Denver has the longest winter of any of the U.S. cities, averaging over fifty inches of snowfall per year, and has an average annual temperature more than twenty-five degrees lower than Miami, Florida. So why is grandma moving to Denver and not Miami?

Despite the chilling winters, Denver also has 300 days of sun, and plenty of attractions like museums and sports teams. In addition, Denver has a booming economy and good urban planning and design features to support seniors.

MoneyRates.com ranks Colorado higher on their list of “Best Places to Retire [in the US]” than frequently cited retirement areas like Florida and California.

The State of Colorado also has one of the highest life expectancies in the entire United States at nearly eighty years, and ranks above Florida and Arizona in this regard. As the state’s largest metro area, Denver captures many aging adults.

Denver has good transportation options for aging adults who are limited or can no longer use a car. Carpooling and van-sharing programs like Lakewood Rides, bike-sharing programs, and good bus and light-rail systems are prevalent. Walkability enhancements like those found in Boulder help seniors navigate their cities without a vehicle. Denver has infrastructure to support adults much better than the sprawling, spread-out areas of Miami or Phoenix. Many of these assets will be further explored in future Denver blog posts.

Three city buses near Denver, Colorado

Three city buses near Denver, Colorado

Denver also has co-housing. Co-housing communities are small-scale neighborhoods that provide a balance between personal privacy and living in a small, tight-knit community. These co-homes are entirely self-sufficient. Developments are designed, planned, and managed with the intent of having a high degree of resident participation in community decision-making—making them ideal for increasing the quality of life of aging adults and livability of the community. There are two exemplary examples of co-housing in the Denver region:

Harmony Village near Denver, Colorado

Harmony Village near Denver, Colorado

Harmony Village near Denver, Colorado

Harmony Village near Denver, Colorado

Another urban planning factor enhancing Denver’s ability to prepare for the looming Baby Boom generation are progressive Accessory-Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinances, to help seniors live autonomously near friends or relatives and family members.

It’s not to say cities like Phoenix or Miami are bad – they still rank high on “best of” lists for seniors and certainly have their pros. But cold, snowy Denver may just make up the gap before most Baby Boomers have put down their final roots.

Do you think seniors are more concerned about climate or are there other important factors urban planners can influence? Do you think co-housing could be used in your city to attract seniors? What are other important factors to consider when creating age-inclusive cities?

Credits: Images by Jonathan Knight. Data linked to sources.