Jan 4, 2024 - News

Phoenix is no longer a top retirement spot, per U.S. News

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Phoenix is no longer a top spot to retire, according to U.S. News & World Report's ranking.

Why it matters: The Valley used to stand out as an affordable, warm-weather haven for retirees. But when housing costs ballooned, fewer seniors with fixed incomes could afford to spend their golden years here.

Driving the news: The Phoenix metro ranked as the 129th best place to retire in the U.S. in the publication's 2024 list, released late last year.

  • Tucson came in at No. 103.

What's happening: The generation retiring now is the first to have to rely on private savings instead of the more secure pension plans their parents and grandparents used to navigate retirement.

  • People without hearty 401(k)s or IRAs are likely relying entirely on Social Security — about $18,000 a year for the average 65+ family, per AARP — which is not enough to afford basic living expenses in now-pricey Phoenix.

How it works: The annual rankings evaluate four main indexes that encompass several "life-impacting factors," including affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, job market and health care quality.

Zoom out: Each of the top five ranked cities were in Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster, Scranton and Allentown.

  • All ranked especially high for affordability and health care.

Reality check: Metro Phoenix still has a significant retiree population, especially in the West Valley, where there are many age-restricted communities.

  • Yes, but: Many of these people purchased their retirement homes prior to the pandemic-era housing boom that raised Valley home prices well above the national median. The barrier to entry is now much higher.

Threat level: Seniors are among of the fastest-growing subsections of the Valley's homeless population. If retired adults don't have vast savings or family to support them, they can end up on the street, experts tell Axios Phoenix.

  • These individuals often have mobility issues and are exceedingly vulnerable in group shelters. That prompted Central Arizona Shelter Services to create a dedicated shelter for people ages 55 and older.

Yes, but: The facility was supposed to open more than a year ago but has run into delays. It's now expected to open this spring.


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