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Snowbirds May Be Going Extinct

Migration to the Sun Belt seems to be slowing

Snowbirds Declining
80 percent of people 55 and older stayed within their county or state.
Getty Images

Recent home-buying trends have shaken the long-standing assumption that older Americans will continue to flock to retirement havens in the warmer climates of the Sun Belt as soon as their working days are over. A new study indicates that more people are choosing to stay closer to home while aging in place or moving to nearby communities.

The study, by Washington, D.C.-based real estate research firm CoStar Group, looked at data from 17 major real estate markets. CoStar found that over the past seven years, 80 percent of people 55 and older who’ve moved to another home stayed within their county or state.

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As a result, a rising number of boomer retirees will demand more housing in Chicago, New York and other big northern cities, CoStar projects.

"Most people retire in the same metropolitan area. You don't see the migration of snowbirds you would expect to see to the Sun Belt," said Hans Nordby, a CoStar economist who conducted the analysis.

Retirees who do move to the Southern and Southwestern states in the Sun Belt tend to be more affluent, CoStar found.  In Myrtle Beach, S.C., for example, the number of residents 55 and older with incomes of over $75,000 increased by 83 percent between 2010 and 2017.

CoStar said that some warm-weather states also remain attractive to empty nesters because of their low tax rates. Neither Florida nor South Carolina has a state income tax or taxes on Social Security benefits, and both have property-tax rates below those in most parts of the Northeast and Midwest.

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