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More Retirees Moving to Less-Dense Regions

A survey finds a trend toward smaller, sparsely populated states

Moving van in front of house


A growing number of boomers are retiring to smaller states throughout the U.S. — and not just larger states with warmer climates.

While warm-weather states like Florida and Arizona still draw a larger number of retirees each year, sparsely populated and smaller states are attracting a bigger share of boomers than in the past, a United Van Lines survey has found.

“Based on people who move in and out of states, people are moving to small states and leaving large ones,” the moving company says in its National Movers Study, an annual report on migration patterns in the United States. The company’s analysis finds shifts in patterns due to “new relocation habits of baby boomers.”

“Many boomers have traditionally located to the South to find warm weather, and Florida has gotten the reputation as the state where people from the large population centers in the Northeast retire,” the company noted.

In the survey, Vermont recorded the highest rate of inbound migration, at 68 percent, compared with 32 percent moving out of state. Others topping the list were Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, South Carolina, North Carolina, Colorado and Alabama. At the other end of the scale, showing the highest rate of outboundmigration were Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Kentucky, Utah and Wisconsin.

A recent analysis conducted by Governing magazine found a similar pattern within states and from county to county. Among the bigger county-to-county trends recently were Los Angeles to San Bernardino County in California and Queens (part of New York City) to Nassau County (an adjacent suburban county) in New York.

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