Several years ago, I launched an aging alone Facebook group. Members bring up hot topics like affordable housing and medical care, transportation concerns, and countering isolation. Housing ranks the number one challenge for people over 60. It is particularly important for women who are aging alone.
This makes sense because many women living alone, on a limited income, are responsible for all costs and expenses. Finding a place that’s affordable is hard to do.
As a woman in the Sixty and Me community, you might be aging alone and on a home search. If so, you are probably looking for new housing that fits your budget, is located in a healthy environment, with good transport and a walkable community.
Nonprofits like AARP and the Milken Institute are working vigorously to make “livable” and “successful” places to age a reality. The Institute collaborates closely with city mayors across the country.
They examine 84 factors that affect the quality of life for older adults. The things measured include health and wellness, crime rates and weather. It also looks at economic and job conditions, housing, transportation, and social engagement factors. These are the things that help create safe, affordable and connected communities.
Four things are essential to older women who are searching to move into a new home. They are cost of living, a community of older people, a walkable environment and healthy lifestyle.
To get a broad idea of what was available, I chose four cities in the United States to examine along these criteria. They were Boulder, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Portland, Maine and Dallas, Texas. Here is what I discovered.
|Housing||Population of 60+||Walkable||Healthy Lifestyle|
|1,618 of the total 4,438 (65+) have a mortgage, 885 of whom have homes that cost at least 35% of their *monthly income.||9% of the population are 65 and over. Of that number, 34% live alone. 6% earn less than $10K a year, and 16% less than $20K. 21% of Boulder residents over 60 receive food stamps. The average Social Security Income is $18,379/year. The median household income is $57,076||Having a walk score of 58, Boulder is somewhat walkable.||Colorado rates number 6 in the American Health Rankings.|
Assessment: Boulder is a beautiful place, but expensive. It is car-dependent with few people over 65.
|2,426 of seniors in Santa Fe have a mortgage. 1,437 have homes that cost at least 35% of their *monthly income.||18% of the population is seniors 65 and over. Of that number, 36% live alone. 8% have less than a $10k annual income. 23% earn less than $20K. 27% of residents over 60 and receive food stamps. The average Social Security Income is $16,323/year. The median household income is $46,289.||It is car-dependent with low a walk score of 35.||New Mexico ranks 33rd in the America’s Health Rankings.|
Assessment: Santa Fe is better than Boulder in some aspects. It has more people over 60 living there. The one fallback is walkability.
|1,194 of seniors in Portland have a mortgage. 1,097 have homes costing at least 35% of *monthly income.||13% of the population are seniors, 65 and over. 42% live alone. 8% of the group have less than $10K annual income. 3% earn less than $20K. 23% receive food stamps. The average Social Security Income in Portland is $15,169/year. The median household income is $29,051.||A walk score of 60 makes it is somewhat walkable.||Maine ranks 11th in America’s Health Ranking.|
Assessment: This may be the perfect place for women. Walkability ranks greater than either Santa Fe or Boulder, but the 60 and over population segment is low.
|15,773 seniors have a mortgage. 13,029 have homes that cost at least 35% of their *monthly income.||9% of the population is seniors 65 and over. 30% live alone. 10% have less than a 10K annual income. 31% earn less than $20K. 23% receive food stamps. Average Social Security Income is $15,763/year. Median household income is $34,405.||Having a walk score of 45, it is car dependent.||Texas ranks 41st for America’s Health Rankings.|
Initial assessment: Not as good as Portland. Plus, it has less people 60 and over. Both, walkability and health ranks low.
Reviewing the data at this level of detail can help an older woman on a home search make a well-informed decision. Of course, you’ll want to visit each location to make certain it suits your needs. If you’re considering a new place, check out Seniorcare.com, we’ve collated data for 8000 city guides and have much more statistics.
What other data points are important to you when searching for a new home? The examples used here are a representative few. There’s so much to learn about a new area before making a move.
Reference: *Monthly housing costs as a percentage of household income provide information on the cost of monthly housing expenses for owners and renters. The report provides an excellent measure of housing affordability and excessive shelter costs. The data also serve to aid in the development of housing programs to meet the needs of people at different economic levels. Source: U.S. Census and the American Community Survey.