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Planning for the future

Come on Down! Fla. Attracts Retirees and Many More

Florida Realtors economist: Marketing to out-of-staters and wondering which demographic group to target? The most-cited reason for moving to Florida is retirement (39%), but many others come for the jobs (23%), the lifestyle (21%) and family (17%).

ORLANDO, Fla. – Americans from the Northeast and Midwest continued to go south and west in 2020, excluding an exodus from California where residents moved to less expensive neighboring states. Typically, Florida advertises its warmer climate, lack of state income tax and job opportunities. But other Southern states have some, if not all, of those qualities too.

So, what draws movers to the Sunshine State?

 The United Van Lines 2020 Movers Study allows us to analyze who relocated to Florida, their reason for moving, and how Florida’s appeal compares to its peers. From an income standpoint, the study finds over two-thirds of movers to Florida answered that they earn over $100,000 per year, with 41.5% earning more than $150,000. Southern states (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas) show a similar trend.

Likewise, outbound movers tend to indicate higher incomes. This finding likely comes from selection bias. Think about it: Not all relocators can afford to use moving services, or maybe they prefer to do-it-themselves. With that in mind, we can’t reliably infer flocks of wealth are entering or leaving states based on the income breakouts provided in the study.

 Of movers to Florida, 39% indicate retirement as their reason for moving. The state is the second highest for retirement (as a percentage) following Delaware, and South Carolina attracts a similar percentage of retirees to its state. But the other southern states diverge, with the main appeal of Texas, Tennessee and Georgia being job opportunities. North Carolina and Alabama fall somewhere in between; more people indicate relocating for a job, but a share is also moving for retirement.

In the United Van Lines moving analysis, most movement between states is tied to jobs. But since retirees account for many of the moves, just 23% of new Floridians cite “a job” as their reason for coming to the Sunshine State, though that doesn’t mean Florida lacks employment opportunities. Texas surpassed Florida in both percentage and volume of inbound shipments from jobs in 2020. The rest of its southern peers have a larger percent of movement from jobs, yet only North Carolina and Georgia have a similar volume, with Tennessee trailing slightly.

Florida also attracts people for lifestyle (21%) and family (17%). The age range of movers reflects what we would expect based on the reasons for changing location. Nearly 70% of those relocating to Florida are older than 55; 37% are 65 or older.

 The highest proportion of retirees moving out is from the northeastern states, like New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and New York, as well as some Midwest areas.

 Allied Van Lines gives a peek at its migration trends between cities. These relocation trends aren’t limited to retirees. Coming into Florida, there’s movement from New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

 Remember, moving van data only capture part of the picture, but you can use it in your business. Florida may be known to visitors for its sun and sand, but economic opportunity is what makes residents stay. Think about what opportunities exist in your local market and how to reach potential buyers searching for jobs. You can help them work in, and own, a piece of paradise.

Erica Plemmons is an economist and Director of Housing Statistics

© 2021 Florida Realtors®