Moving To Florida? (The Truth About Living Here)

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The short answer is — yes! And if that (plus sunshine and palm trees) is a good enough answer for you, then start packing your bags!

But, if you need a bit more information before moving your life to a whole other state, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide will break down everything you need to know about moving to Florida, and whether or not it’s the right decision for you or your family.

Let’s dive in and find out everything you need to know about moving to Florida before you pack those moving boxes and load up the moving truck.

Let’s Start With Location — The Best Places To Live In Florida

 

Florida, also commonly referred to as the “sunshine state”, happens to be the fourth largest state in the entire US. Because of its sheer size and unique positioning, with the Gulf and Atlantic oceans on either side, narrowing down exactly where in the state you might want to move to is a good first step in the right direction.

Let’s start with the regions Florida is made up of or divided into…

Florida is made up of four main regions:

  1. Florida Panhandle
  2. North Florida
  3. Central Florida
  4. South Florida
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1. Florida Panhandle

Think of the Florida Panhandle as a sunny version of Georgia and Alabama; in other words, it’s still the sunny Florida you know, but with a sweet, southern vibe. The Florida Panhandle is the perfect spot for those who enjoy southern hospitality and culture, but who still want to enjoy the overall ambiance and unique atmosphere that the state is known for. Oh yea, some pretty nice beaches too!

picture of Panorama of Okaloosa fishing pier in Fort Walton Beach, Florida at sunset.

This particular region gives you easy access to other popular places such as Nashville, New Orleans, and Atlanta — and all of which are completely drivable destinations! If you are eager to check off that state traveling box on your bucket list, then the Florida Panhandle is the spot for you!

Florida Panhandle Sounds Great — Where Should I Live?

Below are a few of the most popular cities in the Florida Panhandle:

  • Tallahassee — Florida’s state capital
  • Pensacola
  • Destin
  • Panama City

2. North Florida

North Florida is known to be the most rural region of the state. Whereas the other three regions are commonly known for their beaches and palm trees, North Florida is known for its luscious landscape of live oak trees and beautiful scenery lined with wildflowers and magnolias.

picture of The peaceful boardwalk on the Suwannee River

The peaceful boardwalk on the Suwannee River

If you happen to be a nature lover, you may want to consider swapping out South Florida’s beaches for some peace and quiet with nature.

I Am A Big Nature Lover — Where Should I Live?

The following areas in N. Florida are Popular Destinations for those Moving to the State:

  • Jacksonville
  • Neptune Beach
  • Gainesville
  • Augustine

3. Central Florida

Are you a NASCAR fan? An avid theme park explorer? Do you like to play golf while sipping a glass of Bourbon and reminiscing about your past accomplishments with other fellow golfers and retirees?

picture of a nice florida municipal golf course

Well, look no further! From Disney World and Mickey Mouse to Daytona Beach and shopping for your friends, Central Florida is the region of excitement! It’s known for its eventful nature of tourist destinations, day trips, and sipping on your favorite drink!

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I Love All Of The Action — Where Should I Live?

The following cities are popular destinations for those moving to Central Florida:

  • Orlando
  • Orange County
  • Daytona Beach
  • Melbourne
  • Miami
  • Tampa
  • Fort Meyers

4. South Florida

South Florida ranges from areas of low population and quiet serenity to exciting resorts and sunny beaches, and fast-paced living!

picture of West Palm Beach, Florida

Downtown West Palm Beach, Florida, over the intracoastal waterway.

Although South Florida gets hit the hardest during hurricane season, its also a highly popular destination for those moving to the state. If sporadic rainstorms and the occasional hurricane aren’t on your list of fears, then you’ll be able to take full advantage of warm, sunny weather and mile-long beach’s year-round.

South Florida is one of the most popular regions for retirement, relaxation, and enjoying time outdoors.

Hurricanes Don’t Scare Me — Where Should I Live? 

  • Palm Beach Gardens
  • West Palm Beach
  • Boca Raton
  • Jupiter
  • Coconut Grove
  • Wellington
  • Coral Gables

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What About Work / Employment Opportunities?

 

Moving can be scary, especially if there is uncertainty about work and employment opportunities in your new home state. With a GSP of US$873 billion annually, Florida’s state economy ranks among the world’s (yes, world’s) largest economies, coming in at #18 on the list.

The state has a diverse and growing economy, ranging from financial services, to agriculture and high-tech industry. Over the last decade, the state has made major headway in high tech employment, ranking #5 in the US in this sector.

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Infrastructure and Global Reach

The economy and job market are also supported by world-class infrastructure, expanding the global reach of the local market with 19 commercial airports, 3000 miles of railroad tracks and over 12,000 miles of highway.

picture of I95 South towards Miami

But that’s not all. Florida tourism is booming, serving 100+ million visitors annually. From Walt Disney World to sunny beaches, vacationers both domestic and international are attracted to this great state year-round.

Higher Minimum Wage & No State Tax

The state has also made great strides in supporting the working class, having raised the minimum wage to $8.56/hour in 2020. This, coupled with no state income tax, makes the state a winner when it comes to making and keeping more of your hard-earned money.

“My husband and I moved to Florida almost two years ago and immediately benefitted from a 6% raise thanks to no state income tax.

 

Additionally, we have opened and run several businesses in Daytona (including a bar, electric bike rental company, art studio and real estate investment company) and are taking advantage of the year round climate, incredibly affordable housing and cost of living and the awesome activities available to us here.”

 

Krista GoodrichThe Pallet Pub Daytona

Low Unemployment Rate

Historically Florida has ranked low on the unemployment rate chart. Currently, the state boasts an unemployment rate of only 3.2%, well below the national average of 4.7%.

Long story short, the job market in Florida is booming, the minimum wage is rising, and the residents are having great success with saving their money! Now that we have established that the job market is nothing short of desirable, let’s take a look at the top indistries and careers in the state.

The Top Industries In The Market

Top Industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Technology
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Agriculture
  • Business and financial
  • Education
  • International trade

 Top Careers by Income:

  1. Anesthesiologist
  2. Gynecologist
  3. Family doctors
  4. Surgeons
  5. Orthodontist and dentistry
  6. Psychiatrist
  7. Airline Pilots
  8. Aerospace and aviation
  9. Security
  10. Information technology

If you haven’t noticed the pattern, there are two things to note about this list of industries:

  • Half of these industries are directly related to healthcare
  • The other half are directly related to Florida’s real number one industry in the state; tourism.

The tourism industry is the foundation that keeps Florida’s economy intact…after all, it is the home of the one and only Disney World.

picture of disney world boardwalk

Disney’s Board Walk

But something you may not know about this state is that it wanted absolutely nothing to do with the national healthcare crisis.

In other words, Florida has his own healthcare programs for people who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid as well as for people who may have lost their jobs, quit their jobs, or do not get offered healthcare through their jobs. So it makes sense as to why the top six industries are health-inspired careers — they actually need them!

In summary, if you’re having one of those months where everything goes wrong, it’s comforting to know that being unemployed should rank pretty low on your list of things to stress about.

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The Florida Real Estate Market

 

Florida has historically always had a strong real estate market as compared to the rest of the nation. The state is an often-sought after destination due to its culture, weather, beaches, and no state income tax, among other reasons.

Picture of a nice florida house

The Florida real estate market remains strong to this day, with signs of consistent sales and price growth as well as a healthy number of transactions.

Let’s Look at Some Statewide Averages:

*Keep in mind these fluctuate city to city

  • Median Price Per Square Foot: $166
  • Median Property price: $294,900
  • Average Days on Market: 125
  • Pay to Rent Ratio: 20
  • Traditional Cash on Cash Return: 1.4%
  • Monthly Traditional Rental Income: $1,816
  • AirBnB Occupancy Rate: 55%
  • AirBnB Cash on Cash Return: 3.3%

*Data according to Zillow 2019

Between the citizens, retirees, and the summer homes, the real estate market and the property values in Florida tend to remain strong. According to Zillow, real estate value in the state averaged a 4.7% increase, with more than 50 neighborhoods posting an amazing 10% year over year increase in value.

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Real Estate Market “Bests”

For example, selling your home in June can net sellers up to $20,000 more at closing, making that one of the worst months for those looking to move to Florida to make a purchase. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bargain buy, January is the best month to purchase a home in FL, saving an average of $20,000 as compared to June. And with less competition, you’ll have more time to search and won’t be rushed or faced with a bidding war on hot properties you like.

Real Estate “Best Times”

  • The best time to buy property is in January
  • The best time to sell a property is in June
  • The best places to invest in are Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando
  • The best piece of random info is that most people in Florida actually prefer to rent
  • The best Florida markets are in Lakeland, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee, and Gainesville

“I love talking about moving and living here in southeast Florida. Our holiday season is magical (and warm) and the hot weather is well worth bearing during the summer months because our fall, winter and spring seasons have temperatures that are near perfect. I couldn’t think of a better place to live to when you’re considering a move. Home is wonderful here.

 

I sell homes in Boca Raton, Florida and we find that home sales in Florida have been welcoming new Buyers who have been considering moving from states where state income taxes are putting a dent in their financial wealth, due to the onset of new tax laws. With Florida being void of a state income tax, Florida is looking bright welcoming new residents from high tax states to call Florida their primary homestead…just another reason why living in Florida is top of mind to so many.”

 

Lynn Pineda – eXp Realty – ImagineYourHouse

And this all sounds great! But, here’s a relevant question that may make or break Florida’s glowing aura…

How Much Does It Cost To Live In Florida?

 

Can I Afford To Move There?

The job industry is solid, the real estate market is on the rise, there’s no state income tax, healthcare isn’t an issue, and you’ll be able to save money. But what is the cost of living like in the state?

picture of Family with shopping cart in supermarket store

Cost of Living Index

NOTE: 100 is the national average. Above 100 is higher than the national average, whereas below 100 is less than the national average.

  • Overall Costs = 102.8
  • Groceries = 102.8
  • Healthcare = 98
  • Housing = 106.2
  • Median Home Cost = $7000 above national avg.
  • Utilities = 101.3
  • Transportation = 112.6
  • Miscellaneous = 96.9

Although Florida comes in a bit higher than the national averages in many categories, this is offset by no state income taxes and often higher wages.

Taxes

One of the benefits of living in Florida is taking advantage of the state’s lower taxes, which as compared to other states, play a small role in the overall cost of living there. Florida boasts NO state income tax, and an average effective property tax coming in at a nominal 1.02% (well below the national average).

Sales tax in the state is 6%. However, there are counties within the state that add their own “local” tax on top of that 6%. This “additional” local tax generally ranges from 0.5%-2%, with a mandated maximum sales tax of 8%.

However, expect to pay more at the pump. Florida’s gas tax ranks among the 10th highest in the nation coming in at 41.36 cents per gallon. Similarly, alcohol is also taxed heavily in the state coming out to $6.50 per gallon on hard liquor or spirits and 48 cents per gallon on beer.

Communications tax is also a concern. Consumers on average pay up to 7.44% extra on all internet, television and phone services, with those opting for satellite services such as DirectTV being taxed at 11.44%.

Don’t Forget About Insurance

There are three unique types of insurance that, depending on where you live, you may need to think about.

  • Hurricane insurance
  • Sinkhole insurance
  • Flood insurance

Most states do not require that you purchase flood insurance, but there are a few that highly recommend it if you happen to live along the coast. And then, there’s those other two: hurricane insurance and sinkhole insurance.

picture of A father and son working together to install plywood over windows in preparation for a hurricane.

Hurricane insurance, especially in south Florida, is kind of a given. But, sinkhole insurance?

There are certain parts of Florida where, sometimes, the earth gets hungry and decides to swallow cars, roads, and even homes. As one of the world’s most unpredictable natural disasters, sinkholes can be a huge issue. Once the ground swallows your home, you can’t get it back!

The required or recommended insurance needed for Florida homeowners can seem expensive at first, but in the end, the chance of your life getting destroyed because of a flood, hurricane, or sinkhole is very low.

Closing Thoughts About the Cost of Living

Every state will have its pros and cons, but as long as you budget your lifestyle, Florida is, all in all, relatively affordable to live in. If moving to Florida is in your future, consider consulting with a local financial advisor who can help you prepare for local expenses and optimize your budget and planning for a successful transition.

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Is Florida A Good Place To Retire?

 

With its warm weather, palm trees, golfing, sporting events, NASCAR racing, swimming, and private clubs, of course Florida is the place to retire!

In fact, there are already 3.5 million people over the age of 65 who would readily agree! Not only is Florida known as the most popular state to enjoy your life post-retirement, but many aspects of the state are tailored towards or made to accommodate those who are over 65 years old.

picture of Group of retired friends support concept

From constant commercials about products that benefit the older generations to the various volunteer opportunities, it’s almost as if the state of Florida just assumes that that’s why people move there to begin with — because they’re retired.

Aside from the massive amount of retirement communities scattered throughout the entire state, there are certain places that retirees prefer over others.

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Here is a shortlist of the best places to retire in Florida:

Venice — Venice has the benefit of sports such as golf and tennis as well as a fun nightlife with amazing food and live music…all without losing that relaxing beach vibe and laid back atmosphere.

Vero Beach — Vero Beach is known for its daily social events, restaurants, pool bars, breweries, sporting events, and quaint shops and stores. If an active social life is important, this locale is worth a look.

Naples — Over 50% of the population is made up of retirees and people over the age of 65. It’s known for its amazing medical care, recreational activities, and is the best place to plan family activities such as kayaking, trips to the zoo, and sporting events.

Palm Beach — Palm Beach is known as the place to “retire in style.” That is, it’s the city of fancy shopping! So if you like to shop, don’t even hesitate to check out Palm Beach! But don’t worry, you don’t have to be an avid shopper to enjoy what Palm Beach has to offer. This city has more than 160 golf courses and over 80 parks for those who love outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. If you’re more of an art lover, their huge art scene will amaze you with its many broadway shows, museums, festivals, and fairs!

The Florida Keys — The Florida Keys is meant for all of the nature lovers! From jet skiing to scuba diving and boating to fishing, The Florida Keys is known to be one of the most affordable cities to settle down in! It’s also great to quench that party scene urge as Key West is not far away!

“As I have gotten older, the New England winters have become tiresome. Who wants to be shoveling out of the next ten-inch snowstorm? Not me!

 

My immediate thought being a real estate agent was I should be investing here which is exactly what I did. I bought a place in a small town called Margate which is between Coral Springs and Pompano Beach. It always nice to escape the cold weather at a moment’s notice.

 

If you are considering a moving somewhere warm, I would highly recommend checking out South Florida. If you like warm weather, sandy beaches, palm trees, awesome restaurants and bars, along with an endless number of things to do, then this is worth exploring.

 

While prices are not at the rock bottom levels they were ten years ago, there are still some great options when compared to prices up north.”

 

Bill Gassett – Realtor

What Are Floridians Like? – People And Culture

 

Florida is a state known for its diverse culture and historical significance. The state has undergone impressive transformations over the years, from its storied past to industrial revolution and modern-day innovation. Inspired by a wide range of architectural influences, the state is a perfect melting pot that is friendly and embracing.

picture of Multi-Ethnic Group of People in Florida Working Together

The state’s mixture of Latinos, Hispanics, Cubans, Native Americans, and even a large Greek population make it a unique gem in the south. There will never be a time where you run out of new foods to try, art to look at, and culture to experience. Not to mention that Southern hospitality that the Florida Panhandle has by default!

But Florida isn’t just a state of various cultures and backgrounds, it also has people from every political viewpoint as well as people of every age and religion. So it’s not hard to figure out that there’s a group of people that everyone can relate to!

It’s safe to say that pretty much anywhere you go will bring you a whole new life experience!

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Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Florida

 

Of course, Disney World is always an option as are the mass quantity of beaches around the entire state, but what else is there to do? The answer is simple — everything! But to narrow it down to the coolest things to do, check this out!

Butterfly World

Butterfly World is known as “the result of one man’s hobby gone wild.” And this one man’s hobby has developed into an amazing greenhouse of a 5000 butterfly infested park. After making friends with one of the prettiest flying creatures in the world, you can move right on to The Tropical Forest, or you can check out the English Rose Garden.

Lion Country Safari

The only drive-through safari where you can see over 1000 different animals right from your own car! Pet a zebra, make friends with a giraffe, and say hello to the wild rhinos and lions that pass by!

picture of View from a car on Giraffe in drive through safari zoo

Club Med

Club Med is an all-inclusive resort in Sandpiper Bay that is completely family-friendly. It offers relaxing spas, yoga classes, and their world-famous white chocolate! As long as you enjoy an opportunity of endless adventures, this resort is a perfect getaway for you and your family!

The Ernest Hemingway House

This is for all of the history buffs who want to experience the full vibe of literary geniuses such as Ernest Hemingway. Walk around the house that Hemingway spent 10 years writing his masterpieces, and check out the museum-like property of what it was like to live in his shoes! It’s also known for their quirky tour guides to enhance the fun, and also for the stray cats that live around this history-filled museum.

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Coconut Grove Arts Festival

February is for festivals, and one of the greatest annual festivals is the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. This 3-day festival is filled with over 360 international artists that show their work by way of fine arts, live performances, cooking demonstrations, and diverse food tastings. This festival takes place in Biscayne Bay and has been known to be one of the most fulfilling festivals in the state.

Daytona 500

You’ve probably heard of the Daytona 500, but just in case you haven’t, this isn’t just any race — the Daytona 500 is a 500 mile long NASCAR race that is filled with people from all over the world. Tailgating, watching the races, and listening to hours’ worth of live country music is a fun-filled festival scene!

picture of Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500

Kennedy Space Center

Brought to you by NASA itself, this Orlando center is filled with space exploration, rocket launches, historic spacecraft, and many displays and exhibits that will blow your mind!

Drive-In Movie Theaters

Yup! Drive-in movie theaters still exist, and they are all located in the Sunshine State. Well, not all of them, but definitely the good ones!

Everglades Alligator Farm

What would Florida be without their beloved alligators? In a swamp right outside of Miami, take a boat and sail through over 2000 alligators consisting of alligator shows and feedings, and also the fun you can have with snakes!

Legoland

Perhaps one of the best things to do in Florida is to get a hold of your inner child and check out the massive, life-sized LEGO creations! Take a LEGO ride down to the water park and have yourself a fun, free-spirit day!

picture of Legoland Retail Store Exterior

If these don’t tickle your fancy, check out some of Florida’s hidden destinations:

  • Salvador Dali Museum
  • City Of Live Mermaids
  • Devils Den
  • Discovery Island
  • Spook Hill
  • Underwater Hotel in Key Largo
  • Cassadaga
  • The Devil’s Millhopper
  • Whimzeyland
  • Pirate and Treasure Museum
  • World Erotic Art Museum
  • The Fountain of Youth
  • Solomon’s Castle
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Pros And Cons Overview: The Good And Bad Of Moving To Florida

 

The good, the bad, the better, and the worse — here is a wrap up of the pros and cons of moving to Florida!

The Good Stuff

  • The weather — a minimum of 300 sunny days to perfect your tan, avoid shoveling snow, and to increase that dopamine!
  • No state income tax — keep most of what you earn, including retirement checks!
  • Thousands of miles of beaches and parks!
  • Great for retirement — retirement communities, gated communities, and daily relaxing activities!
  • Disney World is there — and the Disney Walk is free!
  • Affordable — even for younger generations!
  • Real estate is booming!
  • There are over 300 hidden activities to experience!
  • Filled with culture and diversity everywhere!
  • The cost of housing is competitive!
  • Residents of Florida receive discounts just for being residents!
  • It’s incredibly easy to find a job with maximized minimum wages!
  • Florida has one of the top economies in the entire world!
  • Extremely friendly to those with disabilities!

The Not So Good Stuff

  • The threat of natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and sinkholes
  • Required insurance for a potential natural disaster
  • Potential dangers of heat and humidity
  • It’s flat — if you like mountains, Florida isn’t for you
  • It’s filled with tourists — unless that doesn’t bother you
  • Not very many public transportation options
  • Slow drivers — but that depends on where you live
  • The threat of alligators — just kidding, alligators are not actually a threat
  • Chemicals in the air to decrease the population of bugs

Fun Facts And Strange Laws

 

Just for fun, let’s explore the fun facts of Florida and even some strange Florida laws that will make you wonder why it’s even a law in the first place!

Florida Fun Facts

  • Florida isn’t just known for oranges; it’s also the number one producer of watermelons, tomatoes, strawberries, and sugar
  • Key Lime Pie and Gatorade were first invented in Florida. Once you think about it, it sounds like common sense
  • Collectively, Florida has about 300 days of sunshine per year, which is where Florida got its nickname: The Sunshine State
  • Florida has more golf courses than any other state in the US
  • Florida is the flattest state in America
  • To pass a driving test, you don’t need to learn how to parallel park

picture of sunny florida sky and palm trees

Strange Laws

  • Public doors must open outwards
  • Unpaid meters that have elephants tied to it will get you fined, just in case you happen to be taking your pet elephant for a walk
  • It is against the law for single women to parachute on Sundays
  • After 6 pm, it’s illegal to fart in public
  • It’s illegal to sell ice cream in a cemetery
  • Selling oranges in the street will land you in jail for 30 days
  • It is illegal to sing while wearing a bathing suit
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Wrapping It Up, Florida Is A Great State To Move To!

 

For most people, moving to Florida turns out to be a blessing in more ways than one. The move to Florida is one that few people regret. Moving to Florida can mark a new and exciting chapter in you or your family’s life and one that will be filled with unforgettable experiences and memories.

From breathtaking beaches to fair year-round weather and a never-ending array of attractions to explore, this state has something for everyone. No matter if you’re young, old, retired, working, religious, spiritual, American, or a tourist, Florida is worth a close look when deciding where to move.

So, now that you know the facts, what do you think? Is Florida worth the move?

Most people agree that it most certainly is!

 

Further Reading: Looking For More Florida Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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