It happens to travelers all the time: You take a vacation to a beach in Florida in the dead of winter and decide you’re never going back to the cold February temps up north. Right then and there, you start planning to make Florida your new home, 365 days of the year.
But before you pack up your belongings, sell off your snowblower, and get ready to give one of the top credit cards for saving on gas a cross-country workout, there are 10 things you need to know about the Sunshine State that might change your plans.
From wild animals to climate frustrations, Florida has its fair share of drawbacks.
Florida is full of people
You might feel like the only person in the world on your 5 a.m. beach run, but there are millions of people living in Florida. In fact, around 22 million people call the Sunshine State home, making it one of the most populous states in the U.S.
However, it doesn’t stop there: Millions of tourists visit Florida every year, to the tune of more than 120 million — yes, really. So, by 8 a.m., that seemingly private beach will be chock-full of people, as will every other place in the state.
There is a lot of traffic
In addition to brimming with people, Florida is also full of traffic. Whether it’s a bottleneck at the I-4 and I-75 interchange, regular theme park congestion in Orlando, or rush hour in Miami-Dade — the latter having some of the worst traffic in the country — you’re sure to spend time at a standstill on the highway.
This is partly due to the size of the population, but Florida also lacks adequate public transportation infrastructure, meaning roads are often the only way to get around. It’s not Los Angeles, but it’s bad.
Home prices have risen significantly
Home prices have risen around the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes in Florida. The state has seen some seriously sharp price increases thanks to the warm climate, outdoor activities, beaches, and more.
With approximately 800 people moving to the state every day, it’s not surprising that the rising price of homes is an issue.
The Tampa Bay and Miami metropolitan areas are so popular that real estate costs have jumped there — a compelling reason not to move.
Rents are also rising rapidly in Florida, so if you plan to move there, make sure you check out some of the clever ways to pay your rent.
It's really hot and humid in the summer
It’s always nice to escape the cold temps and spend a week or two in Florida during the winter. That’s when the weather in the Sunshine State is at its best: warm with occasional cool snaps, sunny skies, and low humidity.
However, Florida is a different kettle of fish during the summertime, which some argue runs from May through October. That’s when you can expect temps in the 80s and 90s, with high humidity and frequent thunderstorms that soak the ground.
It’s muggy, sticky, and uncomfortable. And your A/C bill will reflect that reality.
Florida has natural disasters like hurricanes
From June 1 to Nov. 30, Florida is in its annual hurricane season. This is the time of year when the tropics are the most active, and when you have a higher likelihood of a tropical storm, tornado, or hurricane heading your way.
These storms can cause quite a bit of damage to both property and people, making them a scary prospect.
To be fair, different parts of the country have other natural disasters, such as wildfires, landslides, or earthquakes, to name a few. Plus, hurricanes give you time to evacuate, thanks to adept meteorologists. Still, being stuck in a hurricane is not fun.
It's home to many dangerous animals
Florida is a special place with plenty of critters you won’t find in many other locales. Most notable is the American alligator, which you can find in any body of fresh water in Florida.
That will give you pause before jumping into a lake.
There are also crocodiles, bears, a variety of snakes, large birds of prey, and many things with sharp teeth that swim in the ocean off Florida’s coast. Oh, and don’t forget the iguanas you’ll find in South Florida. They can fall frozen from the trees during the cold winter months, so watch your head.
Florida has irritating insects
Just as the Sunshine State is home to dangerous animals, there are also irritating insects that can drive you bonkers.
Take, for example, no-see-ums. These tiny pests can jump onto your body and cause nonstop itching that lasts for days. There’s also your garden-variety mosquito, which can swarm you if you go too close to standing, stagnant water. Oh, and you haven’t lived until you’ve stepped on a fire ant mound.
If you’re not bugged out already, don’t forget there are black widows and other venomous spiders, scorpions, bees, wasps, and giant cockroaches awaiting you in Florida.
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Climate change is happening in real time
It’s all too easy to see just how much of an impact climate change is having on Florida, according to the science. The temps are going up, water levels are rising, and flooding is more and more of an issue than ever before.
Some say climate change is fueling more intense storms as well — not the best news for Floridians.
This not only is impacting the environment but also housing and building, thanks to the sinking landmass and increased flooding. Some mitigation is possible, but climate change is a doozie of a reason not to move to Florida.
There are sinkholes
We know, a sinkhole sounds like something out of a bad movie. But sinkholes are real.
Sinkholes are basically giant holes in the ground that can swallow up land. They get worse when it rains. This often isn’t a huge problem — more of a nuisance to your home’s foundation. But sinkholes can and have sucked people into them, never to be found again. You can’t make this up.
Red tide can happen in the summer
We saved the super-gruesome stuff for last, if you can believe it. What’s worse than falling iguanas and flying cockroaches combined? Red tide.
In a nutshell, a red tide is an event that happens when algae blooms get out of control in the Gulf of Mexico. This can in turn kill off huge amounts of sea life.
That’s bad enough, but what makes red tide even worse is when all of that marine life washes up on the beach and sits for days decomposing in the hot Florida sun. We’re not joking, you can smell it for miles.
Suddenly, winter in the Northeast doesn’t seem so bad.
A tale of two Floridas
Florida is full of attractive amenities, like pristine beaches and springs, a warm climate, lots of greenery, and thriving metropolises.
But the state also has a dizzying array of drawbacks, each of which seems crazier than the last.
So, instead of moving to Florida, maybe you can scratch the itch by visiting once in a while. That way you get more of the good and less of the bad.
However, if you cannot resist the temptation to move, give it a whirl. Look around now for ways to make a little extra cash, start planning the move, and once you feel financially ready, head on down to what the locals call paradise.
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