '70s,<a href="http://www.aarp.org/home-family/livable-communities/info-06-2012/great-cities-for-older-singles.2.html" target="_hplink"> San Francisco</a> achieved mythical status as the land of free love. Fast-forward 40 years: Social mores have changed, but San Francisco still reigns as a bastion of active dating across all demographics. It helps, of course, that the city has a fairly compact center loaded with date-friendly diversions -- indoors and out -- to suit most tastes. Maybe it is the mix of nature's wonders and cosmopolitan allure that sparks romance: Whether you are strolling the wharfs, huffing up one of the city's vertiginous hills, sampling sushi in the Noe Valley neighborhood or cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco seems to shine -- at least when it's not blanketed in fog. San Francisco is among the top 10 metro areas for population density, with more than 800,000 people packed into a central city the size of Disney World. The city has a diverse and tolerant population, with a strong gay and lesbian community and more than 100 distinct neighborhoods. S.F. is well known for its eccentricities, but it is also a high-functioning city. In 2010, Foreign Policy magazine ranked San Francisco as the world's 12th most important city. San Francisco also ranked ninth on the 2011 list of America's Most Literate Cities. The job market is holding up better than it is in most cities, and foreclosures are much less of a problem than they are elsewhere in California. Although traffic congestion and commute times are bad in San Francisco, driving is often optional. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) anchors one of the most efficient regional transit systems in the United States, and the system continues to grow. Both San Francisco and its huge woodsy park, the Presidio, have been honored as bicycle-friendly locales. San Francisco's universities are yet one more place for older singles to meet up. San Francisco State University has an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The University of California, San Francisco, is exclusively devoted to health and medical education, which contributes to a high number of physicians per capita. The region is also an extremely healthy place to live. The metro area has a high proportion of population age 65 and older, and the age-adjusted health status of that population is among the best in the United States.
Perhaps as much as any city in the United States, <a href="http://www.aarp.org/home-family/livable-communities/info-06-2012/great-cities-for-older-singles.10.html" target="_hplink">Pittsburgh</a> has leapfrogged into the 21st century, remaking itself from a dying, dirty steel town to a lively, clean beacon of the new economy, awash in cutting-edge culture, dining and entertainment. But enough vestiges of the old days remain, including iconic bridges and signature buildings, to make Pittsburgh feel pleasantly gritty. The only downside for older singles is that the city proper is getting younger -- the percentage of the population age 65 and older dropped to 13.8 percent in the 2010 census. But at 16.8 percent, Allegheny County remains among the top in the country for percentage of seniors over age 65. In the new 'Burgh, you can enjoy a fine meal of locally sourced ingredients at Douglass Dick's Bona Terra restaurant, drink award-winning craft beer at the Church Brew Works, and take in the ballet at the Benedum Center or an art-house movie at the Harris Theater. Or you could have a Primanti Brothers sandwich topped with fries before hitting Jack's Bar on the Southside for $1.25 beer specials -- and possible off-the-ice sightings of Penguins hockey players. Pittsburgh's economy has successfully diversified to include biotechnology, health care and software. The new Pittsburgh is smarter and cleaner. Indeed, you can once again catch fish in the Monongahela River. Unemployment is much lower than the national average; likewise, the foreclosure rate is among the lowest in the country. Pennsylvania is also a prime place to live on a pension: All money withdrawn from pensions is exempt from state taxes. Several large research universities have helped drive Pittsburgh forward. Chief among these are Carnegie Mellon University (enrollment 12,000) and Duquesne University ( 10,300), which -- along with the University of Pittsburgh's main campus ( 28,766 ) -- have spun off businesses from their research contracts. Pittsburgh also claims a rich tradition of philanthropy: Andrew Carnegie lived (and gave) here, and today the Heinz family maintains a $1.7 billion foundation focused exclusively on southwest Pennsylvania. Allegheny County's libraries function as crucial community centers. Those libraries, represented by the Allegheny County Library Association, recently joined with AARP and the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield PALS (People Able to Lend Support) program to organize walking groups for adults age 50-plus. The region has above-average outdoor recreation -- mountains, rivers and trails abound -- and below-average rates of cancer, heart disease and other chronic health problems. Despite all the change, residents still abide by a sense of community drawn from their immigrant roots, and that makes for an inviting place to be regardless of your relationship status.
Two hundred years ago, <a href="http://www.aarp.org/home-family/livable-communities/info-06-2012/great-cities-for-older-singles.6.html" target="_hplink">St. Louis</a> was the last place Lewis and Clark could buy gunpowder before paddling into the Wild West. Today, it has grown into the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country. But while it's matured, the city still has a wild edge reminiscent of the frontier days. St. Louis contains more than six dozen neighborhoods, each with its own character. Some are more conducive to mingling than others. The Central West End is home to galleries and antiques shops, sidewalk cafes and bars. As the website Explore St. Louis says, the neighborhood is "a little European, a little New York and totally St. Louis." It also boasts the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, which has the world's largest collection of mosaic art. The St. Louis metro area (population 2.8 million) includes eight counties in Missouri and eight in Illinois. Lots of nice suburbs lie to the north and west in St. Charles County: three of these, St. Peters (55,000), O'Fallon (75,000) and St. Charles (64,000), made the list of best 100 small cities in a 2008 study by Money magazine. St. Louis is one of America's "most livable communities," according to Partners for Livable Communities, with lots of walkable places. The American Planning Association recently honored the Delmar Loop in University City as one of the 10 Great Streets in America, and the warehouse buildings downtown have recently been remade into glitzy residential lofts. There are also village-style developments out in the suburbs, such as WingHaven in O'Fallon, New Town at St. Charles and Park Plaza in Edwardsville, Ill. The metro has more than 30 degree-granting institutions, including several community college campuses and seven schools with enrollments of more than 10,000. Washington University and Webster University are private colleges; the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville are public; and Saint Louis University is a Jesuit college. Nature lovers bask in the city's 105 parks. The jewel of the system is Forest Park, the 1,293-acre site of the 1904 World's Fair and now home to the city's sublime zoo and first-class museums of art, history and science. Forest Park also harbors the Municipal Opera, golf courses, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and facilities for bicycling, boating, fishing, handball, ice skating and more. Powell Hall, home of the renowned St. Louis Symphony, is a few blocks away from Forest Park. The neoclassical Central Library building anchors a large library system. And Union Station, built in 1892, reopened in 1985 as a hotel, shopping and entertainment complex, and is now a major attraction. Downsides include bad air pollution and humid summers. But a mug of local beer in an air-conditioned bar or sidewalk cafe can ease both of those ills.