Census: Fla. Remains Top Destination for People Fleeing N.Y., Calif.

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(David Beasley, The Center Square) Tourism is not Florida’s only attraction for out-of-state residents. Retirees continue to like the sunshine and warm weather.

According to new 2022 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Florida is once again the top destination for U.S. residents moving from one state to another.

The study found 738,969 Florida residents lived in a different state a year earlier. When subtracting the number of residents who moved out to different states that year, it was still a net gain of 249,000, said Stefan Rayer, Population Program director for the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

“That is actually the highest net gain since 2005,” Rayer said.

Top states for the influx of residents to Florida were New York, California, Georgia and Texas.

The census numbers don’t reflect the reasons people from other states move to Florida. But age is one of them, Rayer said.

“If you look at migration numbers by age, the biggest gains in Florida are at the retirement ages,” he said. “That’s not surprising since it’s a big retirement destination.”

Once retirees move to Florida, they’re not likely to move out, he added.

“With young adults, people in their 20s and 30s, the in and out stream tends to be relatively balanced,” Rayer said.

“The net gain is actually pretty low and in some cases is negative—meaning there are more people leaving Florida than moving here,” he added. “At older ages, you tend to get a much smaller outflow.”

Over the last several years, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a lot of migration into Florida, said Brad O’Connor, chief economist with the trade association FloridaRealtors.

“Florida was generally more open than a lot of other states,” he said. “A lot of that was from the New York area, specifically Manhattan and Brooklyn, which are high-income and also very dense. I assume some of that pattern is continuing.”

The absence of state and local income taxes is part of Florida’s attraction, particularly to residents of areas with high taxes, said O’Connor.

Despite the jump in real estate prices in recent years, it’s still less expensive than many other markets, including California and New York, he added.

“Florida is still a bargain compared to New York, Boston and San Francisco,” he said.

Despite the push by employers back in the office, many people are still working remotely, O’Connor said.

“That’s made Florida a very popular destination,” he said.

“You can leave the expensive markets and get more bang for your buck,” he continued. “There’s the lack of income taxes at the state and local level. And then there is the weather, the beaches. All of those have attracted people here.”

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