What Are Those Dag Nabbed Old Folks Doing Now?

Map credit: StatChat
Map credit: StatChat

Virginia typically ranks well in lists of top states for retirees, observes Hamilton Lombard at the StatChat blog, but more 65- to 74-year-olds left the state than moved in over the past decade. As for the college towns that are reputed to be such great retirement magnets, Blacksburg and Charlottesville haven’t seen much of an influx at all.

Still, Virginia’s old folks are on the move within the Commonwealth — to rural areas and exurbs mostly. Writes Lombard:

County level migration data also shows that retirees were more likely to move out of, rather than in to urban areas during the past decade, and this was true not only in large urban areas, but also in smaller cities such as Danville or Roanoke. Counties near urban areas experienced little growth in their retiree age population from in migration.

Instead, the counties with the largest growth of in-migrating retirees were rural, mostly east of the Blue Ridge, and within an hour of large urban areas.

Lombard suggests that retirees are drawn by the lower cost of living in the counties they are moving to. But he foresees problems. Seniors will continue to seek medical-center services in the major metropolitan areas, which requires driving lengthy distances. But driving becomes more problematic as elders age. “While both retirees and rural counties have benefited from recent trends,” he writes, “the next decades will present challenges as well to retirees and to the communities in which they live.”


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22 responses to “What Are Those Dag Nabbed Old Folks Doing Now?”

  1. One of the motivating factors for older, retired people to move from metro areas is the real estate tax. I certainly don’t believe senior citizens should be exempt from the real estate tax, but those in government who seek a diverse community (an admirable goal) need to understand that their inability to control spending drives out seniors and others of moderate income. Do we really want to live in a community that has no elderly?

  2. Halfway between Richmond and Washington – within 50 miles of major medical centers in Washington, Richmond and Charlottesville are age-restricted developments going up with reduced proffers (no school age kids), and reduced taxes if you are over 65 and income-qualify.

    One of the other reasons given for moving from NoVa to the Fredericksburg Area as a retiree is to “be near the kids and the grandkids”.

    I’m a little skeptical that older folks are moving out to the hinterlands far from their kids and far from medical centers.

  3. Breckinridge Avatar

    I’m not sure Virginia was ever in a strong position to compete with states like Texas or Florida for retiree-influx. Virginia’s income tax is hardly the lowest, does not treat retirement income with too many preferences, and the climate is hardly what I’d call warm. Today, the idea of warm sounds good.

    Where in Virginia people live is one issue, but I find it interesting that the proportion of retirees is dropping. Perhaps Boomergeddon will pass Virginia by?

    The central cities are attractive to singles, young parents without school-age children, or the upper income yuppies who population the private schools. Seniors move into the city to be near their kids, but I’m not surprised most prefer a home in a rural area with a mountain or water view.

    1. There are many developments like Lake Monticello but the key metric is – how far away from a medical center are and Lake Monticello – out in the “country” is 30 minutes from the UVA medical center. Smith Mountain Lake is 34 minutes from Roanoke’s Hospital.

  4. I think this article is fogging up the data. First off, all these old geezers moving into the hinterlands…where did they come from? How much are they spending on their new housing? I bet many are well off and moving here from out of state. That was the same thing that was going on down here with the McMansion craze. Except it went bust.

    Next, the increasing age of rural areas? What’s really going on? Are the young moving out? Or are there old folks returning home from a life of work? We had that going on in WV back several years ago when the economy was bustling along. But now it’s not. Here in Tidewater, young folks are heading out, leaving the birth/death ratio barely positive.

    And finally, they don’t have trailers in the city, do they? Maybe oldies are seeing a rust belt city life and are rejecting that for a subsistence garden plot. One thing is sure, that whole urbanist idea of idyllic retired life is turning out to be a flawed vision.

  5. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    What concerns me the most are those who are entering their sunset years without the kin and long term affluence to sustain them. How do they cope?

    We all of us have been heavy into a lot of bad habits for decades now and soon there will hell to pay. Our society, its network of social support, is now starting to seriously fray. Those now entering the elderly ranks without substantial affluence are at greater risk than ever before in modern times, I fear.

  6. Those who are entering the elderly ranks – have guaranteed health care for 100.00 a month. how many others do we know that get health insurance for 100.00 a month?

    that frees up a lot of money for other stuff -like second and third cars and vacation homes and RVs.

    They even have MedicAid to pay for their nursing homes so they can pass their assets on to their kids.

    I think the elderly are far, far better off than their parents generation – AND the younger generation given today’s job market!

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    It should be “dang” nabbed, not “dag” nabbed

  8. Where are the old folks going?

    Looks to me like Lake Anna, portions of the Northern Neck, and King William/New Kent, which has a lovely collection of golf courses and wineries. I know I’d pick the third option too, but I also enjoy the Northern Neck. Can’t stand the Lake.

    Could this be a good thing for Virginia’s growing demographic divide? Push all of the senior citizens into low cost, rural areas where the counties have to work to build successful institutions like health care. Let the growing demographic counties with younger, more diverse populations tackle a different set of institutions, like schooling.

  9. well.. older folks like resort-type lake-side communities with amenities that are located near major medical institutions.

    I think Virginia is well-positioned to attract that demographic and where I live you can exempt some portion of your house to taxes if over 65.

    It’s been said that the last recession did not get any worse because, in part, retired people who owned their homes outright, and getting social security and subsidized Medicare continued spending … they are an attractive demographic for many localities because in addition to stable finances they often have career expertise that can become a volunteer resource.

  10. Here’s the downside of attracting senors being subsidized by Social Security and Medicare.

    Studies have indicated that this props up consumer spending in the locality, which can assist in stability during a recession, but also bids up the cost of living for everyone else in the community.

    Yes, these are rural areas with a relatively lower cost of living, but the influx of retirees dumps more money into the community, driving up the cost of living higher than what it would otherwise be.

    It doesn’t necessarily impact everyone negatively, some low wage workers in the locality will benefit from the service jobs created by the senior spending. But others, particularly those in tradeable sectors of the economy, will find their cost of living driven up, but their wages won’t increase because they are dictated by national and international supply and demand.

    The long term trend is to hollow out employment in the tradeable sectors of the economy in rural areas. They’ll be left with low wage service jobs.

    1. Seniors also pay real estate taxes, but don’t have any children in public schools. Attracting them with a lower cost of living and lower real estate taxes can provide benefits to a community.

      1. Seniors also receive a homestead exemption for their property taxes. They are also more tax sensitive as “fixed income” households, so could be hostile to the higher taxes necessary to service a growing younger population. It’s a cost benefit analysis.

        1. In Fairfax County, only very low income people get any real estate tax relief. Total household income must be less than $72 K. But I agree there’s a cost-benefit analysis to be made. The big school expenditures are related to ESOL, Special Ed and at-risk.

          1. 72K?

            that’s a king’s ransom in RoVa!

    2. wouldn’t mind seeing the studies but ANY retiree with an income – social security or not is – at the least – going to provide service and trade jobs that would not exist if not for those additional homes so I’m wondering if the homes are not there – what jobs at all are available to the locals?

      And as TMT points out – the taxes on modestly valued homes come nowhere close to paying the 5K per kid that local taxes pay for. The more childless taxpayers you have – the better…for the kids educations… AND the less those localities will need via the composite index from wealthier counties.

      I think one could make strong arguments on either side so perhaps a study would consider all of that.

      I know in our county – the average property tax is under 2K per average-priced home – and taxpayers overall provide the equivalent of 5K per home (per kid)… a subsidy.

      1. It’s the types of jobs.

        Retirees will increase employment in service jobs, not just restaurants but also the health care industry. Sectors that actually contain a lot of low wage work, especially minimum wage (http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/11/21/246599184/who-earns-the-minimum-wage-heres-the-answer-in-3-graphs?ft=1&f=).

        They do nothing for employment in tradeable sectors, like manufacturing. And, because so much of their income is separate from cost of living considerations, there are some concerns that their COLAs and such can increase the cost of living in the area. Think of it, you’ve got an influx of people into the area bidding up the cost of housing and other services.

        So a rural county with a low cost of living can work on attracting retirees, but it means that their cost of living will be propped up higher than what it probably needs to be for them to attract manufacturing jobs. It’s still lower cost of living, in the big picture, but no longer enough to be attractive to industries that are also looking to Mexico or China.

        A decision has to be made for a locality of which route it wants to take for economic development.

  11. or maybe think about it this way – what if retirees were exempt from the part of the property tax that went to pay for schools?

    what would happen?

    1. I think we all need to pay for schools. But the schools need to become a lot more efficient. And that means staff job cuts and major reductions in consultant contracts.

  12. Agreed but we need to make sure that we don’t cut the wrong things.

    I still believe the money needs to be prioritized for the K-3 grades with strict metrics for proficiency – and at the higher grades my parents skin in the game for things beyond core academics and vocational for those that are not bound for college – there are a lot of jobs for things like MRI technicians and the like that require HS graduates to continue their ED via Community Colleges.

    Our focus should be on the academics that are required to qualify for the actual jobs that are available in the 21st century.

    1. Larry, I could not agree more. Pushing everyone to college does not make good sense. My nephew floundered in college for a couple years; not that he lacked ability, but did not find the courses of value. He quit and worked various jobs for a couple years. Then he found an apprentice program as butcher in a grocery store chain. He loves the job; makes decent wages and there will always be a need for butchers.

      His father got a BA; went to tech school; worked in technology for years; got tired of the ups and downs; got an MAT; and is a high school teacher and coach. He too is happy.

  13. TMT – I like the European/German system where people get on a college or vocation track early in high school .. does not mean they cannot switch – any time – but it does mean that they have to have a “plan” and the school is required to provide it

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