Return on Retirement

Cities That Are Most Prepared for Retirement

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When considering retirement, people consider whether they will have saved enough money, and when retirement time comes, many may move to locations more affordable for a fixed budget. But if everyone stays put in their current locations, what areas stack up as having the residents who are the best prepared for retirement? To find out which cities have populations with the most readiness, the Ameriprise Financial planning company put together the New Retirement Mindscape 2012 City Pulse index.

In keeping with the name, the survey takes the pulse of the populations of America's 30 largest metropolitan areas, ranking them based on whether residents have determined how much they will need to save and their saving habits. It asks about their priorities in retirement, like travel, spending time with family and staying healthy, and it gauges their confidence and optimism for their post-career futures. Here they are, ranked by the confidence level of residents.

By Colleen Kane
Posted 3 Jan. 2013

10. Atlanta

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In Atlanta, 77 percent of residents surveyed have made financial preparations for retirement compared with the national average of 70 percent, and 25 percent have determined the amount they will need to save. Nearly a third (29 percent) of area respondents feel confident they will reach those goals or retirement will work out the way they planned.

9. Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh has climbed up the ranks from the previous two years of the survey, with more than three quarters (77 percent) having preparations in place for retirement. However, only 18 percent have determined just how much savings they will need. A majority of 59 percent have contemplated how they plan to live in retirement, and of them 45 percent want to spend time with family and 30 percent say staying healthy is a priority.

8. Denver

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In Denver, an 83 percent majority of respondents has given thought to how they want to spend their time in retirement, and 64 percent of them have thought about two or more activities they plan to do. Thinking about retirement makes 39 percent of Mile High City residents feel hopeful. Continuing on that positive note, 56 percent of locals participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans, but that percentage has declined from 64 percent in 2010.

7. Nashville, Tenn.

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Nashville springs back from its spot near the bottom of last year's list, at number 26, with 74 percent of people surveyed reporting they have prepared for retirement. The top priorities for Music City residents thinking about retirement are staying healthy (63 percent) and spending time with family (55 percent). The report speculates the increased optimism about retirement could be due to Nashville's lower than average unemployment rate or positive local economic news at the time of the survey.

6. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

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The Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area jumped up in this latest survey from number 19, possibly owing to the county's lowered tax rate, more private sector jobs and the rebound of the area's health care industry, according to the report. Respondents in this area anticipate living an average of 19.3 years in retirement, compared with the less realistic 17.4 year national average.

5. Philadelphia

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Philadelphia jumped to the top five from number 10, with 80 percent of residents surveyed saying they have prepared for retirement. However, only 54 percent have participated in a work-sponsored retirement plan, and about the same amount, 52 percent say they have put money into their own savings or investments.

4. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose

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Last year's top metro area for retirement readiness is number 4 in the latest ranking. Some 80 percent of Bay Area locals surveyed have taken steps to plan for retirement, including for 32 percent who have spoken with a financial adviser.

3. Minneapolis-St. Paul

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The position of the Twin Cities in this ranking has varied widely in the two previous years of the City Pulse index, from the number one spot (composite) in 2010 to number 18 in 2011. According to the report, one factor that could be behind the dip in 2011 was the state government shutdown that year, while a possible reason for this year's rebound is the agreement to build an NFL stadium in Minneapolis. Of those surveyed, 78 percent had saved for retirement and 40 percent had consulted with a financial adviser.

2. San Diego

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Almost half of the respondents in San Diego, 48 percent, feel they are on target to meet their retirement goals, according to the survey, and 26 percent feel they are very prepared. The top priority for San Diegans in retirement is staying healthy, and in second place, just over a third have thought a lot about traveling after retirement. San Diego held the number three spot in the previous year's survey.

1. Hartford-New Haven, Conn.

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Hartford-New Haven residents have the top ranking in confidence of preparation (up from number six last year), and in terms of actual preparedness they ranked second. Three quarters of respondents in this metro area have saved for retirement, and 62 percent have saved not just in employer-sponsored plans, but have established their own savings or investments as well. Seventy percent of residents feel positive about retirement, and 34 percent are confident they will reach their goals.