A Reprint from Tierra Grande


eorge and Marcia Schaller of Iowa knew what they

wanted in a retirement haven. They wanted to

escape the Hawkeye State’s harsh winters. They

wanted to live in a rural area with plenty of wide

open spaces but still have access to medical facilities

and cultural venues.

Nestled along the Guadalupe River just an hour’s drive from

San Antonio, the Hill Country town of Ingram had everything

the Schallers were looking for. The area’s burgeoning arts community

(which includes two art galleries — not bad for a town

of just over 1,700) sweetened the deal for pen-and-ink artist

George and photographer Marcia.

Since their move, the Schallers have developed a close

network of friends, many of whom, like themselves, moved to

Texas to retire.

“Once we started getting to know other people, we were surprised

to learn that many of them were also from out of state,”

Marcia said.

As the Schallers discovered, they are part of an ever-growing

number of people who are coming to Texas to enjoy their


According to recent census-based research by Thomas, Warren

+ Associates of Phoenix and North Carolina–based National

Active Retirement Association (NARA), Texas attracted

26,636 out-of-state (migrant) retirees age 65 and older in 2005,

putting it neck and neck with Arizona, which attracted 27,140.

If migrants age 55 to 64 (a retirement age bracket that is

becoming increasingly common) are included, Texas’ number

more than doubles. And only one out of five of those are native

Texans coming home to retire.

Longtime favorite Florida held onto its number-one status

but showed signs of losing ground. The Sunshine State

drew 16.7 percent (68,163) of the nation’s 65-plus migrants in

2005, down from 19.1 percent in 2000.

“Texas has an incredibly favorable tax structure, and I think

that’s part of its appeal,” said NARA Director Dan Owens.

“Plus it has a moderate cost of living and a great climate.”

Certain regions of Texas have also gone virtually unnoticed

by the rest of the country, a quality that attracted Ron and

Ann Olson of upstate New York. The Olsons discovered South

Padre Island about ten years ago while researching retirement

locations, and they were taken by the beautiful white beaches

and relative lack of people.

“We wanted to be close to the water and where there weren’t

a lot of people,” Ron said. “Florida was awfully crowded and

expensive; so was California.”

After a year of splitting their time between Texas and New

York, they made a permanent move to Laguna Vista, a community

on the Laguna Madre about ten miles from the island. Still, ask retirees the number one deciding factor

when it comes to selecting a retirement destination

and chances are you will get a one-word answer:


“People tend to move toward family members, especially

children and grandchildren,” said Charles Longino, author

of Retirement Migration in America.

Such is the case with Ginny Smith and Jo Rikard, two residents

of Champions Cove, a retirement community in Duncanville,

a Dallas suburb.

An Illinois native, Smith lived in Mississippi and Louisiana

before settling down in Duncanville to be near her daughter

and grandchildren, who live in nearby Desoto, and her son,

who lives in Houston. Rikard and her husband moved from

New York to Champions Cove to be within a few miles of


their daughter, who drives them to medical appointments and

handles their grocery shopping.

Owens said state governments often do not pay attention

to the number of retirement-age people moving in even though

they bring massive wealth. In 2005, the total income of 65-plus

migrants in Texas was nearly $732.5 million.

“They’re investing in the coast and in college towns, said

Owens. “They’re the hidden economic engine of real estate in

my opinion. You always hear

the old stereotype of ‘they’re

going to negatively impact our

health care system, or they’re

going to cost us money or not

spend any money.’”

You never hear about aging

boomers investing in second

homes and bringing their

substantial incomes to a state,

Owens said.

Becky Dempsey, deputy

assistant commissioner for

the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Rural Economic

Development division, said this stereotype is far from accurate,

at least in Texas.

“They pay more in taxes than they use in services,” she said,

pointing out that retiree households spend an average of $36,000

a year in their communities and pay an average of $3,000 in state

and local taxes. A retiree household is equal to 3.7 factory jobs. Baby boomer retirees — a healthy, affluent and

active population that is retiring as young as age

55 — bring even more to the table economically.

One in five boomers relocates upon retirement, and,

nationally, well educated boomers have an annual spending

power of $2.3 trillion.

That spending power may increase significantly over the

next few years as boomers receive large inheritances from parents

who were part of the last generation of true savers. Owens

said that by 2015 an estimated $340 billion in inheritance

money will have been exchanged.

“These boomers will suddenly have more money than they

ever dreamed. And more money means more options. This

means big business for towns,” he said.

Most Popular States Among Retirees

Age 65 and Older, 2005

Number of 65-

Plus Migrants

Total 65-Plus

Migrant Income

Total 65-Plus


Florida 68,163 $1.9 billion 2.9 million

Arizona 27,140 $746 million 735,397

Texas 26,636 $732.5 million 2.1 million

California 20,192 $645 million 3.7 million

Georgia 15,601 $408.6 million 811,503

Source: Thomas, Warren + Associates, NARA

How to Go Texan


Texas attracted nearly as many out-of-state retirees in 2005

as Arizona, the country’s second-favorite retirement destination.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has instituted

a program to help communities market themselves to

retirees, who spend an average of $36,000 annually in their

chosen retirement locales.

To draw retirees to Texas, TDA has designed a program

to help Texas communities market themselves as desirable

retirement spots. Established in 2006, the Go Texan Certified

Retirement Community Program promotes certified communities

online (www.retireintexas.org) and in print materials

distributed by the state.

The program is funded entirely by the fees communities pay

when applying for certification. The application includes an assessment

that identifies community

features important

to retirees, such as cultural

activities, transportation and

medical facilities.

Rick Rhodes, assistant

commissioner for TDA’s Rural

Economic Development division,

said retirees are intelligent

decision-makers who

do their homework. That is

where the Go Texan website

comes in handy.

“Retirees can look up certified communities and answer a

lot of their questions,” he said. “We make it easy for them to

do their research.”

Fifteen communities had been certified as of July 2008, but,

with many others currently seeking certification, Dempsey has

high hopes for Texas.

“I’d like to see at least 20 certified communities by the end

of the year, and 100 by 2010,” she said. “Retirees are vibrant,

productive people, and we want them here.”

Pope (b-pope@tamu.edu) is an associate editor with the Real Estate Center at

Texas A&M University.

Certified Go Texan communities have the Texas Department of

Agriculture’s marketing resources at their disposal. Certification is

good for five years. To apply:

1. Designate a board to serve as the community’s official

sponsor and resource team.

2. Complete the application form and “desirability assessment,”

which identifies a community’s strengths and

weaknesses in areas such as affordable housing, personal

safety, transportation and availability of health care services

and cultural activities.

3. Submit application, assessment and application fee

($5,000 or 25 cents per resident, whichever is greater)

to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic

Development Division.

For more information on the program, visit www.retireintexas.org.

http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/1880.pdfAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL



Director, Gary W. Maler; Chief Economist, Dr. Mark G. Dotzour; Communications Director, David S. Jones; Managing Editor, Nancy McQuistion; Associate Editor,

Bryan Pope; Assistant Editor, Kammy Baumann; Art Director, Robert P. Beals II; Graphic Designer, JP Beato III; Circulation Manager, Mark Baumann; Typography,

Real Estate Center.

Advisory Committee

D. Marc McDougal, Lubbock, chairman; Ronald C. Wakefield, San Antonio, vice chairman; James Michael Boyd, Houston; Catarina Gonzales Cron, Houston;

David E. Dalzell, Abilene; Tom H. Gann, Lufkin; Jacquelyn K. Hawkins, Austin; Barbara A. Russell, Denton; Douglas A. Schwartz, El Paso;

and John D. Eckstrum, Conroe, ex-officio representing the Texas Real Estate Commission.

Tierra Grande (ISSN 1070-0234) is published quarterly by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2115. Subscriptions

are free to Texas real estate licensees. Other subscribers, $20 per year. Views expressed are those of the authors and do not imply endorsement by the

Real Estate Center, Mays Business School or Texas A&M University. The Texas A&M University System serves people of all ages, regardless of

socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. Photography/Illustrations: JP Beato III, p. 1; Courtesy of GO TEXAN

Certified Retirement Community Program, p. 2.