The best places to retire lists have this US city in common

  • Retirees are a lot more diverse than some may realize, according to Livability.com's top 10 U.S. cities to retire list.
  • Contenders include sunny Walnut Creek, California, and Boca Raton, Florida, in addition to snowy Littleton, Colorado, and Park City, Utah.
A couple fishing in Vancouver, Washington.
John Giustina | Getty Images
A couple fishing in Vancouver, Washington.

Not all seniors dream of kicking back in sunny destinations.

Ideal retirement spots are a lot more diverse than you may realize, according to a recent study by Livability.com. The company analyzed U.S. cities on characteristics of livability that its research has shown to be especially important to older Americans, including health care, climate, crime rates, cost of living, housing costs and access to recreational activities.

(See the Top 10 list below.)

"I think climate matters in a different way to retirees [today than it used to]," said Winona Dimeo-Ediger, managing editor at Livability.com. "It's always been conventional wisdom that people want to go somewhere warm, and that's true of some people. But if you like the cold, your preferences won't instantly change. Maybe you like outdoor adventures, maybe you like skiing. That won't change in retirement."

It's not just retirees' affection for snow that makes them different from those of the past, Dimeo-Ediger said.

"Retirement used to be about kind of finding a place to settle down, in the truest sense of the word," she said. "It was all about relaxation, calm and tranquility. Retiring today, they're looking for a really dynamic lifestyle. They're looking for places where they can be active, part of the community."

Out of Livability.com's 10 best U.S. destinations to retire, no two cities fell in the same state:

1. Walnut Creek, California
2. Reno, Nevada
3. Boca Raton, Florida
4. Plano, Texas
5. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
6. Vancouver, Washington
7. Birmingham, Alabama
8. Littleton, Colorado
9. Bismarck, North Dakota
10. Salt Lake City, Utah

Livability.com calls out top city Walnut Creek for its dry climate with moderate temperatures (locals call it "cool Mediterranean"), a crime rate below the national average, and top-notch health care at the John Muir and Kaiser Permanente medical centers.

The Milken Institute and personal finance site WalletHub conducted similar studies this year of the top cities for retirement. The only destination to make all three lists? Salt Lake City.

The skiing hot spot has three highly rated hospitals, relatively affordable housing for a city of its size (about 200,000 residents) and an abundance of outdoor activities.