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Survey Results Part 1: Topretirements Members Overwhelmingly Plan to Move

Category: Retirement Planning

July 7, 2016 — If you have been curious about how your plans for retirements stack up with other baby boomers, look no further. The almost 1200 community-minded members who responded to last week’s “How Much Do You Expect to Receive in Retirement” survey have answered your question. We will report on the results in 2 phases; Part 1 concentrates on the “Where You’ll Move” questions in the survey. In Part 2 we will explore the renting vs. buying, financing, and 55+ appropriate construction topics – as well as a summary of of the over 500 comments made about your plans for moving in retirement. Here is the link to the consolidated article of all results to the survey – Members Will Retire Out of State and More.

One thing we do know for sure, Topretirements members are far more
likely to be interested in moving out of state than the general boomer population.

Here are the major highlights from the poll.
Retired vs. Planning to retire. Slightly more respondents are already retired or partially retired than are not retired (56% vs 44%).
Moving plans. The vast majority of those completing the survey have already moved or are planning to so soon. Only 9% indicate they will stay where they live prior to retirement.
Plan to move out of state. Our Members plan on moving, and it won’t be local. Over three quarters plan on moving out of state for retirement.
Popular regions to move to By far the most popular place to retire for Topretirements members is the Southeast, followed by the Southwest, and Northeast. Florida, the Carolinas, and Arizona are the most popular states – but there are many contrarian opinions.

Detailed Findings
We always ask qualifying questions 1 and 2 in our surveys to get a sense out of who we are listening to. Compared to previous surveys, a slightly higher percentage is retired at this time, and the average respondent is a couple of years older.
1. Retirement Status
About half of our members and visitors are not retired – 46% retired vs. 43% who are not. Another 10% are partially retired.

2. Retirement Age
Almost all Topretirements members are members of the baby boomer generation. More are between the ages of 60 and 69 (67%) than any other age. Those between 50 and 59% were next (21%). Just 11% are 70 and over, and very few under 50 or over 80.

3. Have you moved, if you ARE retired
The short answer is … not yet. But the overwhelming majority of retired folks at Topretirements intend to move in the next few years.
Many people are either still deciding where to move or have to wait for something (2nd spouse to retire, family situations, etc.) before they can do so. Other comments explain what people are looking for in their retirement home.

Plan on moving
Yes will move
Not sure
Won’t move


4. Will you move, if you are NOT yet retired?
Our folks who have not yet retired are even more interested in moving once they do retire – 77% of them say they are “Extremely” or “Very likely” to do so. By contrast only 6% are Extremely or Very likely to stay where they are.

Extremely likely
Very likely
Very unlikely
Extremely unlikely



Main reason for moving. We asked people to give their “Main” reason for wanting to move in retirement. An amazing 425 comments came back with their main reason for moving (many gave more than one. Here in descending order are the main reasons:

– Weather/climate (getting out of the cold)
– Cost of living
– Taxes
– Type of house/downsizing
– Move to a different kind of community
– Closer to family and friends
In addition to these reasons for moving there were many others mentioned. Those include: being near ocean or mountains, health, different region or state, walkability, and divorce. What is just as interesting are the items usually associated with retirement that were not mentioned frequently: low maintenance and universal design1

5. If moving, how far?
In this question we asked people to describe their plans for moving. Their responses are somewhat peculiar to Topretirements – the overwhelming majority (76%) of our members are planning on moving out of state for their retirement. By contrast, in the general population about 15% of people say they want to move – anywhere. The percentages for the various choices we gave are shown below in rank order:

New home, different state
New home, same region/state
New home, same town
Won’t move



6. What region of the country will you move to
The Southeast is overwhelmingly the place where Topretirements members plan on retiring; it was chosen more than two times as much as the next highest choice, the Southwest.

From the comments made it is clear that the Southeast is the most popular region because of its generally lower cost of living and warmer winters.

Not moving
Outside U.S.


We also asked in this section which state people are thinking about moving to. Almost 800 people took the time to give us their intended retirement state – thanks! There are some certain favorite states, but the choices are astonishingly diverse. Every state got mentioned at least once, along with foreign countries including Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Italy. These were the five most popular states, in rank order:
North Carolina
South Carolina

States. Most people listed a single state they intend to move to. But what was especially interesting were the clusters of states that many others reported they were considering. Some are fairly obvious, such as Tennessee, or Kentucky; Oregon, Washington and Idaho; North or South Carolina, Florida and Georgia; Delaware and Virginia; Arizona and Nevada; and Wyoming and Montana. But occasionally there were some disparate combinations of states that are not neighbors; in these cases you can see the complex family, friend, and other considerations that get plugged into a complex decision like choosing a retirement destination.

Bottom Line
Thank you to all of the Topretirements members who took the time to share – we greatly appreciate your input! Here is the link to the consolidated article of all results to the survey – Members Will Retire Out of State and More.

Links to Previous Surveys
Good News: Topretirements Members Very Confident About Retirement
Where to Retire Preferences
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 “where to retire” results in the Comments section below. Did anything surprise you or change your mind – please let us know!

Posted by Admin on July 7th, 2016


  1. I am unclear in the responses. One stated that 76% planned to move and that the main reason was for the weather.
    But the next response stated they would move within the same state.

    Not sure how you can stay in the same state and have improved weather.

    Oh well

    Editor’s note: Good catch Ron, you are reading carefully! That was a typo – should have said “Out of State”, now corrected. Thank you! (of course the weather can be very different in a State like California, but not usually so much).

    by Ron — July 10, 2016

  2. For example in the state of California there are differences of weather depending if you’re living in northern or southern CA.

    by Mary Jane — July 11, 2016

  3. Mary Jane you’re right again about CA. There are differences in weather ( and prices of real estate ) even within San Diego County. You can drive in the snow from Julian (which is about 3500 feet in elevation); pass through the desert where it can be 100 degrees (Warner Springs I think); to the beach and bay in downtown San Diego where it’s around 75 degrees – all within 60-75 miles ! But then, only you, Bubbajog, Huel Howswer, and I need to know the hidden value and secrets of CA.

    by SandySW — July 11, 2016

  4. Amen to that SandySW!!

    by Bubbajog — July 11, 2016

  5. We live in Northern California in what is also known as Silicon Valley. This area has many microclimates. I can go to San Francisco and when I come home to the South Bay it can be 10 to 15° warmer. Farther East, it can be 5° or more and the heat is very dry. San Francisco is foggy and can be very chilly in the summer. Amazing diversity of weather in a small area.

    by Marcia — July 12, 2016

  6. We have friends in PA who sold their home; rent the most affordable apartment in their small home town year-round, and own a home in Florida. I thought that was a good snow- bird idea and the best of the two worlds they like the best.

    by SandySW — July 12, 2016

  7. I live in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. We have 4 seasons and many years of extended spring and summer. Although some winters can bring snow that last to long, which is great if your a avid skier. Most recently, our area has been inundated with great resorts that feature indoor year round water parks, great family fun.
    But we need to downsize, and want to rent for a while somewhere easy going near the water. All these 55+ communities are looking for buyers, I’d like to look for a active community that welcomes renter near water and close to walking distance to amenities. We have so much to offer as a couple, but want excitement within a community, any suggestions?

    by Jen — August 10, 2016

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