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The Best States: Where Are Retirees Moving to?

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

January 23, 2023 — Many retirees move when they retire, although most remain in their existing state. A smaller percentage, probably between 10 and 20%, will find a different “best retirement state”. The big question is – what states are they moving to? The answer to that question is – it depends on who you ask.

Topretirements looked at 4 sources to try to identify the states most likely to attract baby boomer and Generation X retirees. The results at each vary greatly. It is interesting to note that Topretirements Members are very different from most other retirees – an overwhelming preponderance (70%) say they will retire out of state, with the Southeast and Southwest being the most likely areas chosen. Warm weather is the primary driver of where, along with being close to family and friends and lower cost of housing.

Where Retirees Are Moving

The first source we looked to was United Van Lines analysis of their relocation data for 2022. Their top five states for inbound (more moving in than moving out) moves for reasons of retirement were:

Wyoming

Delaware

South Carolina

Florida

Maine

We find it hard to believe more retirees are moving to Wyoming than any other state; after all only 581,300 people lived in the entire state during 2022. That seems nonsensical. South Carolina and Florida make a lot more sense, Maine not so much. Perhaps United’s data has a small base and reflects wealthier people, those who can afford to hire a national moving firm. If you look at the United Van Lines top inbound states overall (all reasons), Vermont was at the top of the list.

Another source with reasonable data about state to state retirement moves is Hire A Helper.com. The only overlap of their results with those from the United study is with Florida.

Chart courtesy of Hire A Helper

The third source we used for this article was a 2021 Smart Asset survey. Its results were essentially the same as the Hire A Helper’s, except that South Carolina and Texas took the places of Michigan and Georgia. The Smart Asset list seems the most realistic, and it also agrees with data we see here at Topretirements. When we ask Members what region they plan to move to, the top areas are the Southeast and Southwest, all well-reflected in the Hire A Helper list.

Outbound states

Other states were not so lucky about gaining or holding on to their residents. Most of the sources we used tended to agree that the states with the most outbound immigration were the high tax, cold winter states of New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Oregon was the top outbound state in the Hire A Helper data.

Reason for choosing these states

Warm winters are a proven big draw for states in the southeast and southwest. Florida has the warmest winter temps in the U.S., with the exception of far away Hawaii. Being near family and friends is an important driver for relocation, and many retirees have those in these fast growing states. Lower cost of housing isn’t available everywhere in the hot real estate markets of the Southeast and Southwest, but choosing a town or area carefully (further inland or away from a big city) can overcome that. And finally, avoiding taxes is a huge motivation for many people in retirement. Florida and Texas have no state income tax. Property taxes are quite low in much of the south, a big factor in retirement relocations. The Carolinas have been working hard to make themselves more tax friendly to retirees. So all of these factors contribute to seeing Florida, the Carolinas, Arizona, and Georgia win out as the best states for retirement moves.

For further reading:
10 States That Attract the Most Retirees – 2020

HireaHelper: Where Retirees Are Moving

Posted by Admin on January 21st, 2023

12 Comments »

  1. John, afraid someone was looking at the wrong year’s United Van Lines results. For the survey published two weeks ago (for 2022), here are the top 10 inbound states, in order (no Wyoming):
    Vermont
    Oregon
    Rhode Island
    South Carolina
    Delaware
    North Carolina
    Washington, D.C.
    South Dakota
    New Mexico
    Alabama

    If you go strictly by these results, you could say “The North Shall Rise Again.”

    Editor’s comment: Thanks Larry. You are correct, those are United Van Lines top states for inbound moves. But those stats represent all moves; the list we provided (with Wyoming at the top) is United’s list of inbound states when the reason for moving was “Retirement”. Still, I don’t think Vermont is really the #1 state where retirees are moving. We have labeled that more clearly now.

    by Larry — January 22, 2023

  2. I saw a report a few days ago for U-Haul one way moves (vehicle not returned to the place of rental). The most popular in this category was Texas. This could include one way moves within Texas. U-Haul rentals would probably be a different economic segment than United Van Lines and most likely includes those moving for employment reasons rather than for retirement.

    by LS — January 23, 2023

  3. Can’t tell you how delighted many in California are to NOT be on this list. We’ve got plenty of people here already and our housing prices have skyrocketed over the past 5 years.

    I mean this sincerely – no snark intended.

    by JCarol — January 23, 2023

  4. JCarol: Many in California are leaving to go to the other states!

    by SandraF — February 1, 2023

  5. Sorry Carol, but net migration to Cali may be just one more Arizona drought away. I read this morning that the Hughes Corp’s plans to build a development west of Phoenix for 100,000 people has been derailed because the organizers cannot come up with a required 100-year water plan. Also, the Colorado River, which multiple states rely on for drinking water, is increasingly susceptible during the frequent drought conditions. Cali taxes and traffic may actually start looking good to folks who fear they won’t have water to drink, or a drop in the value of their homes (evidence of this in some AZ areas). And for those of you Floridians and Carolinians who may be basking in the glow of schadenfreude, some of those AZers may be headed your way, bringing with them more stress to your roads and other infrastructure, perhaps even to your own water supplies. Better get out your divining rods.

    by Larry — February 2, 2023

  6. I am really glad Washington is not on the list for inbound moves. We have way to many living here now. Ever since Amazon moved here prices on housing/taxes and everything else have skyrocketed. Unfortunately we make to much to get a discount on our taxes.

    by Beebs Vandermark — February 2, 2023

  7. SandraF, the net out-migration from California to other states is literally a drop in the bucket against our population of over 39 million. Last year roughly 150K more moved out than in, which would be comparable to losing 38 people in a population center of 10K. A bare blip on the radar that’s more than made up by births.

    Larry, I sure hope that AZ finds a way through their water problems. I feel their pain. Most California residents are very water conscious. Rather than letting that liquid gold slide down sink or shower drains, many of us repurpose it to water plants and flush toilets.

    Human migration to areas with lower populations, more space and additional resources has been our pattern since we began walking upright, and explains our presence on every continent.

    by JCarol — February 3, 2023

  8. JCarol, actually the history of migration says exactly the opposite on every continent. As most societies went from agrarian to industrialized, people moved — often in droves — from farms to cities, and it is still happening in most nations, especially the most-populated ones (e.g. China and India). The implication of that old song still rings true: “How can you keep ‘em down on the farm/Once they’ve seen Paree?” The only US cities that have lost population in recent decades, like Detroit and St. Louis, had awful leaders who helped make those cities barely livable. People didn’t leave because they had some natural desire for more space; they left for less crime, for jobs and for a better life (and lifestyle). And some, I daresay, left for other cities because they are tired of having to collect water from their showers in order to flush their toilets, although I find your conservation efforts commendable.

    by Larry — February 4, 2023

  9. Larry, I doubt that many Arizonans will move to California, one Arizona drought away or not. (In my own small neighborhood I know of two retired couples who have actually moved from CA to AZ.) We here in CA are experiencing our own drought and I along with JCarol and thousands of others in this state are collecting and repurposing our water – and actually doing it gladly because it’s the responsible thing to do. Aside from the Arizona drought not leading to a mass migration of Arizonans to California, there are a host of other reasons many in AZ would not want to come to CA, one being that CA politics are significantly different from AZ politics. We also have our share of crime, high housing costs, crowded freeways, high taxes, and homelessness – so unless someone is really enamored of our perfect weather, our beautiful coastline, or is being transferred her for a job, I don’t see people moving here – and I’m fine with that.

    by JoannC — February 4, 2023

  10. Joann, I appreciate your point but I was responding to JCarol’s point that, throughout history, people have chosen to move from cities to rural areas. That is just not so. As for your retired friends moving from one drought state (CA) to another drought state (AZ), and with apologies for the mixed metaphor and bad pun, that seems like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Of course, there are other good — and personal — reasons for relocating.

    by Larry — February 5, 2023

  11. Larry, your point is well taken that historically many move to urban centers. Nevertheless, humans did indeed migrate to places with few or zero humans, which is how our species spread throughout the planet from its African origins.

    As work-from-home opportunities expand we may see population drops in large urban centers in favor of smaller towns and cities. Hard to know.

    With respect to repurposing water, after moving to Southern California over 50 years ago, being water-wise soon became as much second nature to me as earthquake safety. Neither is the burden some might think.

    No place on the planet is without benefits, drawbacks and sacrifices. A friend left Hawaii (left Hawaii???) for Los Angeles because he just couldn’t take the “island fever” anymore. After going to college on the mainland, returning to Hawaii made him feel claustrophobic.

    by JCarol — February 5, 2023

  12. Good Morning. Even as a Mature Male [ know some think Mature & Me is an Oxymoron!!] but from experience do enjoy “Living Downtown” more. Can Walk everywhere, see more People, better Cafes.
    Result a better Social Life. Found out that living in the Burbs is overrated & living in the Country is too isolated. Even for Grey Hairs, a Guy/Girl/Couple can have Fun & drive to visit The Burbs or out to the Country. City Life is alive!!

    by BillyB — February 5, 2023

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