Why More & More Retiring Blacks Are Migrating South

An older couple smiling and cuddling on the couchPatricia Lewis is like many other professionals who reach retirement age.
She’s widowed. Her three children are grown and married. Suddenly, the dream
home in Stafford, Va., that she planned to spend the rest of her life in seems
too big and requires too much maintenance.

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But its value has almost doubled. She cashes in, moves from the Washington,
D.C., exurb and heads south. She buys a new, smaller home in an active-adult
community for far less and basks in the warmer climate and less harried pace.

“I figured I could take that money and dump it into a home someplace else, a
quieter area with not a lot of traffic and where there are a lot of activities,”
says Lewis, 61, a computer programmer who retired after 26 years at the Defense
Department. She now lives in Sun City Hilton Head, a sprawling development of
homes on lagoons, nature trails and golf courses.

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It’s a familiar tale in a graying nation of more than 63 million people ages
55 and older. But until recently, African-Americans such as Lewis played only a
tiny role in the fast-growing retirement migration fueled by aging baby boomers.
That may be changing. Blacks’ earnings are rising, and so are their
homeownership rates. Skyrocketing real estate values in metropolitan areas and a
desire to return to Southern roots are prompting a mini-wave of retirement moves
among blacks looking for a lower cost of living as well as fun and sun.