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Retirement Planning: Our Members Are on the Move!

Category: Retirement Planning

August 23, 2017 — There is one very clear conclusion from our latest Member survey, “Selling Your Home and Retirement Planning” – our Members overwhelmingly plan on moving to a different home when they retire. And, they plan on moving on in much greater numbers than does the general population. Some 90% of our recent survey takers said they definitely will sell their home, are thinking about it, or have already sold. That contrasts with just 6% that say they will definitely or probably stay in their current home.

Image result for moving

Topretirements’ Members itch to move is starkly different from a recent AARP survey, where 90% of people over 65 said they want to remain in their own homes and community as long as possible. For comparison, a Del Webb survey some years back found that about one third of baby boomers plan on moving in retirement.

The survey from last week asked 10 questions about moving, downsizing, and what kind of home you intend to buy for retirement. Some 600 Members gave back to this community by responding (thank you!). This article will summarize the results for each question. And, since so many people shared their opinions, we have provided you with summary documents where you can read all of the responses to Question 9 and 10, where over 500 folks shared their practical ideas, experiences, and concerns about downsizing, selling, finding a new home, and moving. Finally, since we ran an almost identical survey in 2013, we will provide some conclusions on how your answers have changed over time.

Survey results show Topretirements members are much more mobile than typical retirees
The survey found that 47% of respondents “definitely” plan on moving to a different home for retirement, or have already done so. Asked their intentions about selling the home they live in now, 61% have either already sold it or are definitely putting it on the market. There was strong interest in moving out of state (24% checked that option), where most seem to be looking for a smaller home on one level with lower maintenance and that does not cost as much as their current one.

These responses by Topretirements Members and visitors are very different than what we see in the general population – you are much more interested in moving in retirement. For example, when we provided 10 choices to describe your future residential plans for retirement, the most frequent choice was to “move out of state”. In some ways these differences makes sense, as this website is all about providing resources to find the best places to retire; the Topretirements community naturally has a strong interest in moving.

Results on each question
Plans for retirement living
It’s clear – Topretirements visitors plan on finding greener pastures for retirement living. We were very surprised at the tiny percentage (5%) who plan on staying put, or, for that matter, who are even undecided (14%). Several write-in comments show that at least a few folks intend to buy an RV and live in it for part of the year. The results for this question were similar to those who responded to our 2013 survey, except that now, more folks say they will “likely will move”.

Already have/definitely plan to move
Likely will move
Not sure
Likely will not move
Other option
Definitely won’t move

Keep or sell your pre-retirement home?
Similar to the answers we saw in the previous question, respondents want to move! Some 90% have sold their pre-retirement home, have it on the market, or are thinking about selling it. When we asked this question in 2013, only about 75% said they would sell/are thinking about selling.
Definitely will sell
Thinking about selling
Have already sold
Probably will stay here
Other option
Definitely will stay here

Is this a good time to sell your home
This year’s survey is pretty good evidence that people think the U.S. housing market has come a long way since the crash of 2008. When we asked this question in 2013, 44% believed that it was either definitely or probably a good time to sell their homes. In last week’s survey that number was up to 62%.

Not sure
Probably not
Other option
Definitely not

Did you, or do you plan on using money from the sale of your pre-retirement home to help fund your retirement lifestyle?
About half of the Members taking the survey predict that they will not spend as much money on their new home as they get from the old one. That segment plans on using the surplus to help fund their retirement. Only a tiny percentage will spend more on their new home than they receive on the sale of the current one, just 15%. Many people wrote in that they have specific target dates for selling their homes, regardless of the market. Several folks reported that they will use part of the surplus to buy a second home or condo to live the snowbird lifestyle. Another person said he would spend more to live in a more desirable area than he does now. A few intend to bank the money and become renters.

Spend less and use surplus on retirement
Will spend about the same
Will spend more

What are your plans for your next home?
For this question people had the option to make more than one choice from the list. This is how the various choices stacked up, with moving out of state topping the list at 24%. More efficient home choices (single floor living, lower maintenance, smaller size) were the most often selected choices after that. Surprisingly, and in spite of many comments about renting, not very many people seem interested in renting (just 5%).

Move to another state
Move to 1 level home
Lower maintenance
Less expensive
Stay within state or region
More expensive

State of your downsizing
We asked this question to see how our Members and visitors are doing at downsizing. Compared to the 2013 survey, there was a slight increase in the percentage of folks who said they have begun downsizing. Some 70% in this year’s survey have started, completed, or made good progress on downsizing. Our favorite comment seems perfect for us baby boomers: “Down sized, but now live on lake and adding boats”. Very funny.

Made a start
Haven’t started
Good progress
Completed downsizing
No interest

If you have downsized, please select which options best fit your experience.
The downsizing process seems to be a continuous improvement project where the end is elusive. A few people mentioned that you might downsize to live in a rental, and then do it again when you move out of state. While 20% said it felt fabulous to have done it, they also reported that it took longer/was harder than they thought, and that there was some sadness about leaving “treasures” behind. But this sentiment seems to sum up the experience for many: “Felt light and free!” Here is a link to almost 200 comments and suggestions on downsizing, all of them instructive. One of the comments that was mentioned frequently was that tag/garage sales are a lot of effort for the reward. Here are a few more representative comments:
– “We went from a 5,000 sq ft house in Washington state to an RV and one 10×13 storage unit so we had a lot of downsizing to do. Had one garage sale, which did not accomplish much. Sold the majority via Craigslist. The remainder went to local charities. RV’d full-time for a couple of years and found our “place” in Arkansas, 2,400 sq ft lake house. Bought it furnished, down to linens on the beds and kitchen stocked. Took the RV back up to Seattle to get the stuff in the storage unit. Downsized what was left in the Arkansas house, duplicate items or things we would just not use, which went to local charities. Have continued to work on not accumulating more stuff.”
– My children don’t want my books, which makes me very sad. My books are the heritage I’d always expected to share and Wednesday, Aug 16th pass on. There aren’t many places to sell used books, except for store credit, and I frankly need cash, and fewer books.See all downsizingcomments

Haven’t started yet
Feels fabulous
Took longer than I thought
Had a hard time
Felt sad about leaving “treasures”
Other option
Not worth the effort

Concerns, expectations, and experiences with selling your home, downsizing, and moving.
Thanks to the more than 300 Members who generously shared your insights and experiences on this question – you wrote in so many interesting and clever thoughts! Since we don’t have room to provide more than the briefest sample of those comments, here is a link to all of the Selling your home comments (PDF version) or Sellingyourhome – CSV version. Of course we also invite you to comment at the bottom of this article too.

Comments by topic:
This is just a tiny sampling of the many, many comments we received:
Selling the old and buying the new house
– How much work do you put in to your house before trying to sell it?
– Definitely wish to move to a more tax friendly and scenic town than Lansing, MI. I expect to have to pay more to buy a 182,615,251 home similar to or smaller than the one I currently own,because median home values here are very low compared to
most desirable locations in other states.
– As one who has moved many times (8) during my work career with the Government I can honestly say that it never gets any easier – unless you plan ahead. Don’t acquire, purchase, buy things you don’t use or don’t need. It’s easier to move from a place with less stuff and makes selling your “old place” easier to stage and makes it more appealing to prospective buyers. No one wants to move into a house where they can’t envision their own things in there.
– Concerns: Will family come visit if we move away? Will I be able to make friends in a new area?
– We are DEFINITELY going to downsize to a single story home that requires less maintenance. Cost is a factor but want to concentrate more on our leisure time rather than the maintenance issues of a large home. A condominium or concentrate more on our leisure time rather than the maintenance issues of a large home. A condominium or retirement community where maintenance is included in monthly fees is a strong possibility. ur biggest issue is the area of the country where we want to move.

– I took a scouting trip to the area I wanted to relocate to ahead of time. I also worked early to secure a rental and storage unit before selling my house. It was a good thing I did, because once the house sold, things moved quickly. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I’d often get out of bed and pack. Packing materials can be expensive, so spend some time asking for free boxes from local liquor and grocery stores and schools. Once I moved, I donated my packing paper and bubble wrap to local pottery shops. They were happy to get it and I was happy not to throw it away.
– Top one is Doctors and hospitals; finding the right ones in a new area. Near an airport since all of our children are out of state.
Budgeting for the move. Having shopping, restaurants, entertainment nearby. How will our adult family deal with us moving? Making new friends and enough things to keep us busy.

Bottom line: Great job everyone – each and every one of your comments is greatly appreciated!

Comments: Please share your additional comments below.

More Topretirements Surveys:
Half of Topretirements Members Confident They Will Be Able to Maintain Pre-Retirement Lifestyle
Spousal Compatibility, Areas of Incompatibility, and Predictions of Retirement Happiness
Florida and Southeast Top Your “Where to Retire” Preferences
Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 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
This is a link to your suggestions about future article topics.

Posted by Admin on August 23rd, 2017


  1. Exodus OF Illinois! A mass departure of smart people.

    State of Corruption and Chaos!

    by Johnny — August 23, 2017

  2. Well conducted survey. Loved the comments from others who have already gone through the process. I share with the majority opinion on most questions, it’s just a matter of doing it.

    by Chuck Kerstein — August 23, 2017

  3. Missed the survey and we are in the middle of buying a new place for our retirement. We are moving from a low cost of living area to a higher one, moving from south to north, moving to be near better medical support and more things we like to do! Wish we could have found a one-level home but the master is on the main floor. Houses were selling FAST, and for lots of money, this summer so we had to take what we could get. Got a good location though and lots of things within walking distance. We’re goin’ to MAINE!

    by HEF — August 24, 2017

  4. Just my opinion that using boxes from grocery stores to pack and store items in can draw mice and rats, they can smell any residual food odors in the box.

    by Mel — August 24, 2017

  5. For the person who commented: My children don’t want my books, which makes me very sad. My books are the heritage I’d always expected to share and Wednesday, Aug 16th pass on. There aren’t many places to sell used books, except for store credit, and I frankly need cash, and fewer books.

    There are apps called Book Scouter or that you can put on your Smart Phone. You can scan the bar code with your phone and it will tell you what it is worth. They will buy the books from you. Plus, there is another place you can sell books and is called Of course there is always ebay. I think the apps would be a better choice because and Ebay can be hard to sell books unless rare.

    by louise — August 24, 2017

  6. My wife is retired now and I will be in a couple more years. When I do, we are gone from SW Ohio. Right now we are looking at NH as our top choice. That said, I suspect that the reason folks subscribe to this website in the first place is because they were predisposed to moving after retirement – we generally are looking for good information on retirement locales other than our current resident locations. Thus it is not surprising that huge percent of your respondents indicated they planned to move after retirement! There is probably a name for this type of survey bias. I’m guessing that the population of nearing-retirement folks in this country looks more like the AARP or Del Webb survey results. However, the comments from your respondents – as usual – are interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    Editor’s note: Michael, we think your instincts about our audience vs. others is probably correct. Glad you are enjoying the comments as much we are.

    by Michael — August 28, 2017

  7. You are missing-out a one BIG Factor. That is one’s health condition and current network of established medical specialty professionals.

    by Raman Patel — August 7, 2019

  8. We did the Scouting trip! Spent a week, in 2015, with list in hand. Health being at the top, we talked to the Neurology group (they were so very welcoming an helpful!), checked out the Medical Gym (they remembered us when we joined this summer), drove around the city and surrounding areas and talked to a LOT of people. We made the move in Dec 2017 and are SO HAPPY we did. What we found was superior to what we had, where we had gone for work. We are HOME!

    by Flatearth6 — August 8, 2019

  9. I responded to this survey in 2017 and answered truthfully that we were definitely planning to move — at the time. This was after years of debate and back and forth and searching for a preferred location and new home. But after beginning the process of preparing to move (including selling my old truck), it became apparent that the sell, buy again and move would just not make practical sense for us. We are happy here. NC is more than satisfactory for us. We could never achieve or replace the home we’ve built over 25 years, all the lost (at least left behind) friends, service providers, and comforting surroundings — let alone be left with move hassles, starting new, etc. And for possibly 40 or 50 thousand profit? (Yes, we are fortunate that the money is not make or break.).

    Since re-thinking the decision to move, we have invested in securing/upgrading our home to be even more what we wanted. I got a less old and nicer truck (a winter priority back here in the hills). ? And we’ve become completely at peace with the idea that we are here permanently — just as we had planned for so long.

    So shift one vote from that definitely moving over to definitely staying.

    Editor’s comment: Thanks RichPB for the update. Plans change and it is good to be able to adjust!

    by RichPB — August 14, 2019

  10. After working in Florida for 21 years, we moved to New Mexico 14 years ago when we retired. We made a lot of money on our Flirida home. Now, we are moving to Del Webb in Georgetown, Texas for better medical, dining, shopping, day trips, hunting, and fishing, among other things. We will lose over 100K on the NM house, but will be worth it to be somewhere we enjoy. Everyone’s situation is different, but I I didn’t want to end up a widow with no support group and substandard medical. I can’t imagine dealing with this move alone. We plan on it being our last one.

    by Kathleen Mayer — August 15, 2019

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