By Sandy Alexander
WASHINGTON – Annapolis and Chestertown are among the country’s 50 best places for older adults to live, according to the May/June issue of Modern Maturity magazine.
After a 1999 survey indicated that people over 50 will be very involved in hobbies and their communities, the magazine sent out a team of researchers and interviewed residents in hundreds of towns across the country in order to locate the “most vital” towns.
It ranked Annapolis third among 10 “clean and green towns” recognized for their outdoor recreation activities. Chestertown was fourth out of 10 small towns with less than 100,000 residents that the magazine felt displayed a strong sense of community.
“Baby boomers are going to retire very differently than their parents did,” said Gabrielle deGroot Redford, senior editor at Modern Maturity. She said seniors will want to live somewhere with opportunities for social interaction, education and activities.
Modern Maturity evaluated each location for its transportation, restaurants, health options, learning opportunities, multiculturalism, safety, civic involvement by residents, and sports and recreation opportunities. The areas were also graded on their vitality quotient, which Redford defined as access to cultural amenities and lively entertainment.
Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson said he was “very, very pleased with the ranking,” and that he was particularly happy that the survey focused on the city’s multiculturalism, civic activity and vitality, in addition to traditional concerns of seniors such as health care and safety.
“We are proud of what we have and love to share it with the world,” Johnson said.
Redford said researchers were impressed with the outdoor recreation activities provided by Annapolis’ location on the Chesapeake Bay, its “very walkable” downtown area and the availability of many doctors and good health facilities. Drawbacks were its lack of public transportation and a crime rate above the national average.
Researchers gave Chestertown high marks for recreation activities, for educational opportunities at Washington College and for the town’s historic elements, including restored buildings and an annual Chestertown Tea party re- enactment.
“It’s an extraordinary little town,” said Chestertown Mayor Margo Bailey, who praised its easy pace, active senior volunteers and local artists.
“We find ways to entertain ourselves,” said Bailey, citing the town’s avid gardeners and woodworkers, outdoor concerts, six book clubs and local coffeehouse conversation.
Modern Maturity also ranked the top 10 college towns, big cities and towns the researchers described as quirky.
“These are interesting towns, up and coming towns, that we think baby boomers will want to look at,” said Redford.