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When It Comes to Where to Retire, Climate and Weather Are Top Reasons

Category: Retirement Planning

July 16, 2018 — Thanks to the more than 750 members who took the time to contribute their valuable insights to last week’s “Where You’ll Live and Why” poll. We appreciate you sharing! As promised, here is our first detailed report on the summary for each question. Within the next few days we will publish a second article which will feature the fascinating comments the poll generated.

Your input confirms 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 (Florida) and Southwest at the top of your preferences. We did not expect to see the level of interest there was in a suburban environment.

Here are some other highlights from the 11 question poll, with detailed findings for each question below:
– The number of our responding members who expect to move to a new state for their retirement (49%) is very high. When we asked a similar question in 2014 that figure was 70%, but since we did not have a response for “Unsure” in that poll, the results are probably similar. This year the Unsure option got 20%.
– 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 by far the most popular reason for retirement. A lot of people are tired of snow. The next 3, tightly bunched choices were: low cost of living, low taxes, and medical.

– The top 3 choices for desired retirement town/city were the suburbs, small 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
– – Although many survey takers say the political environment of an area is important, it was the lowest rated reason for choosing a place of any on our list.

Detailed Findings
1. Retirement Status
A slight majority of our members and visitors are not retired – 47% not retired vs. 41% who are. Another 16% are partially retired.

2. Retirement Age
More Topretirements members (45%) retired/plan to retire between ages 60 and 65 than any other age bracket. Another 28% retired/plan to retire between 66 and 70. Somewhat surprisingly, 19% have taken/will take this action before age 60, but only 10% plan to retire/have retired after age 70. Only 1% said they would never retire.

3. Will you move when you retire?
The Topretirements membership is more ready to pull up stakes than others of the same age. About half (49% said they will move/have moved out of state. Our best guess is that is at least twice the rate of the general population of similar age. About 20% are not sure what they are going to do, whereas 15% plan on living in more than one place. Some 10% said they would move within their current region or stay put. Of the 7% that selected the “Other” option, most of their write-in choices mentioned a variety of reasons: travel part-time in an RV, live near the kids/grandkids, waiting on spouse to retire, or just don’t know yet. Here are 51 responses who had additional Will you move comments.

4. Factors affecting where you will retire – Climate wins
We asked our Members to rank their reasons for choosing one area or place to retire over another. There was one clear strong reason, and that was weather/climate, followed closely by low cost of living, low taxes, and medical.

Members commented (fairly) that it was really hard to pick one rating over another. Here are some of the comments to that effect:
– I wouldn’t consider moving someplace that wasn’t favorable for all the options on your list. So, if every other item on the list were happily checked off, but the closest hospital or medical center was 50 miles away, I’d strike the town off my list.

– This question is a lot like asking people to rank their fingers by which are their three favorites. We want to have them all and would desperately miss any that disappeared.

Here are how the various factors are rated (The lower the number the higher the rating).

Low cost of living
Low taxes
Favorite activ’s
Low crime
Near family/friends
Climate change
Political envir


(See What factors detail for 251 comments on this question.

5. Region You Might Move to
As expected, the Southeast and Southwest are the preferred retirement destinations.

Outside U.S.

6. Top States for retirement
Of the states listed, Florida was far and away the most popular state of those listed(18%), although “Other State not listed” was chosen more frequently at 19%, with a lot of write-ins. Tennessee was named most often; PA, AL, MT, KY and the Northwest states also had many mentions.

Many reasons were given for why you selected various states, many of them personal, but often having to do with weather, taxes, family, low cost of living, 4 seasons, and just love of the state. Here is typical comment: “Tennessee. I like the low tax state and also the natural beauty of eastern TN living in the mountains and on Lake Douglas. People are generally more friendly in the South.” Here is a csv file with all of the “Other” responses: Other states and why

Other State
North Carolina
South Carolina
New Mexico



7. What type of city or town are you most likely to choose?
Just as it did when we asked a similar question in 2014, the #1 answer surprised us: “Suburban”. Perhaps it was the way we phrased it, but we were surprised that today’s retirees would be so interested in a suburban retirement. Suburban was followed closely by “Small town” and then “Beach”. Overall the rankings were very similar to 2014’s. Note that we permitted multiple 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. Here is where you can read write-in comments from 44 people: What type of town

Small town
College town
New urban



8. What type of home 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 is very little interest in renting an apartment. See What type of community detail_ for individual comments:

Tradit. neighbhd
55+ Home/condo
All ages devel
Other option
Townh/Cond trad
Rental apt



9. How important is the political environment of the community you might move to?
This is the first time we have asked this question. We included it because we continue to see many comments from people who are very concerned about living in any area where their political views would be out of the mainstream.

Slightly important
Not important
Extremely important



What we found is that a fair number of people think that political environment is important (41% said it was important or very important). However, as we saw in Q.4, political was the lowest rated important factor out of the 12 we listed.

10. How would you describe your political views?
Turns out most Topretirements survey takers are – “Middle of the road”. We find that encouraging: maybe the middle roaders can take over from the people on both edges and our country could get more civil again. People who view themselves as conservative outnumber people who would label themselves progressive.

Middle of the road



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 almost 200 responses to this question, which is fantastic. In the next few days a new article will provide a (fascinating) representative sample, along with a pdf of every single comment.

Bottom Line
Thank you Topretirements members! Your input was great. We know your fellow members will find it useful. Please share your reactions in the Comments section below!

Links to Previous Surveys

Posted by Admin on July 16th, 2018


  1. I lived in Boca Raton in Florida for several years. The heat and humidity coupled with the insane winter traffic drove me out! Boca is perhaps the best town in South Florida but all of Florida is way to hot for me!
    Cost of Living is high and the insurance premiums if you live near the coast (the only civilized place to live) are 300 to 400 dollars a month.
    Just as many people abandon Florida as those that retire there thinking is will be a Nirvana! Especially those coming from the North.

    by Ron — July 17, 2018

  2. I live in Florida, but on the SW coast as opposed to the SE coast. I do not pay anywhere near $300-400/month for insurance. I came from the north (Minnesota). Yes, it’s hot here in the summer. Actually, it’s been hotter in Minnesota this summer. Go figure.

    by Linda — July 17, 2018

  3. Naples, Florida has been consistently cooler than Washington, DC this past month. My Aunts and I laugh about this,
    however they do have tons of traffic and hate it when the snowbirds come down for the winter. They have to plan weeks in advance to go to a nice restaurant and plan shopping trips around traffic just as I do in Washington, DC. I want a more walkable, college city and less traffic. I am looking elsewhere for retirement and will leave the highly popular places for others. I hope to find a somewhat alluring place so I will get visitors too.

    by Jennifer Lee — July 18, 2018

  4. Ron, Florida is not for everyone, I’ve found that people either hate or love Florida. We love the summers and winters weather. We moved to Delray Beach from DFW area in Texas and we love the area. We have lived in Conn and both coasts of Florida. Since moving to Florida all our expenses have decreased. These include property tax, property insurance, car insurance, utilities. You say traffic is bad, try driving in DALLAS traffic.

    Living in Florida is waking up each and every day in paradise and a endless summer and vacation. What it boils down to is “to each their own”

    Love Florida and and loving life!

    by Skip P — July 18, 2018

  5. I agree weather is a deciding factor or at least one of the top consideration. For us l living where literally everything is in walking distance in a village is paramount. There are a couple months that aren’t wonderful so for us we just go away during that time to another small southern town, not in the typical Florida destinations. We did some serious homework and realized right where we are is the answer. We lived in Florida. You either want summer all year or you don’t. For me it became boring. As someone else said to each his/her own. What a luxury to be able to pick!!!

    by Kate — July 18, 2018

  6. Almost simultaneous with the Top Retirements article, issued its Best to Worst States to Retire rankings of all 50 states. The rankings within the Weather category, one of seven it assessed, is mystifying. Okay, not much to argue about #1 (Hawaii) and #2 (Florida), although Florida in the summer knocks its ranking down a bit for me. But Louisiana at #3? Seriously? There is no refuge from the heat and humidity of the summer months in Louisiana. I’ll give Texas a reluctant pass at #4, but Mississippi at #5 is the same situation as Louisiana, a good place to stay indoors for a few months. In terms of best rankings across all categories, the top four in the Bankrate list — South Dakota, Utah, Idaho and New Hampshire — aren’t even on the Top 10 list of best states at Top Retirements. Florida is #5 and North Carolina #6 (tied with Montana) but Georgia (37th) and South Carolina (41st) are way down the list. The big flaw in the Bankrate rankings is that it doesn’t weight the weather category properly; as the driving force for most migration from the North, as indicated in the Top Retirement survey, it should be more than just another category.

    by Larry — July 18, 2018

  7. I got a kick out of the 1% who said they are never planning on retiring. What read a blog about retiring? Lol!
    SE vs SW. In retirement have done both. The SE is hot and humid while the SW is hot and dry. I’ll take dry!
    Hope those 700 some people are a good sampling, because they want a suburban setting in Florida instead of a small town in AZ. Now if I could get the tourist to go there instead of AZ it would be great! Lol!. 😮

    by Bob — July 18, 2018

  8. I am thinking about retiring in Punta Gorda Florida. I wonder if climate change will cause problems with flooding from sea level rise in the next 20 years to a point real estate pricing/demand will drop? Any thoughts?

    by Charlie — July 18, 2018

  9. The ancient Greeks were on to something: “Nothing in excess.” That’s just as true today. And just as a winter in, say, Fargo or Minot or Duluth or Grand Rapids would be considered excessive by most people, so too would a summer along the Gulf Coast.

    I am not surprised to learn that many in the survey prioritized weather, or rather, climate, on their list of factors they’re considering. I did, too; a “good” climate is one of the most important factors for me, along with a low cost of living. What is more curious is the fixation on places known for being susceptible to hurricanes and routinely hot, muggy summers that begin around Easter, and end around Halloween. Clearly, many of the people seeking such a climate are unfamiliar with it, and are trying to escape long, snowy winters, and erroneously think that if a little warmth is better, a lot of warmth is best. Be careful what you wish for.

    I live in Houston, Texas, and I can absolutely, and with complete confidence, say that a Gulf Coast climate is not a moderate climate for several months of the year. No one would call a Houston July or August moderate, and June and September are not much better. Even May and October can be a challenge. Anyone who wants and expects to be active into retirement will not find such a climate conducive to an active lifestyle for many hours of the day, and for many months of the year. Even young, physically active people avoid the outdoors in Houston for many hours a day between June and September. It’s true what they say – it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Or rather, the combination of heat and humidity. There simply are not many people who would find temperatures near or above 90 degrees comfortable when the humidity is around 65% or above.

    My friendly suggestion is that people who aren’t already doing so consult climate websites, or websites that look at a variety of factors, including climate, in different locales. Many of us use regularly. It’s got data on every issue one is likely to be interested in, including climate. Cross-check with cities you’re familiar with. Because a winter in Florida or Texas is more pleasant than, say, a winter in Buffalo, doesn’t mean that a summer will be likewise.

    While I have lived in Houston for decades, I spent four years in Sacramento, CA, and loved my summers there, compared with my summers in Houston. The daytime temperatures were often as high in Sacramento as in Houston, but the lack of humidity made those high temperatures much more tolerable. And the nighttime lows in Sacramento dip into the low 60s, allowing one to keep the AC off, and crack the window open, and be perfectly comfortable. So, when looking at possible retirement places to explore, I used Houston and Sacramento as baselines. Any city with summers that approached those in Houston was quickly checked off the list; any city that was similar to or better than Sacramento remained on the list.

    What makes for a desirable climate is subject to personal preference. For me, a mild-to-moderate four-season climate is preferable to a combination of high heat and humidity for much of the year, not to mention the threat of hurricanes that are guaranteed to continue threatening the Gulf Coast region. People can retire anywhere they want, and we all have our own preferences, but please do yourself a favor and make sure you know what you’re signing up for.

    by Gene — July 18, 2018

  10. Sorry folks, but you couldn’t pay me to retire to FL or AZ. Even though we are all somewhat advanced in our years, we will be experiencing the effects of climate change now and more so in the immediate future. I think it would be wise to think twice about living in low-lying coastal areas or along major drainages where flooding will intensify. Same with desert states where temperatures will make places like western AZ uninhabitable during summer. The SW states already have drought/water issues that will increase. Homeowner insurance rates, electrical bills for cooling, and water rates will affect the cost of living. Look for higher ground & moderate climate instead.

    by Gail — July 18, 2018

  11. Ron and Skip P, we will be moving permanently to our 55+ Delray Beach condo from Connecticut next year. For those who don’t know, Delray is the town immediately north of Boca Raton (about halfway between Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. We will be in west Delray, about 15-20 minutes to the beach. It is very “civilized” there and in west Boca as well. Our building insurance is included in our HOA fee ($390/mo including much more than insurance) and we pay about $700/year for personal property & liability insurance. The property taxes on our 2BR/2BA condo of about 1000 square feet are around $500 per year, with homestead exemption. The traffic is heavy on I-95 during the rush hours, but usually tolerable otherwise; Florida’s Turnpike, which runs parallel to I-95 in south Florida, is a usually less crowded alternative to 95, but is a toll road (fairly reasonable with a SunPass). It’s a matter of planning the timing of your trips. Of course, the winter season brings more cars, but, heck, we’re retired and don’t mind a somewhat slower pace of traffic then.

    From November through March/April, the weather is mostly superb. The rest of the year the highs are in the upper 80’s to mid 90’s and it is as humid as the rest of the lower southeastern states. But if you’re within 10-15 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s almost always a decent breeze. No question it is hot, but not as hot in the summer as my native Kansas. And, of course, air conditioning is ubiquitous. We have lived in central Florida (Orlando/The Villages) and found it hotter and not as breezy, due to that area’s distance from the coasts.

    Hurricanes are always a consideration if you live in the southeast (yes, that definitely includes No. Carolina, So. Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, too). That’s one reason we bought a condo in a sizable community. We don’t have to personally deal much with any building damage that might occur; we also installed hurricane impact glass or shutters on all windows and doors (cost was $5,000 – $6,000, mostly for the impact windows, which are rated for winds between 170-200 mph). If it’s predicted to be a category 3+ hurricane, we’re leaving about three days early, before the traffic jams, to drive about a day to relatives in a much safer geographical area. Political atmosphere is also important to us and the greater Miami area (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties) is generally moderate to liberal, but there are plenty of conservatives around. So these are some of the reasons we chose south Palm Beach County, Florida. We’re looking forward to the permanent move. Being snowbirds doesn’t work for us.

    by Clyde — July 18, 2018

  12. Why do you folks not have a “Print” function for your articles?

    Editor Comment: Good suggestion. We will work on it. In the meantime, highlight the text, copy, and paste into a text document. Then print.

    by Phil Conforti — July 18, 2018

  13. I have specific weather related criteria I would like to evaluate as part of our decision making process on where to move. Problem is, I do not know where to get the information.

    I am interested in communities that historically have:
    Maximum high temperature 80 degrees
    Minimum low temperature 40 degrees
    No hurricanes
    No tornadoes
    Low fire risk

    Weather is only one of the criteria I would like to evaluate. Also important are:
    low crime, good walkability, very good medical resources, low taxes and political representation.

    Are there any websites that would allow me to enter my criteria?

    by Jim Myers — July 19, 2018

  14. Before I moved to Tucson, I spent time here in both December and June , the coldest and hottest months. I still find the winters to be a bit too cold and the snowbirds annoying, but I loved June and it is still my favorite month here. Been here 16 months now and it is the perfect place for me.

    by Pat Reynolds — July 19, 2018

  15. Jim,
    If I were you, I’d check out the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. Specifically, Port Angeles, Sequim, or Port Townsend would be some popular towns there. That area is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and would have the criteria you listed. The downside of the area is that it is somewhat isolated, however, ferry service is readily available to other areas of Puget Sound. I had an uncle who lived there and absolutely wouldn’t have lived anywhere else.

    by Steve E — July 19, 2018

  16. For demographics and other pertinent information about any city – we have used this website:

    Has everything you might want to know!!

    by HEF — July 19, 2018

  17. Dave had some interesting additions to the survey, which we will list here. We will also keep them in mind for our next survey. Please feel free to comment!
    Are you considering retiring in two places? If, so – please indicate your pairings. (we have previously published articles on this)

    · Many of the Master Planned Communities targeted for retirees are Golf centric. As you research your next possible location, are you interested in avoiding Golf?

    (You’ll see my note from the survey response. I believe as boomers age their emerging health issues will have a negative impact on their abilities to play. As memberships dwindle, I’m concerned that costs in these communities will be passed on to non-golfers in the form of increased HOA fees. I’m not convinced that there are enough of the upcoming generation to fill the void – in number or financially. This could end up being a burdensome cost Albatross around the necks of retirees. I can’t remember where I saw this but one of your commenters said something like….’finally, the developers are beginning to realize not everyone is ready for the Golf cart’…

    Editor’s Note: Thanks Dave! We did get several comments about golf course living and moved them to a new post of an old article on that topic. See The Good, Bad, and Ugly about Golf Course Living . We look forward to your comments there!

    by Admin — July 20, 2018

  18. A survey of the experiences of already retired people who relocated would be helpful. Questions about how soon after retiring did they relocate. Where their expectations met? Did the stay in the first place the relocated to of move again? If so, where.

    Jean 🙂

    by Jean cowburn — July 21, 2018

  19. This is an interesting comparison of costs for retiring in 3 Florida cities.—-heres-how-much-a-dream-retirement-costs/ss-AAAamcD

    by Louise — July 21, 2018

  20. I am in my late 50s, and my husband is in his mid 60s. We are also ready to retire and leave Dallas, especially now with temperatures well over 100 this week. We have the same criteria list Jim has: Maximum high temperature 80 degrees,
    Minimum low temperature 40 degrees, No hurricanes, No tornadoes, Low fire risk, etc., And we have added one item… my husband would love to retire on the lake. Does anyone out there have a recommendation? Thank you, Lori

    by Lori Spencer — July 21, 2018

  21. Lori, Maybe San Diego would be close to your max and min temps, but being “snow birds” might do too! Summer in the mountains somewhere and winter in the south.

    by jean — July 22, 2018

  22. Hi Lori:
    I did a quick check and as far as temperatures and Portland, Oregon is close, but not perfect for what you are looking for. The area does have lakes and the weather is very moderate. They do get rain and cloudy days and there is a slight threat of an earthquake now and then. Idaho would be another consideration as there are some lovely lakes there and few earthquakes. That is as close as I could come. You did not give any other considerations such as taxes and cost of living, but both are reasonable in these two states. As far as Idaho, stay to the south and west. The days are sunny and warmer. I hope you find your perfect spot. Portland has very little snow in the winter and they just had a few 100 degree days (global warming) but almost no one uses air conditioning there. My brother has a large log home on 15 acres and the logs insulate from the high heat and he uses ceiling fans throughout his home. I do not know as much about Idaho, it is lovely there however and the weather varies from north to south.

    by Jennifer — July 22, 2018

  23. We are both retired. Due to commitments to our three granddaughters to see them through high school graduation, we have just now been able to put our retirement relocation into play. We are life-time Californians, but due to the mess the state government has created for its people we can’t wait to get out of the state. Our plan is to set up our home base in Washington State primarily for (1) availability to our choice of health insurance, (2) the temperate summer weather as well as (3) the lack of personal state income tax, The idea is for us to be there six or seven months (spring and summer), and either purchase a small place (like a park model) or live in our motor home in an RV park in Arizona for the colder winter months. We haven’t found an area yet in Washington that we are interested in (still searching), but have found quite a few inexpensive options in Arizona. When age and health decide for us that we need to settle in one place we will have used our “snowbird” time to research our final home.

    by Lanell Hoover — July 22, 2018

  24. The last few comments that discussed living on a golf course were moved to this interesting new Blog: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly About Golf Course Living

    by Jane at Topretirements — July 22, 2018

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