Retiring and moving to Florida is a cliché these days. However, behind most clichés, there are elements of truth.
There are so many retirees in Florida because a large number of them consider it a desirable place to retire. According to the last census in 2010, Florida had the highest percentage of residents age 65 and above (17.3%).
So, what makes Florida so desirable – and if it is so desirable, why isn’t the proportion of retirement-aged residents even higher? Here are some factors to consider, along with their pros and cons.
- Climate – You may like Midwestern winters and four seasons right now, but there is a decent chance you will be tired of cold weather by retirement age. If you fall into this category, and cannot afford or do not enjoy the snowbird lifestyle, a permanent move to Florida has appeal.
On the downside, there are frequent afternoon rains and oppressive heat and humidity in the summer. Also, if you are used to the seasonal traditions, it can be jarring to run the air conditioner at Christmas. Some grow homesick for seasonal changes of fall and spring. Finally, Florida is prime hurricane country.
- Taxes –It may not have been enough to keep LeBron in Miami, but the lack of state income tax is a popular reason for retiring in Florida – and retirement income and Social Security benefits are not taxed, either. There are no estate or inheritance taxes. Property taxes are not unreasonable; they assessed at 100% value but for permanent residents, a homestead exemption is available that can reach $50,000.
The downside is sales tax, which is 6% at the state level and can be up to 7.5% in certain districts. Sales taxes often hit retirees harder than income taxes.
- Lifestyle –With plenty of beaches, golf courses, waterways and similar outdoor activities, it is easy to maintain an active lifestyle during retirement in Florida. If you prefer a more sedate lifestyle, there are plenty of retirement communities available for that as well.
The downside is that there are so many retirement communities – and people in general. Finding affordable quiet and seclusion in Florida is rather difficult, especially when you need a senior support system nearby.
- Medical Care –You would expect that Florida would be near the top in medical care given the number of seniors, but a 2011 Study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found Florida to be in the middle of the pack in most areas of health care. Cancer care and quality of patient care settings were average, and chronic care or nursing home care options were slightly below average. If you have special medical needs, check your care options before you move.
Not convinced that Florida is the best retirement place for you? It may not be. Another option, Arizona, has a similar tax-friendly environment, warm climate, and a large retirement community.
A retirement destination does not have to be a warm-weather haven, either. Every year, there are multiple Internet articles on the best places to retire, and there are always a fair number in cold-weather cities. The 2014 Forbes guide on the best places to retire listed such places as Boise, Idaho, and Pittsburgh, PA.
Only you can decide on the best retirement spot for you. The main thing you must remember is to do your homework on the area, and talk to residents to get a feel for how you will fit in. Do not risk your retirement funds and your remaining time here by moving to Florida, or anywhere, on a whim.Let the free MoneyTips Retirement Planner help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.
MoneyTips is conducting a survey of hundreds of retirees to find out how they live today and how they prepared for retirement. We are also surveying working Americans who need to get ready for the next chapter in their lives. Read the preliminary results and take part – we’ll send you the results to help you prepare for the future!