More retirees are fleeing the Northeast in favor of the Sun Belt.(Photo: Zinkevych / iStock)
New Jersey, it seems, is the last place where people want to spend their golden years.
Almost 67% of all New Jersey moves were outbound last year, according to a survey from United Van Lines.
The relocation company polled 26,998 of its customers who moved last year, through Nov. 30.
A third of people who left New Jersey also cited retirement as a primary reason for their decision to pack up and go.
In all, United logged 4,430 total shipments in the Garden State. Of these, 2,959 were sent out of state.
Maine and Connecticut round out the top three states people are moving away from due to retirement, the moving service found.
On the other hand, the Sun Belt is a hot destination for those entering their golden years.
More than 4 in 10 people who moved to New Mexico in 2018 said retirement was a top reason for relocating.
Florida came in second, and Arizona followed in third, United Van Lines found.
There are several reasons why people approaching retirement might want to relocate. Chief among them is the need to stretch their savings and their Social Security checks.
The cost of living is a key factor, said Dan Herron, a CPA and partner at Better Business Financial Services in San Luis Obispo, California.
“We look at their budget and see how much they spend and how long it will last,” he said.
That means examining the cost of housing, medical expenditures and more.
Clients nearing the end of their working careers have asked Herron about leaving high-cost California for Arizona, Colorado or Oregon.
Reasons for leaving the Golden State include favorable income tax rates in other areas, Herron said.
California has a top individual income tax rate of 13.3%. The top marginal rates are lower in Oregon: 9.9%. They’re nearly half that amount in Colorado (4.63%) and Arizona (4.54%), according to the Tax Foundation.
Another consideration is how a destination state treats retirement income. In all, 13 states tax Social Security, including Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.
Don’t forget to think about how other levies might affect your expenses.
New Jersey — which is experiencing that exodus of residents — has an effective property tax rate of 2.13%, according to the Tax Foundation. It’s the highest in the country.
The Garden State also has a top individual income tax rate of 10.75%, applicable to income exceeding $5 million.
“A lot of places that don’t tax income have high property taxes, so we need to make sure it makes sense to move there,” Herron said.
Before you go
Though affordability is an important factor when deciding where to reside in retirement, there are other considerations. Here are some things to weigh before you go.
Find your network. “Maybe you can afford to move, but do you really want to do it?” asked Herron. “There’s an emotional impact of moving away from your family and friends, and starting over.”
Ask yourself whether you’ll be able to reach a relative in the event of an emergency.
Enjoy a long visit. Whether you’re leaving St. Louis for Honolulu or the U.S. for Costa Rica, you should get to know what your destination is like — preferably outside of high tourist season — before you settle down.
Call your financial advisor. Aside from making sure your move is financially sensible, you should also go over your estate plans.
“If they’re moving to the wilderness, we need to know do they have their trusts and estates in order, as well as their beneficiaries,” Herron said. “Do they have an advance directive in place?”