Seniors and the Sunbelt

With buttes and mesas like these at Canyon del Muerto, Arizona is one of only two states outside the South that makes the top ten destinations for older Americans. Photograph courtesy of the Collections of the Library of Congress.

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Seniors and the Sunbelt

by John Shelton Reed
Southern Cultures, Vol. 13, No. 1: Spring 2007

"Brother Dave Gardner once cracked that 'the only reason people live in the North is because they have jobs there.'"

The southern comedian Brother Dave Gardner once cracked that “the only reason people live in the North is because they have jobs there.” He added, “You never heard of nobody retiring to the North, have you?”

That was funnier in the early 1960s, before the South began to attract people who only live in it because they have jobs there. And maybe it shouldn’t have been so funny even then: One way to hear it is as a comment on the absence of jobs in the South at the time. But the second half of Brother Dave’s observation still has the ring of truth about it: You don’t think of retirees as flocking to the Northeast and the Midwest. And, as a matter of fact, they don’t.