Senior citizens continue to choose Mesa as a favorite place to live when they retire, a study by SmartAsset https://smartasset.com/retirement/where-are-retirees-moving shows.
According to data gleaned from the Census Bureau’s 2014 reports, Mesa ranked as the No. 1 city in the United States for net migration of people age 60 and older.
The study determined net migration by calculating how many senior citizens moved to Mesa from one of the 200 largest cities in the United States. The total includes the number of people age 60 or older who moved out of Mesa in 2014, according to Kara Gibson of SmartAsset. And 2014 is the most recent year that Census Bureau data was available for this analysis, Gibson said.
Mesa gained a total of 2,565 new seniors in 2014, compared to the No. 2 city, Cape Coral, Florida, which saw a net increase of 1,441.
The numbers were no surprise to Mesa Vice Mayor David Luna.
Luna said Mesa offers amenities that are especially appealing to seniors, including golf courses, pickleball courts and the city’s multigenerational center.
“Mesa is a great place for outdoor opportunities,” Luna said.
Mesa benefits from the influx of seniors in all sorts of ways, the vice mayor said.
“Go to the Mesa Arts Center any time and you’ll see volunteers,” Luna said. Because most seniors aren’t working, they have more time to volunteer all over the community, he pointed out.
Seniors often have discretionary income and spend money around the city, including at restaurants and retail outlets.
“We certainly welcome them to Mesa,” Luna said.
Arizona continues to be a popular choice for retirees, the study shows. Phoenix came in No. 4 with 1,031 new senior citizens. Chandler was No. 6 with a net increase of 832; Scottsdale was No. 9 with 616; and Gilbert came in at No. 11 with 552. Peoria ranked No. 16, Tucson was No. 18 and the No. 20 spot went to Tempe.
Florida gained more seniors than any other state in 2014, with Arizona ranking No. 2. Net migration in Florida stood at 57,724, compared to 18,733 for Arizona. South Carolina’s 12,295 net ranked it No. 3.
“Warm weather and taxes seem to be key,” Gibson said of states where seniors are choosing to live.
Weather draws a lot of newcomers to Arizona, AARP Arizona Communications Director Alex Juarez said.
“They come for warmer weather to help their arthritis or other aches they experience,” Juarez said.
In addition to climate, Gibson said, Mesa’s relatively low median cost of housing – $910 a month – is attractive to seniors. Plus, Mesa ranks high in a couple of other SmartAsset analyses. It boasts the fifth-most medical facilities per resident, has the sixth-lowest average effective property tax and the 18th-lowest average effective income tax.
Those factors are absolutely key when people choose to move to Mesa, the owner of a Mesa real estate firm said.
Ben Swanson, owner of RE/MAX Precision, said Mesa housing options are affordable, which is important to buyers. Seniors can buy park model homes in adult communities for $20,000, or they can spend up to $500,000 to buy a larger home that backs up to a lake or some other significant amenity.
Mesa has more adult communities than other cities in the Valley, Swanson said, which brings more seniors in to the city.
His senior customers come for a few primary reasons: weather and the fact that often their friends or their parents had previously moved to Mesa, so they join them.
Juarez said Arizona communities are welcoming to seniors and “they’re livable and friendly.”
Cities have created bike lanes and parks and some stores are near enough to housing developments that people can walk to shop, Juarez said. Public transportation to events and a core downtown area for events is also a plus.
“Mesa, especially, has done an amazing job with those things,” Juarez said.
– Shelley Ridenour is a freelance reporter for MyNewsMesa.com.