Today's active adults are not just active, but increasingly unpredictable. While Florida still attracted more new elderly residents than any other state, it drew fewer in the 1990s than it had in decades past. Elderly Americans are also increasingly avoiding California and its high-priced homes, according to the latest U.S. Census data. Some analysts say that the oldest of the elderly, those aged 85 and older, are leaving retirement communities to move closer to family or to seek customized health care.

Florida governor Jeb Bush formed a commission last year to find a way to stem the elderly outflow, who in the year 2000 paid $2.8 billion more in taxes than they received in state and local services. The commission recommended a formal marketing program and improved public transportation, among other initiatives, to help retain the appeal of the Sunshine State among senior citizens.

Other states have benefited from the outflow. Want to avoid California-priced homes? Neighboring states of Arizona and Nevada have registered sharp net gains of elderly Americans. And Virginia, which has steadily been drawing an increasing number of elderly, has catapulted into the ranks of the top 10 states for elderly migration for the first time.

Net Gain of Elderly
1995 to 2000
1. Florida 149,440
2. Arizona 53,241
3. Nevada 22,189
4. North Carolina 20,922
5. Texas 17,957
6. South Carolina 15,760
7. Georgia 13,926
8. Tennessee 10,499
9. Virginia 6,937
10. Alabama 3,031
Source: U.S. Census Dept.