November 22, 2011 — One of the regular questions we get from journalists and researchers is – where are today’s retirees moving for their retirements? It’s a tough question on which to find information. Fortunately some new data from the IRS puts some welcome dimension to the issue. Note that these immigration figures are for people of all ages, so while directionally useful, they are still not specific to people of retirement age.
Who Slammed on the Brakes?
The most startling finding from the IRS data is how quickly the recession put the brakes on the traditional migrations of people from populous but stagnating states like California, New York, and Massachusetts to the Sunbelt states. As an example, while New York had an average net migration to other states of 148,000 between 2001 and 2006, that slowed to 99,000 people in 2008 and just 71,000 in 2009. California, which saw over 200,000 folks leave the state in 2005, saw that figure drop to just 71,000 in 2009.
Where They Are Moving to (but less frequently)
On the receiving end of this migration, sunbelt states like Nevada, Arizona, and Florida that had been absorbing cold weather out-migrations have seen an equally sharp change. Florida, for example, had a net inflow of 209,000 people from all states in 2005, but had a net loss of 30,000 in 2009, perhaps its first net immigration loss in history. During that same time the net immigration from New York State to Florida declined from a loss of 62,600 to only 8,000 – a remarkable turnaround. North Carolina, also a
popular spot for retirees, also saw a dramatic decline in net immigration. Whereas New York had a net immigration loss to the Tarheel State of 17,000 in 2006, that figure had dropped in half by 2009.
So Why Aren’t People Moving?
The most commonly given and the most logical explanation for these immigration changes is that people cannot sell their houses, keeping them stuck where they live now. Another is that they can’t find a job in a new state. When it comes to retirees, there are undoubtedly many who had planned to retire and move to the Sunbelt, but who now find they do not have enough money to retire, so they continue to work or look for work.
For Further Reference:
“Economy Alters How Americans are Moving” from the New York Times.
Outward Bound New Yorkers
The Best Places to Retire as Preferred by Takers of the Retirement Ranger
IRS Migration Profile: Lets You See Net Migration By State and Year
Dueling States: How North Carolina Climbed Over Florida for Retirement
Dueling Retirement States: Arizona vs. Florida
What do you think? We always love reading your comments. Have you delayed retiring, or decided to stay up north or in California where you already live? What are your plans, and has the recession changed them?
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