Not Moving On, But Still Starting a New Chapter

Robert Strauss, The New York Times

NO PLACE LIKE HOME Noah Levine and his wife, Berna, traveled all over the country, but could not find a place to retire that had more to offer than their community in Marietta, Ga.Credit...

According to demographers at the Brookings Insititution,  a comparison of the last three US census figures show “the places that had high influxes of younger and middle-aged people earlier now have the greatest increases in both the 55-to-64 and 65-and-over age groups.”  Further examination shows the best predictor of retirement location was where the person was when they were 45 years old.  Check it the following article as it may change your mind about the cliché of that retirees “pack uo for the sunshine and warmth”.

“NOAH AND BERNA LEVINE were making those steps toward retirement two years ago — trying to figure out where they wanted to live. They had moved to Marietta, Ga., about 30 years before from their native New Jersey with three young children. Mr. Levine, 62, had taken a job with the Atlanta Jewish Federation, and Mrs. Levine figured her teaching skills would quickly land her a job, which they did soon enough.

As retirement loomed, though, the three children were arrayed across the country — Albuquerque, Chicago and Detroit, with a half-dozen grandchildren among them. Mr. Levine’s parents were in Florida and his sister and brother in Washington. The Levines, close to all their family members, had visited all those places many times, but they were either too remote or too cold, or just too something else.

“We had friends, and we were anchored in the synagogue,” said Mrs. Levine, 64. “And we had spent 30 years with this weather, so we certainly weren’t going to leave that.”

So the Levines will not retire in some seaside tennis community, but will stay, happily, in that cul-de-sac they found as young marrieds.

In fact, it is hardly universally true that retirees pack up for sunshine and warmth — something so embedded in the popular imagination it is practically a cliché. “It is really a myth, this big swell of retirees fleeing,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who has written a study on where people are aging. “The biggest movement of people is actually in their 20s and early 30s, looking for work and going around the country.”

Mr. Frey said that where someone was at age 45 was the best predictor of where he or she would retire. Comparing United States Census figures in 1990, 2000 and 2010, he said, the places that had high influxes of younger and middle-aged people earlier now have the greatest increases in both the 55-to-64 and 65-and-over age groups.

“Places like Las Vegas, Raleigh and Austin may attract seniors, too,” he said, noting three areas that have seen an upsurge in seniors recently, “But their populations of older people have grown mostly because people came there to work and are now aging in place.”

Mr. Frey noted that people might move from their current homes in retirement, but often land somewhere nearby.

Carol Fuoco loved being in the city, even though she grew up in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia and later settled in one, Haddonfield, N.J., with her husband, Phil, a lawyer. After their daughter, Tina, finished college and moved into Philadelphia, though, Mrs. Fuoco, a travel consultant, got the itch to actually move to the city, even though she and her husband were a few years from retirement.

“I said O.K., but under two restrictions,” Mr. Fuoco said. “We would only rent, and we would have to be at a train stop back to Haddonfield, where I still worked.”

Ten years later, the Fuocos, both 66 and retired fully for two years, are in that same rented condo in Center City, Philadelphia, all ties to the suburbs severed. Their daughter, with one child and another on the way, lives a few blocks away. They spend a lot of time in Florida and at a second home at the Jersey Shore, but the city was the perfect retirement solution.

“We walk everywhere, and the transit system allows seniors to ride free, so if I get tired, I just get on a bus,” Mrs. Fuoco said. “We are near Tina, so what could be better?”

Pulte Homes, whose Del Webb subsidiary made its name building retirement communities in warm-weather areas, has discovered that people want to stay pretty much where they are and have built more of those retirement villages in the Rust Belt.

“We noticed in the 1990s that people wanted to retire within 50 to 60 miles of where they were living, so we started building near Washington, Boston and Chicago,” said Valerie Dolenga, a Pulte spokeswoman. Despite its decidedly non-snowbird weather, Chicago has been especially popular for the company’s retirement properties, she said.

Mario DeLena had never thought he would leave Bellmore, Long Island, where he had moved from Brooklyn with his young family nearly 60 years ago. But several of his relatives had moved to Florida, and about 20 years ago, he and his wife, Frances, began mulling whether to make Florida a full-time retirement. Then Mrs. DeLena started to suffer from dementia, and it became more difficult to move around.

As it happens, their daughter, Rosann, and her husband had already retired, their own two children grown, in the same house Mr. DeLena bought in the 1950s, where Rosann had lived since she was 4.

As time passed, the DeLena clan had moved up and down through the three floors of the Bellmore house, depending on who needed more bedrooms. Six years ago, Mr. DeLena moved back permanently. By the time Mrs. DeLena died in August, he had gotten used to the upstairs apartment, so he is pretty much back to where he started.

“He comes down for dinner or he doesn’t — he’s quite self-sufficient,” Rosann said. “We all just love that we are retired all together right here.”

Tom Bartel and Kris Henning Bartel took a different tack. Three years ago, they sold a magazine they owned in Minneapolis and decided to travel. They have yet to stop. Sometimes they house-sit in Spain, teach English in Ecuador or just motor around.

But they felt they had to store some of their things somewhere, so it is mostly in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the house where three generations of the Bartel family grew up and where Mr. Bartel’s mother is retired herself. In a sense, at least for now, he has semiofficially retired to his boyhood home.”

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