Lounge chairs, palm trees, golf clubs, Florida license plates, sunshine.

Let’s be honest, that’s probably your picture of retirement in America. But according to the data, the times they are a-changin’.

Retirees aren’t flocking down south for retirement anymore. And they’re not dropping their active lifestyles at 65 and falling back into sedentary lifestyles, either (well, at least not most of them).

The answers to the questions: What age should I retire? Where should I retire? And what are my retirement plans? are generally not the same as they were just a few decades ago. Modern day retirement actually looks a little more like this:

People are retiring later than they used to.

For many years, 65 was the benchmark age for retirement. That’s when full social security benefits kicked in, and when people were ready to adopt a more laidback life.

Simply, expectations have changed.

Across the majority of working generations in the United States, people now expect to work until they turn 72.

And while most agree on retiring around this age, expectations differ between each generation. The following percentage of people believe they will need to work past 65:

  • Millennials – 40%
  • Generation Xers – 55%
  • Baby Boomers – 66%

There are a few things contributing to this shift, including longer life expectancies, uncertainty around social security benefits, and the next emerging characteristic of the modern retiree…

Retirees want to stay active.

Who says retirement is for “slowing down?” In reality, the numbers say just the opposite.

Only 10% of Baby Boomers (the generation closest to retirement) plan to lead a less active lifestyle after retiring. So you can all but forget the classic stereotype of retirees trading in their dress suits for swimsuits and their work shoes for golf shoes.

Based on a recent survey, the following percentage of workers said they wanted to pursue the following activities in retirement:

  • 65% – traveling
  • 56% – spending more time with family & friends
  • 49% – pursuing hobbies
  • 27% – doing volunteer work
  • 13% – pursuing an encore career
  • 12% – continue working in the same field
  • 11% – starting a business

Retirees are funding these new adventures in different ways, too.

Over the past 30 years, retirement savings have shifted away from employee-provided pensions to workplace-based savings plans, like 401(k)s.

In 1980, 38% of private sector workers had a pension, and only 19% had a 401(k). In 2015, the tables turned – 15% had a pension and 43% had a 401(k).

Moving into a smaller home also remains a popular way to upgrade retirement, however. By downsizing and reducing bills and upkeep, you may be able to better afford the things you really want to do in retirement (just make sure you get enough space).

So if that’s true, where are retirees actually buying their new homes?

In large part, people are not flying south in retirement.

Some of the most affordable and desirable places to retire might come as a surprise.

We already told you Florida wasn’t anywhere near the top of the list (in fact, it ranked all the way down at #39!). But based on key factors like financial, healthcare, housing, community, employment & educational opportunities, these 5 states ranked as the top places to retire in the US:

  1. Virginia
  2. South Dakota
  3. Wyoming
  4. Michigan
  5. Iowa

Shocked? Well, here’s another zinger: The number of Americans retiring outside of the country grew by 17% between 2010 and 2015, with some of the locations abroad being Canada, Japan and Mexico.

So the moral of the story is, retirement plans in the United States probably don’t line up with your expectations. And that can be pretty exciting.

The next chapter of your life should help you reach your retirement goals and live the right lifestyle for you. Whether you’re downsizing to a different area or staying put in the location you love, learn why buying a home later in life might be able to help make your retirement the best retirement.

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