Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Where Are Americans Moving? Are These Good Spots for Retirees?




The migration pattern overall is trending toward states that are meccas for older Americans. But are these really the best places to retire?


Americans were on the move in 2020, according to a recent report from U-Haul on one-way rentals of its vans and trucks. For the first time, Tennessee claimed the top spot, followed by Texas, a favorite for five straight years. California ranked last, with most people moving out of the Golden State. Perhaps that’s no surprise considering the high cost of living and rampant wildfires that have plagued the state in recent years.


AARP’s Livability Index


Check AARP’s livability index for the services and amenities that are most important for older adults. Enter your own zip code, then check around to find out how your neighborhood compares with communities across the country. See how each area ranks in terms of housing, environment, transportation, health care, neighborhood, community engagement and opportunity.


Retirement is about the time that many older adults, about 1% annually, choose to move out of state. Sometimes it’s to be near adult children, to enjoy a warmer climate or to find a place where expenses won’t be so high once that fixed income kicks in. Interestingly, seniors and millennials are often looking for some of the same amenities and gravitate toward the same areas. 

“There is a great deal of overlap in the types of things that older adults and millennials want,” says Rodney Harrell, director of AARP’s Livable Communities program. Things like walkable neighborhoods with easy access — by car or public transportation — to jobs, nearby leisure and recreational activities, and health care. 

That can be problematic when an influx of younger adults and retirees drive up housing prices, such as has happened in Denver. The city is awash in microbreweries, and has a network of bike paths as well as a glut of entertainment and restaurant options, plus proximity to mountain parks. But the average cost of a house in the Mile High City last December was a mind-blowing $606,000.

In fact, every community offers a mix of amenities balanced against some downfalls. One may have great weather and no state taxes but a high crime rate. WalletHub has attempted to rate the states according to some features that retirees look for, namely affordability, quality of life and access to good health care. See the results, below.

Best & Worst States to Retire


Overall Rank State Total Score Affordability Quality of Life Health Care
1 Florida 61.09 4 6 28
2 Colorado 60.94 13 16 5
3 Delaware 58.69 5 29 22
4 Virginia 58.61 11 7 23
5 North Dakota 57.49 24 18 6
6 Montana 57.35 12 22 15
7 Idaho 57.28 16 11 25
8 Utah 57.11 21 4 26
9 Minnesota 56.33 37 3 2
10 New Hampshire 56.29 30 1 9
11 Wyoming 56.19 14 13 29
12 Missouri 54.64 20 36 12
13 South Dakota 54.04 22 26 18
14 South Carolina 53.18 3 37 41
15 North Carolina 53.14 19 24 34
16 Iowa 52.68 34 8 8
17 Arizona 52.49 15 28 35
18 Hawaii 52.40 38 30 1
19 Wisconsin 52.24 32 15 16
20 Vermont 51.39 48 5 3
21 Michigan 51.33 31 21 17
22 Ohio 51.10 25 23 31
23 Nebraska 50.55 36 19 10
24 Nevada50.44 7 39 40
25 Alaska 49.49 39 33 4
26 Georgia 49.33 9 42 42
27 Alabama49.20 1 45 48
28 California 48.98 29 31 30
29 Massachusetts 48.86 44 2 19
30 Indiana48.85 26 34
37
31 Washington 48.75 43 10 7
32 Pennsylvania 48.64 35 12 32
33 Maryland 48.37 41 9 14
34 Louisiana48.27 8 46 43
35 Tennessee 48.16 2 49 47
36 Kansas 47.84 27 32 39
37 Maine 47.71 46 14 11
38 Arkansas 47.54 6 48 45
39 Oregon 47.02 42 20 13
40 Oklahoma 46.47 17 44 44
41 Illinois 45.88 40 27 21
42 Texas 45.85 28 40 38
43 Connecticut 44.35 47 25 20
44 West Virginia 44.12 18 41 50
45 Kentucky 43.78 23 43 46
46 Rhode Island 42.85 45 38 24
47 New Mexico 42.68 33 47 36
48 Mississippi 41.88 10 50 49
49 New York41.86 49 17 27
50 New Jersey 37.41 50 35 33

Chart courtesy of WalletHub

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Forbes offers some tempting retirement options from across the country that include cities located in colder climes and others, like Philadelphia, that simply aren’t at the top of most retirees’ lists. The company’s No. 1 pick is Asheville, North Carolina, a town nestled in the Appalachians that’s home to a university, a thriving arts district, a handful of health food stores and the iconic Biltmore hotel. Read the whole Forbes list to find other unexpected gems. 

No matter where you consider moving, it’s a good idea to visit the area repeatedly, at different times of year. You don’t want to be surprised by winter snow, or a summer monsoon season or tourist crowds. A town you thought was ho-hum could turn out to charm you with a show of autumn color and a fall music festival, or the splendor of spring bulbs in bloom along with a plethora of art fairs. Maybe you’ve always wanted an Alaskan adventure, or the kids moved to Montana with their children and there’s no question you’ll follow to be a part of their lives. 

“The softer issues are generally the more important ones when it comes to relocating,” said Evan Beach, a certified financial planner with Campbell Wealth Management. “Money is only part of the equation.”