ATLANTA (AP) – Urban renewal plans that favor mass transit, encourage walking, and allow older people to downsize while staying in their neighborhoods are the reasons that led the AARP to recognize Atlanta, Beacon Hill in Boston, Chandler, Ariz., Milwaukee and Portland, Ore., as the best places for seniors to live.

“What they have in common is that city planners are aggressively making plans to accommodate older residents,” said Steve Slon, editor of AARP The Magazine, whose September/October issue profiling the cities will be distributed this week.

While each city is obviously different – from hot to freezing, from expensive and historic to inexpensive and fitness-oriented – they all have taken the lead in becoming friendlier places to live in for people over 50, Slon said.

In Boston, the AARP praised the Beacon Hill Village, a network of services for older residents who pay an annual fee to get concierge-like help to arrange everything from plumbing and rides to tickets for concerts.

In Atlanta, he said the AARP looked at city initiatives promoting mixed-income housing as well as mixed-use living in areas like Atlantic Station, which was once a polluted steel mill and now provides an upscale shopping and living area popular with students at nearby Georgia Tech.

The group also appreciated the availability of cultural venues within walking distance of residential developments, such as the High Museum of Art in Midtown where an AARP couple said they walk to volunteer.

Chandler, a Phoenix suburb, has programs like cab coupons that also help seniors who might not be able to drive, in addition to sunny weather and a much cheaper cost of living than the East Coast cities selected.

Finally, Milwaukee and Portland were chosen because of their work revitalizing historic districts with walks, bike trails and mixed-income housing.