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Gene Warren, Alan Church, Thomas, Warren + Associates: (800)755-0426 * (602)277-1957

Dan Owens, NARA: (888)742-7362 * (704)641-1469

A New Face on the South

Retiree In-Migration Is Becoming an Economic Sweepstakes


Charlotte, NC (August 21, 2007) – In 2005, over $4.5 billion in income was transferred to 11 Southern states from other states through about 175,000 age 65+ transplants. So, which southern states are winning in the retiree money sweepstakes?

According to recent census-based research by Thomas, Warren + Associates of Phoenix, the states of Texas and Georgia saw the most dramatic increases in attracting new 65+ residents in 2005. North Carolina fell from its traditional fifth slot to sixth place among all states in attracting new 65+ retirees to its borders. However, the future looks good for NC, as the state held on to its fifth place national ranking in attracting the younger 55-64 aging boomer segment.

In 2005, Florida continued to be the “800-pound gorilla” of the retirement industry despite some indications that the state’s dominance is softening. The Sunshine State attracted an estimated 68,000 new 65+ citizens - two and a half times the 27,000 65+ transplants who moved to second-place Texas. These new residents brought $1.9 billion in income to Florida and $732 million to Texas. The surprise is that Georgia surpassed North Carolina by attracting almost 16,000 new 65+ residents who brought over $400 million in income to the state.

“Whether or not these new 65+ residents continue to work, they normally bring equity, savings, pensions and social security to their new home. Whether their spending winds up in restaurants, health clinics, new homes or at the car dealer, these retirees take very little from their new communities in schools and services, but have a huge economic impact,” said Dan Owens, Director of the National Active Retirement Association (NARA). 

“Many towns and larger communities – even entire states - across the South are increasingly considering the attraction of aging boomers, empty-nesters and retirees as a major economic development effort. They need the income and investments,” Owens added.

NARA will be addressing the topic of retiree attraction and building for, marketing to and serving active older adults at the 8th Annual NARA Conference in Atlanta Oct. 17-20 (

At NARA’s request, Thomas, Warren + Associates estimated the financial impacts of 2005 retirement migration in the 11 states of the Deep South. Those states, ranked by the total number of 65+ transplants they attracted in 2005 are:  Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  

“While these are not as precise as the decennial census figures, several major trends emerged in the data,” said Gene Warren, president of Thomas, Warren + Associates. “Texas seems to be coming on as a big winner in attracting retirees. We were also impressed that Georgia surpassed North Carolina in retiree attraction,” he added.

With textile, furniture, hosiery, timber and other longstanding labor-intensive industries now regularly being exported overseas, retiree spending can help shore up medical, retail, hospitality, homebuilding and real estate operations in small towns. And, retirees are known as perhaps the last generation of “joiners,” for whom frequent civic, religious and social clubs are still very important. “Often, this translates into great volunteerism and mentoring relationships,” said NARA’s Owens. 

To view the rankings of the number of retirees attracted by each state in the nation and the associated income transferred, choose from the documents below: