OCTOBER 2008 PUBLICATION 1880
A Reprint fromTierra 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,”
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
ofRetirement 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,
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-
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
to retirees, such as cultural
activities, transportation and
Rick Rhodes, assistant
commissioner for TDA’s Rural
Economic Development division,
said retirees are intelligent
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
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.
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.