Many Retirees Flock From Snow Belt To Sun Belt, And Back Again

Personal and financial reasons influence older Americans to leave states like Arizona to head back home

October 13, 2016

A long-standing way of life for many Americans — work for a few decades, retire, and move somewhere warm — is being disrupted.

Pew Charitable Trusts found that between 2012 and 2014, nearly 54,000 people age 70 or older moved from popular retirement states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas to colder locales like Illinois, Michigan, and New York. That’s a 45 percent increase from 2009 to 2011.

While the Sun Belt states have lower costs of living (and, in Texas and Florida, no state income tax), states like New York have more generous Medicaid payments and better programs for low-income renters. Many retirees might just be homesick, too.

The rise in the number of older people moving back to the Snow Belt likely is driven as much by personal and family reasons as anything, some researchers say. “There’s a social factor at work,” said James Wooster, New Jersey’s chief economist. “They may move to Florida for economic reasons and then find that they really do miss their old friends and their grandchildren.”

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