Florida is often characterized as a state that people inevitably retire to. However, Florida is also portrayed as being hot, dangerous, exposed to hurricanes and tropical storms, full of wild parties and bizarre crimes. So is Florida really a good place to live for retirees?
Florida is a fantastic place for retirees to live. It is warm, sunny, safe, and fun. It has almost any activity you can think of, from scuba diving to hiking, camping, hunting, or just hitting the theme parks. With no state taxes, your retirement income can last a lot longer in Florida, too.
Sure, Florida is a tax haven, but what is there to do for a retiree in Florida? Are there any retirement communities in Florida that I would fit in at? Can you afford housing in Florida? If you are considering retiring to Florida, continue reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
Should You Really Retire to Florida?
There’s a reason that Florida is such a popular place to retire to. Well, actually, there are many reasons that Florida is such a great retirement state. There’s no snow, favorable policies, a lot of senior-friendly amenities, and some affordable places to live. Additionally, there are tons of activities to keep you entertained, whether you want to indulge your inner child (or grandkids) on a trip to Disney or take a charter boat fishing in the Keys.
Is Florida Tax-Friendly to Retirees?
Florida is a very tax-friendly state for retirees. Florida has no state income tax, if you can believe that! Also, there is no estate or inheritance tax. Additionally, there is no tax on 401(k)s, pensions, or other retirement benefits. That means that you get to keep what you saved — what a concept!
However, if you are going to be a “snowbird” — that’s the friendly term for people who live in Florida during the winter and summer in their states of origin — you must prove that you spend a balance of your time in Florida to take advantage of state residency.
You can’t just declare yourself a resident: you have to be prepared to show that you reside in Florida at least 183 days a year. Experts recommend that you take specific steps to document your residency, such as establishing a bank account in Florida, establishing care with a doctor in Florida, registering your vehicle in Florida, and getting your Florida driver’s license.
Is Florida a Safe Place to Live?
Sometimes, Florida gets a bad rap in the press. Sure, there are some bizarre things that happen in Florida. For example, news articles have made “Florida Man” a classic. But let’s put that in context: 21 million people live in Florida, and only one guy threw an alligator into the drive-thru.
But seriously – is crime a problem in Florida? Not really, no. The overall crime rate in Florida is consistent with the average across the United States. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, crime has been trending way down in Florida over the years.
Phenomenal Florida Retiree Tip: Before purchasing a retirement home in Florida, do some homework. Lease a house for a week or two in an area you are interested in to see if you like the location.
Are Hurricanes a Problem for Retirees in Florida?
Hurricane season in Florida lasts from June to November. And hurricanes can be dangerous: it is crucial to watch the weather and follow the advice of the National Weather Service and your local officials. On the other hand, hurricanes are pretty easy to prepare for, and you always have several days’ warning when hurricanes are coming. With the exception of truly catastrophic storms, Floridians can weather most hurricanes reasonably well.
Apart from the hurricanes, Florida experiences a lot of thunderstorms, especially in the summer. Some of these spawn adverse weather systems like tornadoes or even an occasional derecho. However, modest efforts at preparation — e.g., stocking up on food, having a generator, having an evacuation plan — will help you weather most anything.
Is Florida’s Weather Good for Retirees?
Apart from the odd hurricane, Florida’s weather is fantastic for retirees. The state enjoys 237 sunny days a year and is famously warm. So while some places can get a little humid — especially in the summer — the state is typically warm and sunny. That means you can actually get out and enjoy it!
Most retirees probably don’t want the hassle of having to deal with snow and ice. If that sounds good to you, you’ll be thrilled to know that snow just isn’t a thing in Florida. Of course, there is an occasional winter frost in some parts of the state, but you can sell your snowblower and cancel the plow guy: you won’t need them here.
Are There Retirement Communities in Florida?
There are various kinds of retirement communities in Florida. In many cities, you can find entire apartment complexes or towers dedicated to retirement-age residents. If you are more adventurous and have decided to become a full-time RVer, you can move to Florida and meet other full-time RV retirees. Then again, if you prefer a conventional home, there are a lot of 55+ communities in the Sunshine State.
Probably the most famous retirement community in Florida is The Villages. However, The Villages are more like retirement cities than retirement communities. They have their own shopping centers and downtowns, plus access to great recreational amenities like golf. There are even fitness centers and healthcare facilities.
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What is There Fun to do in Florida for Retirees?
Florida has so much to do, we could write a book about it. Of course, the specifics depend on exactly where you live, but here is a short list of things you can do in Florida:
- Go boating. Florida has an expansive coastline, and there are a lot of marinas and boat ramps throughout the state. There are also many interior lakes and rivers that are fun to boat on.
- Go hiking. Florida’s state parks are well maintained and beautiful. Just because you retired doesn’t mean you can’t go: Florida’s gentle terrain and warm weather make hiking here a breeze!
- Learn to Fly. Why not? Learning to fly an airplane is a challenging and rewarding experience, and Florida has excellent flying weather. There are flight schools at many small airports in Florida, and they would love to teach you.
- Take a cruise. Cruising is an excellent way to vacation inexpensively, and Florida has several cruise ports that you can leave from.
- Head to the Keys. The Florida Keys are a one-of-a-kind place, with a rich local history and a lot of great amenities to keep you entertained.
- Hit the Casino. Hey, you earned it. Go take some ‘me time’ at one of Florida’s casinos – maybe you’ll get lucky! Regardless, you’re sure to have a real good time.
- Head to the Theme Parks. Disney and Universal are endlessly entertaining, and as an added bonus, the grandkids are sure to love it.
- Hit the beach. Florida has some fantastic beaches, and the best part is, people of all ages go there.
Florida also has terrific museums, world-class shopping, easy access to nature, and more. So it’s safe to say you’ll be entertained during your retirement.
Is There Affordable Real Estate in Florida?
Florida is experiencing a bit of a real estate boom at the moment, especially in Central Florida. However, there are still plenty of affordable neighborhoods to live in. New developments are being built in many areas, and many home builders have affordable floor plans to choose from. Of course, as with any market, there’s always going to be some fluctuation, but you can indeed find affordable places to live in Florida.
Is There Good Medical Care in Florida?
Like in any other state, the quality of your medical care may vary in Florida. If you live in St. Petersburg, you’ll have access to some great local health systems and famous hospitals. If you live in Zolfo Springs, you will have fewer choices.
If you have specific medical needs — perhaps you routinely see a cardiologist, or you have diabetes that’s a little hard to manage — you should spend some time researching where the best doctors and hospitals are. Typically, the more urban areas of Florida have bigger and better hospitals with more doctors and specialists. On the other hand, the more rural parts of the state are likely to have fewer doctors and smaller, or possibly no, hospitals.
What about getting to doctor’s appointments? Many retirees have only one car or don’t drive for one reason or another. However, for those who meet certain income or illness criteria, Florida’s Managed Care system can help connect you with medical transport at little or no cost to you.
Many cities, counties, and health systems also offer ride-sharing or ride-provision services to senior citizens traveling to and from doctor’s appointments. For example, seniors in any of Florida’s 67 counties can use the state’s “Find a Ride” program to help connect you with transport to your appointments.
Changes in Latitudes
Retiring to Florida might seem scary. It’s a significant change to move to a new place, and retirement is stressful in its own ways. But when you are looking for a place to relax and enjoy your hard-earned retirement, it’s hard to envision a more desirable place to live than Florida. Sunny, warm, safe, fun, and tax-friendly, Florida is the perfect place for anybody to retire to.