two seniors unpacking a box

Older adults might not move as often as their younger counterparts, but more than 3 million still relocate each year, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Domestic Migration of Older Americans report considered migration patterns between 2013 and 2019 and found about 6% of people 65 and older move annually. That compares to 16.5% for people between the ages of 1 and 54. In the older cohort, people 85 and older moved the most — about 8.4% a year.

Women tended to be on the move more than men and most older adults who did move, relocated to another residence in the same county. Still, many chose to move across state lines and, not surprisingly, the South attracted the largest number of seniors. The report said about 73,000 headed South annually, with Florida welcoming the largest number of older adults. The Sunshine State attracted approximately 53,000 in a typical year. The Northeast and Midwest lost seniors each year by roughly 47,000 and 35,000 respectively. 

Having a disability affected whether someone made a move and how far away it was. Older adults with at least one disability were more likely to move than those who had no disability.  Those with disabilities also tended to relocate in closer proximity to where they had previously lived. The report speculated that those seniors may be more hesitant to move farther away or could be relocating to assisted or skilled nursing facilities due to health reasons. 

The report noted that preferences for housing arrangements tend to change for older adults, often based on retirement, physical health, cognitive decline and the location of other close family members, such as children.