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This Is Where Americans Actually Want to Retire

Andrew DePietro

When it comes to retirement, one of the key factors influencing Americans is location, location, location. Geography can shape your retirement by any number of factors — both positive and negative. In order to really figure out where Americans are thinking about retiring, GOBankingRates conducted a survey and asked the following questions:

  • Do you plan on relocating in retirement?

  • What is the primary reason you’re considering relocating in retirement?

  • Which region sounds most appealing for your retirement?

  • What features would you like your retirement residence to have?

  • In your best estimate, how much money will relocating cost you?

  • Approximately, how much money have you saved for retirement?

The survey questions elicited all kinds of fascinating responses, especially when it comes to relocating — or staying put — in retirement. Click through to see the best places to retire — according to Americans.

Data is accurate as of September 24, 2018 and is subject to change.

The Most Desired Place to Retire: The West Coast

Respondents were asked, “Which of the following areas sounds most appealing for your retirement?” Here’s the overall breakdown of the results for each answer choice, in order of most popular responses:

  • West Coast: 22%

  • Anywhere in another country: 19%

  • Southeast: 18%

  • East Coast: 17%

  • Southwest: 13%

  • Midwest: 11%

Though the West Coast’s popularity isn’t shocking, the Southwest’s lack thereof is. States like Arizona and New Mexico have become staples of retirement. In fact, Arizona ranks among the 20 best states to retire in.

Upon closer analysis, however, the cause of this and other trends becomes clearer. Click through to see how these change when you examine responses in terms of gender.

Americans Want to Retire Near Bodies of Water

When it comes to choosing the ideal retirement residence, Americans seem to have one thing on their minds: Water.

The survey asked, “Which of the following features would you like your retirement residence to have?” Nearly half of respondents said they would like their residence to be near a body of water. Here’s the breakdown of all responses:

  • Beautiful beaches, coastlines, lakes or similar: 47%

  • Quality, affordable healthcare: 16%

  • Outdoor activities (i.e. golf, tennis courts, hiking, etc.): 16%

  • Plenty of shopping and places to eat: 15%

  • Casinos, places to gamble: 6%


Men vs. Women: Where Do Americans Want to Retire, by Gender?

Past surveys have revealed both the similarities and the marked contrasts between men and women, and retirement. When asked why they would relocate in retirement and the main features they want in their new home, the two sexes are very much in-line. But on the question of where to relocate, they diverge a bit — keep reading to see why.

Females Look West and Abroad for Retirement

A notably greater percentage of female respondents favored relocating abroad and to the West Coast for retirement than male respondents. Just 16 percent of men chose retiring anywhere outside the U.S. compared to more than a fifth of women surveyed. And where close to a quarter of women chose the West Coast, less than a fifth of men felt the same.


Males Prefer Southwest and Southeast for Retirement

Now for a look at male respondent trends: One-fifth of men chose the Southeast, and another 16 percent chose Southwest, compared to 17 percent and 11 percent for females, respectively.

The Southeast is an ideal destination, with states like South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia ranking in the top 10 of the best states to retire rich.

Where Do Americans Want to Retire, by Age?

Differences in gender significantly affected preferences for retirement locations. Differences in ages, however, had an even greater impact on this question.

Though retirement might seem a ways off for a millennial, it’ll come soon enough — and they’re right to already be thinking about retirement.

From baby boomers through millennials, click through to find out where each generation wants to relocate when they retire.

Millennials Set Eyes on the West and East Coasts

The West Coast was the most popular retirement location choice in the survey overall. And with young adults specifically, it dominates.

Nearly a third of respondents ages 18 to 24 chose the West Coast as most appealing. Their older counterparts — ages 25 to 34 — disagree. Their most popular answer, the Southwest, was chosen by 17 percent of respondents, which happened to be the least chosen option by younger millennials. The East Coast is the second-most appealing to older millennials, garnering 16 percent of their respondents choosing it. For younger adults, it captured 26 percent of respondents.

Gen X Favors Going West, Southeast and Out of the Country

Close to a quarter of younger Gen Xers — those ages 35 to 44 — chose anywhere outside the U.S. as their retirement relocation spot. Not far behind was the West Coast, capturing 23 percent.

International retirement grabbed more than a fifth of older Gen Xers — 45 to 54-year-olds. Yet, the Southeast nabbed more with 27 percent of respondents.


Southwest Is Top Retirement Location for Boomers

One of the most notable differences between generations is the appeal of the Southwest U.S. for retirement. Almost a quarter of 55- to 64-year-olds chose the Southwest as their response. Nearly 30 percent of people aged 65 and up chose the same answer too.

After Baby Boomers, though, the Southwest drops off quickly as a desired retirement spot. Still, boomers have got something right, because many of the cheapest places to live are in the Southwest.

Do Americans Want to Stay in Their Home States During Retirement?

There is an additional factor that has a major impact on retirement preferences: the home state of the respondent. A person’s current residence certainly has an effect on where they’re looking to retire.

States That Want to Retire on the West Coast

A lot of those who chose the West Coast as their desired retirement destination either already call it home or live in an area that greatly contrasts the West Coast, indicating a desire for both change and staying put among survey respondents. The top-five states with the highest response rate for choosing West Coast were:

  • Washington: 53 percent

  • California: 46 percent

  • Colorado: 43 percent

  • Connecticut: 29 percent

  • Oklahoma: 29 percent

States That Want to Retire Outside the U.S.

This answer choice evoked an interesting list of respondent states. The top-five states answering “anywhere in another country” included:

  • Wisconsin: 50 percent

  • Mississippi: 40 percent

  • Illinois: 32 percent

  • Tennessee: 30 percent

  • Oklahoma: 29 percent

States That Want to Retire in the Southeast

This group of states was less surprising:

  • Georgia: 52 percent

  • Kentucky: 50 percent

  • Louisiana: 50 percent

  • Massachusetts: 50 percent

  • South Carolina: 50 percent

They were followed by Maryland with 45 percent, and Mississippi with 40 percent.

States That Want to Retire on the East Coast

Respondents who chose East Coast the most came from a broad range of home states:

  • South Carolina: 50 percent

  • West Virginia: 50 percent

  • Virginia: 45 percent

  • North Carolina: 42 percent

  • Pennsylvania: 33 percent

  • New Jersey: 33 percent

  • Kansas: 33 percent

States That Want to Retire in the Southwest

Respondents who found the Southwest most appealing for retirement came from a good mix of states:

  • Texas: 42 percent

  • Utah: 40 percent

  • Maryland: 36 percent

  • Kansas: 33 percent

  • Connecticut: 29 percent

  • Colorado: 29 percent

States That Want to Retire in the Midwest

Respondents who chose the Midwest as their retirement relocation generally came from within the region:

  • Missouri: 50 percent

  • Minnesota: 38 percent

  • Michigan: 31 percent

  • Oklahoma: 29 percent

  • Illinois: 24 percent

Why Americans Want to Relocate in Retirement

In addition to asking where Americans want to retire, this GOBankingRates survey asked respondents why they’re considering relocating in retirement.

Interestingly, Americans’ reasons for relocating don’t necessarily have to do with saving money. The top three answers are: change of scenery (28 percent), live in a better climate and/or warmer weather (28 percent) and be closer to family (22 percent).

Meanwhile, only 14 percent of respondents said “save money on housing costs,” and 8 percent chose “benefit from lower taxes.”


But Older Americans Want to Relocate to Save Money

Although most Americans didn’t choose financial benefits as reasons to relocate in retirement, older Americans feel differently. The survey found that the older the respondent, the more likely they were to choose “save money on housing costs” and “benefit from lower taxes” as their top answers.

Here are the top two answers among older respondents:

  • 45- to 54-year-olds: Live in a better climate and/or warmer weather (21 percent); save money on housing costs (19 percent)

  • 55- to 64-year-olds: Be closer to family (24 percent); benefit from lower taxes (24 percent)

  • 65-year-olds and over: Save money on housing costs (14 percent); be closer to family (14 percent)


The Cost to Relocate in Retirement

Moving for or in retirement is very common. Whether it’s downsizing or just a change of scenery, people relocate all the time. One issue that emerges, however, is the cost that relocation takes on your retirement savings.

For example, respondents were asked, “In your best estimate, how much money will relocating cost you?” Taking the average of all responses, the approximate amount was $66,234. Considering that most Americans fall well short of the $1 million savings target, this relocation expense is heavy.

This is especially true given that another question asked, “Approximately, how much money have you saved for retirement?” The responses came in with an average retirement savings of a little over $160,000. Subtracting the average price of relocation, therefore, leaves you with only 60 percent left over.


More From GOBankingRates

Sydney Champion contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates conducted this poll through Survata from July 26, 2018, to Aug. 2, 2018, and collected responses from 504 people. The poll posed the following six questions with multiple answer choices: 1) Do you plan on relocating in retirement? 2) Of the following, which is the primary reason you’re considering relocating in retirement? 3) Which of the following areas sounds most appealing for your retirement? 4)Which of the following features would you like your retirement residence to have? 5) In your best estimate, how much money will relocating cost you? 6) Approximately, how much money have you saved for retirement?

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.comThis Is Where Americans Actually Want to Retire