Senior moving trends


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Moving Trends

Seniors have flocked to Florida’s sunny beaches for decades, and for good reason: The state is one of few without an income tax and boasts a fairly low cost of living. COVID may have encouraged people of all ages — seniors included — to move to another state. However, the pandemic era also saw a record number of children moving in with parents, likely in an effort to keep aging parents out of nursing homes during the peak of the health crisis. Mounting uncertainty regarding economic well-being has spurred many seniors to seek ways to offset the cost of living, with some turning to interstate moving.

Key Insights

  • In 2022, 235,000 Americans relocated for their retirement.
  • Eighty-seven percent of retirees cite inflation as a major threat to their retirement security. 
  • Florida, South Carolina, and New Jersey are the hottest spots for retirees, while California, New York, and Virginia saw the biggest migration of seniors to other states.
  • In 2022, a long-distance move cost an average of $4,586, with professional movers bumping that cost up to $10,000 or more.
  • Thirteen percent of baby boomers have downsized their homes in order to reduce expenses in case of a recession.

In 2022, 235,000 Americans — 0.8% of the total number of people moving that year — moved to a new location for retirement reasons.1 The number peaked in 2020, when 395,000 seniors moved, likely as part of the mass migration from large cities and cold-weather locations to more affordable, warm locations, such as Florida, during the initial waves of COVID-19. However, 2018 and 2019 saw higher numbers of retired Americans moving than 2021 and 2022. 

While the pandemic may have been a temporary catalyst, retirement moving rates generally appear to be slowing.

COVID-19's Effect on Moving

Real estate purchase and rental searches increased between 22% and 24% and remained elevated during the period of June 2020 to February 2021.2 While the initial rise of work-from-home measures may have influenced some interest in relocation, there was a substantial 50% increase in people looking to move in with parents — possibly led in part by children wanting to move elderly parents out of nursing homes.

While COVID may have highlighted the relative ease of moving to new states, it also underscored the underlying costs of a large move and the importance of having family nearby for aging seniors.

Why Aren't Seniors Moving as Often?

There are a multitude of reasons why current seniors aren’t moving as much as previous generations, including the reluctance to disrupt routines and support systems and the initial upfront cost of relocation. 

  • Recent economic headwinds have forced some seniors to continue working beyond the typical retirement age, making relocation difficult: 19% of Americans aged 65 and older are still actively employed — almost double the amount from 35 years ago.
  • A 2023 Retirement Living study found that 26% of baby boomers said they plan to continue working full time or look for a part-time job (20%) to offset retirement costs. And one in eight said they downsized their home to help account for higher expenses.
  • Eighty-seven percent of retirees note that inflation is a major threat to their retirement security. The lack of financial security is forcing many seniors to stay in their jobs — and homes — longer than other generations.

It is projected that the number of U.S. seniors ages 80 and older will grow 4.3% annually, adding 7.3 million additional people to America’s total population between 2022 and 2032. This anticipated increase in the senior community could lead to heightened competition for housing and increased cost of living in areas typically favored by retirees.

Where Do Seniors Move Most?

In 2021, cost-burden rates for older homeowners were the highest in major coastal metropolitan areas, namely Miami (39%), New York City (39%), and Los Angeles (26%).4 This is likely a large factor in why the cities with the highest senior migration rates are those with low cost of living and tax rates favored among retirees. 

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL; El Paso, TX, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL; Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, TX; and Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC, were the metro areas with the highest net migration rates in 2021.

Following trends, Florida boasted the most cross-state retirement moves in 2023, likely due to the pleasant year-round weather and the absence of a state tax policy. It’s worth noting that nearly 30% of all retirement moves came from residents in California and New York seeking more affordable locations to spend their golden years.

Florida Population Data

Florida’s estimated total population hit 22,634,867 people in April of 2023, the highest recorded population the state had ever seen — 21.6% of whom were 65 years old and over. All told, between April 2020 and July 2023, Florida’s population increased by over 1 million people. While this explosive growth is expected to ease through 2028, projections expect an additional 267,000 to 342,000 people to be added to the state population per year.

In 2022, the 60- to 69-year-old cohort represented the largest share of those moving to Florida, followed by those ages 50 to 59. Retired seniors and those approaching retirement are largely fueling domestic migration to Florida, which explains the state’s lower labor force participation. Less than 60% of the state’s population ages 16 and older participated in the labor force in 2022, as opposed to the nearly 63% of those active in the labor force in New York.

Read more: Best and Worst States for Retirement 2024

How Much Does Moving Cost?

About 8.2 million people in the U.S. moved to new states in 2022, an increase of 300,000 in 2021. However, moving is often a costly process that can run between $4,000 and $10,000 for a long-distance endeavor, while a move to a nearby state may cost between $700 and $5,000.

There are a few factors that determine the upfront cost of a move: 

  • Location and distance moved
  • House size
  • Type of moving vehicle
  • Requested services

Most moving services or moving truck rentals are determined on the distance traveled and the size of the vehicle being rented. For example, renting a moving truck and driving it 2,900 miles from San Francisco to New York would cost around $7,900, while a shorter 800-mile drive from Denver to Dallas could only run about $1,575. However, full-service movers can cost between $4,000 to $10,000-plus, and professional packers can cost over $2,000. 
The average homeowner age 60 or over has $223,000 in retirement savings, but selling their home and relocating to a cheaper state could save them at least $100,000. The long-term savings from lower cost of living can often outweigh the upfront costs of moving.


How many seniors moved in 2022?

In the U.S., 235,000 people moved in 2022 due to “retirement reasons.”

How much does moving cross-country cost?

Moving across the nation costs an average of $4,586 in the U.S. depending on the final distance, the amount being moved and level of professional services needed.

What is the most popular state for seniors?

Florida is the most popular state for retirees to move to, accounting for over 11% of all retirement moves across state lines in 2023.


Source List

1 ”CPS Historical Migration/Geographic Mobility Tables.” United States Census Bureau. Evaluated Feb. 20, 2024.

2 ”New Research Shows How Covid Altered Americans' Moving Intentions.” San Diego State University, Evaluated Feb. 20, 2024.

3 ”State of the U.S. Seniors Housing Market.” AEW Capital Management. Evaluated Feb. 26, 2024.

4 ”Housing America’s Adults.” Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Evaluated Feb. 26, 2024.

7 ”QuickFacts: Florida.” United States Census Bureau. Evaluated Feb. 28, 2024.

8 “QuickFacts: New York.” United States Census Bureau. Evaluated Feb. 28, 2024.

9 ”Expert on Florida Population Growth: ‘It’s the Highest Number It’s Ever Been’.” CBS News Miami. Evaluated Feb. 28, 2024.

10 ”Number and Percentage of State-to-State Movers Increased Between 2021 and 2022.” United States Census Bureau. Evaluated Feb. 28, 2024.

11 ”How Much Does it Cost to Move Across the Country?” HomeAdvisor. Evaluated Feb. 29, 2024.

12 ”Vanguard research: Home is where retirement funding is.” Vanguard. Evaluated Feb. 29, 2024.

13 ”Older Workers are Growing in Number and Earning Higher Wages.” Pew Research Center. Evaluated Feb. 29, 2024.14 “2023 Global Retirement Index Finds Improved Retirement Security Conditions, but Most Americans Aren’t Feeling It.“ Global Retirement Index (GRI). Evaluated Mar. 7, 2024.

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