One of the best things about retirement is the freedom. For many retirees, that means traveling, spending time with family, or just resting and relaxing. For others, that means moving somewhere they’ve always dreamed of living, like the sunshine state. Florida has long been known as the best place to retire, and for good reason. Regardless of which part of the state you settle in, you’ll enjoy low taxes, accessible healthcare, and a vibrant community of active older adults. But don’t pack your bags just yet. It’s important to do some research into what your life will look like if you choose to retire in Florida when it comes to all of the following categories.
Cost of Living in Florida
In most studies that compare the best places to retire, cost of living is understandably the top qualifier. Florida’s lack of a state income tax is commonly cited as a perk, and it is. After all, tax-free Social Security, 401(k), and pension income means your retirement dollars will stretch further. However, there are other cost of living factors that you need to consider, like gas, groceries, and sales tax on everyday purchases. Knowing how Florida compares to other states in these areas will help you assess your budget and determine if retirement in Florida is within reach. By most standards, Florida falls right in the middle of the country in these categories, neither substantially more expensive nor less expensive than the rest of the country. One estimate for a “comfortable” retirement suggested that a typical couple would need a little more than $61,000 per year.
Housing in Florida
No matter where you live, your biggest living expense will (almost) always be housing. Yes, even for retirees. That’s because you still have to pay property taxes and insurance, which can be higher in Florida due to the potential for storm damage, as well as maintenance and repair costs. Ultimately, the size of your nest egg and projected retirement income will determine how much house you can afford. According to Zillow, the average home value in Florida is $233,200. Of course, home prices vary based on a square footage and amenities — and especially location. In Naples and Miami, plan to pay considerably more. In Jacksonville and Pensacola, you could pay much less. Regardless of where you go or how much you spend, remember that the process of getting a mortgage in retirement is a little different than during other situations. Having a reliable and trustworthy lender to walk you through it can help.
Healthcare in Florida
Healthcare is the biggest overall expense in your retirement budget. The cost of healthcare in Florida for a typical retired couple is only slightly higher than the national average at about $425,000. Using a health savings account (HSA) to save pre-tax dollars, taking advantage of local, free health fairs, and enrolling in Medicare can all help you stay healthy for less. Reports on the quality of healthcare in Florida vary from average to below average, depending on your source. For that reason, you should carefully vet practitioners and facilities in your preferred areas before you move. If you have any chronic conditions that require specialist care, you will also want to ensure there are reputable and accessible doctors you can see.
Crime in Florida
Florida crime rates are consistently on the decline and dropped another 9% in 2018 with a reduction in both violent and property crimes. Furthermore, Florida lawmakers are protective of their elderly residents in particular. As recently as 2015, a new law was passed to protect seniors from financial exploitation. Currently, a variety of programs are also in place that inform older adults about the low likelihood of victimization and educate them on how to protect themselves and their property from it.
Climate in Florida
Everyone wants to retire where the weather is nice. If 70 degrees and mostly sunny fits your criteria, then it’s easy to see why Florida is high on your list for retirement destinations. The average temperatures, ocean breezes, and lack of snow are certainly desirable. But it’s not always sunny in the sunshine state. Tropical storms and hurricanes are a credible and frequent threat.
The decision of where you retire is a deeply personal one. Numbers and data and statistics are important, as is financial feasibility. But where you spend your golden years should be based on so much more than that. Every location — including Florida — has its pros and cons, but only you can choose whether it’s right for you. We hope this brief overview helped!