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Top 5 States Where Retirees Moved in 2022

More searching for chaper housing, but Florida still #1 destination

spinner image scenic view of a bridge over Tampa Bay, Florida with a Uhaul moving trailer attached to a car
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Editor's note: This article is based on a report about people relocating for retirement in 2022. You can read a newer article on where retirees moved in 2023.

More and more retirees making interstate moves are doing so in search of cheaper housing, according to a new study compiled from U.S. Census Bureau survey data.

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The overall number of older Americans moving in retirement rebounded slightly last year after plummeting in 2021, according to the third annual report on retirement relocation trends from online moving-services marketplace Hire A Helper.

For those crossing state lines, Florida was the most popular destination, followed by North Carolina, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia.

About 1 in 8 retirees who relocated out of state reported doing so to cut housing expenses, up from 1 in 15 in 2019. “That kind of cost consciousness is something we haven’t seen at this level [in the census data] since 2014,” says Miranda Marquit, chief data analyst at Hire A Helper.

Such concerns overtook seeking “new or better housing” as the second most common cause for an interstate move, behind only family reasons, and were more pronounced among retirees of color, nearly one-fifth of whom cited cheaper housing as the driving force behind a move.

Inflation ‘freaked people out’

“Nobody really worried about inflation over the last decade, until this [past] year,” says Jeremy Kisner, a Phoenix-based certified financial planner with Surevest Private Wealth. “Inflation really became noticeable, and I think it freaked people out.”

Rents in particular grew rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaping 18 percent from 2020 to 2021, according to rental listing marketplace Apartment List. Rents continued to rise last year, albeit more slowly, going up 3.8 percent from January through December 2022.

“I know we have some adjustments on Social Security, and some pensions may have some cost-of-living adjustments, but it may not necessarily keep up with the actual increase in cost of living, especially if people are renting,” says Marianela Collado, CEO of Tobias Financial Advisors in Plantation, Florida. “We mostly try to dissuade people from being in a rental situation in retirement, because you’re at the whim of the landlord.”

Collado also cautions retirees mulling a move to look beyond a lower monthly rent or mortgage bill and focus on issues such as income and property taxes and homeowner’s insurance rates in their prospective new state.

“You could be making a move to downsize but actually find yourself with higher costs, especially related to property taxes,” she says. “People really need to think through all around what the impact is.”

Florida tops standings

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About 234,000 Americans relocated in retirement in 2022, according to Hire A Helper, which reviewed data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and its Annual Social and Economic Supplements for 2022.

Top states retirees are moving to (and leaving from)

About 234,000 retirees moved in 2022.

These states attracted the biggest share of relocations:

state % inbound
Florida 11.8 %
North Carolina   9.6 %
Michigan 6.6 %
Arizona 5.9 %
Georgia 5.5 %

These five states saw the most retiree departures:

state % outbound
Oregon 9.8 %
Maryland 7 %
Idaho 3.4 %
Texas 3.3 %
Virginia 2.9 %

Source: Hire A Helper, based on data from U.S. Census Bureau

That’s up 4 percent from the previous year but still down steeply from the nearly 400,000 retiree moves in 2020, when job, health and family concerns related to the emergence of COVID-19 drove a big increase in moves overall, a prior report by the company found.

After two years as the number two state in the Hire A Helper standings, Florida took over the top spot in 2022, with nearly 12 percent of all interstate retiree migrations ending in the Sunshine State.

“Florida’s kind of got it all,” Kisner says. “They’ve got the warm weather, low cost of living and no [state income] taxes. A lot of people dream of retiring to the beach, and Florida still has affordable beaches, whereas, say, Southern California, there’s no affordable beaches.”

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The Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area on central Florida’s Atlantic Coast was the most attractive metropolitan destination, drawing 9.2 percent of retirees moving to metro regions. The area is particularly popular with early retirees: People ages 55 to 64 made up 37 percent of older transplants to the region, 11 points higher than the national share for that age group.

Oregon was the state retirees were most likely to leave, with nearly 10 percent of boundary-crossing migrants exiting from there. Maryland ranked second, followed by Idaho, Texas and Virginia. The latter two were also in the top tier of states to which retirees moved, ranking ninth and 10th, respectively.

Though low unemployment and abundant outdoor recreation have made Oregon a popular landing spot, especially for younger adults, it also ranks among the states with the highest cost of living.

“With people looking to move and save money, I think Oregon does make sense as an exit point,” Marquit says. The Idaho resident adds that in recent years, that part of the country has “been unseasonably cold. So if you’re out in Oregon and going, ‘Why is it cold, and why does it cost so much?’, moving to someplace like Florida or North Carolina makes sense.”

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