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'We Will Miss the Warm Winters.' Retirees Are Fleeing Florida as Climate Change Threatens Their Financial Future

Florida, with its plentiful beaches, warm weather, and lack of a state-income tax, is the most popular destination for older adults in the U.S. But some who have lived in the Sunshine State for years are moving in the opposite direction.

As damaging storms and other effects of climate change have hit Florida particularly hard in the past few years, some older adults living there have become concerned about their safety and their ability to enjoy retirement. So they’re fleeing this otherwise balmy state.

About 52,630 people ages 65 and over left Florida in 2017, versus 48,174 in 2016 and 43,356 in 2012, according to Jon Rork, professor of Economics at Reed College in Portland, Oregan, who studies retirement migration. “Many of these people have left Florida for states like Georgia and North Carolina,” Rork says. “There’s a hypothesis that those who have left Florida for Georgia and North Carolina have done so to avoid hurricanes and big insurance premium jumps.”

Dire Warnings Become Harder to Ignore

It has grown harder for Americans to ignore global warming in the wake of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which released a report last fall warning of catastrophic consequences like increased droughts and food shortages if the atmosphere rises by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels by 2040 — a possibility that scientists consider likely.

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