Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Florida retirees increasingly moving to Appalachia

Florida is a well-known destination for retirees, but increasing numbers of Florida transplants, dissatisfied with life in the Sunshine State, are retiring in Appalachian communities in North Carolina, northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee. "These retirees are reshaping local economies, boosting everything from tax revenues to restaurant receipts to sales of electric chair lifts for the elderly," Cameron McWhirter reports for The Wall Street Journal. "Along the way, they are chafing locals who say the migration is pricing them out of homes and bringing in a sort of big-city brusqueness.

The "halfback" phenomenon — so called because retirees are moving halfway back up north — was already popular in the early 2000's, but halted during the Great Recession and returned slowly afterward, as many retirees weren't able to sell their Florida homes. Today it's back in full force: though net migration to all U.S. retirement-destination counties increased 67 percent from 2010 to 2017, net migration to Appalachian retirement destinations in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennesse increased 169 percent, according to University of Virginia demographer Hamilton Lombard, McWhirter reports.

Former New Yorker Marty Stefanelli and his wife initially retired to West Palm Beach, Fla., but decided to move to rural North Carolina. "I need to find time to wind down, and Blue Ridge forces you to wind down," he told McWhirter. The Stefanellis said they like the area's moderate weather, lack of traffic, and lower cost of living and taxes.

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