Florida is one of the most-visited states in the U.S., but have you ever considered retiring there? Located in the southeastern part of the country, Florida features all of the amenities that come with living in the United States and a climate that ranges from humid subtropical in the north to fully tropical in the south.
It’s the third most populous state in the U.S. behind California and New York, with the extensive infrastructure to match. In addition to a vast network of highways and interstates, Florida boasts 24 international airports scattered throughout the state, making air travel a breeze.
Life in Florida can be almost anything you want it to be, whether you’re interested in historic St. Augustine, sprawling Jacksonville, Orlando’s theme parks, or Miami’s art scene. As long as you’re not looking for snow and cold weather, Florida probably has something for you.
Living in Florida isn’t all sunshine and fresh seafood all the time, though, which is vital to know if you’re considering relocating there. To help you make the most informed decision possible, we’re going to cover the pros and cons of retiring to Florida. Because it’s a big state, we’re also going to discuss which region will best fit your needs.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Retiring in Florida?
Everyone’s circumstances are unique. With that said, there are some benefits and drawbacks about living in and retiring to Florida that will apply to most people. Those are the aspects we’re going to attempt to cover.
Retiring to Florida is so common that it’s almost a cliche, and there’s a reason for that. Plenty of good reasons to retire in Florida exist. You don’t have to look very hard to find them.
Plenty of Outdoor Recreation
Do you love to golf? What about going for long walks on the beach? In Florida, the weather allows for year-round outdoor activities.
A Low Cost of Living Overall
Generally, the cost of living in Florida is affordable. If you’re on a fixed income, that’s invaluable.
A Choice Between Urban and Rural Living
If you’re not one for city living, Florida has beautiful rural areas. If you love lively, fast-paced cities and 24-hour amenities, Florida has those too.
No State Income Tax
Florida doesn’t have a personal income tax. You read that right: no state income tax. You’ll be able to save a considerable amount of money this way.
No Snow, Icy Roads, or Unpleasant Cold Weather
If you live in the northern U.S. right now, you’re probably pretty tired of shoveling snow and creeping down the highway at 25 miles an hour in whiteout conditions. Florida has warm, beautiful weather for most of the year.
Lots of Affordable Areas
Going back to the low cost of living, there are plenty of affordable areas to live in Florida whether you’re looking to buy a home or rent a condo.
Great Place for Those Who Love Life on the Water
Opportunities for yachting, sailing, diving and swimming are all readily available in Florida. Cruises are also frequently departing if you’re interested in traveling.
Ideal if You Like Outdoor Sports
We mentioned golf already, but other outdoor sports like fishing, horseback riding, tennis, kayaking and even skydiving are all options most of the year for Florida residents.
Listing the benefits of retiring to Florida makes it sound like a dream come true. It very well might be, but there are some drawbacks of which you should be aware.
Florida is incredibly humid, which can negatively affect people with breathing problems like asthma. The humidity can also make the summer heat feel even worse than it is. Air conditioning improves Florida living drastically.
Between June and November, Florida is buffeted by tropical storms and hurricanes. If you’re close to the coast, property damage is hard to avoid. Occasionally, you may even have to evacuate.
With a population as large as Florida’s, heavy traffic is unavoidable. If you’re retired, you won’t have to worry about a lengthy daily commute, but it can still make getting where you need to go a hassle.
Sea levels are, unfortunately, rising as the ice melts at the poles. Because Florida is relatively flat and coastal, that means higher tides and increased flooding.
If you don’t currently live somewhere where sinkholes occur, they probably sound like something out of a horror movie. Central Florida is particularly prone to sinkholes because of the easily dissolvable limestone bedrock underlying most of it.
It’s unlikely that a sinkhole will swallow your home, but the fact that it’s a possibility is a significant deterrent to some people.
High Concentrations of Senior Citizens
Because Florida is such a popular place to retire, it’s home to many senior citizens. In some cases, that’s a good thing. Older adults tend to live more relaxed, quiet lives, which can be a benefit if that’s what you’re looking for.
However, if you enjoy living in a neighborhood with a mix of ages, some places in Florida might not be for you.
Relatively High Sales Tax
The state sales tax in Florida is six percent, although local taxes may raise that number slightly. Depending on how frequently you shop, that can add up quickly.
Inconsistent Medical Care
As you grow older, having fast access to reliable medical facilities becomes critical. Nowhere is perfect, but Florida’s health care system leaves a lot to be desired. If you have pre-existing health issues, that’s something to consider seriously.
In 2020, Florida ranked 41 out of 50 when it came to healthcare. For the specific metric of access and affordability, it came in at 48 out of 50.
Where to Live in Florida?
The different areas of Florida each have their own merits, and there’s something for everyone. Costs and amenities vary.
Central Florida is home to both Tampa and Orlando in terms of major metropolitan areas. If you’re a baseball fan, there are also several spring training sites in the area.
The cost of living in central Florida is a bit lower than in the rest of the state, and when you’re outside of major cities, it’s relatively quiet.
Miami is probably the first place that comes to mind when you think about the southern half of Florida. The art scene, nightlife and beaches have brought the city some well-deserved recognition. However, there’s so much more in this area.
Condo living is popular in southeastern Florida, and the tropical weather allows year-round outdoor fun.
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. in terms of area, covering more than 840 square miles. It’s gigantic, which can be overwhelming if you’re moving from somewhere less spread out. Many people enjoy the activities and amenities living so near a large city provides.
Northeastern Florida is also home to the recently rebuilt Panama City. Hurricane Michael caused considerable damage, but the community has rallied, and a lot of the new construction is both beautiful and well-organized.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in Florida?
The cost of living depends on where in Florida you live. Taken as a whole, the overall cost of living in Florida is higher than the national average, although not by much. Miami is the primary reason the cost skews higher than you might expect, with an average cost of living far above what most of us are used to.
Cost of living takes into account housing, food, healthcare, utilities and transportation. It doesn’t take taxes into account, so the thousands of dollars you will potentially save by not paying state income tax are not accounted for in this estimate.
Florida’s reputation for affordability is well-earned between the lack of taxes and the more reasonable cost of living in other parts of the state.
Housing will generally be your main expense, so that’s what we’re going to focus on:
- The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Florida is $835. The site we’ve linked to there is handy because it breaks down rental costs by county, giving you a better idea of what to expect in a specific area.
- The average price of a Florida home varies depending on the source you’re looking at, but it’s around $245,169, according to Business Insider. It will depend on your payment plan, but this will generally make a potential mortgage payment slightly higher than the average cost of rent for a small apartment.
As the weather warms up in the northern parts of the U.S., many of us stop thinking quite so longingly about moving south. However, it’s never too early to begin planning for a happy, healthy and financially secure retirement.
The beautiful weather and convenient lack of a state income tax make Florida a tempting option for soon-to-be retirees, and it’s worth considering for many people. For more advice on retirement planning, check out the rest of our blog or contact us today. We’re here to support you and always happy to help.