The Sunshine State sounds like it’s full of promises of sun-filled days spent by the water, golfing, and being around like-minded people. Although this doesn’t have to be a false expectation, there is more to life in Florida. So, before retiring there, you might want to consider what else the state has in store for you.
Reasons not to retire in Florida include the chance of hurricanes, high expenses, critters, being far away from family and friends, a lot of older people, a lot of weird people, extreme weather, hot and sweaty weather, the risk of sun damage on your skin, and sinkholes.
This article will discuss ten reasons why not to retire in Florida, why people want to retire in Florida, where you could go if you want to retire in Florida, and other great states for retirement.
From June 1st until November 30th, it’s the Atlantic hurricane season, of which the height occurs between mid-August and late October.
Between the latter months, the water in the equatorial Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic has warmed up sufficiently to stimulate the development of tropical waves. Due to Florida’s location and its long shorelines, they are in the worst spot when it comes to these extreme storms.
It’s a general misconception that there are parts of the state that aren’t affected by hurricanes; all of Florida’s coastline has been hit at least once since 1850. Mainly the southeast coastline and the panhandle are very susceptible to hurricanes that come to land. Sadly, hurricanes have destroyed many houses and towns and killed many people in Florida.
Areas that aren’t as susceptible to direct land-falling hurricanes, such as Jacksonville, Tampa, and the Big Bend, still run a high risk of landfall every single year.
In case you’re not sure what a landfall is, the National Hurricane Center describes it as “the intersection of the surface center of a tropical cyclone with a coastline.” Even if you live elsewhere in the state, you can still feel the repercussions of a landfall hundreds of miles away.
If you decide to retire in Florida, hurricane threats are something you will have to live with every year for about half the year. If a hurricane comes, it can destroy your home and potentially be a threat to your safety (if you don’t evacuate in time). These are real things to consider before moving over to the Sunshine State.
Expenses can get high quickly in Florida since there are certain extra things you have to keep in mind, such as hurricane damage and higher sales taxes. Let’s take a closer look into the expenses you will be dealing with when living in Florida.
Hurricanes are expensive. As you can imagine, hurricanes can damage your house extremely or even destroy it completely. You can prepare your home for a hurricane or build it in ways that can withstand a whole lot, but when a strong (category four or five) hurricane hits, your house is going to be damaged, and you’re going to have to pay for the repairs.
First of all, it’s not so easy to get any insurance against hurricanes. Many insurance companies won’t insure you at all, so finding one can be quite a challenge. If you are lucky enough to find an insurance company to ensure you, you will have to count on a higher deductible amount than what you’re used to.
Additionally, if you live in a so-called ‘designated flood zone,’ your mortgage company will make you get flood insurance. Regular homeowners insurance covers wind and rain, but not flooding.
Florida’s benefit is that there is no state income tax, which includes income tax on social security benefits, pension, and retirement income. However, the state makes up for this by taxing you in other ways.
Other taxes in Florida, such as sales tax or vehicle tax, come out higher than most other popular retirement states. Which other states you might want to consider for retiring will be discussed later.
We can imagine you envision yourself lying by the swimming pool you’ve got installed in your garden, enjoying all of the sun Florida has to offer. We admit this does sound pretty idyllic. Unfortunately, having your own pool will come with a serious price tag.
As the website Kiplinger says: “Just be prepared to pay a pretty penny to keep your pool up and running year-round. It costs $177 a week, on average, to maintain a standard 14-by-28-foot pool. You’ll also spend hundreds – even thousands – of dollars on routine repairs to torn liners and leaky plumbing. And if you want your water heated, expect to shell out anywhere from $100 to $600 a month to run a pool heater.”
Florida has, besides a lot of alligators, lots of rats. In order to keep these out of your house, you will need to get rodent control. If you’re from the North of the country, you might not be used to dealing with pests and exotic creatures, but if you’re relocating to Florida, you will have to get used to a certain degree of these unwanted visitors.
Snakes, Alligators, and More
Speaking of exotic creatures, most people are aware of the presence of lots of alligators in Florida. Did you know, though, that Florida is also home to wild monkeys who carry herpes, Burmese pythons, rats, and green iguanas?
Rats like to live on the beach, in palm trees, and on your roof. We’ve previously mentioned that you need regular rodent control when you’re living in Florida, and you might need to get used to seeing snakes or alligators in some places.
Far Away From Family and Friends
Unless they live in Florida, of course, moving to another state can be difficult if it means moving away from your family. Especially if the state you’re moving to is on the other side of the country.
This is something to really think about. Can you miss your family for most of the year? Video chats and phone calls can’t make up for the real thing, and perhaps you are now entering a phase of your life where you finally have more time to spend with your family.
Lots of Old People
You’re not the only one who considered retiring in Florida might be a good idea. There have been many before you that took the leap, and we can see this in the numbers.
Florida’s overall population is about 21 million, of which there are expected to be 32.5% seniors in 2030. Other popular retirement states in the South, such as Georgia and North and South Carolina, don’t have nearly as many retirees as Florida.
Now, you can read this and think: “Lots of old people? That’s great; I want to be around people my own age!” In that case, this might not actually be a downside for you retiring in Florida. It could indeed be nice to be around people that are in the same life phase as you. However, many people do enjoy the diversity of being around a more versatile community.
Plain Weird People
Besides the boomers, there are obviously other people in Florida, some of which can sometimes be described as ‘weird,’ or as the Washington Post phrases it: “Florida is the third-most populous state, so it naturally has a lot of everything — good, bad and weird.” They also say, “the water table of weirdness is just naturally high in Florida. Strangeness seems to bubble to the surface.”
Of course, a little weirdness doesn’t have to be wrong; it can be fun to have a certain degree of diversity of people around to keep life interesting. Unless, of course, that’s something you’re not really looking for or trying to get away from.
Besides hurricanes, which obviously can also be labeled as ‘extreme weather,’ there are more weather scenarios to consider when you’re thinking of Retiring in Florida.
According to Southwest Florida Water Management District, “In Florida, we experience some of the wildest weather in the world. Although snowy blizzards are very unlikely, we encounter hurricanes, tornadoes, waterspouts, heavy rain showers, and a lot of lightning strikes. Our humid, subtropical climate creates an ideal breeding ground for these extreme weather conditions.”
Hot and Sweaty
You might think to yourself: “Well, that’s exactly what I like about Florida, the warm temperatures.” However, consider the fact that it’s not just pleasantly warm; it’s really warm all year round.
Both Miami and Tampa earned a spot on the list of 10 sweatiest cities in the U.S. Except for the Northern parts of Florida, where the winters can actually be pretty cold, count on sweating a whole bunch all through the year.
You will end up spending more time inside than you think because it will only not be pleasant anymore to spend the day outside unless you’re lying by the pool or the ocean. Doing a lot of active outdoor things is just not really doable when it’s blazing hot outside. Besides the heat and humidity, there are lots of bugs to swarm off.
Possible Sun Damage to Your Skin
Perhaps this is something you don’t worry too much about (anymore), but even seniors aren’t advised to spend all day in the sun.
The sun has a damaging effect on your skin and can cause premature wrinkles, pigmentation spots, skin cancer, and sunburns. In order to avoid these effects, it is important to always wear SPF 30 or higher. Also, avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm because that’s when its rays are most damaging.
Sinkholes are a real threat, just as hurricanes, for life in Florida. It’s not only life-threatening, but it can also cause irreparable damage to your home. In some cases, houses were swallowed up whole by sinkholes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “The most damage from sinkholes tends to occur in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says: “Sinkholes are a common feature of Florida’s landscape. They are only one of many kinds of karst landforms, including caves, disappearing streams, springs, and underground drainage systems, all of which occur in Florida.”
Why People Want To Retire in Florida
It’s not hard to imagine why many people (consider to) retire in Florida, especially if they’ve lived in Northern states and they’ve been longing for days to spend outside in the sun near the water.
It’s not called ‘Sunshine State’ for nothing. Despite all of the reasons not to retire in Florida, it’s only fair to mention a few pros of living/retiring in Florida. Let’s take a little look at the pros of retiring in Florida.
- (Mostly) warm weather
- Lots of sun
- Beaches galore
- A slower pace of life
- Relatively low costs
So, considering why so many people relocate to Florida as soon as their retirement lets them isn’t such a big guess.
Despite the taxes that Florida has on sales taxes, they are still doing pretty well compared to most other states tax-wise, and it’s just simply a different kind of lifestyle that a lot of people long for.
Florida has a generally good reputation for retirement, which doesn’t come out of nowhere. If you’re longing to spend time amongst like-minded people, Florida could also be a great place if that’s the kind of crowd you’re looking for.
Where To Retire in Florida
If you’re not entirely demotivated by now about retiring to Florida, let’s take a look at certain cities in the state that might be optional to relocate to. If you haven’t pinned down a favorite town or neighborhood yet, rent a few houses in different areas. So, if you have decided to take a closer look at Florida’s cities and areas, here are a few places that you might consider.
One last note: Before deciding to move anywhere, it is always highly advised to test the waters before diving in and buying a house. Spend some time in neighborhoods you are interested in by renting an Airbnb instead of staying at a hotel. Get to know the neighborhood and perhaps even the neighbors, go grocery shopping locally, and try to spend a little more time than you would usually on vacation.
Clearwater is located on the West coast of Florida and is one of the most popular retirement cities in Florida and the country. The community is close-knit, and the whole pace of life is slower. If you want to feel like you are on a forever vacation, Clearwater might be the place you’ve been looking for. It’s incredibly sunny and has amazing beaches.
Additionally, everything you need, such as shops and houses, is close together, making it a very walkable city that is perfect for retirees. You can expect a lot of older people here since it’s so popular amongst retirees. Clearwater is located near Tampa, meaning that you’re friends and family can easily fly in at the Tampa airport.
Fort Myers is located in a central position between Tampa and Miami, making it an excellent location for easy day trips. Orlando is only a few hours North. The community is very diverse and filled with ex-pats. Fort Myers is an up-and-coming city, but it’s still a good time to swoop in and buy a house before it gets too out of reach.
There are lots of cultural things to do if you want to expand your horizon and it’s, of course, located by the ocean. It’s currently voted as the number two place in the country to retire to, according to the U.S. News.
According to the U.S. News, Sarasota is currently the number one place in the country to retire. It has excellent beaches, golf clubs, and parks (such as Myakka River State Park).
How Vanessa Caceres from the U.S. News describes it: “Warm temperatures year-round, award-winning beaches and a thriving art and cultural scene have made Sarasota a go-to place for retirees and families, not to mention a handful of celebrities. This southwest Florida region, which is about an hour from Tampa and two hours from Orlando, continues to attract new residents with great restaurants and plenty of shopping options.”
If you’re into boating, this might be the city for you. Over 40,000 residents live on the water on one of the many waterways. It has even been referred to as the ‘Venice of America’ because of those many waterways.
Additionally, Fort Lauderdale is a family-oriented city with a thriving job market. You can find many young families and young professionals here. It’s an easy drive to Miami or West Palm Beach and is close to several amazing beaches. You can expect all-year-round warm weather.
If you like bigger cities and you’re not ready to say goodbye to vibrant city life just yet, Miami might be the place for you. It has a vibrant nightlife and can be quite touristy. Miami has great beaches on top of this, and you don’t ever have to be bored. You can also find many cultures here, such as Spanish, Columbian, Cuban, and Mexican.
Although Miami would probably not be the first city people have in mind when retiring in Florida, it can still be an outcome if you’re hesitant to leave the city life behind (if you’re living in a city at the moment). It’s very close to other great cities in Florida, and it’s easy for families to fly into Miami airport since there are lots of flights coming in and going out daily.
Orlando might be one of Florida’s most visited cities since it has Disney World and Universal Studios. If you dislike tourists, this isn’t the place for you because you can expect loads of those here all year. If you’re into golf, however, Orlando is what you might be looking for. Orlando has over 170 golf courses, and living costs are relatively low.
However, did we mention they have Disney World and Universal studios? If you’re an amusement park enthusiast, this can be great to have nearby, and as an Orlando citizen, you will receive a discount on Disney World’s FastPass and other local attractions.
Other Great States for Retirement
If, by now, you have some serious doubt about your initial idea to retire in Florida, let’s take a closer look at some other options. Besides Florida, some other states are popular amongst retirees in the U.S. and not without reason.
Of course, it is essential to consider which aspects are important to you when retiring. Is it the weather, expenses (taxes, insurance, living costs), or proximity to your family? Keep this in mind while looking for your new state.
North Carolina has more than 300 miles (483 km) of coastline which can be great for a weekend getaway or spending time with your family. If they don’t live in North Carolina, they’re going to love visiting you in the summer and exploring all of N.C.’s great beaches.
Besides many beaches, North Carolina also has mountains with stunning waterfalls. You can go skiing in the winters and hike in the summers. North Carolina really has something for everyone who loves nature. It has four distinct seasons with moderate temperatures that can keep elderly people active and on their feet in every season.
You can enjoy all of the fantastic benefits of North Carolina without spending all of your retirement funds because this state’s living costs are actually below the national average. However, health care costs and groceries cost a little more than the national average. Tax-wise, North Carolina also gains points.
Georgia has hot summers and can get cold winters; it is a state that definitely has four seasons. Georgia is a tax-friendly state, and the costs of living are 7% below average in the U.S. It has favorable tax circumstances and lower health care costs compared to anywhere else in the country.
If you’re looking for a state with lower expenses but still has warm summers, this might be a state worth considering. Additionally, Georgia has beautiful beaches!
Also, if you are into sports, Georgia has a lot of this kind of entertainment to offer. From tennis to swimming, you can practice any sport you’re into. Georgia has over six professional sports teams! Georgia also has great things in store for those who love the outdoors; you can find more than 250 species of trees and over 160 types of birds.
If your family doesn’t live on one of the Hawaiian islands, and you want to be slightly close to them, Hawaii might not be a good option. However, keep in mind that there are many states in which flying would be more convenient than driving. So, whether Hawaii is really that much more inconvenient depends on your family’s location.
Although Hawaii is a tax-friendly state, the cost of living is (a lot) higher than most states in the U.S. If that isn’t an issue for you, Hawaii might be the place you could have a great retirement.
When we’re talking about costs, Hawaii’s health care costs are surprisingly affordable and lower than most states in the U.S. Of course, Hawaii is an amazingly beautiful place with great weather and gorgeous beaches.
First of all, Idaho is a very affordable state that can make it possible to stretch out your retirement savings for a longer time. It has low living costs and lower health care costs compared to most other states in the country. You can also feel safe in Idaho; it has a low crime rate.
That’s not all that Idaho has to offer. This state has multiple amazing national parks, it has a mild climate in both winter and summer, plus it has award-winning vineyards! What more could you ask for? You can also find several breweries here if you prefer beer over wine. Last but not least, it’s a great place for both walking and bicycling.
Montana is a beautiful state with some of the gorgeous scenery in the world. In this state, you can find the Montana Rockies and the Bitterroot Mountains. It’s a state where many people retire who love the outdoors and related outdoor activities.
Despite the average age not being that high (about 40 years old), it is an excellent state for retirement, and many people have chosen Montana already. The climate is varied, with very cold winters and moderate summers, but there is plenty of sunshine all year long. Montana doesn’t have sales taxes, but it does tax social security income.
After reading this article, you might have drastically altered your view of retiring in Florida, or you could have already been aware of some of the disadvantages of the Florida lifestyle.
However, you can still decide that despite all of the potential risks such as hurricanes, sinkholes, or extreme weather, you still have a strong desire to relocate to Florida. It’s absolutely possible to have a satisfying retirement there as long as you’re aware of all that Florida has to offer.