Ramos, a retired letter carrier, estimated his cost of
living would drop 80 percent when he moved from New York
to a rental community in central Florida.
12 years, Ramos saw the taxes on his modest
1,200-square-foot house in Queens rise from $1,400 a
year to almost $4,000, and other bills climbed as well.
increases are insane," Ramos said. "In the
wintertime, we’re pushing $400 to $500 a month to keep
the house warm." So off to Nalcrest, Fla.
moves, which dropped sharply during the worst of the
recession, are making a comeback.
the top draw for movers 55 and older, is gaining about
55,000 older movers each year, more than twice the
growth it saw after the housing bubble burst in the
middle of the last decade, according to a Stateline
analysis of Census Bureau numbers. Florida’s annual
growth for this age group is 138 percent.
has seen an 18 percent increase in retiree moves and
South Carolina 6 percent, as an average of annual moves
in the post-recession years of 2009-2012 compared to
55 and older category is often used by researchers
because people tend to be thinking of retirement when
they make long-distance moves at that age, though they
could still be moving for job transfers or other
cost of living and warm weather are prime draws for
retirees. They tend to move from colder or high cost
states such as New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan
and California, in search of warmer and lower cost
states including Florida, Arizona, North and South
Carolina and Texas. Many of the destination states also
have relatively low property taxes — for instance,
South Carolina’s median annual property tax bill is
just $769, compared to more than $7,000 in New Jersey.
and his wife, like many, put off a move because of the
recession. "The bank gave us a hard time. We should
have been out of here a long time ago," Ramos said.
top five most popular cities for seniors have all seen
increases since the recession ended in 2009, according
to a study by William Frey, a demographer at the
Brookings Institution. They are the metropolitan areas
around Phoenix; Riverside, Calif.; Tampa-St. Petersburg,
Fla.; Atlanta; and Denver.
emerging senior boom is boosting not only traditional
retirement destinations but also emerging ones in the
Southeast, Mountain West and Texas," Frey wrote.
"Florida and Arizona are coming back even bigger in
the post-recession period, with some falloff for
of those booming markets require caution.
Burns Real Estate Consulting, a prominent housing market
analysis firm, notes a buying boom around the country by
older Americans whose stock portfolios recovered from
the 2008 crash. But the group is wary about
"hockey-stick markets" like Phoenix, Las
Vegas, Riverside and Tampa where prices fell drastically
and "came back too far and too fast" when
investors scooped up properties. (Picture the business
end of a hockey stick.)
of speculative price increases, "the markets there
have gotten more challenging for the people who really
want to live there," said Chris Porter, chief
demographer at Burns.
for today’s younger and healthier retirees is a big
consideration — from the mountaineering and
four-wheeling popular in the West to the bicycling,
motorcycling and farming enjoyed by Kathy Merlino and
her husband in South Carolina.
moved from Michigan — high taxes, hard winters and
high unemployment," said Merlino, who now blogs on
retirement after a career in banking and real estate.
saw people moving here from Florida in droves. I called
it ‘the Florida Trail,’ as people had retired from
the north to Florida, which was the tradition, only to
find they disliked the extreme heat," she said.
Carolina has also become a destination for so-called
"half-backers" who moved halfway back to their
Northeast origins, said Rebecca Tippett, director of
Carolina Demography at the University of North Carolina.
have mountains and we have coasts and we have
seasons," said Tippett. "The balance of
amenities that the state offers with the cost of living
is really nice."
however, remains by far the destination of choice. A
recent study by the University of Florida’s Bureau of
Economic and Business Research found the state’s
economy is becoming more dependent on tourism and
retirees as agricultural lands are increasingly plowed
under for housing. Service jobs for retirees have
created a lower-skill job structure, the study suggests.
to the state by seniors reached a low point of about
13,000 in 2007, but in 2012 rebounded to about 64,000,
even higher than in 2005 when it was about 59,000,
according to Stefan Rayer, BEBR’s population director.
is difficult for retirees to move to Florida when they
can’t sell their houses up north, and stricter
mortgage lending rules must have played a role as
well," said Rayer. "Another factor behind the
recent uptick in migration may have to do with the stock
market recovery, which has improved the net worth of
STORY CAN END HERE)
Harrell, who studies so-called livable communities for
AARP, said many of the top destinations for older
Americans, as noted by Frey of Brookings, are the same
as those for younger people. Denver; Riverside; Austin,
Texas; Portland, Ore., and others rank high with both
all seeking some of the same elements, like a walkable
community and a booming economy, as well as being close
to family members," said Harrell, who also pointed
out that the vast majority of retirees do not move at
important consideration, whether moving or not, is to
have a home that will not become burdensome later in
life when mobility is reduced, Harrell said, noting a
push to implement policies like one in Pima County,
Ariz., that requires new homes to have stair-free
entrances and other amenities for the physically
in general are very poor at planning for yet-unknown
circumstances," said Harrell. "If I’m 75 and
healthy, I’m not necessarily going to plan a community
where I can walk everywhere if I can still drive."
that in mind, AARP has embarked on a project to gauge
communities for long-term livability and plans to rate
areas on attributes like walkability and disabled
access, and to establish a standard for
York state may have the largest loss of older movers,
about 29,000 per year, but that’s a tiny fraction of
the 1 million senior citizens in New York City alone, a
number projected to grow 30 percent by 2030, according
to Joe Salvo, population director for the city’s
increase is attributable to a number of reasons:
walkable neighborhoods with easy access to stores, parks
and entertainment as well as transit, existing social
networks and nearby family, strong social and community
services, and the list goes on," said Salvo.
study indicates that moves by older Americans have
rebounded faster than those of younger millennials. The
stock market recovery is uniformly cited as a factor.
recent Associated Press poll found that half of older
workers have delayed retirement plans because of the
the South Carolina retirement blogger, said there were
worrisome times during the recession when the real
estate market slowed and the value of stocks fell.
the recession, we had stayed in the stock market,"
Merlino said. "We recouped nicely and went on with