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Topretirements Members Retire Early, Not Worried, and a Lot More…

Category: General Retirement Issues

July 14, 2012 — The results are in from this week’s survey of Topretirements visitors and members, and they are surprising in many respects. As you will see from some of the comments made to this post, it appears that Topretirements members and readers are not your typical person when it comes to retirement. The consensus seems to be that you are better prepared, more of a planner, and more willing to pick up stakes and move. In an interesting coincidence, Pulte, a major developer of active adult communities (as well as Topretirements advertiser) released the latest of its ongoing survey of 55+ baby boomers who are still working last week. We will provide their results for contrast where applicable.

Q 1. What age will you retire?
A: Early! Just over 2/3 or our 467 respondents said they either have or will retire by the time they are 65 (and half of those by 62). Most of the remaining third will retire by 69. In the Pulte survey of working adults 55+, 32% expected to be able to retire within 5 years, and 49% say their expected retirement age has not changed.

Q 2. Where will you move in retirement?
A: Out of state. More than 2/3 said they plan on moving out of state for retirement. Only 19% plan on staying put, with 12% moving within the region. The Pulte survey found almost the exact opposite among its respondents: only 35% plan to retire in a different state from where they currently live, with 43% planning to retire in the city where they live now.

Q 3: What region are you considering?
A: Hands down, the Southeastern US is preferred (52%). The Southwest was a distant 2nd at 19%.

Q 4: Will you have enough money in retirement?
A: Yes (thank heavens)! 56% of respondents said they were moderately confident, with 27% very confident. That appears to be higher than in Pulte’s survey, where 46% felt they would be financially prepared for retirement.

Q 5: What will primary source of retirement funds?
A: These might have been the most surprising results of the poll. Company/government pensions were chosen most often (51%), followed by 401k or retirement savings (37%). Only 15% chose Social Security benefits, which makes us wonder. Our population must skew towards more people with defined benefit pensions than the general population, a group which mostly has to rely on Social Security. Several people who took the poll were disappointed that there wasn’t an opportunity to choose a combination answer, indicating that many people will derive their income from a variety of sources.

Thanks to everyone who took this poll and provided this fascinating snapshot of our membership. The turnout was encouraging. We will work up some more polls in the coming months to offer more perspective on the group’s plans.

Comments: Please share your comments, as well as ideas for future polls, below.

For further reference:
In addition to our poll and the Pulte Survey, we just ran across another survey of 55+ housing by the NAHB and They cited the statistic that 45% of US households will be headed by someone 55+ by 2019. Also, the states with the most 55+ household heads are West Virginia (45%), Florida, Maine, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Utah and Alaska have the lowest percentages.

Other Topretirements Member Surveys:


Posted by Admin on July 14th, 2012


  1. Yes, I would indeed believe that this readership, your population here discussed, is skewed, and it would be my idea that the primary source of retirement funds for your readers would be significantly different than other retirement or near-retirement age populations across America.

    by Dr. Sinclair — July 15, 2012

  2. I agree with Dr. Sinclair. Your readership is computer-based so I imagine that that would skew readership demographically. Your readers are actively planning for retirement so they are probably more likely to be considering big changes than others, also.

    by L Fremont — July 15, 2012

  3. I, for one, ended up not completing the survey because the answers I would have chosen weren’t there! There was no room for being undecided about anything! Or for considering more than one area, or EITHER staying put or moving, etc. I can’t imagine my husband and I are the only ones who have been carefully considering all those things but haven’t yet made a decision (partly because he intends to work longer than we originally anticipated — until he’s 70).

    by Marian — July 15, 2012

  4. We plan to retire at age 62. This is about 5 years from now and have started looking at our budget to drop and payoff expenses. we have figured out how much we will have and according to our calculations we cannot afford to live in a state that taxes pensions. Looking at NC Emerald Isle or surrounding areas to retire. Family is in Maryland and want to be close. With the taxes in Maryland there is no way we can stay here. Thinking about renting a small home. Any thoughts in Emerald Isle, NC??

    by Vickie — July 16, 2012

  5. Vickie,
    Emerald Isle is a summer tourist haven. Having lived near Ocean City, Md. for many years a tourist area is traffic in summer and lots of it. Without established communities, it might be hard develop friendships. Also, hurricanes coming up the coast play havoc with your home. The beach is lovely though. We love Texas, thinking of building near Austin. No income tax. We can’t afford to stay in Md. either.

    by Bominor — July 16, 2012

  6. We’ve been going to the beach at Emerald Isle for over 30 years now. It’s beautiful but I would think decent housing would be frightfully expensive because it’s a vacation area. It’s pretty far removed from any major cities and we found the medical care at Cape Cartaret Hospital in Moorhead City to be substandard (my mother has had several medical emergencies over the years). So, while I love going to the beach there, I wouldn’t consider living there full time.

    by Linda — July 16, 2012

  7. Thank you so much for your comments. Another area that has been discussed is New Bern, NC. Not far from Emerald Isle and is suppose to be affordable. NC seems to be the place for us so far. Thought about SC but may be too far from MD for family. We will be taking the next five years and traveling to places to check things out. Went to Pensacola FL in April not what we thought. My husband is retired military and we want to be near a military installation.

    by Vickie — July 17, 2012

  8. Vickie, Look at Rock Hill, SC. Friends who left Md. 10 years ago settled in Townville, SC and are now looking at Rock Hill area. Just into SC but close to Raleigh, NC. Homes look very nice and reasonable. A comfortable days drive to Md. He says SC is all around best for economy but 40 miles to Charlotte for airport and medical.

    by Bonnie — July 17, 2012

  9. Vickie, do you want to be near a military base for medical care or to access the commissary? Medical care in New Bern is better than that in Moorhead City, but that isn’t saying much. You’d need to find a practice that is affiliated with UNC and has visiting doctors. Not sure the Marines have their own medical facility; probably not. New Bern is a lovely town. There’s a small regional airport and you are about two hours from the Raleigh/Durham area.

    If the military installation is the big driver, you might do better to look in the Jacksonville area–huge military installation there. My son was stationed there for a few years, they bought a lovely home in Hampstead which was walking distance to the intracoastal waterway. Think it was about an hour or so from there to Emerald Isle. There are plenty of other beaches around there as well.

    Taxwise, NC is a good choice for you, because your husband’s military pension will not be taxed. I’d recommend spending some time in the different areas to see if they work for you. If you don’t want to be right on the coast, Goldsboro has an Air Force base. That’s about an hour from Raleigh and maybe 2 hours to Emerald Isle.

    Lots of choices in that area. Good luck!

    by Linda — July 17, 2012

  10. Vickie,

    New Bern is a wonderful place but you might also want to look at the Wilmington area – Leland for instance is only a few minutes out of the “big city” and there is a wonderful airport in Wilmington, great medical facilities in both Leland and Wilmington and lots to do. Leland has 3 very active growing planned communities- lots of retirees but also families with children mixed in if you like that(one of the reasons we chose the area-we don’t want to be with just seniors). The previous Linda’s comments are helpful if the military is what you need. There are several facilities right in the Wilmington area too and though hurricanes can be an issue- they rarely have a big problem with them. We looked into the history of storms in that area in detail and talked to lifetime natives before we chose that particular spot. Good luck in your hunt!

    by Linda Kous — July 17, 2012

  11. Dear Readers,
    Check out the Traditions of America locations in tax-friendly Pennsylvania. We have seen 4 of their 5 locations, and loved all of them! We ended up choosing their Liberty Hills site near Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has repeatedly been chosen as one of America’s most livable cities. It has great medical facilities, art & culture, and a beautiful downtown.
    Retirement in the south is out of the question for us. We like the 4 seasons.
    For those of you depending on pensions in retirement, please note: Pennsylvania and Mississippi are unique in that they are the only states in the country that exempt all retirement income, even IRA and 401(k) distributions. Apparently that is important to Top Retirement readers!

    by Pat Bretheim — July 18, 2012

  12. Multiple choice answers for these questionaires often leave a lot to be desired, especially if they don’t have an “other” or explanation provision or allow for several choices. In the case of retirement finances, I agree that many if not most retirees depend on more than one source of funding for retirement. It’s not as easy as just having a pension, vs. personal retirement savings and investment vs. social security. Most people retire on a combination of some or all the above. This was not a possible answer in the survey.

    Editor’s note: We take your point about adding “Other” in future surveys – it can add a lot of useful info. Also agree most people will get their retirement income from a variety of sources. But would like to point out that our question here was which source was “most” important.

    by Artie — July 18, 2012

  13. Vickie, I agree with Linda Kous about the Wilmington area. Meant to mention it, but got distracted. It is reasonably close to the military at Jacksonville.

    by Linda — July 18, 2012

  14. For those retirees planning to move out of state, I’d like to see where they would move from, and why they chose where they would move to.

    Editor’s note: Stephen, you are in luck. Almost forgot about the amazing response when we raised this question earlier this year – 308 responses!

    Tell Us Where You Are Moving – And Why

    by Stephen — July 18, 2012

  15. Transferred to Florida from Maryland thinking that is where we wanted to retire. What a mistake! They have some crazy laws down here that do nothing to protect the consumer. I can’t wait to move back up north. Unsure if I can afford to move back to Maryland to be near family and frineds or will end up in PA, Delaware or Virginia. All I know is I have already lost money on the Florida home and will proably have to stay here until home values go up. 😥

    by Barbara — July 18, 2012

  16. I too am retired Military and am living in TAX Burdened California. I’m looking at Reno/Sparks, NV to keep out of the Taxation. Fallon, NV isn’t too far away, and though taxes on Property are there, they seem to be lower than what I pay in California for property Tax. The weather seems to offer one the opportunity to a mild winter, though if you want the mountain snow, Tahoe isn’t far at all. Does anyone out there have any input to give me towards this area of interest? Housing seems to be very affordable right now. Medical Facilities are pretty top notch, I’m very interested in answers, why I shouldn’t retire there so please help!! Thanks.

    by Ken M — July 18, 2012

  17. All the comments are very informative. Main reason for relocating is taxes. We have years to check out all resources. Maryland currently taxes military pensions. Also, we realize property taxes, sales taxes, personal property taxes, and everything else needs to be considered. At this point we are not sure of anything, just started looking, talking and researching our options. FL is not for us, VA is not hot enough in the winters, SC too far. NC seems to fit so far.

    by Vickie — July 18, 2012

  18. I am looking at Pensacola FL, the Naval hospital is there and is pretty good. My x and I were ststioned there so I know the area and most of our military friends have retired there. Its pretty cheap there is a lot to do and well right now I’m in upstate NY and taxes are killing me. I dont like hot weather much but dont know where else to look at, if anyone out there has any suggestions please let me know.

    by Debbie — July 19, 2012

  19. We moved to Texas five years ago with a 15 yr old daughter and an aging mother in law. We built a custom home, something we could not afford in California, and thought all would be wonderful. I thought I had done my research, but not enough, I think. Presently we have a 3000 sqft home, single story for sale in Mystic Shores (Spring Branch-near Austin and San Antonio). We pay higher taxes than we did in Southern California by the way. Move the clock up five years and we have a 20 year old attending college in New York, my mother in law is now living in a home close to her daughter in Florida and here we are with a huge home and most of the time it is just the two of us. We put our home up for sale TWO years ago, have lowered the price significantly, and are waiting to sell, so we can retire and move to South Carolina. My asthma is very bad in Texas; it seems like I am allergic to everything that grows here-the cedar trees in the winter really affect me badly. It is humid here, but that is not the bothersome aspect, it is the stuff in the air. While in SoCal, living near enough to the beach the salt air truly helped my asthma. My allergies there were bad in the spring and lasted about six weeks and then I felt fine. California, although great for my asthma, is not a place we will go back to live because economically it looks to be a mess. South Carolina seems to fit the bill for us on so many fronts; the humidity I can deal with as well as the spring allergies that are in the area. Is there anything alse we should be aware of? Thank you

    by DianaF — July 19, 2012

  20. I would like to add some food for thought. We have lived and traveled in our motor home for 15 years. Spending several months at a time in a state gives perspective. A state with no income tax will get money in other ways such as property taxes, or unfortunately not providing benefits that one was used to in another state. The reader who complained about Florida not supporting it’s citizens in rights brought to mind that the playing field is skewed away from citizens. So no income taxes and the citizens are not protected as well. The money has to come from somewhere and if there is no money, then no services. So we are chosing where we will be happiest, affordable, with friendly people. At this age, 3/4 of our life is over. Being as happy as possible is worth a little extra money whether it be in property taxes, income taxes. etc.

    by Bonnie — July 19, 2012

  21. Well said Bonnie. I agree with your take on how states generate income through taxation. Some have high sales taxes when including local add ons others will have higher income or property taxes or combinations of all three. States that have lower taxes will generally provide fewer services and high tax states more. The type of taxes should also be a factor when choosing a place to relocate to. Income taxes may be less a factor due to lower income during retirement along with exclusions from your income. Bottom line, we will also choose a place where we will be happy, that’s affordable and that has nice people.

    by leftyOmalley — July 19, 2012

  22. Bonnie your thoughts are very good and a great palce to start a dialog.

    I would like to add that all states raise vast amounts of money through various forms of taxation such as income, property, sales.Each states chooses where they put the focus of taxation. Point being each state raises what they feel they need through one or more of these tax methods.

    The issue is not the amount of money raised but the way it is spent. Too many politicians bend to special interest groups who demand their cause be funded. If government would focus on core government programs and stop funding all these special interest programs we would all have better life no matter what state we choose to live in. It would mean lower taxes (whether income, sales, property, etc).

    just my thoughts..

    by Steve T — July 20, 2012

  23. Thanks, as always, for the really good and informative work you are doing. In answer to the “move from to where ” question, we are moving from Maryland to California (Sun Lakes). Both our grown children and our two young grandsons are in CA and that is absolutely the driver. All else pales and, as much as we have enjoyed living in MD (we are originally from Sarasota FL) being with our family trumps all else.

    by Kats — July 22, 2012

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  25. I plan to retire in 2/2013 at the age of 62. I have investments of $500,000 and would get about $1,075 a month in SS. My husband is retired and gets a monthly income of $2,145 and he will be age 69 this month. He does not have other investments. The $500,000 I have is money I inherited from my father at his passing and is in my name. I also have a pension of $200,000 that I will take a monthly income of about $1,200 per month when I retire. Our house is paid for and both our cars are 2009 and paid for. I will get my health and dental benefits from my employer in which I will not have to pay into. I just want to know if it looks like we will have enough cash for me to retire in Feb. 2013 – we would like to travel in our retirement years and this will take a lot of cash to do so.

    We live in a house that is larger than we need and in the next few years I want to sell it and either go into a 55+ community or purchase a smaller home and I would like to move out of Michigan – but do not know where I would like to move. At one point I wanted to move to New Mexico and that is not out of the question but maybe other places would be better for us. I have so many thoughts and getting confused and concerned as to the best life I can live in retirement.

    I am just so uncertain as to knowing if I am doing the right thing with retiring soon. Any thoughts you can give me – I do appreciate! Or if you know of another venture I can go through with asking questions like this.
    Come on retirees – give me some thoughts on this, please!

    Kathy J

    by Kathy J — August 17, 2012

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