December 16, 2010 / 6:41 PM / 8 years ago

Where to retire? Florida is most popular state

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Baby boomers planning to retire and move house could be heading to Florida, which has eight of the 10 most popular cities for U.S. seniors, according to a new poll.

Two women walk along North Fort Lauderdale beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, November 3, 2007. REUTERS/Jim Young

Not all of the 3 million Americans who will turn 65 next year will be moving, but those who do will most likely chose warm cities such as Bradenton-Sarasota in Florida, which was voted the most popular city in the U.S. for retirement.

More than a quarter of the city’s population is made up of seniors, compared to a national average of about 13 percent. With a population of 688,126, it was also the biggest city among the top 10 in the list compiled by the national business news website

“In addition to warm cities, we’ve also seen that seniors are attracted to communities that already have a significant population of retirees,” said J. Jennings Moss, the editor of

Prescott and Lake Havasu City, both in Arizona, were the second and third most popular destinations for seniors, followed by Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Naples in Florida. ranked 157 metropolitan areas using data from the American Community Survey conducted in 2009 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The cities were ranked on: seniors as total share of population, median age, the number of seniors born in and out of state and the difference in out-of-state births.

“What we were looking for were places that have substantial senior populations and also populations that are growing at an unusually rapid rate,” G. Scott Thomas, a demographer who created the analysis, explained in an interview.

“Obviously both of those places (the top two cities) are attractive because of weather but also because they developed the infrastructure for retirees over the years,” he added in an interview.

Palm Bay-Melbourne, Homosassa Springs, Ocala, Punta Gorda and Port St. Lucie, all in Florida, rounded out the top 10 retirement destinations.

Nearly all the most popular locations were coastal cities.

Although the top 10 locations were in the southeast and southwest, Thomas said there were some exceptions, including Seaford in Delaware, Barnstable in Massachusetts, which includes Cape Cod, and Eugene, Oregon. All were among the top 30 cities.

Thomas added that there is a misperception about the number of U.S. seniors who move when they retire, according to Census Bureau data.

“It is not as large a trend as people might think. The overall retirement option that the majority of seniors take is to stay where they are,” he said.

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