In 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 82,000 people moved to Connecticut from other states. That same year, more than 96,000 moved out. Population analysts have noticed that a trending portion of this out-migration is retiring Latinos, who seem to be blazing a particular path south, to Florida.
“I do not know why older Hispanics are leaving Connecticut,” said Orlando J. Rodriguez, an associate legislative analyst with the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission and the former director of the Connecticut State Data Center. “But the Hispanic population age 65+ is forecast to grow by about 40,000 from roughly 27,000, in 2014, to about 67,000, in 2030. Calculations from the 2008 projections suggest that there may be an ongoing exodus of older Hispanics from Connecticut because the population of Hispanics age 65+ should be larger but is being reduced possibly by out-migration.”
He also contributed that: “Research from the Pew Charitable Trusts suggests that retirees’ make a decision to move based on three considerations, among others: (Not in any particular order) weather, cost of fiving, and proximity to family and children.”
For Becky Candal, and husband Miquel, a Latino couple who recently moved from Connecticut (after 25 years) to retire in Florida, all of these reasons hold true. For one thing, she said, her son lives in Florida, which was the first upside to relocating. Secondly, she said, “I like the fact that my husband doesn’t have to shovel snow—and all the cleaning up that comes with the winter weather. It does get very hot in the summer in Florida but the winter months are beautiful. And I don’t mind the heat, because when it is very hot we will be at the pool, or we will be inside.” “Or at the beach,” added Miquel. Thirdly, Becky said the cost of living was a huge component to the move.
“The taxes are very high in Connecticut,” Becky explained. “You pay a lot of taxes on your cars, you pay a lot of taxes on property, and to heat up your house in Connecticut it’s more money than we spend on air conditioning in Florida. Especially when you retire you’re on a budget, and between my husband and I we used to make $100,000 a year now we don’t even make half that. So, that’s a big reason we pulled out of Connecticut, because we knew without our income we couldn’t afford to keep going there. We had to look for where it is more convenient and more economical. That is why not only as Latinos but a lot of people will try to come to Florida.”
While taxes, weather, and cost of living are fine enough reasons for older Latinos to look to the Sunshine state, Florida may have another big draw for retiring Latinos.
Carlos Vargas-Ramos, a Research Associate at the CENTRO, Center for Puerto Rican Studies in New York, said, “While in a general sense, the population of Latinos considering retirement looks just like the rest of the population, I also think they are looking for community.”
Vargas-Ramos stated that given that a large portion of the Latinos in Connecticut is Puerto Rican (more than 50 percent), and there is a large Puerto Rican population in Florida (the largest in the U.S.), this may make the well-known retirement state a more attractive destination than other locations for aging Latinos.
“The Latino community is strong here in Florida,” agreed Becky. “Stronger than in Connecticut. People are more united. They fight for what they want.” Laughing she added: “At least where I live.”
Last year, Florida received 12,944 Connecticans, and over a 30-year period, Florida will gain nearly 4 million or more persons through net interstate migration (according to the Census Bureau). “The growth of Florida’s Puerto Rican population has been spectacular, from slightly more than 2 percent of all U.S. Puerto Ricans in 1960 to more than 18 percent in 2010,” Hispanic migration expert and Florida International University professor Jorge Duany wrote in a paper last year.
Vargas-Ramos also mentioned the idea of a “beach-head”: a person within the family who moves to a particular location, establishes themselves and then the family follows. While this idea may not hold 100 percent for retiring Connecticans, it may still play an important factor.
Raquel Acosta felt this was a strong factor in her case. She and her husband, Remy, recently moved from Waterbury, Conn., to retire in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Her mother and father acted as the “beach-heads” in her family, when they moved to the states before she was born. Raquel said that when her parents left Puerto Rico, the idea was always for them to come back and retire on the island. “But things changed,” she said. “Puerto Rico isn’t like it used to be. It is hard for retirees to live comfortably in Puerto Rico now, with rapidly increasing taxes, and a healthcare system that lags behind what one gets used to while living on the mainland.”
Raquel says for these reasons she has seen numerous people chose Florida over Puerto Rico: her sister retired there, two friends did as well, and she knows of numerous others considering Florida.
Becky says her son acted as the “beach-head” in Florida for her family, where he had been established for a good 20 years before, and after Becky and Miquel made the move, her daughter followed as well.
“Family reunification is something that is very common with migrates, both domestic and international,” said Vargas-Ramos.
Rodriguez said of older Hispanics that: “As they get older, they leave. You retire, you go back to be with your family, in Puerto Rico or Colombia or whatever. If you’re on a U.S. pension, you move to Puerto Rico and you’re better off. …What you’re seeing is young people coming in and older Latinos leaving.”
The fact that Puerto Rico’s economy and health system are less attractive than Florida’s, means that it may be becoming the “home away from home” where Puerto Ricans are “returning” to when they retire.
“It is a tropical spot, with better health care, and less taxes,” explained Raquel. “It makes sense that is where Latinos are going.”
Rodriguez, however, expressed his concern about the out-migration of the retiring Latino situation from Connecticut to Florida to the Hartford Courant last year, saying: “If you lose one person with a finance job [to retirement], you have to add seven people in lower-paying jobs to make up the difference.”
The fact is that the Puerto Rican population tends to be slightly older in Connecticut, and the first wave of Latino Baby Boomers turned 65 last year, which means Connecticut’s rising out-migration of retiring Latinos may only continue to rise, and the ultimate effects of this demographic shift on the state are unknown. What is known, is that that when retired Latinos leave, a good portion of taxable income is being taken out of the economy, and not being made up by the younger population, who also don’t spend money like the older population. So what you are left with is less taxable income, less money going into the economy, and less income to support the younger generation’s education.
Connecticut may need to focus on catering and contending with the huge influx of young Latinos in the state, as it may never be able to contend with Florida in terms of what it offers for aging Latinos in a retirement state.