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Boomers are still obsessed with retiring in Florida, even though many of their peers have been priced out of the state

Cavan Images—Getty Images

Retirees just can’t quit Florida. Whether it’s the endless appeal of roasting under the sun or screaming out Jeopardy answers in an overly drafty apartment decorated in pastels from the 1980s, boomers are still moving to the Sunshine State for their post-workforce lives. That’s all despite the fact that some of their peers have been increasingly priced out of their (cheeseburger in) paradise.

SmartAsset recently looked at the top places boomers (those ages 55 to 74) are moving to,  analyzing 2022 Census Bureau data across 268 cities. Their findings are ranked by the rate at which this group moved into a city as a percentage of its total population. Much like a hypothetical list of places with the greatest number of alligators or most Disney Adults, Florida swept with four cities in the top 10, more than any other state.

Here’s the top cities boomers moved to in 2022, as a percentage of the population.

  1. Clearwater, FL

  2. Reno, NV

  3. Orlando, FL

  4. Cape Coral, FL

  5. Billings, MT

  6. Surprise, AZ

  7. Henderson, NV

  8. Mesa, AZ

  9. High Point, NC

  10. St. Petersburg, FL

It’s both surprising and unsurprising. After all, Florida has been a popular destination for retirees for so long that it’s become a stereotype. With sunshine, no income tax, and at one point a relatively low cost of living, it makes sense that it’s a top choice among retirees or those looking to retire soon.

But Florida also became too popular for its own good during the pandemic, as both young professionals and the wealthy (the state attracts more ultrawealthy movers than anywhere else in the country) flocked to the state during the initial remote work boom. It all accelerated Florida’s cost of living; home prices in Florida have increased by 73.5% over the past five years and some metro areas in the state have seen some of the fastest rising inflation in the nation, making the once affordable state not so affordable for some retirees.

In an economy where $1 million is no longer enough to comfortably retire, many boomers found greener (or at least more affordable) pastures in other Sunbelt states like Alabama.

“You get more value for your money in Alabama,” Bob Oliver, age 71, told the Wall Street Journal’s Cecilie Rohwedder. “It’s a less known area than the Florida Panhandle. It still has growth potential.”

Whether Florida's retirees are making do with the non-taxable retirement income or there’s a new class of wealthy retirees in town, SmartAsset’s data indicates the  the state is still a retirement haven even if it has gotten more expensive. (Although it’s worth noting that 2023 data isn’t out yet). Florida is increasingly appealing to international boomers—Orlando attracted 2,100 more overseas boomers in 2023, while Cape Coral reeled in over 1,200.

It’s not just Florida. Boomers are also flocking to the Silver State, or Nevada, which is listed twice in SmartAsset’s top 10 list. Arizona, too, ranks high in popularity, likely due to its relatively lenient taxes. But for now, Florida still sits atop its throne of favored retiree hotspot.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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