PITTSFIELD -- It may come as a surprise to area residents, but Pittsfield is considered nirvana for unattached middle-aged and older folks seeking to form new relationships, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Statistics from the 2010 Census show that the city's metropolitan area -- including Lenox, Richmond, Dalton and Lanesborough -- is the only one in the nation where the majority of the over-55 population -- 52 percent -- is single.
But the benefits, if any, go primarily to single men who are outnumbered by single women, nearly 2-to-1.
The Pittsfield area's ranking as a paradise for strangers seeking to connect was highlighted in the current online edition of U.S. News focusing on the nation's 10 best retirement spots for 2012.
In the Pittsfield metro area, there are 14,237 single women 55 and older, and 7,869 single men in the same age group, the Census Bureau reported. The data did not specify how many are working and how many are retired, voluntarily or otherwise.
At the Ralph Froio Senior Center, Director Vin Marinaro -- not surprised by the findings about the area's attractions for older singles -- said the North Street landmark is expanding its services for the Baby Boomer generation.
"Pittsfield is a great place to live for people over 55," he said, citing recreational options. "A lot of singles are involved in helping others since they don't have as many family obligations.
The center is planning computer classes, wine tastings, dance classes, talks and even concerts, all part of a new Boomer Club designed to help older members make social connections and occupy their spare time.
"I'm really excited about this concept," he said. "We'll start building it and they will come."
Although funding is needed, Marinaro is also hoping to start Singles Nights for folks in their 50s and 60s. "We'll call those ‘Boomerangs,' " he said.
The U.S. News Media Group -- which publishes a weekly digital-only magazine, U.S. News, and a monthly magazine, U.S. News and World Report -- compiled the list for 10 key categories with Onboard Informatics, a data-services company for media, real estate and technology.
"Everybody's got their own idea of the best place to live," said Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News, "so we've created tools to make the search fun and useful. There are some great and unexpected choices."
Some of the other cities cited in the media group's report include Traverse City, Mich., deemed the best place for water views on a budget since it's on the shore of Lake Michigan; Boone, N.C., the most affordable mountain town for retirees; and Port Charlotte, Fla., as the best city for affordable housing).
The honors for best year-round weather went to Flagstaff, Ariz., Santa Fe, N.M., for the best mix of recreational and cultural amenities, and Ithaca, N.Y., as a college town friendly to retirees. Pittsburgh was cited as the large city that combines affordability and attractions for retired people.
For folks who don't want to remain retired but hope to start a second career, Lincoln, Neb., was named the likeliest locale.
On the Web: The full list can be found at usnews.com/retire.
Top 10 places to retire
According to the U.S. News and World Report, here are the 10 best places to retire:
Best place for single retirees: Pittsfield
Pleasant year-round weather: Flagstaff, Ariz.
Affordable mountain town: Boone, N.C.
Water views on a budget: Traverse City, Mich.
Greenest place to retire: Walnut Creek, Calif.
A college town for retirees: Ithaca, N.Y.
Place to launch a second career: Lincoln, Neb.
Best mix of affordability and amenities: Pittsburgh
Best place for affordable housing: Port Charlotte, Fla.
Best place for recreation and culture: Santa Fe, N.M.
Source: www.usnews.com/retire, based in part on U.S. Census Bureau data and studies by Onboard Informatics.