Where Baby Boomers Retire

By: The Consumer Federation of the Southeast Release
By: The Consumer Federation of the Southeast Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Feb. 1, 2012 -

Where will Baby Boomers go to retire? A revealing new survey of this massive generation of imminent retirees is looking for a place where taxes and housing costs are low, the climate is good and quality health care is readily available.

Other considerations that are important to Boomers are the availability of diverse recreational activities and supportive senior services, arts and cultural opportunities, proximity to the beach and the availability of life-long learning educational experiences.

That’s the picture painted by the first major survey in 10 years of retirement relocation preferences of the 78 million-strong Baby Boom generation, released today by the Consumer Federation of the Southeast. And it comes just as the first Boomers, born in 1946, reach the age of eligibility for full Social Security retirement benefits.

According to the survey, conducted for the Consumer Federation of the Southeast by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, a full third of Baby Boomers are open to moving across state lines to find the assets they are looking for, including a mid-size town that welcomes a diverse population.

“Already, thousands of Boomers are retiring every day nationwide,” said Walter Dartland, president of the Consumer Federation of the Southeast. “According to this survey, substantial numbers are interested in relocating in retirement. The decisions they make about where they will retire will have a huge impact not only on their families’ finances but on the communities to which they move.”

As the Boomer generation is so vast, a community need only attract three-tenths of one percent of relocating Boomers to add $1 billion per year in new income to its economy, creating jobs, new business and significant economic opportunities.

“This important survey, one of the most extensive of its kind in a decade, underscores the tremendous contribution that Americans aged 50 and older can offer to communities wherever they choose to live,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida’s interim state director. “AARP Florida believes this research will help inform the efforts of many communities to better equip themselves to address issues important to a 50-plus population.”

The Consumer Federation’s survey of Boomers shows:

Some 96 percent say top-quality health care services are “very” or “somewhat” important to them in considering a relocation destination.
Affordable housing ranks second, with nearly 92 percent ranking that as a “very” or “somewhat” important criterion.
A warm, welcoming year-round climate is “very” or “somewhat” important to 85.5 percent – but a strong plurality of this group want their warm summers to be paired with a few cooler months.
Low local taxes are “very” or “somewhat” important to 81.1 percent.
Eight out of 10 relocating Boomers are looking for affordable recreational opportunities in a relocation destination, and about the same number seek strong local services for elder care.
Also important to relocating Boomers are the size of the community (seven in 10 prefer a mid-size city or small town); arts and cultural opportunities (very or somewhat important to three in four); beaches or ocean nearby (very or somewhat important to about six in 10), and about half are seeking access to life-long learning educational opportunities. About half say a community that welcomes diversity is very or somewhat important.

A large university is a plus for four in 10 Boomers willing to consider relocation.
And, more than half (58 percent) plan to buy a house in their retirement relocation destination.
“This survey offers important insights into what is significant to relocating Boomers,” Dartland said. “It underscores that for millions of Boomers who are considering relocating, good value, a welcoming community and thoughtful choices about their future are uppermost in their minds.”

Almost 54 percent of respondents indicated that the weak economy was not delaying their retirement plans. But, about 36 percent of respondents said that the economy had delayed retirement.

Pollsters asked respondents to name — unprompted and with no suggested options — a state they might consider relocating to for retirement. About 18 percent mentioned Florida as a top relocation destination.

The survey, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, surveyed 1,100 Americans ages 47 to 65 who said they would relocate in retirement, were considering relocation or weren’t sure. All respondents surveyed lived in the eastern half of the U.S., outside of Florida. The survey carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

1,100 adults between the ages of 47 & 65 were interviewed by telephone from November 14 through November 22, 2011 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. All respondents lived in the eastern half of the country (excluding Florida) and stated they were considering moving to another state when they retired. The margin for error is +/-3%.

QUESTION: Within how many years are you planning to retire?

ALL 47-56 57-65

Already retired 10% 1% 24%

Within next 2 years 10% 3% 22%

Within 3-5 years 16% 12% 22%

Within 6-9 years 25% 23% 30%

10 years or more 38% 60% 2%

Not Sure (NOT READ) 1% 1% -

QUESTION: Is the current economy delaying your retirement, or will the economy have no significant effect on when you will retire?

ALL 47-56 57-65

Economy delaying retirement 36% 42% 25%

Economy not delaying retirement 54% 50% 59%

Not Sure (NOT READ) 10% 8% 16%

QUESTION: Please tell me how important each of the following will be in making a decision about where to retire – very important, somewhat important, or not important?


- Climate 49% 36% 15% -

- Local Taxes 49% 32% 18% 1%

- Cost of Housing 55% 37% 7% 1%

- Recreation Activities 34% 46% 19% 1%

- Arts & Cultural Activities 26% 49% 24% 1%

- Educational Opportunities 19% 28% 52% 1%

- Services for seniors 45% 30% 19% 1%

- Quality of Healthcare 66% 30% 3% 1%

- Size of the community 20% 48% 31% 1%

- Community’s diversity 25% 38% 37% -

- Near the ocean & beaches 31% 28% 40% 1%

QUESTION: What type of climate would you prefer when you retire?

ALL 47-56 57-65

Warm & sunny year round 21% 24% 17%

Warm, but with some cooler months 53% 47% 62%

A four season climate 25% 28% 21%

Cooler climate 1% 1% -

QUESTION: What type of community would prefer when you retire?

ALL 47-56 57-65

A large city or metro area 10% 11% 9%

A mid-size city 40% 37% 44%

A small town 32% 33% 30%

A rural area 17% 18% 16%

Not Sure (NOT READ) 1% 1% 1%

QUESTION: Are you likely to buy a home for your retirement years?

ALL 47-56 57-65

Yes 59% 60 57%

No 25% 23% 30%

Not Sure 16% 17% 17%

QUESTION: Would you consider having a large university to be a positive factor, a negative factor, or not a factor in determining whether or not to live in a particular community?

ALL 47-56 57-65

Positive factor 41% 41% 42%

Negative factor 8% 11% 4%

Not a factor 51% 48% 54%

QUESTION: Of the following factors, which one will be most important in determining where you will retire? What would be the second most important? (ORDER ROTATED)


Climate 15% 20% 35%

Cost of Housing 19% 11% 30%

Quality of Healthcare 12% 15% 27%

Near the Ocean & Beaches 13% 9% 22%

Local Taxes 11% 8% 19%

Services for Seniors 10% 9% 19%

Recreation Activities 8% 7% 15%

Size of the Community 8% 6% 14%

Arts & Cultural Activities 1% 8% 9%

Community’s Diversity - 1% 1%

Educational Opportunities - - -

Not Sure (NOT READ) 3% 6% 9%

QUESTION: When you retire, what will be your primary source of income?

A pension 17%

Money you have saved for retirement 23%

Social Security 18%

Other/Combination (NOT READ) 36%

Not Sure (NOT READ) 6%

QUESTION: What do you estimate your annual pension income will be?

Will not receive a pension 15%

$<25,000 16%

$25,000-$49,999 24%

$50,000-$74,999 9%

$75,000-$99,999 8%

$100,000+ 1%

Not Sure/Refused 27%

QUESTION: Currently, how much would you estimate you have personally saved for your retirement?

<$100,000 39%

$100,000-$249,999 14%

$250,000-$499,999 7%

$500,000+ 14%

Not Sure/Refused (NOT READ) 26%


AGE: 47-56 690 (63%)

57-65 410 (37%)


High School (or less) 200 (18%)

Some College/Technical Program 282 (26%)

College Graduate 361 (33%)

Graduate Degree 257 (23%)


<$25,000 136 (12%)

$25,000-$49,999 151 (14%)

$50,000-$74,999 237 (22%)

$75,000-$99,999 118 (10%)

$100,000+ 288 (26%)

Refused 170 (16%)


White/Caucasian 864 (79%)

Black/African American 154 (14%)

Hispanic/Latino 70 (6%)

Other/Refused 12 (1%)


Male 535 (49%)

Female 565 (51%)


Northeast 413 (37%)

Midwest 347 (32%)

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  • by Bubba on Feb 1, 2012 at 05:40 PM
    Rick Scott is a tea party tool. His policies lead straight to failure. Live long and prosper older Floridian's because your time is coming - and sooner than you think. When was the last time you could actually draw back the lever of your AR15?
  • by phil Location: tally on Feb 1, 2012 at 05:39 PM
    as a life long Floridian, I think I will retire to Florida, NOT!
  • by Anon on Feb 1, 2012 at 05:13 PM
    I think I'll move to Michigan and pull a travel trailer down their 2 lane road at 40 mph during rush hours.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 1, 2012 at 02:14 PM
    As long as Rick Scott keeps up his "everything for business and tax cuts for the rich" that will be two of three boomers that will move out of Florida to retire. Along with the seniors who move away go many of the newly trained healthcare workers who will have to go with the "patients" to have jobs.
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