Baby boomers are still moving to Arizona to retire, despite predictions they wouldn't.
Members of the huge demographic group have vowed they wouldn't spend their leisure years the way their parents did. But census data and new rankings show they are ending up in many of the same states, and some of the same neighborhoods.
Arizona is behind only Florida for drawing the most retirees, according to a recent analysis of Census data. And five Valley cities made the list of top 10 metro areas drawing the most new residents who are in their 60s or older. But unlike prior generations focused on golf, the latest generation of retirees wants hiking, friendly neighbors and a good deal.
FIRST CAME SUN CITY AND GOLF
Phoenix began to draw retirees in droves when Del E. Webb opened the first Sun City on the city's western edge in 1960. That original Sun City is still drawing buyers, but so are newer sun cities, Trilogy communities and other new developments that offer something different than the golf cart, lights off at 8 p.m. lifestyle.
"As baby boomers venture into retirement, they're not looking to just move to another house," said Jeff McQueen, president of Shea Home's Trilogy division, which has four active-adult communities in Arizona, including it's newest Trilogy at Verde River. He said Trilogy's survey of baby boomers show they have friends moving away, and they want to move to a new place where they'll know their neighbors and can have an outdoor lifestyle beyond just golf. Hiking is now a top amenity baby boomers want in Arizona communities.
WHY AND WHERE ARIZONA LOOKS GOOD TO BOOMERS
Sunshine, low taxes and an affordable lifestyle are the state's top draws for many baby boomers ready to slow down a bit, housing analysts say. Arizona is second in the nation for drawing the most new retirees, an analysis of the latest census data from financial research website SmartAsset shows. Arizona grew by a net 28,614 residents older than 60 in 2016 up from 27,576 in 2015.
Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, Surprise and Peoria each drew more than 1,000 new retiree residents during 2016, the research shows. Metropolitan Phoenix and Arizona always rank well on ratings for retirees and active-adult communities. And there are a lot of lists. Where baby boomers decide to live is a big-money proposition for builders and state economies.
SOME OF THE TOP PLACES TO RETIRE
Nine Arizona communities ranked on 55place.com's new list of the top 55 Active Adult Communities. That's second to only Florida, too. The list uses several sources on sales, census, crime, construction time, homeowners associations and amenities for the ranking.