One of the things I love about traveling is coming home to Chicago and resuming all the activities that we do when we’re here. After all, that does take up the vast majority of our time. So I was really surprised when I read Dahleen Glanton’s column in the March 28th Chicago Tribune stating that Wallethub.com had rated Chicago the 144th out of 150 of cities in the United States in desirability for retirees to live.
Wallethub.com’s four criteria were affordability, quality of life, health care, and availability of recreational activities. I got the quality of life part. As everyone knows, our winters are brutally long and painfully cold. As for affordability, I could understand that as well. Although Chicago is considerably less expensive than the cities on either coast, it’s more expensive than many other cities in the middle of the country.
What I’m having difficulty with is the rating of 140 out of 150 in availability of recreational activities. Granted, if your only avocations are climbing mountains and downhill skiing, Chicago isn’t for you. It’s flat as a pancake. For anything else, I have trouble imagining any place with more things to do.
One category was volunteer activities for retirees. Chicago and most suburbs have websites listing all the volunteer opportunities. One thing I’ve observed is that when you’re willing to provide help for free, there’s never a lack of choices. I know people volunteering at the museums as docents, in the schools, in any number of socially minded causes, in the parks, and in the arts. My husband, for example, has enjoyed being a docent with the Chicago Architecture Foundation giving walking tours of Chicago’s buildings. I’ve found my volunteer niche tutoring immigrants in English. There are many places throughout the Chicago area to do this
In the arts, people living in Chicago are also blessed. We have many small and large theatre groups and music and dance venues as well. We belong to an organization The Saints that provides the opportunity to usher and volunteer at plays and other performances- there are over 100 venues- and then see the performance for free. It’s one of the best bargains in town. In the summer, the Chicago Civic Orchestra gives free concerts at Millenium Park. There are writers’ workshops at the libraries and other places.
As for classes, there are opportunities at the senior centers, park districts, community colleges, and some of the universities. Classes are available in everything from aerobics to Zen Buddhism. Some of the classes are for seniors only and some are for any adult. I love the variety that affords. Wallet hub was just using the amount of senior centers per capita as a measure.
I could go on and on about all the things there are to do here, but I have to go. I’m on my way to the Cultural Center to see a free art exhibit before meeting a friend for lunch. I have to get home in time because we’re ushering at a play tonight. I’ll talk to you about it later.