Pune

With its equable weather, relaxed pace of life, decent infrastructure, and open spaces, Pune has traditionally been a chart-topper among retirement destinations.

Proximity to mumbai used to be Pune’s biggest draw for people who wanted to abandon hardcore urban life but not its perks. The city has decisively shed that umbilical cord and is an economic hotspot in its own right. Throw in pretty lakes and hills, and the dual mountain callouts of Khandala and Lonavala in the neighbourhood, and you realise why Pune has seen a spurt in senior-living projects. The downside: Property prices are high compared to some other cities on this list, as is the cost of living.

Chennai

Its famed health-care infrastructure puts Chennai ahead of rivals on this list.

Refer to Chennai for a template on marrying the traditional with the cosmopolitan. A thriving IT industry means that it is home to migrants from across the country, but an enduring cultural core stops it from becoming a generic hotchpotch. While the pathetic public transport system may put people off these days, the city used to have the best bus network in the country. City plans suggest that Chennai could have a great public transport system in place in the next few years if the state government’s integrated transport scheme (metro, monorail, and bus) becomes a reality. A major hook is the excellent health-care network, with state-of-the-art hospitals flourishing along with traditional GPs who make home visits. The notorious year-round heat and humidity are a bit of a disincentive, but the city makes the most of its long sea coast, with plenty of residential options along the shore.

Bengaluru

No longer the default choice of retirees, but the city promises to come back with a twist.

Bengaluru used to lure retirees by the droves with its cool climate and lush gardens, but with poorly controlled growth, that’s been reduced to a sad refrain. Property prices and cost of living have also shot up. So why bother settling here at all? The answer lies in Bengaluru’s uniquely buzzy culture: India’s startup capital gives the adventurous among the elderly a great chance to kickstart fulfilling second careers. (Europeans call it “active ageing”; see page 120.) Want more conventional reasons? Consider the retirement homes coming up on the outskirts, a decent health-care system, and an improving public-transport system (which is a crying need given the abysmal traffic).

Lonavala

The climate and the scenery may suffice for holidaymakers, but the town needs to invest in community building to move up this list.

Lonavala has the advantage of being close to Pune and Mumbai. A pretty hill station, it’s not high enough to be bitterly cold, and the pleasant weather is a big selling point. The cost of living is also not too high. However, there is little by way of health care. There’s plenty to do for active retired people, but the infirm will not find this a great place to live, since there’s barely any other recreation except hiking and walking. If public infrastructure improves, a bigger community could form, leading to better social interaction. Till then, it’s all about the weather.

Bhiwadi

Close enough to city lights but far from its snarls.

Bhiwadi is not often mentioned in conversations about the National Capital Region, but the Rajasthan town is one of the region’s fastest-growing real-estate markets. Good connectivity with Delhi and Gurgaon is buttressed by clean air and quiet residential pockets—both luxuries in one of the world’s largest urban sprawls. The climate isn’t much to write home about, but going by the rush among realtors to set up projects, that looks increasingly like a minor irritant.

Dehradun

An ambitious counter-magnet to Delhi.

The Himalayan town has been identified as a counter-magnet to deflect stress from Delhi. Meanwhile, to attract older settlers, the city needs to urgently amp up its health-care infrastructure.

Coimbatore

Tamil Nadu’s textile hub and second-largest city is also one of its more salubrious.

The Manchester of the East located at the foothills of the Western Ghats, Coimbatore’s living costs and property prices continue to be far lower than metros, even as civic amenities get better thanks to its rising stock as an investment destination.

Khandala

Can it graduate from weekend escape to home material?

Khandala was made immortal by a Bollywood ditty promising youthful frolic, but if you want to pitch your tent here, be advised that there’s precious little to do other than commune with nature. Hence, much like its twin Lonavala, this isn’t the best option for you if you want an active, community-oriented retired life. Infrastructure and modern amenities are sketchy, but the town is close enough to Mumbai and Pune to make up for this. Real estate is still affordable, but with many city dwellers choosing to buy a second home in the hills, prices are going up.

Goa

It can be tough for an outsider to blend in, but since when do Goa fans care?

Goa as a retirement destination shouldn’t surprise you: It has been a favourite retreat for artists and writers

and even has a large floating population of young folk taking intermittent breaks from the career rat race. That said, the local communities can be notoriously closed to outsiders. To make amends, Goa now has plenty of places that offer community activities for “non residents”. Health-care facilities are not great, and the cost of living is on the higher side thanks to the tourism craze, but Goa is still not unaffordable.

Chandigarh

Greenery, reliable infrastructure, and sound connectivity to Delhi make this city a good bet.

A planned city with wide roads, well-oiled public amenities, good infrastructure, and thick green cover. Chandigarh, in many ways, seems an anomaly amid the dysfunctional mess that Indian cities can become. But it’s also known to be among India’s flashiest cities, in case you are put off by that sort of thing.