Affluent Prefer Good Weather Over Low Taxes

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach

Wealth has never been more mobile. And the most mobile sector of the wealthy are retirees – people with high incomes who can live just about anywhere in the world.

A new study from HSBC on wealthy retirees ranked their priorities in picking an overseas residence. It polled people with $250,000 or more in annual income, asking about the drivers behind their ideal retirement location.

Ranking first was “quality of life,” which was chosen by 77 percent. In second place was “weather,” followed by “social life,” then “my family is there” and “cost of living.”

Here is the most interesting part. Taxes ranked last, with only 20 percent saying it was a driver of where they decide to retire.

Now, this isn’t to say that taxes don’t matter to affluent retirees. There’s a reason so many New Yorkers and people in the Northeast retire in Florida besides the weather. (Read more: Rich Will Pay 'Fair Share', Says UK Prime Minister)

And globally, Singapore has become a top destination for wealthy ex-pats in part because of its tax regime. (As someone who lived in Singapore, I can tell you, it’s not because of the weather).

Still, the study adds to other research that shows that weather consistently outweighs taxes on the list of priorities for where the mobile wealthy choose to live – whether it’s moving from state to state, or country to country.

What is your first priority when picking a place to retire?