This will certainly surprise the "Milwaukee sucks" crowd in the suburbs, although, unfortunately, it probably won't shut them up.

AARP's magazine has ranked Milwaukee as one the five greatest places in the nation for seniors to live. It says:

The selections were based on specific criteria for what makes a community livable: new urbanism, smart growth, mixed-use development and easy-living standards.

“The cities we chose are ahead of the curve in providing services for empty nesters, active retirees, and everyone in between and we’re thrilled to recognize them for their efforts,” said Steve Slon, editor of AARP The Magazine.

Here's the Milwaukee profile:

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

Lifestyle vibe: Urban renewal at its best Fitness fix: The river walks Retirees love: Affordable waterfront living Retirees hate: Shoveling snow Median housing price: $220,900 Average temperatures: 21°F (January) and 72°F (July)

Conventional wisdom has been writing off the Rust Belt for decades. But the Midwest is actually attracting more retirees than it’s losing—about 15,000 more people 65 and older per year, according to the Census Bureau—and Milwaukee may be the best example why. Empty nesters are flocking to fashionable condos downtown.

“After the kids grow up, suburbs are boring,” says Michael Voss, 58, who relocated several years ago to a three-bedroom, 2,700-square-foot high-end condo right on the waterfront. “I’ve got amazing views of the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan,” he says. Best of all, he also owns a boat slip, the kind of perk that would be out of a mortal’s reach in a city like Chicago. “There’s just so much to do. I don’t cook, but I’m so lucky—not only are there dozens of great restaurants within walking distance; there are two wonderful waterfront restaurants right in my building.”

Residents say the only way to “get” Milwaukee—an easy 90-mile train ride or drive from Chicago—is to tour its many distinct ethnic neighborhoods, including German, Polish, Italian, and African American communities, and sample the food at the dozens of ethnic festivals that occur throughout the year. “It’s still a city that very much prides itself on its ethnic past and architecture,” says Richard “Rocky” Marcoux, Milwaukee’s commissioner of city development.

But since Milwaukee’s past also included more than its share of residents fleeing the city for the suburbs, the city has poured a tremendous amount of money and energy into its rebirth. “We’ve embarked on a very aggressive river-walk system, to create a pedestrian-friendly, walkable environment,” Marcoux says. “And we’ve added 2,500 new condos in the past seven years.”

The city has also been aggressive about making sure Milwaukee stays appealing. “We think sustainability has a lot to do with accessibility,” he adds. “It’s what will make it possible for future generations to age in place. People shouldn’t have to leave their home because it’s badly designed.”

Nor is the city turning its back on its low-income elderly. The city operates five fitness centers that are available to older adults at no charge. And its Lapham Park Venture has won national attention: residents of the nine-story public housing project—96 percent African American and 56 percent women—needed plenty of nursing care. To help them stay in their homes, the city added several case managers on-site, as well as a health clinic, an exercise room, a beauty salon, a movie house, and a community dining room. The result? A savings of $1 million annually in Medicaid nursing home costs—and hundreds of at-risk seniors who are able to continue living in their own homes.

Submitted by xoff on