The lure of a hot climate and sandy beaches leads many Americans from northern climates to retire in semi-tropical locations such as Florida or Southern California, or in the arid deserts of Arizona or New Mexico. Yet many of these retirees later opt for a second relocation to areas slightly more north. These retirees are often called “halfbacks” or “halfback retirees” as their new homes are “halfway back” to their original home states.
Many halfback retirees choose to resettle in popular active adult communities found in sections of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. These areas boast temperate climates, with warm summers and mild winters, while still offering change with the seasons. Mountain and lake areas offer picturesque living, while college towns provide stimulating environments for active adults.
There are many reasons why retirees may choose to relocate a second time. For some, the long distance to relatives in their home state has been a hardship and the new location will allow more frequent opportunities to visit. For others, the climate of their current location, both environmentally and socially, has not lived up to their expectations. Health concerns may also prompt a move to an area with a reputation for quality medical care, such as Nashville, Durham (NC) or Baltimore.
The high cost of insurance and property taxes in these southernmost states are another common driving force behind a second relocation. Florida halfbacks in particular cite high insurance costs as a reason for relocating to another state. Pete Smith, a State Farm Insurance agent in Northern Virginia, explains, "Insurance companies are struggling in Florida. In 1992, State Farm lost $5 billion from Hurricane Andrew alone." This unfortunately leads to higher insurance costs for Florida residents, with hazard insurance rates often being four times higher in Florida than in Virginia.
The halfback trend is helping to change the American retirement dream. While soon-to-be retirees of the past expected to someday retire in Florida or Arizona, many younger Baby Boomers are opting to retire in locations such as the Carolinas, Tennessee, or Northern Georgia the first time around.
While the halfback trend raises the demand for homes in these popular mid-south states, retirees bring positive change to these communities. Derek Huggett, Sales Manager for Del Webb’s Lake Providence community in Nashville, Tennessee, appreciates the influx of halfback retirees. “They are making a positive contribution to our local area and especially our community,” Huggett says. “They bring spending power to our local economy without adding a single child into the school systems. And more importantly, they are very generous with their time and get involved in many worthwhile volunteer efforts.”
There are many reasons behind a halfback retiree’s second shot at relocation. Yet all these reasons come down to one simple fact: halfback retirees want to improve their current living situation. Halfback retirees are making the most of their retirement by finding their own ideal retirement location, even if it means finding it twice.