November 8, 2011 — If you thought that North Carolina was the current “hot” state for retirement, you would be wrong. On the other hand, if you guessed retirees look forward to retiring on the coast or next to a lake, go ahead and grab the brass ring.
To get a handle on what people who are nearing retirement consider to be the best places to retire we recently analyzed the (anonymous) statistics from our Retirement Ranger. The Ranger is our free interactive tool that helps people identify their best places to retire, based on the criteria they select for location, weather, cost of living, etc. So far the test has been taken over 11,000 times. The analysis of these preferences reveal a number of sometimes surprising trends.
Here are the basic findings and our conclusions from them:
- The quiz has been taken 11,471 times (some people have taken it multiple times)
- 39% of quiz takers say they plan to retire in 1-5 years; a slightly smaller percentage say they plan to opt out of the work force in 5-10 years.
- About 80% of Ranger quiz takers say they are planning or considering a move far away from where they live now. Only 5% said they will stay where they live now, or near there. This result is definitely atypical of the general retirement population – usually only about one-third of retirees seriously consider moving far away. There is a simple explanation for this: if you take this test, you are preselected to be someone who is looking to move!
- About 1/3 of test takers were not interested in an active adult community, 20% are very interested, and the remainder are open to that option
- Surprisingly, about half of test takers are looking for an average cost community, while a third are seeking a community with below average costs
- The most favored environments were in order: coastal, lake, small town, mountain, suburban
- The population of town does not appear to matter too much (whether small, medium, or big)
- Most people are looking for a warm retirement, but not necessarily Florida-warm. The most selected option for median low January temperature was that it had to be at least 40 degrees (49%). About 25% of takers were not that fussy, who said that the Jan median low had to be at least 20+ degrees
- When it comes to choosing a place based on culture, a substantial one-third were looking for a community that has an above average cultural environment. Average culture was good enough for 52%
- Not so surprising in these difficult economic times, 60% of quiz takers were interested in finding a state with lower than average tax burden
- Regional preferences – The Southeast was the most preferred region, followed distantly by the West
- States – All the talk that the Carolinas have overtaken the traditional retirement favorite, Florida, does not seem to hold up. Retirement Ranger quiz takers asked to see Florida communities 330 times, followed by North Carolina at 127, Texas at 95, South Carolina with 78, and Tennessee at 75. Trailing those states were (in order) Arizona, California, Washington, Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Delaware.
- When it comes to foreign countries, Costa Rica and Mexico were essentially tied as the most popular choices (but less popular than the states mentioned above).
Note about these statistics: People can and do take the Retirement Ranger multiple times, which means that although the test has been taken over 11,000 times, these statistics represent the interests of a smaller number of actual people. While it is a bit of a “What-if” exercise, the value of these statistics is that they represent what people considering a move in retirement are looking for in their best place to retire.
What do you think? What do you think represents the best place to retire. Please share your opinions in the comments below.
Coming up: We will be writing an article summarizing recent migration patterns of people in retirement, which have changed dramatically since the recession began.