Florida has long been a premier retirement destination. For decades, the phrase “moving to Florida” was almost synonymous for “retiring.” While Americans now have many excellent options for post-career relocation – in both the US and abroad – the Sunshine State remains a popular place to spend one’s retirement.
Here are five things to know if you are considering a move to Florida when you turn in your office key.
1. The Villages. This iconic development in central Florida is the world’s largest 55-plus active living community. It is currently home to 124,000 people – and growing. The Villages consistently ranks among the fastest-growing areas in the US.
2. Gray State. In the 2010 US Census, Florida’s population was 18.8 million, including 3.3 million people 65 and older. By 2020 the state expects to have 4.5 million residents age 65 and older; 6 million by 2030. Among the benefits of this reality: there are many social and recreational opportunities targeted to older people from dances to affordable golf to pickleball. (Look it up.)
3. Some Crazy Weather. Yes, Florida is where Weather Channel reporters to go learn how to scream reports from a hurricane-tossed beach. But did you know that thunderstorm-prone Florida has more lightning strikes than any other state? Seventeen Sunshine State cities rank in the US’s top 30 locations for lightning strikes. And while it’s delightfully warm in winter, Florida can be suffocating in the summer, especially in the central part of the state. My mother-in-law once shared stories of her childhood trips to Florida to visit family in the pre-air-conditioning era. I broke out in a sweat just hearing that tale.
4. No State Income Tax. Florida is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees. There is no income tax on your earning from that part-time retirement job you might take. More impactfully, there is no state tax on Social Security benefits, pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement income. Florida also has no inheritance or estate tax.
5. More Than Beaches. Florida is the 22nd largest state, sprawling and diverse. If surf and sand aren’t your thing, consider central Florida, home to Disney World and some of the country’s most beautiful horse farms. A move to Gainesville or Tallahassee offers the twin joys of mild winters and college town life. If you are a beach lover, Florida offers every possible seaside vibe from the vibrancy of Miami to the laid-back feel of the Florida Keys to the quiet white sands and soft Gulf waves of Sarasota.
6. Scammer’s Paradise. Why do rip-off artists love Florida? Because, sadly, it’s a land of easy money. The state ranks #1 in the US for fraud with 993 cases per 100,000 residents in 2017. The median fraud loss for all victims is $429, but that number rises to $621 for victims ages 70 to 79 and $1,092 for victims 80 and older. Imposter fraud is often attempted on older Floridians. In this scam, the attempts to talk the victim out of their money by pretending to be a family member, romantic interest or government official. Too often, it works.
Florida is, no doubt, a great place to retire. You just need to decide if it’s the right place for you.
Do your homework and spend some time in parts of the state that appeal to you. With some time and effort, the answer to your question will emerge as bright as the Florida sun.