Florida and Southeast Top Your ‘Where to Retire’ Preferences

Category: Retirement Planning

June 24, 2014 — Thanks to the over 1800 members who took the time to contribute their valuable insights to last week’s “Where You’ll Live” poll. We appreciate you sharing! As promised, here is a detailed report on the findings. At the end of this article you will also find a complete report of the more than 450 individual responses to question 11, “Do you have anything else you would like to share about your retirement living preferences and the reasons behind them?.”
Highlights
Your input provides confirmation of many opinions we hold about retirement preferences in general, along with some surprises. For example, it is not much of a stretch to bet that most of you are interested in retiring to a warm weather clime, with the Southeast and Southwest at the top of your preferences. We did not expect to see the level of interest there was in a suburban environment. And we were blown away with the number of our responding members who expect to move to a new state for their retirement – 70%! Here are some other highlights from the 11 question poll, with detailed findings for each question below.

– About half of respondents are still working, with the balance retired or partially retired
– By far the most prevalent age for retirement is between ages 60 and 65
– The most popular retirement state is Florida, followed by North and South Carolina, then Arizona.
– Warm weather is twice as popular a reason for retirement as the next 3, tightly bunched choices: close to family/friends, low cost of living, and low taxes
– More people have taken scouting trips to possible retirement locations than not, with the most frequent number of trips between 1 and 2.


– The top 2 choices for desired retirement town/city were the suburbs or a small town. Interest in the next 2 types were about the same: college town and beach town.
– Two-thirds plan on moving to either a home in a traditional neighborhood, or a home or condo in a 55+ or active adult community
– Just over a third of respondents aren’t sure about whether they want to buy a new or existing home. Another third think they will buy an existing home in an existing neighborhood
– Our conclusion from reading the comments of the 450+ people who took the time to share their thoughts reveal that retirement is a very individual thing. There are some trends that many people share, but in the end everyone’s retirement is driven by their unique set of reasons. It is a beautiful thing!

Detailed Findings
1. Retirement Status
A slight majority of our members and visitors are not retired – 49% not retired vs. 38% who are. Another 13% are partially retired.

Mizner Park in Boca Raton, FL (courtesy of Wikipedia)

2. Retirement Age
More Topretirements members retired/plan to retire between ages 60 and 65 than any other age bracket (45%). Another 24% retire/plan to retire between 66 and 70. Somewhat surprisingly, 19% will take this action before age 60, and only 1% said they would never retire.

3. How far will you move
The Topretirements membership is more ready to pull up stakes than others of the same age. The vast majority (70% said they will move/have moved out of state. Although statistics are hard to come by on this point, our best estimate is that among the general population of the same age not more than 25% intend to move that far. Another 9% each in our survey said they would move within their current region or stay put. An additional 11% selected the “Other” option. Most of those write-in choices mentioned that they would like to live in 2 places (usually snowbirds), travel part-time in an RV, live near the kids/grandkids, or just don’t know yet.

4. Region You Might Move to
As expected, the Southeast and Southwest are the preferred retirement destinations.

Southeast
Southwest
Northeast
Northwest
Midwest
Outside U.S.
52%
21%
10%
10%
5%
2%


5. Preferred State
As we mentioned before, Florida was far and away the most popular retirement destination (21%). The “Other” option was 2nd highest at 19%, with many write-in votes for Tennessee (although we didn’t want to list every state as a choice, we realize now we should have listed Tenn. as a choice). Many reasons were given for why you selected various states, many of them individual, but often having to do with weather, taxes, family, low cost of living, 4 seasons, and just love of the state. Here is a csv file with all of the “Other” responses. detail-which state 2014

Florida
Other
North Carolina
South Carolina
Arizona
Texas
Washington
California
Georgia
Nevada
Colorado
Delaware
Virginia
Oregon
Virginia
21%
19%
11%
10%
7%
4%
4%
4%
4%
3%
3%
3%
3%
3%
2%

6. What is your primary motivation for choosing a location to retire?
Note that we allowed 2 choices on this question since it can be hard to answer with a single reason. As expected warm weather/climate was definitely the top reason picked, with 3 others in a dead heat for second place (taxes, low cost of living, family/friends). Availability of medical care and walkability/bikeability followed those. Crime, transportation, and “live where I’ve always lived” were chosen by very few people. Most of the “Other” reasons echoed a desire to get out of high tax states or those with long, cold winters. Here is a link to a csv document with all of the “Other” reasons. detail-Q-why do you prefer where-2014

Warm weather/climate
Near family/friends
Low cost of living
Taxes
Other
Availability of medical
Walkability/bikeability
Live where I have always lived
Low crime rates
Transportation
36%
16%
16%
15%
7%
4%
3%
2%
1%
0%

7. Have you made any scouting trips to possible retirement locations?
We are happy to report that a clear majority (72%) of you have taken at least 1 scouting trip for possible retirement locations. Bravos to the 12% who have taken more than 5, because as so many of our members remind us, seeing and experiencing a place with your own eyes is the only way to get a good sense of it.

1 or 2
None
3-5
More than 5
Other
38%
24%
22%
12%
4%

8. What type of city or town are you most likely to choose?
This question had some of the most surprising findings in the poll to us. The number one choice was “Suburban”, followed closely by “Small town”. Perhaps it was the way we phrased it, but we were surprised that today’s retirees would be so interested in a suburban retirement. If you have thoughts that could explain this better please use the Comments section below to elaborate on what you meant. College towns and Beach were the next choices. Note that we permitted 2 choices here so the %’s add up to more than 100%. The comments section of this question had many individual responses – some people want a combination of these choices (small college town, small town near beach, etc.), while many others haven’t made up their minds.

Suburban
Small town
Beach
College town
Mountains
Rural
Urban
Other
Desert
New urban
26%
23%
14%
12%
8%
7%
7%
4%
3%
3%

9. What type of housing do you think you will choose? (or where you live now)
Our members seem evenly split between wanting to retire in a traditional community vs. living in a 55+ or active adult community. We suspect that this roughly 50-50 split says our audience has much more interest in the active adult market than the general population of the same age. There appears to be almost no interest in renting an apartment.

Traditional home and neighborhood
Home/condo in 55+/aa comm.
Home/condo all ages development
Townhome/Condo tradit neighbrhd
Other option
Rental apartment
35%
33%
11%
9%
7%
4%

10. Do you think you will move to a new or an existing home?
Roughly 40% of respondents either aren’t sure about whether they want a new or existing home, or they would prefer an existing home in an existing neighborhood. Perhaps it is the cost associated with a new home, but relatively few people said they intend to buy a new home or condo in a new neighborhood (10%), or a new home in an existing neighborhood (10%).

Not sure/don’t know
Exist’g home estab’d comm
New home existing comm
New home new community
Other option
39%
37%
10%
10%
4%

To give you a flavor for some of the things people who elected “Other” have in mind, here are 12 random comments provided to this “new vs. existing” question:
– Didn’t move — good choice, don’t you think?
– NOT SURE
– as soon as home prices go up
– Prefer apt/condo
– Ranch
– keeping options open
– would prefer existing home, but would consider new depending on community
– Existing apartment, somewhere.
– being built in continuing subdivision
– new townhome in different area,
– don’t plan to move
– existing farm land for hunting

11. Do you have anything else you would like to share about your retirement living preferences and the reasons behind them?
Thus far we’ve received over 450 responses to this question, which is pretty fantastic. Room does not permit us to include them all within this article, although here is a link to a pdf of every single comment (Note: You might have to zoom in to read. Long comments are cut off, sorry). detailedcomments-2014. Here is a csv summary of the same comments, which might work better for some people. detail-2014-where to -csv

What is most striking about the comments is how individual everyone’s preferences are about retirement. Although most of the comments reflect the trends reported above, they also provide rich detail about what you are looking for in your retirements – and what you are not. Our hope is that we can all learn from these and use that information to make smarter, happier retirements.

Bottom Line
Thank you Topretirements members! Your input was so rich. We know your fellow members will find it useful. Please share your reactions in the Comments section below!

Links to Previous Surveys
Topretirements Members Very Confident About Retirement (2014)
Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 2013
Our Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves- 2013
Retirement Living Preferences – 2013
Medicare Survey – 2012
Best and Worst Things About Your Retirement
Your Bucket Lists Are Amazing
Top Concerns about Retirement
Plans for Retirement

Comments? Please share your thoughts about these results. Did you think it would turn out this way, or were you surprised. Any conclusions you wouldn’t agree with? Does it change your plans in any way? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.



Posted by Admin on June 24th, 2014

47 Comments »

  1. […] to Previous Surveys Florida and Southeast Top Retirement Destinations Our Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves Medicare Survey Best and Worst Things About Your […]

    by » Our Members Speak: One Story Living, Easy Walking Dominate Retirement Living Wants Topretirements — June 24, 2014

  2. It would be an interesting statistic to know how many “Easterners” want to retire in East vs West and also the converse. I suspect “popularity” might be skewed by the overall population density of the US. More live on the Eastern seaboard than the west…

    by Alan G. — June 25, 2014

  3. Plan to get a divorce and live on the west coast of Florida in a tiny, very cheap, little condo.Been waiting and planning to do this for many years.

    by sally — June 25, 2014

  4. Great report! You guys do a fine job.

    I must say, having spent half my chlldhood in Florida and having owned several houses there, I would NOT choose Florida for retirement. Too many people, too little infrastructure, too hot and humid, too many hurricanes and other natural disasters, too many transients with no roots. There are some nice places in the state, and I enjoy visitng in the winter and spring, but overall I think it’s a sad place for retirees.

    –Lan Sluder
    http://www.amazingasheville.net

    by Lan Sluder — June 25, 2014

  5. I wonder: How many of the 450+ respondents plan to be snow birds or flakes: south in the winter; north, the summer? Florida in the winter is much like Vermont in the summer: low 80’s and dry.

    by OldNassaumail.com — June 25, 2014

  6. I love north shore of mass. And cape cod. I can be outside all summer and fall. I will live with less humidity and no I do not like winter but I also don not like suffocating heat.

    by millie — June 26, 2014

  7. Near a college to take osher ccourses. I am 84 and work part time at library. I am active and keep my mind active and share with people of all ages. We learn from each other. The idea of segregating a segment of the population is not a good plan according to many professionals. I respect others’ choices. This works for me because I must get up and go since my employer expects me. Love library and love people I work with and love sharing with patrons.

    by millie — June 26, 2014

  8. When we think of suburban, it means to me that we will be close to shopping, entertainment and the like vs those amenities being a good distance away. Being a long drive from stores like Costco and Home Depot would be an issue. Hubby always needs something at Home Depot.

    by Julie Shier — June 26, 2014

  9. Guess the word suburban means something different to everyone. I visualize cookie cutter developments, driving to everything, shopping centers and strip malls. Not something I want to retire to! Been there many times and done that many times. I’m ready for walking or biking to funky shops and neighborhood restaurants rather than driving to big box stores and chain fast food joints.

    by cherie — June 26, 2014

  10. Cherie…what are you top choices for your life style of funky ships, neighborhood restaurants, etc?

    by elaine — June 27, 2014

  11. We WERE considering Murrell’s Inlet in South Caroling UNTIL we recently found out that if you purchase a home in certain areas and have a mortgage YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO HAVE WIND AND HAIL Ins (not to mention flood)and that according to the RE Broker I spoke with can run around $2000.00 + a year!!This will also pertain to some parts of Florida -I assume. So my friends do ur home work.

    As “Seasoned Citizens” on a limited budget Murrells Inlet is no longer an option for us but did like it a lot. In order for us to live in the South Myrtle beach area we would have to pick an area much further West of the Beach. Our pockets are just not deep enough. Seems like some people on welfare have a larger monthly budget than we.

    by Robert — June 28, 2014

  12. First I want to say I agree with “LAN”You all do a excellent job
    I appreciate how quickly the survey results were posted
    I live in Fl &after 40+ years can’t take the heat anymore
    If you can afford to live on coast near the Beach fine
    Otherwise be prepared for 24/7 AC !!i
    I also was one who checked off suburban
    For me that means near shopping Doctors Cultural Events ect BUT NO 55+ area
    I want a house in a non cookie cutter area
    My dream may cost me my marriage Husband wants 55.+ condo no yard ect
    So where does a young active 64 female move to!!
    Thank you

    by Debra Tauber — June 29, 2014

  13. We are considering Murrell’s Inlet to Little River plus the Conway area and have also spoken to several insurance agents.

    If you live West of the 17 By-pass insurance rates are almost cut in half. Plus there is also a savings if your condo and/or house was built no earlier than 2006.

    by markg — June 29, 2014

  14. markg – from my understanding – yes, it is better West of 17 but it also makes a difference HOW FAR WEST OF 17. All I can add is “MAKE SURE B4 BUYING” if that expense is of importance to you. As previously stated we are Seniors on a very limited budget.

    by Robert — June 30, 2014

  15. Elaine, Cherie might have better information than I, however, that being said, Gulfport, Fla might be a good fit for those who are looking for “funky.”

    by Maureen — June 30, 2014

  16. That hurricane /windstorm insurance Robert mentions runs me about $4000 a year on a VERY modest home, so no mortgage but still many $$$ every month. Check it out before you buy in FL. We are on a lake perhaps 3 miles inland.

    by Lorrie — June 30, 2014

  17. Thanks for the response Maureen. I am looking in the SE, but not Florida

    by Elaine — June 30, 2014

  18. re Murrells Inlet insurance, we live just over two miles from the coast and our insurance is prox $1400+. Do not live within one mile from the coast, some companies won’t write in there and those that do charge a lot more. If you own your home outright with no mortgage and are feeling lucky you can get homeowners without wind and hail for about $600.

    by Tom — June 30, 2014

  19. Tom, tks for the input. Curious – how do you like the area? I know we can’t afford it but nosey!!

    Robert

    by Robert — July 1, 2014

  20. Robert, we love it. We moved here from Naperville, IL, in October, 2012. Found a great builder and got in before housing recovered and prices for land and construction went straight up. We love being in a non-beach town but of course we have access to several beaches nearby in Garden City, Surfside and Huntington State Park. All of our neighbors are from somewhere else so consequently we all reach out to each other as a sort of new family.

    by Tom — July 1, 2014

  21. Tom, where exactly (town) do you live and are small homes affordable. If u know a RE Agent shoot me his/her name and tel number = please

    by Robert — July 1, 2014

  22. Some years ago we purchased a home in the Monadnock region of NH. Keene area. Great area to spend retirement years. Close to family in NY. The people are friendly, lots of “flatlanders” , a few good restaurants, plenty of farm markets, etc. A nice, quiet, safe place to live. Pick your town carefully to assure living in a town where there are others with the same life style requirements. Yes, they roll up the streets fairly early, but my idea of night life these days is a cup of warm milk so we fit right in. 😛 We do expect to do most of our travel in the winter months allowing us to flee the cold weather for a while.

    by Maggie — July 1, 2014

  23. Robert, we live in the Prince Creek area. There are all kinds of price points in here since there are so many different developments. There are about 3,000 homes in Prince Creek currently and a lot of new construction going on all around us. If you will give me your e-mail address I will send you the contact information of the real estate agent we worked with when we came down.

    by Tom — July 2, 2014

  24. I one of those 19% who say they’re retiring before age 60. I retired at 56, now 65. I’ve spent my life traveling the world. Their is no one perfect place year round so I stay mobile. Florida is too hot and humid and buggy, with hurricanes in the summer. Tornadoes too. FL has more per year than any other states. Just not at severe as the ones in the Midwest. That won’t matter if it hits your house. Also the most lighting strikes. AZ is just too hot in the summer. 120 anyone? Northern states are too cold in the winter. Minus 40 anyone? LOL! As far as checking things out I’ve found too many people leave a cold winter climate and go south for a week or two and think that it is great, but don’t know what it is like in the summer. Anyplace can seem great for a short vacation! Don’t buy a house until You’ve lived a year wherever.

    by Bob — July 2, 2014

  25. Tom, tks for the reply. Just tell me the Agents name and company and I will find them.

    Don’t want to publicize my email all over – may get to many marriage proposals and my wife wouldn’t like that/ LOL = just kidding.

    tks again,

    Robert

    by Robert — July 3, 2014

  26. For Bob. The best weather in the world is either Sumatra or Santa Barbara, CA

    by Dick Lugar — July 3, 2014

  27. Tom,
    I feel much the way you do about FLorida. We lived there for a year and it was gastly Hot, Humid and Buggy in the summer. Being ffrom NY, I really love ghe change of seasons, missed the snow, but if it is cold, I can always get warm, but I do not enjoy the humidity, no matter where it is!!! It is not my cup of Tea, if you will. We do have bugs here but nothing like the sounds and size if the ones in florida. Do really consider how it would be to live there all the time. Not sure where, but like Sedona, AZ even now.
    :lol::lol: Have fun looking?

    by Elizabeth in NY — July 3, 2014

  28. Is anyone familiar with the Del Webb community near Charleston, SC? Actually in Sommerville.

    by Linda — July 3, 2014

  29. Dick Lugar – I love Santa Barbara, CA and I agree about the weather – use to visit when we lived (and had some $$$) in Carlsbad, CA. Would move there in a minute BUT pockets are NOT DEEP ENOUGH. 🙁

    by Robert — July 4, 2014

  30. Elizabeth in NY – we are leaving the 6 – 7 months of cold weather in Maine for 3 months of hot weather in the South, and can not wait! Not only is it cold, it is bitter and dangerous for 4 of those months – ice everywhere, getting the mail from the neighborhood bank of mailboxes is likely to end in a fall! The only way to get warm is to huddle in front of the fireplace or spend $700.00 every two weeks to fill the oil tank – and we live in a well- insulated newer house! In the summer, we have the heat and humidity here as well, but no AC. Putting in window ACs is getting to be a physical chore for my husband and they always need filters cleaned. I will agree that we do not have the bugs, snakes, alligators etc, and I am not looking forward to that, but I will trade Maine weather any day!

    by SandyZ — July 4, 2014

  31. I’m with you SandyZ. I’m in NYC and after last winter, can’t wait to “go South young woman.” I still have 3 years left, so am using the time to find what might work for me. At this point, it’s between Florida and Georgia. Been to Sarasota (stayed on Siesta Key which I loved but can’t afford). I would like to find a community where people “stay.” I’m not crazy about places that rent out their apartments all the time…too transient. Perhaps I need to look off the coast and more towards the middle of the state. My next stop is St. Augustine, after that is Athens, GA. Don’t know where I’m going to land but am enjoying the journey getting there!

    by Stacey — July 4, 2014

  32. Sandy Z….I hope you will like as many things about about the southeast as I have for the past 25 years. But just to be clear, the heat doesn’t last for only three months, at least not here in southern Florida. I agree that it is better than the cold, in my opinion, BUT when you are still working, it is less of an issue than when you are retired. It keeps me inside a lot. Or in the pool!

    by Karen B — July 4, 2014

  33. Does anyone have an opinion on living in The Villages. We are visiting now but not for sure this is the place for us.

    by MomJ — July 5, 2014

  34. […] our recent survey on “where to live” preferences, living on the beach was the third most population choice. Although we wished we had also provided […]

    by » At The Lake – Where the (Retirement) Living is Easy Topretirements — July 22, 2014

  35. Now I understand better why I am having difficulty finding rentals! According to your survey, only 4% of retirees are!
    I have contacted many places from Top Retirements and they report: no rentals.
    I have owned homes and been renting a house the past 15 years. Rental by far the best for me. The owner replaced the roof and major appliances and paid for plumber. I do not want the expense of upkeep. I enjoy my yard.

    by Moving South — August 11, 2014

  36. In response to Mom J’s question about The Villages– most people seem to have found it a positive move, but consider that it costs at least $1000 a month to maintain your house, that mass transportation is almost nonexistent and will only become worse, and the friendliness is very superficial. If you are not part of a couple, don’t drink, and/or don’t golf it will be hard to make friends. There are many clubs and actvities, but the clubs are not very receptive to newcomers and many of the activities are jam-packed and difficult to squeeze into. If possible it would be good to choose your location and rent there for a couple of months to get a feel for the place.

    by JR — August 12, 2014

  37. Can anyone give me information about Sun City Center & Kingspoint?

    I like the idea of The Villages however, it seems that I am rapidly being priced out. Sun City Center & Kingspoint look fairly comparable for less costs. Is Sun City & Kingspoint set up similarly to The Villages as far as it being an active community?

    Anyone have an idea of a certain neighborhood in Sun City Center or Kingspoint we should concentrate looking in?

    Thanks.

    by Valerie — August 26, 2014

  38. I just thought I woul add a littlle humor to this info section on Florida… My friends moved down to Florida to escape the colder weather up north along withseveral other people we know. They are now called Halfbacks. They moved all the way to Florida and moved half back up North to escape the hot humid temps they were not use to in Florida. Be careful what you wish for! LOL

    by Sunlovingal — August 27, 2014

  39. Found an intersting article about the Villages. Take a look – http://www.slate.com/articles/life/florida/features/2013/oh_florida/the_villages_scandals_irs_stds_golf_carts_and_made_up_history.html

    by Jeffrey Gilfoy — August 28, 2014

  40. Could someone tell me about Del Webb Orlando .

    by Artie — August 28, 2014

  41. […] September 9, 2014 — As promised earlier this summer, our newest survey on Retirement Confidence. Please give us just a couple of minutes to indicate your confidence about maintaining your standard of living, importance of proximity to good medical care, and a few other financial and health related questions. We’ll be back in 2 weeks with a detailed report on what you said! To give you an idea of what you’ll see in the report, here is the article we wrote back in June on your “Where to Retire Preferences“. […]

    by » Take Our New Retirement Confidence Poll - Topretirements — September 9, 2014

  42. […] to Previous Surveys Where to Retire Preferences Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 2013 Our Members Getting Ready […]

    by » Good News: Topretirements Members Very Confident About Retirement - Topretirements — September 15, 2014

  43. […] – that’s it, and thanks! (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle ||[]).push({}); For further reading: Florida and Southeast Top Your Retirement Preferences Tell Us Where You Are Going to Retire 2014 Most Popular Active Communities – Florida […]

    by » Tell Us Where You Are Living in Retirement - Topretirements — October 21, 2014

  44. […] to Previous Surveys Topretirements Members Very Confident About Retirement Where to Retire Preferences Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 2013 Our Members Getting Ready […]

    by » Baby Boomers Look Forward to 50th Reunions with Optimism, an Occasional Touch of Cattiness, and Facebook - Topretirements — March 2, 2015

  45. […] ||[]).push({}); More resources from Topretirements:? Spousal Compatibility Survey Results Florida and Southeast Top Your “Where to Retire” Preferences Our Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves- 2013 Retirement Living Preferences – 2013 How […]

    by » What to Do If You And Your Partner Don’t Have the Same Retirement Plans - Topretirements — June 27, 2015

  46. It should have also been asked if they moved away (such as back to their original area) after they moved to a location they thought was a good choice. More people move OUT of Florida then TO Florida each year. I am surprised crime rate wasn’t too important (until they got there I am sure.) Look at Florida, the highest crime rate state, almost at sea level, floods, hurricanes, two nuclear reactors in low lying locations (Miami and Port St. Lucie , high heat and humidity, and towns that are empty half the year among the many negatives too many to list. To me safety (crime and natural disasters), water supply, away from earthquakes,volcanos, nuclear reactors that will be flooded, and high crime rate and still be affordable. All these things are easily checked online. No place is perfect, but moving is far from just visiting.

    by Drew Porcelli — May 24, 2016

  47. Drew,

    Here’s an excerpt from a report showing that Florida far and away leads the country in net migration for individuals over 60:

    Perhaps the best way to find out which states are winners for retirees is to forget surveys and expert opinions, and find out where the most retirees are actually moving by using the U.S. Census Bureau migration statistics.

    1. Florida: With a net migration of 57,724 in 2014, more people over the age of 60 flocked to Florida than the next most popular four states combined. Three cities also appeared on the top 10 cities list: Cape Coral, Jacksonville and Port St. Lucie.

    by Richard — May 25, 2016

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