Posted: Sep 29, 2016
Healthy hot spots have been identified in a number of surveys, but some places just keep popping up at the top of the list. These bubbles of brilliance offer a good chance of making it to old age, while keeping all your faculties. Wherever you live, you can learn from these places that a simple life, with plenty of exercise, lots of fruit and veg, and a cupful of happiness (or red wine) will help you on your way.
20. Melbourne, Australia
Life Down Under is famed for its outdoorsy vibe, but Melbourne tops the lot for its healthcare and sporty mindset. It even runs its own Active Melbourne programme, aiming to keep residents fit and encourage community partnerships. House prices have continued to rise in Melbourne – up 6% so far this year – but experts predict prices will flatline in the months to come. The average house at the moment costs £335,000. A beautiful place to live with beautiful surroundings.
19. Rotterdam, Netherlands
Of course, the Dutch are a pretty healthy. They like outdoor activities, they eat healthily and are protective of their environment. But Rotterdam is the first to be dubbed a healthy city. This signifies that it is conscious of health and is striving to improve it. The country’s citizens are known to love cycling and they strive for a good life balance. Apartments sell from about £85,000.
This small mountain principality is squashed between France and Spain. It benefits from their healthcare provision. The residents have the longest life expectancy in Europe. Explanations for this include the extra exercise that comes with living somewhere so steep, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and the importance of community and family. You can buy a small apartment for less than £60,000.
17. Belgrade, Serbia
This city might not immediately spring to mind, but it does boast one of the most expensive gyms. At $30,000 a year, the Wellness Sky is renowned for its body balance programme, with blends yoga, Pilates and tai-chi. The fabulous views from this spectacular building might make up for it. And, of course, the city is otherwise not one of the most expensive to live in. A flat could cost less than £80,000.
16. Helsinki, Finland
This is a city with surprisingly few cars (considering the weather can be so cold for much of the year). The ratio has been estimated at 390 per 1,000 inhabitants. So the locals tend to walk more, and suffer less pollution on their streets. There’s a superb network of cycle paths and the urban policy is to encourage “active transport”. A smallish apartment will cost around £250,000.
15. Ikaria, Greece
This is known as the island where people forget to die. The Mediterranean lifestyle – home grown fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and lots of olive oil – is undoubtedly a factor in their longevity. Their siesta habit is reputed to reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 35%, and their gentle social life (playing dominoes) brings happiness and contentment. A four-bedroom family house would cost about £230,000..
14. Madison Wisconsin, USA
The population of the second largest city in the state score highly for their civic engagement which makes the communities so close-knit. The availability of affordable fresh food and a low crime rate make Madison a healthy place to be. Sport is rated highly here and the colleges are into it in a big way. It’s also extremely bike friendly with extensive trails out of town. You could buy a two-bedroom family home for about £150,000.
13. Monte Carlo, France
Magical Monaco is known for its luxury lifestyle and wealthy inhabitants. Of course, it you are wealthy beyond imagination, you can afford to offload many of the stressful tasks of life and you can employ a cook to keep your diet healthy. You won’t find much for sale for less than £300,000.
12. Arlington, Virginia
Technically Arlington is a county, but it’s generally considered a city and it tops tables for healthy living. Residents tend to be non-smokers, get plenty of exercise and fewer than 20% are obese. The area has exemplary clinical care and a great outdoor environment. A central condo will set you back about £100,000.
11. Loma Linda, California, USA
The Seventh Day Adventists in this southern Californian town tend to be vegetarians. They don’t smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine. On average, they tend to live up to 10 years longer than their countryfolk. They are required to observe the Sabbath, which gives them an enforced break from stress for 24 hours every week and researchers believe that their spiritual connection has a bearing on their physical health. Two-bedroom homes go for around £190,000.
10. Honolulu, Hawaii
This island paradise scores highly for happiness and healthiness. Experts put it down to plenty of sunshine, an outdoor lifestyle and a culture of thinking good feelings. This even has a name: the Aloha Spirit. There are low levels of uninsured residents and preventable hospital stays. Houses start at about £150,000 if you want to join this happy family.
9. Okinawa, Japan
If you want to meet a centenarian, Okinawa Island is the place to go. At the last count, more than 450 lived there. On average, there are 34 centenarians per 100,000 of the population. The life expectancy is 86 for women and 78 for men. Locals tend to eat fish, rice and vegetables. It’s a low- calorie, plant-based diet, high in tofu and soy. What’s more they tend to follow the Confucian pronouncement that you should stop eating when you are 80% full. A house here will set you back about £440,000.
8. Barbagia, Sardinia
The mountainous heart of this rugged island breeds a large number of centenarians. The people of Barbagia are used to walking up steep slopes – some of them are shepherds, following their flocks over the high peaks. They eat simple unprocessed food, lots of vegetables and not much meat. They also drink Cannonau, a dark red wine (the locals call it black wine) rich in antioxidants. Village homes can be found for less than £40,000.
7. Nicoya, Costa Rica
Here, people live into their 90s and beyond. Family focus is believed to play a part in this. All the generations stay together, giving older members a sense of purpose and belonging. Nicoyans are often leaner and taller than other Costa Ricans, which may be due to eating fewer calories. The local water is known to be very hard and high levels of calcium could also boost teeth and bones into old age. You can buy a five-bedroom property with ocean views for £265,000.
6. Volcan, Panama
Panama’s mountain towns have been popular with retirees for some years now. The cost of living is low, the climate is described as “eternal Spring” and the views are spectacular. Volcan has an established and friendly expat community who indulge in a relaxed and laid-back way of life. Residents tend to live into their 80s and 90s, compared to the average Panamanian who would expect to hit 77. No surprise that this region is known as Shangri-La Valley. And, of course, Spock’s Vulcan salute was: “Live long and prosper.” You’d pay less than £200,000 for a spacious home here.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
The Danish capital topped CNN’s list of healthiest cities in 2014. Sustainability was a key factor for the judges, who also liked the fact that the authorities made it easy for residents to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The city has nearly 250 miles of cycle lanes and more than half of commuters travel to work by bike. The average family house costs £215,000.
4. Calgary, Canada
This city in the mountains of Alberta was named the cleanest city in the world by Forbes magazine. Inhabitants tend to go for the outdoor lifestyle – skiing and snowboarding in winter, and hiking, biking and waterskiing in the summer. The average house will cost around £270,000.
3. Zurich, Switzerland
This Swiss city ranks highly for quality of life, scoring points for its healthcare, happiness and low population density. Employers are enlightened, putting an emphasis on your work/life balance. There are plenty of green spaces, everywhere is clean and public transport is punctual. The cost of living is steep, however, and a smallish apartment could set you back as much as £600,000.
2. Javea, Spain
This resort on the Costa Blanca has more hours of sunlight than anywhere else in Spain. It has a unique microclimate protected from harsh winds by the mountains of Montgro massif. Spaniards, on average, live two years longer than the Brits. What are you waiting for? You can buy a three-bedroom villa in Javea for £170,000.
1. Auckland, New Zealand
People in New Zealand tend to lead an active lifestyle and eat fresh seafood and home grown fruit and vegetables. Watersports are popular and Auckland gets a third more sunshine than London. Inhabitants can expect to see their 80th birthday. The nation enjoys excellent healthcare, too. The average house price in Auckland has hit NZ$1m (just over £550,000), though, which may not be so good for your stress levels.