Where do Americans Retire? Follow the Rankings


What do places such as Ames, Iowa, Madison, Wisconsin, Manhattan, Kansas, and Provo-Orem, Utah have in common? All have been ranked, by one group or another, as retirement destinations that attract retirees.  The list of places span the U.S., ranging from the Sunbelt (places including Arizona, California and Florida) to everywhere else in the U.S., including New Hampshire, Maine, Kansas and Iowa. The various lists can be found in rankings such as the Milken Institutes list; found at http://successfulaging.milkeninstitute.org/  or Bankrate’s, http://www.bankrate.com/retirement/states-ranked-from-first-to-worst-on-retirement-2/ . Similar lists can be found for international locations.

But why? What sets these places apart and makes them retirement destinations? We know from the migration literature that older Americans (as everywhere) are the least likely cohort to migrate, especially over longer distances. Instead, they are more often tied to place, reflecting a lifetime of connections to a place. Moreover, retirees, along with those that are soon to retire, are attracted to destinations that offer amenities, health care resources, lower crime rates, lower costs of living, and a favorable climate.

Do such lists matter? They can certainly be used to think about potential retirement locations and offer alternatives. But, most Americans will likely choose places that they are familiar with or have some ties to, rather than settling in a new place. In the meantime, the rankings can provide some entertainment, as in: Really? That place is ranked highly? Why?

Further Reading:

Mark Miller, Stopping Work and Then Staying Put. The New York Times, 7 May 2017, page BU3. Also at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/your-money/the-best-places-to-move-in-retirement-theyre-all-over-the-map.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share



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