7 Biggest Reasons Retirees Move and the Most Popular States To Choose

Senior couple, smile and outdoor in nature park showing love, care and happy on a retirement holiday on summer day.
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Retirement is a time when many Americans think about moving to a new state. After a career of living near a workplace, that burden is removed in retirement, freeing those who are interested and able to move to wherever they would like. While some prefer to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives, many others have plenty of reasons why they would like to move.

To gauge these motivations — and their preferred states to move to — The Motley Fool recently conducted a survey of 1,500 retirees regarding these issues. Based on that data, here’s a look at some of the most common drivers behind retiree migration, along with a look at the most popular states they choose.

Dream Destination

Many workers look forward to moving to a dream destination after they retire, making their retirement feel more like a permanent holiday. Of course, everyone has a different definition of a “dream destination.”

For some, it’s a tropical island like Hawaii, or even the Florida Keys. Others might prefer the wide-open spaces of a ranch in Montana, or the sun-soaked golf courses of Arizona. Whatever their individual preference, many retirees look forward to moving to their own personal dream destination in their golden years.

Lower Expenses

Some retirees look forward to moving out of expensive urban or coastal areas to more affordable inland or rural destinations, as the increase in cash flow can translate to an improved lifestyle. For others, moving to a lower-cost state may be more of a necessity as they transition to living off a fixed income. Whatever the motivation, lower expenses are one of the main reasons why retirees end up moving.

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Quality and Cost of Healthcare

Healthcare is a major concern for retirees, as they become more likely to need care as they age. Being close to high-quality healthcare that is also affordable is a primary driver for many retirees to move.

Lower Crime

Being safe is a top concern of retirees, particularly in an age in which it seems as if crime is on the rise. To have a worry-free retirement, many retirees prioritize areas in which they can feel safe walking alone at night, particularly as many elderly feel physically vulnerable.

No State Income Taxes

State tax rates can vary wildly from state to state. While no one likes to pay higher taxes, in some cases, workers have to remain in high-tax states because that is where their jobs are. Once retired, however, that’s no longer a requirement. For retirees living on a fixed income, even just a few percentage points saved in state taxes could make a significant difference. Unless they have family or other ties to keep them in a high-tax state, many opt to choose a no-tax state like Florida or Texas instead. 

Better Weather

It’s no secret that states like Arizona, Texas and Florida are popular with seniors. In fact, Florida has the highest percentage of seniors of any state in the nation, at 19.36%. [10] One of the main reasons, no doubt, is the warm climate. States with better weather allow seniors to enjoy year-round activities – which they now have time to enjoy – and basking in the sunshine also tends to lower stress levels. 

Closer to Friends or Family

One of the true joys of retirement for many seniors is the ability to spend more time with friends and family. In many cases, this leads retirees to move to states where more of their friends and family live. If sons or daughters have moved away and started their own lives, for example, many retirees would prefer to live closer to them now that they have the chance.

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Popular States for Retirees

Based on the survey responses collected by The Motley Fool, here are the most popular states for retirees, based on a variety of factors:

  • Best Overall State: Ohio
  • Best States for High Quality of Life: Hawaii and Massachusetts (tie)
  • Most Affordable State: West Virginia
  • Best State for Healthcare: Minnesota
  • Safest State: Maine
  • Best State for Low Taxes: Alaska
  • Best State for Warm Weather: Hawaii

The Bottom Line

Once they’re done working, retirees are no longer required to live near their place of employment. This frees them up to move to a state that’s warmer, safer, less expensive, closer to affordable healthcare or possessing any number of other attractive characteristics.

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