April 5, 2010 — There are as many theories about where baby boomers will retire to as there are people writing about the topic. There are certain patterns though, and they can be helpful to others who are pondering the question: “What is the best place for me to retire to?” This article will explore the question of how many people move in retirement (and how far), why they are moving, and where they are moving to. We finish up the article with an extremely interesting report – the real places where Topretirements’ visitors have told us they are moving to.
How Many People Move in Retirement?
According to a recent study by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, “Americans on the Go: How Often, Where, and Why?“, and results from the Census Bureau, not very many older Americans move in any two year period, only about 10%. Obviously, renters move more often than home owners. Over a 12 year period about 30% of older people move at least once. Most moves are local, however, usually less than 20 miles.
Where are they moving to?
Here are the findings from a number of sources about where the people who move more than 20 miles away are going:
- Topretirements’ 2010 list of the 100 most popular retirement communities found that towns in the sunbelt attracted much more interest than those in colder climes – 68 of the top 100 were in the sunbelt.
- The Boston College study reported similar results, with only 4 regions having a net gain of older Americans moving into those regions: South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, and Mountain. Regions like the Northeast had net losses.
- Although the Sunbelt is popular, Florida is not gaining population from older people retiring to that state anymore.
- Many experts cite the current economy as one reason why more people don’t move far away – they can’t sell their houses so they tend to stay put.
Why do People Move in Retirement?
Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found that the most common reasons for retirement moves were, in order: family, financial, better location, leisure/climate, and health. The BC study classified movers as “planners” or “reactors”, finding that planners considered some factors while reactors were affected by others. In our opinion, yes people tend to either be planners or reactors, but good planners try to take all factors into consideration during that process, while reactors let any factor overwhelm them before making a decision.
That study jibes with Topretirements’ opinions, to wit:
- Family. Being close to family, friends, and grandchildren; or losing/gaining a spouse usually trumps other reasons for where to go/stay in retirement
- Financial. People move because their house is too big or expensive, or they to try to escape to a lower tax/cost state. Sometimes they move to a place where they can work in retirement, other times they sell a home in an expensive market which gives them the funds to buy a much better house for less money in a new town
- Better location. They move to a home that is better suited to a retirement lifestyle, in a better location, or has a lower crime rate
- Leisure and Climate. When people move far away they often choose a warm place to retire, or at least a place where the climate is an improvement over where they live now. Likewise folks tend to move where they can indulge in their favorite leisure activities, whether those are golf, tennis, fishing, flying, horses, shopping, culture, or whatever.
- Health. Although not nearly as frequent a reason for moving, many people do move because of their health – either to be closer to medical facilities or to escape allergies or other condition.
Where Topretirements Members Are Moving
Every week or so we hear from Topretirements members who let us know where they have chosen to move in retirement. It is not a scientific sample by any means, but it is quite interesting. The most amazing thing we take away from this list is the geographic variety – people are moving everywhere! When included, we have provided any additional comments our members made about their decisions. (these are just the inputs we received in the last 60 days or so).
- We are moving to Shreveport, LA
- We have bought a home in Rossmoor, Walnut Creek Calif
- We’ve found our retirement location in Pleasant Grove, UT. We love it here. Great people, low cost of living, bearable winters and summers.
- We chose to move to the small community of Placitas in the NE foothills of Albuquerque. Not a gated community, but one with plenty of reasonable covenants to assure the maintenance of the community’s appearance. The lots tend to be 2 acres+, some of them horse properties. The community association also maintains and monitors water sources and usage. On the other hand it is somewhat remote from shopping and other cities.
- Decided to move to the Phoenix area
- Will relocate to the Boise (ID) area
- We decided not to move, but instead will stay here in the Rockies where our family is
- We intend to retire here in Missouri.
- Your information helped us to decide where to move to – Asheville, NC
- We have purchased a home in the Carolina Preserve, a Del Webb community in Cary, North Carolina
- Because of your newsletter we have made the decision to move to Palm Springs CA. We found a beautiful new home very reasonably priced. I no longer need to get the newsletter and dream about the perfect place to retire!
- I found my retirement dream home in Hawaii
- We have moved to The Villages for the winter and spring. My wife and I absolutely love it – even better than we thought it would be after visiting several times. One big surprise – I am not playing as much golf as I thought, I am enjoying too many other new activities!
- We have a place in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which we purchased on the spur of the moment (should have read your most common retirement mistakes article first!) We think that the social scene is terrific, so many nice people who are easy to meet. Plus it is a beautiful place. The downside, it is too far for our children to visit.
Where are you going to retire?
We love getting your posts to the Forum and Blog with updates on where you have decided to retire. Please keep us in the loop! And to help others benefit from your experiences, please include details about why you chose/are considering these locations. You can use the Comments section below.
For further reference:
Boston College Moving Study
Yahoo Finance – “Should You Move in Retirement“
Most Important Criteria for Choosing a Retirement Location
Younger Baby Boomers Face Different Retirement Experience (includes data on where they plan on moving)