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where retirees are moving
In 2018, roughly 930,000 people ages 60 and older moved across state lines, an increase of about 16% from five years earlier. Whatever reasons factor into their decisions, whether financial or personal, retirees must thoroughly consider the implications of moving, such as different tax rates and housing costs in new locales. That’s why speaking to an expert advisor might be a smart course of action before jumping in.

With an increasing number of retirees uprooting themselves and facing new financial realities, SmartAsset decided to look at some of the states and cities where retirees are moving to the most. Using data from the Census Bureau, we compared the number of people 60 years and older who moved into a state or city to the number of people who moved out. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out our Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fifth annual study on where retirees are moving. Read last year’s version here.

Key Findings

  • Warm weather spots are popular. Florida and Arizona had the highest net migration of retirees in 2018. Additionally, nine of the top 10 cities where retirees are moving are located in areas of the country that are not known for frigid weather. Denver, Colorado is the only city in the top 10 known for its more severe winters.
  • Retirees are cost-sensitive. In 2018, New York and California, two of the states with the highest cost of living, saw more seniors move out than move in. Additionally, at the city-level, about 14,000 seniors left New York City and roughly 2,500 left Los Angeles. If you want to compare the cost of living in two different cities, take a look at our cost of living calculator.

States Where Retirees Are Moving

As noted above, Florida and Arizona take the top spots as the states where retirees are moving. Specifically, according to 2018 Census data, there was a net migration of about 70,000 and 34,000 people ages 60 and older to Florida and Arizona, respectively. In Florida, almost 150,000 seniors moved to the state during the year and about 80,000 moved out. In Arizona, about 59,000 seniors moved to the state and roughly 25,500 moved to a different state. The influx of seniors to Florida is unsurprising given that it is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees in the U.S. Though Arizona does not tax Social Security retirement benefits, it does tax distributions from an IRA or a 401(k), making it only a moderately tax-friendly state for retirees.

Following Florida and Arizona, North Carolina takes the third spot, moving up slightly from last year’s study where it had the fourth-highest net migration of seniors. Using the most recent Census data in this year’s study, we found that a total of almost 15,000 seniors moved to the state in 2018.

The remaining states in our top 10 places where retirees are moving are Texas, South Carolina, Idaho, Georgia, Tennessee, Nevada and Delaware. Texas, South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee and Delaware are all tax-friendly toward seniors. Georgia and Nevada are even more so: Nevada has no state income tax, and neither Georgia nor Nevada taxes Social Security benefits at the state level.

Cities Where Retirees Are Moving

1. Mesa, AZ

Mesa, Arizona is the No. 1 city in our study on where retirees are moving. Close to 4,000 seniors moved to Mesa in 2018 from a different state. With about 1,500 seniors moving out of Mesa to a different state, there was a net migration of about 2,500. Seniors new to the area may want to take a look at our list of the top financial advisors in Mesa.

2. Spring Valley, NV

Taking the No. 2 spot in our study on the cities where retirees are moving, Spring Valley, Nevada is located in Clark County and just west of Las Vegas. There was a very large influx of seniors to Spring Valley in 2018, specifically those 75 years and older. A total of 2,920 seniors aged 60 and older moved to the city over the course of the year, and of those, almost half, 1,544, were 75 years and older.

3. Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale, Arizona has the largest senior population of all 205 cities in our study. According to 2018 Census data, 30.5% of the population was 60 years and older. The senior population is growing larger with more retirees moving to the city. A net of about 1,600 people ages 60 and older moved to Scottsdale in 2018.

4. Lakeland, FL

East of Tampa, Lakeland, Florida had the fourth-greatest influx of retirees in 2018 of all 205 cities in our study. A total of 2,100 seniors 60 years and older moved to Lakeland from a state other than Florida that year, while only 765 moved out of the city to a different state.

5. Corpus Christi, TX

The number of seniors between the ages of 65 and 69 significantly increased in Corpus Christi, Texas during 2018. About 700 seniors between those ages moved to the city from another state, while only about 10 seniors who were 65 to 69 years old moved out of the city. In total, there was a net migration of 1,314 into this city for people ages 60 and older.

6. Denver, CO

Denver has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. in recent years. Part of that growth may be due to retirees’ decision to relocate there. In 2018, there was a net migration of 1,288 seniors. If you are thinking about moving there, take a look at our guide 19 Things You Need to Know About Moving to Denver.

7. Raleigh, NC

In 2017, there was net outflow of seniors from Raleigh, North Carolina. Fewer than 1,000 seniors ages 60 and older moved to the city, while almost 1,200 left it. That trend reversed in 2018, with close to 1,900 seniors moving into the city from a different state and only about 700 leaving it.

8. Tucson, AZ

According to our calculator, the cost of living in Tucson, Arizona is about 27% lower than the cost of living in New York, New York, the city that had the lowest net migration in 2018 with 14,000 seniors leaving the Big Apple for a different state. Beyond a relatively low cost of living, Tucson is known for its warm weather. The net number of retirees in the city increased by almost 1,200 over the course of 2018.

9. North Las Vegas, NV

North Las Vegas, Nevada has the smallest senior population of any city in our top 10, at 15.9% in 2018. However, the city may be becoming a more popular spot for retirees. According to the latest annual data from the Census, a total of 1,508 people ages 60 and older moved to the city in 2018 while only 400 moved out of the city to a different state.

10. Tulsa, OK

Tulsa, Oklahoma rounds out our list of the top cities where retirees are moving. In 2018, there was a net migration of 1,076 seniors to the city. A total of 1,845 seniors moved to the city from a different state, while only 769 left the city to move elsewhere.

Data and Methodology

To find both the states and cities where retirees are moving, SmartAsset analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s 2018 1-year American Community Survey.

To determine the states where retirees are moving, we looked at the number of people aged 60 and older who moved to a state compared to the number who moved out of the state. The net migration for each state is the number of people aged 60 and older who moved to the state minus the number of people in the same age group who moved out of the state. States are ranked in order from those with the highest net migration to those with the lowest net migration.

In determining the cities where retirees are moving, we considered 205 of the largest cities in the U.S. for which data was available. We found net migration during 2018 in each city by subtracting the number of people aged 60 and older who moved out of the city to a different state from the number of people in the same age group who moved to the city from a different state. Cities with the highest net migration ranked the highest, and vice versa.

Saving Tips for Seniors

  • Know how much you will need. Some of the states and cities on our list of where retirees are moving have higher living costs than others. It is important when planning for your retirement to know how much you will need. Our retirement calculator can help with this.
  • Catch-up contributions. If you did not save enough for retirement as a younger adult, catch-up contributions may help. Catch-up contributions allow people ages 50 and older to make additional deferrals to their 401(k) or IRAs after they reach the annual contribution limits set by the IRS. For more information, take a look at our guide here.
  • Consider a financial advisor. Another great way to plan for retirement is through a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you make smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money and keep you on track in terms of your saving. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard though. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SolStock

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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