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:
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.
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.
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