For anyone living with osteoarthritis, there are many challenges they face daily. From tying their shoes to making trips to the store, every task can be made harder by the joint pain of this wear-and-tear condition. One potential solution? Finding one of the best places to live with arthritis in the United States, which can make your life easier and may just ease your pain. Here are the 14 best cities to live in with arthritis (and a few things to consider when making your move).
What types of climates are best for arthritis sufferers?
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that is characterized by joint pain that can go into remission, osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is ever present. Joints are swollen, stiff, and painful, easing perhaps with activity but chronic and progressive without (and sometimes with) treatment.
For most arthritis sufferers, the best places to live with arthritis have climates that are warm and dry. While it may sound like an old wives’ tale that a person can predict the rain with an ache in their knee, it could actually be accurate. Cold, damp climates (or those with pronounced seasons that feature a drop in barometric pressure) cause the tissues in the body to expand. This expansion can place more pressure on the nerves in the joints, causing an increase in pain as a storm heads in.
People may be less likely to exercise when the weather outside is frightful, as well, and this can also lead to an increase in painful symptoms.
On the other hand, warm, dry climates with a relatively stable high barometric pressure may ease the stress on joints. This means that people with arthritis may have fewer painful episodes than those who live with dramatic, cold, and wet weather.
What other factors should I consider?
The barometer cannot be the only factor when you consider the best states to live with arthritis. It’s important to think about other factors, especially if you will be making a long-distance move.
Other than shifting towards a warmer climate, these are other elements to consider.
Cost of healthcare and access
If you are moving to take better care of your health, it makes sense that you need to look for a state that has affordable, accessible healthcare. Talk to your current healthcare provider about what changes you can expect, and be ready to move to another plan if the cost increases.
Pro tip: One of the best places to live with arthritis, New Mexico, also has one of the most affordable healthcare systems in the country.
Quality of healthcare
Evaluating the quality of healthcare in the state you’re moving to matters. Considering the number of available physicians, nursing home capacity, longevity, and health insurance coverage is important.
Pro-tip: The state with the highest cost of living – Hawaii – also has some of the best healthcare in the nation. But other arthritis-friendly states like Arizona and Colorado have robust healthcare systems at a more accessible price tag.
Number of rheumatologists
Rheumatologists specialize in disorders of the joints, and it’s critical that your new home has access to a doctor you need. Unfortunately, rheumatologists are in critically short supply in the U.S. There is good news, though: many states are adding a rheumatology component to their primary care physician education to help address the shortage.
Pro-tip: Only one state, Maryland, with its high humidity and sometimes-bitter cold winters, received an “A” grade in terms of the number of rheumatologists. Two others, Arizona and Alabama, received special recognition for their efforts to address the shortage of rheumatologists.
Opportunities for activity year-round
Bright, warm weather offers plenty of opportunity for year-round outdoor activity, a crucial part of managing osteoarthritis. While aches and pains can tempt a person to take it easy, over and again research shows that movement helps decrease pain, lubricate joints, and increase range of motion in painful joints.
Pro-tip: In colder but still arthritis-friendly cities like Denver, bundling up is key to staying active outside year round.
Cost of living overall
Cost of living is a consideration, especially if you are living on a fixed income. Some of the best places to live with arthritis in the United States also happen to be some of the most affordable.
Pro-tip: While some of the cheapest places to live may not be great for those with osteoarthritis, two of the best states – Arizona and New Mexico – are affordable options with other perks (see below).
Overall energy/fun of the city
Finally, why move to a place that you won’t enjoy? Look for a new home in a city or town that matches your energy level and interests.
Pro-tip: If you belong to clubs or organizations, check to see if they have a local chapter in your new city before you move.
Where are the best places to live with arthritis?
Keeping all of the above in mind, here are 14 of the best places to live with arthritis.
1. Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, with its beautiful city parks, affordable cost of living, and access to great healthcare (e.g., our team at Arizona Pain!), is a top pick for many people who suffer from all kinds of chronic pain, including arthritis.
Low humidity, warm temperatures year-round, and a relatively stable barometer make it an ideal place to move – regardless of your health. Hiking options abound, in the city or a short drive outside of it.
2. Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona has a climate tailor-made for osteoarthritis sufferers. With low humidity and two seasons (summer and winter), this desert city is easy to adapt to.
In terms of healthcare, it’s also ideal, as the University of Arizona Medical Center (UAMC), home of the Arizona Arthritis Center, is located here.
3. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque sits in a rain shadow that keeps humidity low and rain scarce.
The culture of this city is also a big draw for visitors and new residents alike. The mountains that surround the city offer ample opportunity for year-round outdoor recreation, and the heat of the summer is lower than some other southwestern cities.
4. Taos, New Mexico
Taos offers a unique cultural vibe with dry weather and low humidity.
It is close to other major metropolitan areas and features Native American arts in its bustling downtown square. Hiking and other low-impact recreation is available all year long.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
Sure, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – and so can you.
With a bustling regional airport that connects you to everyone you love and hot, dry weather for most of the year, you may get lucky managing your arthritis here. Beyond the Las Vegas Strip, there are many opportunities for hiking and exploring southern Nevada.
6. Denver, Colorado
Cold and snowy Denver, Colorado may seem like an anomaly on this list of hot, dry cities, but even with the cold weather the humidity remains low, making it a good place to consider. And when the weather does shift, the change is gradual, allowing time to adjust.
Additionally, the culture of Colorado skews towards outdoor activity, with many clubs and organizations to keep you moving year-round.
7. Grand Junction, Colorado
Similar to Denver, Grand Junction, Colorado features low humidity and a commitment to year-round outdoor activity.
Grand Junction features slightly higher summer temperature averages, less rainfall, and less snow than Denver. If you like to experience the seasons without experiencing a lingering May snowfall or two, Grand Junction may be for you.
8. Salt Lake City, Utah
Voted one of the most relaxing places to live, with the lowest rate of smoking in the U.S. (smoking can aggravate many health conditions, including osteoarthritis), Salt Lake City is one of the best cities to live with arthritis. The winter can be cold, but the humidity is low all year, and recreational activities abound.
Salt Lake City also has low crime rates and a more affordable cost of living, plus access to healthcare and the doctors you need.
9. El Paso, Texas
El Paso in west Texas has low humidity, hot summers, and mild winters, making it one of the best places to live with arthritis.
With affordable healthcare and a low cost of living, your dollar goes farther here. Looking for outdoor recreation? The Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the U.S. (over 24,000 acres) and it’s right in El Paso.
10. San Diego, California
San Diego is famous for its mild climate, with days that hover around 74 degrees with low humidity. This city also has many different medical facilities that specialize in rheumatic conditions. Recreational opportunities are available, including miles of level bike trails.
The main drawback to this lovely city is its cost of living, of course. The average home price here is $664,000. Adjacent cities that are further inland may provide more affordable options.
11. Palm Springs, California
Enjoy the dry desert air in this quirky and cute town nestled underneath the San Jacinto mountains. There are over 350 days of sunshine per year, and rain is rare. Summer highs are also lower than some of the other desert cities featured here.
Explore the area with the many hiking and bike trails. Palm Springs is also a vibrant cultural city, with Coachella nearby and many art galleries in its downtown. It’s also more affordable than San Diego, for those who want to live in California.
12. Destin, Florida
Located in the Florida panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is a laid-back beach community that features plenty of year-round recreation and access to rheumatologists.
The humidity may be challenging for some, but the warm weather and ample walking and biking trails can help counteract daily aches and pains.
13. Baltimore, Maryland
Although the climate of Baltimore is not the best for those living with arthritis, their healthcare access just might be.
Baltimore is home to Johns Hopkins Hospital, ranked number one in rheumatology. This extensive hospital network is located in a city with an affordable cost of living and access to a variety of recreational opportunities that including hiking and biking paths, gyms, and yoga studios all over the city. Bonus: Maryland was the only state in the U.S. to get an “A” on the rheumatic disease report card.
14. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Even if the weather in Minneapolis is not the most osteoarthritis-friendly, the healthcare sure is. The Mayo Clinic is located here, with doctors who also specialize in rheumatology. Even with the annual snowfall, the humidity overall is relatively low, as is the cost of living.
More about living with arthritis
Some of the worst states to live in for arthritis are those with poor access to healthcare, high humidity, and dramatic seasonal changes.
If your daily struggles with arthritis do find you moving to beautiful sunny Phoenix, get in touch with Arizona Pain. Our team is committed to helping people learn more about living with arthritis. Keep up with the latest tips for living with arthritis and other chronic pain conditions on our pain management blog.
The Grand Canyon state is one of the best places to live with arthritis, and we’d love to help you manage your pain! Get in touch with our team to learn more about our approach.