Santa Cruz County ranked 171st in the nation out of 259 small metro cities as places to successfully grow old according to a study by the Milken Institute.
The institute undertook the study as a way to help the growing population over 65 find places that supplied their cultural, economic, transportation and health needs. With a shifting population, seniors are seeking towns that serve those needs.
Top on the list of smaller metros is Sioux Falls, SD, which was reported as No. 1 for people 65-79 and No. 2 for people over 80. The city of 228,000 has 26,000 people over 65 and has the highest number of people over 65 working.
It has a small unemployment rate, low commute times, low unemployment, good public transportation, but is short on nursing homes, health care providers and Alzheimer's units.
Santa Cruz County has a population of 262,000, with 29,000 over 65. It ranks 7th for weather, but 257th for housing costs.
It is toward the top in the number of doctors, at 47th, but toward the bottom in the number of long term care beds and geriatric services, at 259th.
It is No. 3 for low obesity rates and 14 for number of fitness centers, but scores badly for having too many fast food outlets, at No. 221.
The county is ranked 118 for people aged 65-79 and 160 for those over 80.
Generally university towns fared well in the study, because of the culture they offer.
Among other top small cities were Iowa City, IA, Bismarck, ND, Columbia, MO and Rochester MN.
At the bottom of the list are Morristown, TN, Yuma, AZ, Longview, WA and Visalia-Porterville, CA.