Retiring Baby Boomers give Florida a cold shoulder

Fri Oct 7, 2011 3:29pm EDT
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By Michael Connor

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida just isn't what it used to be for retirees.

Meet Patti Keagy, an American Baby Boomer, who is looking at other possible retirement destinations.

"My mother says her generation and other people that she knew made a mistake. They sold everything and they moved down to Florida," said Keagy, a resident of a Boston suburb.

"And then they realized, 'We're down here, we're on our own, we're by ourselves, and it's boring or lonely.' And they didn't want to be away from family," added Keagy, who is 60.

Her choices -- and the choices of others -- matter for Florida, Arizona, the Carolinas and other states that long for retired migrants -- and their steady incomes. Their spending on housing, healthcare and entertainment has created jobs and given rise to pockets of Sun Belt affluence.

The demographics -- well, they are a-changing, according to the Empire Center for New York State Policy, an Albany, New York-based think tank. It pointed out that for the first time in 2009, more people left New York state for North Carolina than for Florida.

"A lot of states view that segment favorably and want to attract retirees," said Stan Smith, a specialist in population studies at the University of Florida. "There're lots of places in North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia with golf communities. Those places are trying to attract retirees."

The stakes are high for state economies.   Continued...

<p>Residents of the Century Village retirement community in Deerfield Beach, Florida leave a polling station after voting in this November 2, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Gary I Rothstein/Files</p>