June 24, 2014 — Thanks to the over 1800 members who took the time to contribute their valuable insights to last week’s “Where You’ll Live” poll. We appreciate you sharing! As promised, here is a detailed report on the findings. At the end of this article you will also find a complete report of the more than 450 individual responses to question 11, “Do you have anything else you would like to share about your retirement living preferences and the reasons behind them?.”
Your input provides confirmation of many opinions we hold about retirement preferences in general, along with some surprises. For example, it is not much of a stretch to bet that most of you are interested in retiring to a warm weather clime, with the Southeast and Southwest at the top of your preferences. We did not expect to see the level of interest there was in a suburban environment. And we were blown away with the number of our responding members who expect to move to a new state for their retirement – 70%! Here are some other highlights from the 11 question poll, with detailed findings for each question below.
– About half of respondents are still working, with the balance retired or partially retired
– By far the most prevalent age for retirement is between ages 60 and 65
– The most popular retirement state is Florida, followed by North and South Carolina, then Arizona.
– Warm weather is twice as popular a reason for retirement as the next 3, tightly bunched choices: close to family/friends, low cost of living, and low taxes
– More people have taken scouting trips to possible retirement locations than not, with the most frequent number of trips between 1 and 2.
– The top 2 choices for desired retirement town/city were the suburbs or a small town. Interest in the next 2 types were about the same: college town and beach town.
– Two-thirds plan on moving to either a home in a traditional neighborhood, or a home or condo in a 55+ or active adult community
– Just over a third of respondents aren’t sure about whether they want to buy a new or existing home. Another third think they will buy an existing home in an existing neighborhood
– Our conclusion from reading the comments of the 450+ people who took the time to share their thoughts reveal that retirement is a very individual thing. There are some trends that many people share, but in the end everyone’s retirement is driven by their unique set of reasons. It is a beautiful thing!
1. Retirement Status
A slight majority of our members and visitors are not retired – 49% not retired vs. 38% who are. Another 13% are partially retired.
2. Retirement Age
More Topretirements members retired/plan to retire between ages 60 and 65 than any other age bracket (45%). Another 24% retire/plan to retire between 66 and 70. Somewhat surprisingly, 19% will take this action before age 60, and only 1% said they would never retire.
3. How far will you move
The Topretirements membership is more ready to pull up stakes than others of the same age. The vast majority (70% said they will move/have moved out of state. Although statistics are hard to come by on this point, our best estimate is that among the general population of the same age not more than 25% intend to move that far. Another 9% each in our survey said they would move within their current region or stay put. An additional 11% selected the “Other” option. Most of those write-in choices mentioned that they would like to live in 2 places (usually snowbirds), travel part-time in an RV, live near the kids/grandkids, or just don’t know yet.
4. Region You Might Move to
As expected, the Southeast and Southwest are the preferred retirement destinations.
5. Preferred State
As we mentioned before, Florida was far and away the most popular retirement destination (21%). The “Other” option was 2nd highest at 19%, with many write-in votes for Tennessee (although we didn’t want to list every state as a choice, we realize now we should have listed Tenn. as a choice). Many reasons were given for why you selected various states, many of them individual, but often having to do with weather, taxes, family, low cost of living, 4 seasons, and just love of the state. Here is a csv file with all of the “Other” responses. detail-which state 2014
6. What is your primary motivation for choosing a location to retire?
Note that we allowed 2 choices on this question since it can be hard to answer with a single reason. As expected warm weather/climate was definitely the top reason picked, with 3 others in a dead heat for second place (taxes, low cost of living, family/friends). Availability of medical care and walkability/bikeability followed those. Crime, transportation, and “live where I’ve always lived” were chosen by very few people. Most of the “Other” reasons echoed a desire to get out of high tax states or those with long, cold winters. Here is a link to a csv document with all of the “Other” reasons. detail-Q-why do you prefer where-2014
Low cost of living
Availability of medical
Live where I have always lived
Low crime rates
7. Have you made any scouting trips to possible retirement locations?
We are happy to report that a clear majority (72%) of you have taken at least 1 scouting trip for possible retirement locations. Bravos to the 12% who have taken more than 5, because as so many of our members remind us, seeing and experiencing a place with your own eyes is the only way to get a good sense of it.
1 or 2
More than 5
8. What type of city or town are you most likely to choose?
This question had some of the most surprising findings in the poll to us. The number one choice was “Suburban”, followed closely by “Small town”. Perhaps it was the way we phrased it, but we were surprised that today’s retirees would be so interested in a suburban retirement. If you have thoughts that could explain this better please use the Comments section below to elaborate on what you meant. College towns and Beach were the next choices. Note that we permitted 2 choices here so the %’s add up to more than 100%. The comments section of this question had many individual responses – some people want a combination of these choices (small college town, small town near beach, etc.), while many others haven’t made up their minds.
9. What type of housing do you think you will choose? (or where you live now)
Our members seem evenly split between wanting to retire in a traditional community vs. living in a 55+ or active adult community. We suspect that this roughly 50-50 split says our audience has much more interest in the active adult market than the general population of the same age. There appears to be almost no interest in renting an apartment.
Traditional home and neighborhood
Home/condo in 55+/aa comm.
Home/condo all ages development
Townhome/Condo tradit neighbrhd
10. Do you think you will move to a new or an existing home?
Roughly 40% of respondents either aren’t sure about whether they want a new or existing home, or they would prefer an existing home in an existing neighborhood. Perhaps it is the cost associated with a new home, but relatively few people said they intend to buy a new home or condo in a new neighborhood (10%), or a new home in an existing neighborhood (10%).
Not sure/don’t know
Exist’g home estab’d comm
New home existing comm
New home new community
To give you a flavor for some of the things people who elected “Other” have in mind, here are 12 random comments provided to this “new vs. existing” question:
– Didn’t move — good choice, don’t you think?
– NOT SURE
– as soon as home prices go up
– Prefer apt/condo
– keeping options open
– would prefer existing home, but would consider new depending on community
– Existing apartment, somewhere.
– being built in continuing subdivision
– new townhome in different area,
– don’t plan to move
– existing farm land for hunting
11. Do you have anything else you would like to share about your retirement living preferences and the reasons behind them?
Thus far we’ve received over 450 responses to this question, which is pretty fantastic. Room does not permit us to include them all within this article, although here is a link to a pdf of every single comment (Note: You might have to zoom in to read. Long comments are cut off, sorry). detailedcomments-2014. Here is a csv summary of the same comments, which might work better for some people. detail-2014-where to -csv
What is most striking about the comments is how individual everyone’s preferences are about retirement. Although most of the comments reflect the trends reported above, they also provide rich detail about what you are looking for in your retirements – and what you are not. Our hope is that we can all learn from these and use that information to make smarter, happier retirements.
Thank you Topretirements members! Your input was so rich. We know your fellow members will find it useful. Please share your reactions in the Comments section below!
Links to Previous Surveys
Topretirements Members Very Confident About Retirement (2014)
Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 2013
Our Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves- 2013
Retirement Living Preferences – 2013
Medicare Survey – 2012
Best and Worst Things About Your Retirement
Your Bucket Lists Are Amazing
Top Concerns about Retirement
Plans for Retirement
Comments? Please share your thoughts about these results. Did you think it would turn out this way, or were you surprised. Any conclusions you wouldn’t agree with? Does it change your plans in any way? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.