Bright Lights, Big City, Gray Hair: Retiring to Manhattan

“Wherever we go, we’re interacting with people,” he said. “That’s good for us. I expect to live longer because we’ve moved here.”

Retiring to Manhattan is not for everyone. It is astronomically expensive, for one thing, and then there are all the things that people who don’t like New York list as their reasons: the crowds, the noise, the dirty sidewalks. Retirees who enjoy relaxing at the country club might not be all that happy, say, strolling down Third Avenue to J. G. Melon, the very urban hamburger joint.

Yet the Chaleffs’ experience is a piece of a small but interesting retirement phenomenon: seniors from elsewhere who’ve chosen to live in New York. If — as this column discussed last month — the preferred retirement spots for Americans are in the Sun Belt states, then New York City, famous for its harsh winters and high living costs, is an offbeat choice.

When Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College, analyzed the 2015 census, he found that 9,359 Americans over age 60 had relocated to New York City (counting all five boroughs) from other parts of the United States. Another 9,996 had moved to the city from overseas.

“This city actually offers older people a lot,” said Lindsay Goodman, the director of Healthy Aging at the New York Academy of Medicine, which researches the health aspects of living in cities. “There’s a wealth of arts and cultural opportunities. Social services and health care are a draw, too.”

Beth Finkel, the director of the New York State office of AARP, noted that there are pluses and minuses to moving to the city that never sleeps — primarily pocketbook-related ones.

“If you can afford to live in New York City, you can’t beat it,” she said. “But the middle class is being squeezed out, and many seniors are struggling to live here because of the high costs.”

Susan D. Fischer, 71, a linguist who had been living in the San Diego area, said that she was “extremely fortunate” to be able to afford her Upper West Side retirement. “I’ve always been frugal,” she said, “and now it’s paying off.”

In 2009, Ms. Fischer found herself suddenly widowed. In that painful time, she decided to reboot her life and move someplace completely new. Her criteria? She needed to live in a town where there were “other linguists to talk with” and where “a widow didn’t feel out of place.”

New York City, with its sophistication and…

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