Once you reach the age of 62, there are some important decisions that need to be made. You will want to think about when the right time will be to file for your Social Security benefits. If you wait until the maximum age, then your monthly check can be up to 76% higher than what someone who claims benefits would earn if they filed their paperwork as soon as possible.
There are locations to think about for your home as well. If you own your house and property outright without a mortgage, then it might make sense to stay where you live throughout your retirement. It might also be a better choice to sell your current property to retire in Florida while still owning a home outright. According to Zillow, the median home value in the state is $235,500, with prices becoming more expensive as you move further south and closer to the water.
You will find several potential disadvantages waiting for you in Florida, ranging from the frequency of family visits to the amount of traffic you must navigate to reach your intended destination.
If you’re thinking about retiring in Florida, then these are the key points you’ll want to review before finalizing a decision about the Sunshine State.
List of the Pros of Retiring in Florida
1. There isn’t a state income tax to worry about when living in Florida.
One of the most popular reasons to retire in Florida is the lack of a state income tax. That means your retirement income, including your Social Security benefits, are not taxed either. Although there are sales and property taxes to navigate, you can navigate these issues with smart spending and renting instead of ownership. There is also a homestead exemption that can reach up to $50,000 for permanent residents of the state.
That means Florida is not going to touch your 401(k) withdrawals, IRA income, or private and public pensions. You might still have some federal liabilities to manage, but you’ll typically save some cash because of this advantage.
2. The climate in Florida is warm and pleasant throughout much of the year.
Once people reach retirement age, they tend to get tired of the cold weather where they live. Many retirees become snowbirds in Florida, moving down there in the winter and then going back north for the summer, before becoming full-time residents. If you can’t afford to maintain two homes, then moving to where it is warmer tends to be the choice that makes the most sense. There are times during the summer when the heat and humidity feel a bit oppressive, but the air conditioner can fix that issue.
It just gets a little unusual to run your cooling system during the Christmas season if you’re used to snow falling during the holiday.
3. There are plenty of new opportunities to form new friendships.
The 2010 census discovered that Florida has the highest percentage of residents that are above the age of 65 in the United States. About 1 in 5 people fell into this category, and that figure is expected to rise after the 2020 census Is complete. One of the reasons why it is such a desirable location is the number of planned communities for retirees. You can purchase or lease in a neighborhood where everyone else is also retired, offering plenty of opportunities to go on picnics, shop together, or enjoy planned social gatherings by the community management agency that oversees the property.
By 2030, Florida is expected to have a population of 23.9 million people. Over 6 million of them will be above the age of 65 – a figure that is twice the size of the current population of retirees.
4. The lifestyle in Florida is naturally focused on relaxation opportunities.
You will have lots of chances to pursue whatever lifestyle you prefer in retirement when you move to Florida. There are several beaches out there for you to enjoy or championship golf courses to navigate. You can enjoy the Everglades and a plethora of other outdoor activities to pursue. You might prefer a more sedate lifestyle in retirement as well, where planned communities might encourage neighborhood walks, Bingo sessions, and group busing to local casinos, theme parks or special events.
5. The cost of living in Florida is right on the national average.
When the median household income information from the national data is adjusted for regional parity and Florida-specific information, then the cost of living in the state is right on the national average. It is 99.5 if you retire here compared to the 100 average that serves as a baseline in the United States. That means the cost of your goods and services is going to make things easier for your money to stretch further in most circumstances. Specialized items will always cost more and that could be a challenge with the sales tax for some retirees, but it generally means you can live a comfortable life with a moderate income.
6. There are places in Florida with exceptionally affordable homes.
You can always find the multimillion-dollar mansions along the coast of Florida. Even the median price is not a true reflection of cost for many communities, where home prices can be above $600,000 pretty easily. You’ll also find communities like Daytona Beach where the median single-family home price is below $170,000. Gainesville’s market hovers around the $210,000 mark, which is what you can find in the Tampa and St. Pete metro area. Even if the market is busy in these areas, you’ll see that prices continue to remain significantly lower than what they are in other communities around the state.
7. There is something for everyone to enjoy in the state.
When you start thinking about a move to Florida, then it is essential to explore the state first before you move. There are several different vibes that you can experience depending on your location. The east and west coasts are very different from each other, as are the metro areas of the south compared to the rural counties of the north. There are vast stretches of rolling hills just as there are hundreds of miles of shoreline to explore. You can even make your way down to the Keys to settle there if you prefer, which is an entirely different experience than settling somewhere like Orlando.
8. You can experience over 300 days of sunshine each year.
One Florida town set a world record for having over two years of consecutive sunshine days. Many of the communities you’ll find here experience over 300 sunshine days each year. That means you will have plenty of warm weather to enjoy during your retirement years. It also means that you’ll need to be proactive in the ways that you take care of yourself each day. Sunlight can cause the skin to become leathery over time, encouraging the formation of gray, red, yellow, or brown spots. The most severe result of too much sun is skin cancer, which offers an increased risk with every sunburn you receive.
You’ll want to avoid being in the sun between 10-4 each day to avoid the most damaging rays. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen is helpful too. If you make your way to the beach, then try sitting underneath an umbrella or tent to receive some shade too.
9. Many retirees can prepay their health costs.
One of the best advantages to consider when retiring in Florida is the concentration of continuing care retirement communities. These CCRCs give you a way to secure your finances because you can prepare for your future services if there is a life care plan in place. By knowing what your expenses will be now, it is easier to budget for the various activities and daily living needs you’ll have in the future. This advantage also tends to reduce the overall cost of care, even if you have Medicare working to protect you.
List of the Cons of Retiring in Florida
1. It may be challenging to find a retirement community that suits your needs.
Finding a place to live that is quiet and secluded can be challenging in Florida. If you want to have some privacy when retiring here, then there could be difficulties in creating a nearby senior support system for your golden years. There are so many retirement communities here, along with lots of people in general terms, that it can feel crowded and busy all of the time. If you do move here and find that you don’t fit in with your group well, then you can feel very lonely even though you’re surrounded by large groups of people.
2. The sales tax must be managed to protect your retirement income.
You might not have a state income tax to worry about when you retire in Florida, but there is a 6% sales tax that you’ll need to consider. Most communities have one as well, which means you’ll pay 7.5% on each purchase. That figure can cut into your income levels quickly, so it may be necessary to shop for groceries and stay home more often if you’re on a somewhat tight budget. Property taxes are assessed at 100% value as well, which means owning a home could be next to impossible for some retirees.
3. Medical care access is below average in Florida for retirees.
Most people would expect a state like Florida, with its high population of seniors, to be at or near the top in the medical care it provides. The reality of the healthcare system in the state is that it tends to be average or below when dealing with the quality of patient care, cancer treatments, and checkups. It is below average for those who must balance a chronic disease or require nursing home or assisted living care. You will want to evaluate all of your care options before retiring here if there is something special that you need to maintain your health.
4. The costs of living in Florida will continue to rise.
Unless you plan to sell your home in Florida one day and move away, the steep increase in property appreciation is going to cause your costs to continue rising after retiring here. Even if you consider the homestead exemption that is available to some retirees, your house could cost you a significant portion of your retirement income. That’s why many people decide to rent instead of buy when moving here.
Those expenses are what will eventually cause your family to stop visiting over time as well. Although some do stay in contact and visit a few times throughout the year, most retirees see the visits tail off over the first couple of years until they become non-existent. That means you might miss your grandchildren more than you might realize.
5. Traffic can be a significant issue to balance in Florida.
There are about 20 million people who live full-time in Florida, with a significant portion of that population living in the Miami metro area. Then you’ve got up to 80 million tourist visits to manage over the year too. That means the traffic in your community could be a challenge to navigate at all times. If you can’t walk to where you need to go or use public transportation, then you’ll want to add plenty of extra time to your trip to ensure that you can arrive on time.
Going out to grab something to eat, do some shopping, or following up on an activity in any metro area can mean bumper-to-bumper traffic even late in the day. That’s why retirement communities are such a popular option for those who retire in Florida. Having everything one needs within a short walk is a true advantage to consider.
6. Florida is home to some animals that you won’t want to encounter.
You’ll find alligators in Florida that are large and brazen enough that they’ll come after small pets. Some are even known to attack small children, like the 2016 incident when a 2-year-old was building a sandcastle at a Disney resort when the animal attacked and dragged the toddler into the lagoon. There were six alligators captured in the area during the hunt for the boy. You’ll need to manage this issue every time you are walking near a body of water when you live in this state. Take the warning signs of snakes, alligators, and other dangerous critters seriously.
Mosquitoes are a significant problem to worry about in Florida as well. There are reports of zika virus and dengue fever in the state that come from simple bites. Insect control programs exist to control insect populations, but that isn’t a guarantee of zero exposure.
7. There are powerful storms that like to blow through Florida.
Florida isn’t the only state that must manage hurricanes each season, but the peninsula that sits on the convergence of the Atlantic and the Caribbean can experience strikes from the east or the west. Almost everyone in the state can experience these storms with the common tracks that they like to take. That means you’re going to pay a premium for your insurance coverage if you purchase a home. You’ll probably need to buy flood insurance while living here too so that you can protect your other assets too.
Since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began tracking hurricane landfalls, there have been more than 110 incidents in Florida. Texas is the next closest state, but with 50 fewer storms. That’s why a standard liability policy with a $1,000 deductible on a $200,000 dwelling is more than triple the national average.
8. Many of the communities in Florida have managed to lose their charm.
One of the primary complaints about every city in Florida is that many of them used control zoning as part of their growth strategy. That means you’ll find numerous strip malls providing businesses with a commercial location to utilize. Entire counties can be part of one city too, even if there are multiple small towns that actually make up the entire area. This disadvantage can lead to the same restaurants and retail outlets repeating their locations along the same street. How many Starbucks do you think you could spot on a single drive? There isn’t as much charm here as you can find in the small towns that are in the more northern states.
9. Global warming issues could impact the coastline in the next few years.
Depending on the state of climate change when you decide to retire in Florida, living near the coast might present some unique challenges that could be costly. As glaciers melt and cause ocean levels to rise, the flatness of the state just above sea level in many areas means it is more susceptible to high tides, flash flooding, and wave damage. Although some cities are working on this issue to create protection plans, many of them have not yet decided to face the issue. That means you could end up living here only to find yourself moving away once again in the near future.
This disadvantage isn’t a commentary on why the climate patterns of the planet are changing. It is a practical consideration to look at if the sea levels continue to rise as they have been in recent years. During the 20th century, the global sea level grew 1.2 to 1.7 millimeters per year. It jumped to over 3 millimeters per year in the 1990s.
10. There are several pests that could interfere with the value of your home.
Termites are a significant problem for homeowners in Florida. Four of the top 15 cities for this pest are located in the state: Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville. One of the primary reasons why these pests are a problem is because there is no real winter season. Since many homes are made of wood, you’ll quickly discover that a termite treatment program can be a wide investment – but it could cost you more than $5,000.
Rats are another problem to consider in Florida too. You’ll find that controls must be in place to control them too. You’ll find them on your roof, in the palm trees, and even enjoying the warm sand on the beach.
11. You may encounter a lot of scams after retiring in Florida.
Florida ranks as the top state in the country for fraud, with almost 1,000 reports per 100,000 residents. The top incidents include identity theft, imposter scams, and debt collection. Scammers can take on many disguises to target you multiple times if they think you are susceptible to a pitch. The average amount of loss for fraud in the state is only $429, but it is almost $1,100 per incident for individuals above the age of 80.
Verdict of the Pros and Cons of Retiring in Florida
Retiring in Florida can be a very positive experience. You can join a specific community with like-minded people and couples that will help you to make new friends. There are senior supports in place for many neighborhoods so you can receive the help you need while maintaining your independence in other ways. The price of a home is reasonably affordable for many retirees too.
There are some specific challenges to consider with such a move. You’ll need to learn to love the heat and humidity in the summer if you can’t afford to become a snowbird. The weather can stay hot deep into the winter months too in some years.
Many retirees find that their money can stretch a little further in Florida than other states if there is a smart budget in place. Consider each pro and con of retiring here to see if it could be a potential opportunity for you and your family.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.