5 Cities Baby Boomers Are Leaving — Why They Don’t Want To Retire There

New York City Skyline with Empire State Building and Midtown Manhattan Skyscrapers. stock photo
OlegAlbinsky / iStock.com

Retirement is proving to be a fresh start for baby boomers in certain major cities. While they may have called these metropolises home for decades, they’ve opted to call other areas home during their golden years.

Bank of America recently published data revealing which cities baby boomers are fleeing at the highest rates. Here’s a look at these cities, along with both cost and quality of living information that may offer further insights on why they’re not ideal for retirees.

Washington, D.C.

Annual expenditures for Washington, D.C., households average $88,767 — compared with the $64,187 U.S. average — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Median rent in the city is $2,615 per month, according to Zillow.

Additionally, utility bills in the area cost 13% more than the national average, according to Redfin. Also costly, groceries and transportation hover around 8% more than the national average.

The city also isn’t the safest, earning a “C-minus” rating for the volume of violent and property crimes, according to Niche.com. Notably, the level of assaults, murders, robberies and rapes are all above the national average, with first three exponentially higher.

New York City

Households in the New York City Metropolitan Area have average expenditures of $77,204 per year, according to the BLS. Median rent is $3,750 per month, which is $1,650 more than the national median, according to Zillow.

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Utilities in Manhattan cost 3% more than the national average, but healthcare is 9% more expensive and groceries are 29% higher, according to Redfin.

The city earned a “C” rating for violent and property crimes on Niche.com. Most notably, the level of assaults and robberies were above the national average.

San Francisco

The average annual household expenditures in San Francisco total $91,290, according to the BLS. Probably not too shocking, Redfin estimates housing costs in the city at an exorbitant 202% higher than the national average.

Of course, that’s not all that’s more expensive in San Francisco. Utilities (33%), groceries (30%), transportation (37%) and healthcare (29%) are all more expensive in the city, according to Redfin.

San Francisco earned a “C” rating for violent and property crimes on Niche.com. The latter was especially notable, as burglaries, theft and motor vehicle theft were all above the national average.

San Jose, California

It should come as no surprise that living in the Silicon Valley isn’t cheap. For example, housing costs are 142% higher than the national average — $1.4 million compared with $425,265 — according to Redfin.

Of course, that’s not where the over-the-top cost of living ends. The average monthly energy bill is 24% higher than the national average, groceries are 21% higher, transportation is 5% higher and healthcare is 18% higher, according to Redfin.

As for crime and safety, the city has a “C” rating, based on the volume of violent and property crimes per annum, according to Niche.com. Motor vehicle theft is a major problem, as the level of occurrence is nearly 2.5 times the national average.


Living in Seattle comes with average annual expenditures of $86,303, according to the BLS. Residents pay a median $2,280 in monthly rent, according to Zillow.

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Utilities are only 5% more than the national average, according to Redfin. However, groceries (23%), transportation (24%) and healthcare (31%) are exceptionally higher than the national average.

The city earned a “C” rating for crime and safety on Niche.com. Property crime is especially high, with burglaries and motor vehicle theft all more than double the national average.

Why Retirees May Be Leaving These Cities

“Baby boomers are leaving cities like D.C., New York, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle for retirement due to various factors, with the high cost of living being a significant concern,” said Eliza Arnold, co-founder & CEO of retirement savings platform Arnie.co. “These cities are known for their expensive housing, higher taxes and overall elevated living costs, which can be burdensome for retirees on fixed or reduced incomes.”

Of course, money might not be the only reason retirees are fleeing these five urban areas.

“Additionally, the fast-paced and crowded urban environments might not align with the more relaxed lifestyle that retirees often seek,” she said. “Access to quality healthcare and climate preferences also play a role in their decisions.”

Where These Retirees Might Move

Each retiree leaving these five cities has a unique story. Arnold noted that some may choose to stay relatively close to the city they’ve decided to leave in retirement, while others will choose an entirely different locale.

“Some baby boomers might choose to relocate within their current state to less expensive areas, seeking affordability while staying close to their social networks,” she said. “Others may opt for out-of-state retirement, looking for locations with lower living costs, favorable tax environments and climates that better suit their preferences.”

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Generally speaking, she said, active adult communities or retirement villages tend to be popular choices, as they offer amenities and social activities specifically geared toward seniors.

“Ultimately, where to retire is a personal decision, shaped by individual preferences, financial considerations and lifestyle priorities,” she said. “Finding the right place for retirement is about creating a fulfilling and comfortable future in line with their unique needs and desires.”

As for the tax environment she noted, Colt Agar, managing editor at Bizpedia Magazine, agreed that some retirees seek out states with favorable tax policies.

“Some states do not tax Social Security income, others offer tax credits and a few have no state income taxes at all,” he said. “This could significantly impact the cost of living for retirees and influence their decision on where to relocate.”

While each retiree has their own unique plans for a home in their golden years, the Bank of America survey revealed the most popular destinations for baby boomers right now. This includes Las Vegas; Phoenix; Tampa, Florida; Orlando, Florida and Austin, Texas.

Only time will tell whether retirees continue to favor these cities or whether new retirement hotspots will emerge.

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