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.
"The in-migration market has almost always exclusively been white," says Dan Owens, founder of Carolinas Active Retirement Association, a group of businesses that target retirees to relocate to North Carolina and South Carolina. "As baby boomers come along, there's a new generation with wealth and mobility in all segments."
No one should dismiss the importance of historically high home ownership numbers, particularly in minority populations. This USA Today piece tells the story of several couples and widows, none of them wealthy-- but hard-working folks who invested in homes many years ago in areas around D.C. and New York. Because of that investment then, they are able to retire comfortably in lower-cost areas like the Southeast.
That's a lot of empowerment in just one house. In the next 40 years, as the housing investments of today mature, this trend will continue. The Southeast, with its lower cost of living and lower tax rates, will welcome it. These folks own their homes. As a result, they own their futures. You can't get that from a government housing project or Social Security.