Best Places to Live in 2014… If…

Best places to live in 2014 if you’re looking for something new? If you’re single and looking for dates and mates? If you’re over 50 and hoping for quality of life?

Relocation Served up on a Silver PlatterThe articles on best places to live abound this time of year. While it can be useful to read the various lists that offer everything from Palo Alto, California to Durham, North Carolina, perhaps more helpful are the questions you ask yourself – about money, interests, lifestyle preferences – and that you ask others.

What follows is a cross-section of sources and considerations as you examine your motivations for moving, your priorities, and your constraints. In my experience, discussion that takes place with those who’ve been where you are – considering a move, or possibly living in the location you’re pondering – can be enlightening.

Having previously addressed these related topics of relocation, reinvention, and starting over on a whim or of necessity, I realize it’s been awhile since I updated Best Places to Live if You’re Over 50 written in 2012, and its predecessor, Starting Out or Starting Over, which dates to 2010.

Culling from a variety of sources currently available, here goes!

Best Places to Live in 2014

Whatever your age or stage, if you’re purely considering American cities and small towns based on “livability” – a variety of factors that combine to provide a good “quality of life,” according to, Palo Alto, California tops the list. Home of Stanford University, this lovely area boasts plenty of advantages in terms of weather, atmosphere, and the all important “location location location.” also lists Boulder, CO, Berkeley, CA, Durham, NC, and Madison, WI in its Top 5 on its Top 100 list.

My two cents? Berkeley is lovely – been there, adored it – but it takes bucks, so make that my two bills, with a few zeroes attached. I’ve personally heard wonderful things about Madison. Like Palo Alto and Berkeley, its university setting offers significant advantages to those of us who love academic environments, but harsh winters are part of the package.

If you’re looking for quality of life and you have a family, CNN.Money has suggestions on best small towns to live, a 2013 list, ranging from Sharon, MA to Vienna, VA to Mason, OH.

Best Places to Live in 2014 if You’re Over 50

Now, now. This writer admits to being in the half-century age-range and I can’t pretend otherwise. Once we enter the empty nest stage, depending on finances and marital status, all “former” bets are off when it comes to potentially relocating and building a new life.

In writing Best Places to Live Over 50 previously, I covered the bases when it comes to considerations that we should not forget – proximity to children (and grandchildren), whether or not we want a social life (and what sort), our ability to make a living, housing costs and cost of living in general, a variety of amenities we might want (public transportation for example), desired climate (warmer generally wins the day), and of course… quality of healthcare.

Let’s be realistic. Statistically speaking, as we grow older, we’re more likely to need the services of healthcare providers.

Best Places to Live if You’re Over 50 and Single

Cities with favorable demographics if you’re over 50 and hoping to date or mate? Are they always cities with large populations?

Note that doing a little research of your own on your desired target demographic is always a good idea – single males / females in a particular age range, for example.

Clock Tower Berkeley UniversityThat said, going with the most common question that arrives here – widowed or divorced women over 50 who are hoping to find men to date – I found little that was new or recent, though this Vibrant Nation thread includes discussion that may be of interest. Arizona is mentioned frequently, but the post dates to 2010, and the discussion here, which is more current, contains a variety of opinions you might find of value.

I will remind you that relocation should be thoroughly considered. Any move typically includes factoring in the obvious (weather, real estate values, cost of living, job opportunities), but should also factor in your personal interests, your propensity for risk-taking, your ability to create community or make friendships easily, and more factors spelled out here.

On a personal note, I can imagine that post-divorce or post-widowhood, if not constrained by issues dealing with children (custody, schools, friends), a new part of the country (or world) to explore could be just what the doctor ordered.

Best Places to Live for Job-Seekers Over 50

Huffington Post features a fairly recent round-up of the top 10 cities if you’re over 50 and job searching. Pointing out that the unemployment rate for the 50+ crowd is falling, the article originates on and recommendations include:

  • Morgantown, WV, near the Pennsylvania border, with three of the top employers for over-50s, according to AARP
  • Sioux Falls, SD with a “thriving labor force over 45” (but chilly winter temperatures)
  • Seattle, WA, which comes up on numerous lists across ages and objectives in relocation

Be sure to check out the full article with its statistics on weather, unemployment rates, industries, and more.

Do be sure to consider statistics on crime, length of commutes, your propensity for trekking long distance to see your grown children (or them coming to you), and so on.

Best Places in the World to Reinvent if You’re Adventurous

If you’re reasonably healthy, if you have a passion for a part of the world you’ve visited once and wish to return to, if you possess a passion for seeing the world and you’re “waiting” for some magical moment when you have enough money or everything is just so… there is no time like the present!

If you have a strong desire to “give back” – to put your skills to meaningful use where your compensation isn’t monetary, are you free to do so?

  • Are you held to a desk by student loans, a mortgage payment, child support?
  • Are you bound to your paychecks in order to provide for your kids or elder parents?
  • Are you free – at 25 or 45 or 65 – to experience something new that you’ve always wished for?

Maybe it’s Paris, which comes up as a great “student city” on a top 10 cities list I came across, and you know my penchant for All Things French. Maybe it’s Berlin, which is hot hot hot these days, and boasts arts, culture, night life, and is relatively inexpensive – all according to this article at Huff Post on “why people are flocking” to this European hub.

Perhaps you prefer the Pacific Northwest though you’ve lived in the New York City area most of your life or maybe it’s Manhattan, even if in a small apartment, because you’ve spent the past 20 years in New Mexico.

The Marvels of Moving, the Engagement of Exploring

My point?

When you’re young, the world is your oyster, which means you just may want to consider this list: The World’s Top 10 Youthful Cities – and yes, Paris and Berlin are on it, along with London, New York, Dallas and others. (Some of us love “youthful” cities at every age.)

Paris MetroThe more responsibilities we have, the harder it is to uproot and try somewhere new, whatever our reason for wishing to do so. The more constraints we have physically, one might come to a similar conclusion. But this doesn’t mean we can’t put “where there’s a will there’s a way” into practice – especially if we’ve raised our families and truly weigh the pros and cons.

If a relocation is out of the question (there are many reasons that would be the case, including finances as well as family obligations), why not give yourself the experience of travel – the taste of a new city or overseas adventure – if it’s something you genuinely want to do?

It’s a matter of what matters… to you.

  • Are you considering a relocation in 2014?
  • What has prompted it?
  • What are you looking for?
  • Do you have recommendations for others?
  • Do you have suggestions for “trying out” a new location?
  • Suggestions for unconventional living arrangements?
  • Experiences of your own relocation – good or bad – that you’d like to share?

Images, BigStockPhoto.

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  1. says

    I envy you your years in France; I would love to live there myself. Because we’ve been where we are for too long, we want to move so badly, but, at the same time, we love, love, love Chicago, so we’re pretty torn. While we figure things out, we’ve decided to travel quite a bit, see the world outside of ours, and maybe we may stumble upon a place that will work even better for us. Who knows? Guess we won’t know until we start exploring our options…
    Justine recently posted…The F word(s) on Christmas Day!My Profile

    • D. A. Wolf says

      There seem to be pockets of time that are easier for travel and relocating, when it comes to children (times when the experience is less disruptive and even, advantageous). And incidentally, Justine, Chicago shows up on a few lists as being a great place to live!

      It really does come down to exploring those options, as you say, and considering why you want to relocate as well. (If it’s of necessity for a job or for health, it’s a different dynamic than when it’s for a great new opportunity or to offer yourself and your family a new experience.)

  2. batticus says

    I considered relocation this year but went with the same sentiment as Dorothy from Kansas, There’s no place like home. Relocation often involves career choices and luckily I found something close to home during my job search; it would have been a shame to have gone through a main floor renovation just to sell my home a few months later, I’m glad everything worked out in the end.

    A dream relocation would be to Italy for a year contract; that would be enough time to experience the culture and language but with an exit plan to come back home.

    BLW, best wishes for 2014!

    • D. A. Wolf says

      Love your dream relocation for a year, Batticus! I do suspect that you’re already living in a “desirable” area for many of us. Well, other than the (brrrrr) chilly temperatures in winter.

      Best wishes for 2014 to you, too!

  3. says

    Average price of a 2-bedroom house in Palo Alto is $1.25 million. Nice weather, pretentious people, access to amazing sights and activities. Still…no.

    The job-seeking stats for West Virginia and South Dakota are tremendously inflated because of the natural gas booms taking place there. Yes, there are jobs. But they’re short-lived. Don’t relocate unless you know you’ll have to do it again soon.

    And the cities for young people…well that’ just because those cities have lots of young people already. But they have lots of people, period. Not sure, if I were in my 20s again, if I’d want to be in a huge city just because I’d have access to lots of other people my age.

    I’m always considering a major change in location. The balance of whether family lives nearby; access to nature, museums, universities, theater, and great food; weather; transportation; cost of living; schools; air quality; and demographics keep me bogged down in “maybe next year, but for now this is good.”

    I’ve lived many, many places and I do believe it comes down to finding the place where you find most of the people are agreeable. Similar perspectives and priorities are excruciatingly important in your town’s neighbors.
    Naptimewriting recently posted…Longer daysMy Profile

    • D. A. Wolf says

      I hear you, Naptime. People make all the difference when it comes to where you live. Then again, with kids, it’s also about education and what’s available. And when you’re a single mom, there are other considerations as well. Not so simple as the single days, certainly, or in an economy that affords many options.

      The last time we had this discussion around here, North Carolina and Virginia came up several times, with Charlottesville being mentioned along with Asheville. Various spots in the Pacific Northwest appear as highly livable as well, if you can tolerate rain.

  4. says

    I grew up near Boulder, CO and then relocated many times for my husband’s job while I was married.
    My favorite city to live in was Phoenix- I”m not a cold weather person by any means!
    I now live in Columbus, OH and have been in OH for the the last 12 yrs. I am not allowed to relocate until my last teen is at least 18 due to strict custody rules here.
    I look forward to moving to a milder climate that has a lot more SUNNNNNN!!!!
    Nancy Kay recently posted…The Infidelity DietMy Profile

    • D. A. Wolf says

      I’ve heard lovely things about Phoenix, Nancy Kay. In fact, Arizona came up on a few lists and threads. (I imagine the gorgeous weather…)

      And I understand about the relocation issues when dealing with custody of children after divorce…

  5. says

    I watch House Hunters International and always marvel at families that just pick up and move halfway across the world. There are lots of logistics to consider when making this decision. But the biggest logistic is mental. I don’t believe any particular destination is the key to making life happy and worth living. If that were the case, I think most of the world’s population would live in places that were perpetually sunny with mild temperatures! There are pros and cons to day-to-day living in every city. Perhaps we’re more in love with the idea of vacationing to those wonderful places?!
    Lisa Fischer recently posted…A special lady turns 80!My Profile

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