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.
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
(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.
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
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
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:
All ages devel
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.
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.
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
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