Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Back they go

One of the things that surprised me this Florida trip is the large number of retirees putting their places for sale and heading north. There seems to be three common reasons for doing so. For any individual person, more than one factor may be involved.

Being closer to family is a big one. Travel isn’t as easy and cheap as it once was. Fewer and fewer people are hopping on a plane for a quick visit with the kids. Those who drive are very aware of the rising price of gas. Being closer to family is winning out over sunshine and days on the golf course. The flip side is that the kids can’t afford a southern vacation anymore.

Ill health is a common reason. Frankly, some are going home to die.

Another reason is that their pensions can no longer support them. It doesn’t cost all that much to live in a trailer park in Florida, but even that low hurtle is too high. Social Security isn’t much to live on. Those living on investments have taken a bit hit. If they are lucky, they have kids or other family willing to take them in.

The phenomenon of retirees heading south has only really existed for a relatively short period of time. Historically, elders would live in extended family groups. For many, those days have returned.



  1. One of the big real estate fiascos in history was the early Florida boom and bust (1925). The boom was so insane that the railroads into the area didn' have enough capacity to do anything but bring in food. Talk about overunning your infrastructure! The bust of course delayed further speculation for some time. I seem to recall the 1970s as the time period when everyone wanted to retire to Florida.

    I think all your reasons are spot on. One factor to add in is that there are less children in families to look after their older parents, and the daughters (most likely care givers) are likely to be working.

    Moving closer to your caregivers is a huge help to them. Both my wife, and my father are over 2 hours away. If they were local they would be getting regular visits, and they are too old to really get out and do much anyway.

  2. This isn't an entirely new phenomenon, although no doubt the magnitude is increasing. After my grandfather died, my grandmother moved from Florida to live with my aunt in the early 1990s.

  3. What about people who were born, raised, and lived their life in Florida, do they head north when they retire?

  4. Russell: the boom and bust have happened before, but I think it'll be rougher this time.

    John: The pace is picking up.

    Dizzy: Both of them can move in with each other. :)

  5. One reason we're moving TO Florida is because it's where Sweetie wants to die. We're poorer than poor but will still land on our feet there (thinking positively). We are, however, looking for a place that with room for another couple who basically live out of their suitcases. They offer companionship and half the taxes and utilities & we've done it once before.