What makes a particular state a great retirement destination really comes down to a combination of things that vary widely from person to person. Some retirees focus on lifestyle factors, such as where their family is or where they have friends and connections. Others may relocate to save money, enjoy a warmer climate or even receive better healthcare in their later years.
For this article, we’ll look at “retirement benefits” from a perspective beyond simply financial considerations — and reveal some of the reasons which led to older Americans’ move choices in 2022.
Where Did Retirees Move?
According to the United Van Lines 2022 Annual National Movers Study, these states were the top destinations for our retired customers who moved during the past year:
- Wyoming: 42.31%
- Delaware: 39.58%
- South Carolina: 38.69%
- Florida: 37.64%
- Maine: 35.37%
- Arizona: 34.46%
- New Mexico: 33.33%
- South Dakota: 33.33%
- West Virginia: 33.33%
- Alabama: 29.06%
Let’s delve a little deeper into some possible reasons behind these numbers.
Affordability and Cost of Living
A 2020 report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics revealed that one of the top challenges for older American households is what’s known as “housing cost burden,” in other words, when expenditures on housing and utilities exceed 30% of the household income. For many retirees, it makes good financial sense to relocate, especially if they’re moving from a state like California or New York where both real estate prices and taxes are comparatively high.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Wyoming and Delaware topped our 2022 Annual National Movers Study as the most popular retirement destinations. In addition to mild weather, both states have highly attractive tax rates along with exclusions on pension and 401(k) income for homeowners over the age of 65.
There are nine states that have no state income taxes at all: Wyoming, Florida, Tennessee, Nevada, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas and Washington. In addition, New Hampshire imposes income taxes only on dividends and interest, which can make a significant difference if you’re living off your investments. Consulting with your tax and financial advisors based on your unique circumstances is always recommended.
Healthcare and Health Systems
With aging in place becoming a popular choice among retirees, accessibility to quality healthcare is increasingly top of mind. The United Health Foundation’s Health Rankings Senior Report ranks states according to the World Health Organization’s definition of “Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Although Utah and Vermont topped their list for seniors, three of the states in the United 2022 Annual National Movers Study, Delaware, Maine and South Dakota also made it into the top 20.
Livability and Happiness
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 54.1 million Americans are age 65 or older. Fully 25% of these older Americans live in California, Florida or Texas.
Maine’s relatively small number of older adults represents 21.7% of its total population, the highest share of older residents in any state — which is a major factor behind its landing in fifth place in the United 2022 Annual National Movers Study.
The “happiness factor” is an intangible benefit that, while not strictly scientific or statistical in nature, is a key influencer behind retiree move decisions. There are plenty of studies that try to measure happiness in terms of social cultural, recreational and other quality of life benefits — with Hawaii frequently coming out on top. Among seniors, it comes as no surprise that Arizona, Alabama, Florida, New Mexico, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming dominated the top ten list in the United Study. It appears that — with the notable exception of Maine — retirees are opting for destinations where they can avoid harsh winters, build new friendships and have recreational opportunities available year-round.