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More People Retired, But Fewer Moved in 2021

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

December 23, 2021 — More people retired in 2021 than in previous years, probably because Covid pushed them into early retirement. Some 50% of people over age 55 were retired this year, up by 2 percentage points. All things being equal, that should have meant a spike in the number of people who moved for retirement, but that didn’t happen. Quite to the contrary, the number of retirees who moved in 2021 dropped to 226,000—roughly 43% fewer than in the year previous. It’s also the lowest number of American retirees in the last five years!

These and many other interesting stats are courtesy of a “2021 Study: Where Americans Moved to Retire in 2021” commissioned by Hire a Helper using US Census Data.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

Only 226,000 Americans moved to retire in 2021, the lowest number in seven years

Nearly half (47%) of Americans who moved after retiring this year went to a different state, compared to just 16% of all people moving

Early retirees (i.e., those younger than 65) were even more likely to leave their state (64%)

Tennessee (13%)—the state with one of the lowest tax burdens in the U.S.—is 2021’s top destination state for Americans retiring outside their home state

Courtesy of Hire a Helper

About 7% of Americans relocating for retirement in 2021 went to Pittsburgh, PA, more than any other city. Apparently they were attracted by great healthcare and affordable housing.

Early retirees accounted for 40% of those moving for retirement in 2021

Retirees of color make up just 12% of those moving for retirement, as 88% of retirement movers are white Americans

The study had many other interesting findings, and makes for interesting reading.

Comments? If you were picking a state or city for retirement, what would it be, and why? Do you feel less likely to move in retirement now than you did a few years ago? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on December 23rd, 2021


  1. This list of states where retirees are moving is interesting. Tennessee does not surprise us. But the absence of Texas is also interesting. That conflicts with demographic data that shows the Lone Star State has the fastest growing population. Apparently much of that increase is coming from Californians moving there.


    by Admin — December 24, 2021

  2. This survey illustrates that the increase in Texas population is not fueled by retirees seeking warmer climes but by working adults seeking better employment opportunities and less expensive housing. Texas has poached a lot of employers from other states, Tesla for example, and the fact that there is no state income tax is also attracting people. The people moving to Texas are for the most part not moving to the more rural areas of the state but are attracted to the major cities where the jobs are and the politics are more moderate.

    We are among the retirees that relocated this year but did not leave Texas and only moved about 20 miles away to a nearby new development in a less taxed county. Was it our first choice? No. But the draw of family and friends nearby was stronger than our desire for a better physical and political climate. Yes, the politics in Texas is dreadful currently but there is hope and as for climate, it will be over 80 degrees on Christmas in North Texas so there’s that.

    by LS — December 24, 2021

  3. This Hire A Helper survey is a head scratcher, and I suspect it may be more important to them to attract eyeballs on the web (“clickbait”) than to reflect accurate data. Tennessee tends to rank up there for retirees, but rarely is it #1. Google a search for “best states for retirement” and you will find Florida and Texas almost always rank more highly than does Tennessee. Within 10 days or so, the survey I find the most reliable will be published with 2021 results; it is the United Van Lines survey that takes its thousands of customers and shows actual moves. Not the largest sample size, to be sure, but no subjectivity whatsoever, an accurate reflection of where people are moving to and from. All that said, the choices of other people, no matter how many, should never replace your own good judgment.

    by Larry — December 25, 2021

  4. Further to my previous comment about the unreliability of the Hire A Helper survey, it lists Kansas as the 6th most popular state for retirees. A survey from July lists Kansas as the 48th best state for retirees. Either one of these outlets is missing something or many of our fellow retired citizens are making a huge mistake.

    by Larry — December 25, 2021

  5. Each best retirement list uses different measuring factors and methodology, and that’s, of course, the reason there can be variance from one to another. Sometimes it’s significant. The final list is important, but so is knowing the different measurements that went into the formula. Even though lists are often quite different, I still find them interesting, educational and entertaining. But I always look at the different factors used to come to a result, and then determine how important these particular ones are to me.

    by Clyde — December 25, 2021

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