San Francisco Bay Area
Spanning more than 100 miles, from the vineyards of Napa Valley to the Silicon Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area is famous for its natural beauty and free spirits. But it’s also a great place to be healthy after 50. Its residents are among the least likely in the country to be overweight. Plus, they are among the least likely to smoke.
One visit to the Bay Area and you can quickly see why the region fosters health and vitality. Densely populated, with lots of neighborhoods where residents can easily get around via foot, bicycle, or public transportation, the region also has a long history of people banding together to improve services. Then there are the region’s world-famous medical centers, including those of Stanford and the University of California, San Francisco. And last year the city of San Francisco launched Healthy San Francisco, an initiative that offers free or subsidized health care to uninsured residents.
- Population: 4,180,027
- Median housing price: $825,500
- Average number of sunny days: 263 per year
- Healthy bragging rights: San Francisco’s pedestrians are treated to urban forestry, greenways, and plenty of public toilets, and the city is fierce in its environmental commitment. It was first to ban plastic bags, and it is now restricting plastic water bottles.
Naples-Marco Island, Florida
Despite the area’s long building boom, Naples still deserves its real-estate nickname: Florida’s last paradise. At least 80 percent of Collier County’s land has been set aside as open space, protecting places such as Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park; biologists believe the Everglades is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators cohabitate.
The area has hung on to its small-town feel: its beaches and art scene (more than 134 galleries in the vicinity) are often voted tops in the nation. And for links lovers, it’s heaven: Naples–Marco Island has the second most golf holes per capita in the country. In our survey, residents got high scores for regular exercise, healthy eating, and not smoking, so it’s no surprise that the area also has one of the lowest cancer mortality rates going.
The downside is high housing prices and a high cost of living. Naples has been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis—but that means you might be able to find some bargains here.
- Population: 314,649
- Median housing price: $637,100
- Average number of sunny days: 264 per year
- Healthy bragging rights: Long walks on the beach pay off, as residents of this sunny spot score second highest on our longevity scale.