Urban living can be exciting for older men and women but city living can also bring on feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s true that in a city there is an infrastructure more suited to a less mobile lifestyle usually with a public transportation, parks, museums, and education and entertainment opportunities. But we all know that even in a crowd one can be lonely and so it is important to think about specific ways that an urban dweller can avoid isolation and make the most of living in a city.
Here are a few ideas for how women (and men!) over 50 can fight urban isolation, and keep living a fun, active and healthy life for many years in the city:
Despite the challenges of urban isolation, in many ways cities are a great place for women over 50 to live. After all, there’s a reason why so many people are moving to the cities and staying there after retirement.
Bigger cities offer more opportunities for interaction and new experiences, while suburban areas tend to prioritize private spaces over public ones. Even though it can be harder to get around as we get older, there is a more established infrastructure in most cities. Cities have more things to do – museums, shows, theatre, coffee shops and volunteer opportunities. Whatever you want to do, it’s all available to you in the city.
If you’d like to find a city that is ideal for older people, or if you’d like to do more to make your community “age friendly,” check out the AARP’s initiative to list “age friendly communities” that have done the best job of making their cities well-suited to the health and well-being of older adults.
Or check out this list of the Top 50 Cities for Seniors in the U.S. to see which cities rated highly on health, economics, housing, social, spiritual and other factors of well-being.
Living in the big city takes toughness and smarts; you wouldn’t have made it this far if you didn’t have some good “survival skills.” So take heart! You have what it takes to keep loving life in the city. Take control of your life and stay strong and healthy. Cities have a lot to offer – but you have to have stamina.
Focus on doing what you love. Visit parks, join clubs, do photography, go for long walks, find some special interest connected to your city and make this the center of your life. Make health a priority and get out to meet others.
Instead of focusing on the expenses and challenges of big city life, focus on what it is that gets you out of bed in the morning. What are you excited to go out in the city and do today?
Talk to people – all people. Enjoy the cultural diversity of cities – restaurants, cultural events, dance, music, and food. Sign up to be a volunteer at a school or be a career mentor to young people – share your wisdom and experience. Consider doing consulting work for start-ups that cities tend to attract.
Know your value and share it! There are people all over your city who need you and who will be happy to have you as part of their life! Do something that scares you every day – be bold and live life with courage.
If you want to save on living expenses while meeting new friends, consider living in shared accommodation – check out the Golden Girls Network or Intentional Communities. Use Facebook to find more “friends of friends” who live in your same city, or check out classmates.com to see if an old high school friend might be living in the same city.
If you’re paying for the high cost of living in the city, you might as well get your money’s worth. Visit museums, parks and theatres. Join associations and interest groups. Look for senior discounts – you can often get discounted tickets to shows and museum exhibits. For example, check out these discount ticket ideas for New York and London.
Check online for local clubs, resources and opportunities to get active! Join a church or spiritual group; sign up for meditation, yoga or Zumba classes. Cities tend to have a lot of activities that allow you to give back to the community, such as charity walks. Learn to use resources – ask at community centers what is going on and how you can get involved.
There are lots of great things to do at all stages of life, no matter what age you are or what physical limitations you might have – get inspiration from this site, Growing Bolder, which offers online entertainment and inspiring stories.
Sometimes we need to get away from the city and experience a different pace of life. Fortunately, there are lots of great options for affordable senior travel. Check out our articles on how to take a senior cruise and how to choose the best senior tours.
Or try Road Scholar and other groups that specialize in educational tours and “learning adventures” where you can have a guided trip to learn about a new part of the world. A great way to save money on travel costs is to try Airbnb.com to visit a smaller rural town or city to get a new perspective and meet fun new people!
The higher cost of living in a city can be difficult for seniors on a fixed income, especially when there are so many fun activities and shops and restaurants that you want to experience.
Save money and make your retirement savings last longer by using whatever senior benefits are available to you – whether it’s bus and travel passes, senior discounts (don’t forget to ask – many restaurants and stores offer senior discounts), or getting connected to local social services and community centers that support older adults.
For example, many communities have senior centers that offer congregate meals and card games, and these senior centers often provide educational programs and helpful advice on financial issues, how to get connected with health care benefits, and other essential services.
Be proactive – don’t give up on connecting with people. Many people often assume that other people are too busy or don’t want to be bothered, but the truth is, we all need human connection and a friendly smile as part of our day. Learn how to use Skype and reach out to others. Join online communities like Sixty and Me – you might be surprised at what good friendships can develop online.
Go ahead and reach out to strangers in your daily life at the grocery store or at the coffee shop – why not? Is it really so scary?
Enjoy everything a city has to offer and avoid urban isolation by being proactive. The same personality traits that made you want to live in this city in the first place – your sense of ambition, energy and adventure – will also carry you through the next stage of life.
Do you live in a city today? What do you like most about being an urban dweller? Have you found it easier or more difficult to find friends since moving to the city? Please leave your comments below.