Skip to content

More Retirees Are Moving to the Mountain West

Boomers are migrating to states with mild climates and recreational options

A view of the Reno Nevada cityscape in winter

Getty Images

A new study shows that western and mountain states such as Nevada (Reno, pictured) and Wyoming are becoming increasingly popular landing spots for retirees.

While most retirees are staying put and opting to age in place these days, a newly released survey indicates that those who do move increasingly choose mountain and western states where they find a desirable combination of affordable housing, mild weather and outdoor recreational opportunities, such as skiing and hiking. 
United Van Lines’ National Movers Study, which is based on data from 110,000 moves that the company handled last year, found that the Mountain West region — which stretches from Arizona to Wyoming — attracted the biggest influx of older people, with 24.5 percent of those moving citing retirement as a reason for relocating. The Northeast, in contrast, saw the highest proportion of retiree departures, at 23.5 percent.
The traditional retiree magnet of Florida still remains the most popular state, followed by Nevada, South Carolina, Arizona, Maine, Vermont, Wyoming, Delaware, Arkansas and New Mexico.
United Van Lines spokesperson Melissa Sullivan said that retiree relocation to the west represents a shift from several decades ago when older people mostly left northern states and headed southward. “We’re seeing retirees being attracted to more outdoor adventure destinations than in the past,” she said.
Michael Stoll, a professor of public policy and urban planning at UCLA and an expert in migration trends, said that Nevada has become an increasingly popular destination for retirees from nearby California, chiefly because of its lower housing costs.
Similarly, Vermont is emerging as a desirable spot for retirees from elsewhere in the Northeast because of its affordable housing and “low density, low stress” ambiance. It's also close to family and friends still living in the retirees' former hometowns, Stoll said.