15 Secrets About Living in Florida That Retirees Need To Know

Discover the key to a vibrant retirement lifestyle in the heart of Florida.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Are you considering moving to Florida for your golden years? Before you do, there are some essential things about the state that you don’t know.

Whether you plan to retire early or sometime later in life, check out the following secrets about living in Florida — both good and bad — before you decide to retire in the Sunshine State.

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Taxes are low for retirees

fizkes/Adobe Couple jointly calculating their domestic incomes.

Florida can be a tax-friendly state for retirees, which helps if you’re on a fixed income. 

The state doesn’t tax Social Security income, and you don’t have to pay state taxes on any withdrawals from retirement accounts.

Florida also doesn’t have a state income tax, which can help if you or a spouse plan to work a bit during retirement.

All of these factors can lower your financial stress during your golden years.

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But you still have to pay taxes

shurkin_son/Adobe woman pensioner studying Spanish

While taxes can be low in Florida, don’t expect to live tax-free.

The state has a 6% sales tax on most goods, and counties can add additional sales tax. You can expect to pay an extra 1.5% in sales tax in some counties.

You also face property taxes if you own a home, condo, or other property in the state. This tax can vary from location to location within the state.

Remember that you’ll still have to pay federal taxes when you live in Florida.

Seniors are everywhere

Davide Angelini/Adobe group of senior people smiling for a picture.

Florida is an excellent place for retirees because it caters to seniors, who comprise a large chunk of the state’s population.

In fact, 21.6% of Florida’s population was over 65 in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That percentage increased from 21.3% in the 2020 census.

Living in a place with so many other retirees might make it easier to meet new friends who share similar life experiences.

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There are two Floridas

Fotoluminate LLC/Adobe welcome-to-florida-state-sign

Like other large states, Florida has regions that are very different from one another. So, it’s a good idea to check out different places in the state before deciding where you want to live.

North Florida differs from South Florida, for example. Each region has a different culture, and some areas might be more vulnerable to threats like hurricanes and climate change.

Check out different cities in different areas of the state before you move so you can figure out which area is right for you.

Toll roads are a fact of life

Miroslav110/Adobe traffic jam at highways toll plaza.

Toll roads can be difficult to avoid in Florida. If you live near sections of the Florida Turnpike, you might have to pay to get to your destination quickly.

In addition, some coastal islands might charge tolls at bridges.

Certain times of the year can be a little crazy

Monkey Business/Adobe senior friends meeting for a meal in a restaurant.

Florida is a great destination for vacationers and snowbirds, but that fact also means it can get a bit crazy during some seasons.

When thinking about where to live, remember that some places may be difficult to get around during spring break and the height of the snowbird season.

For example, restaurant waits can become much longer in the winter than in the summer.

Real estate is relatively affordable

Fabio/Adobe senior couple holding keys of their apartment.

A home or condo in Florida can be more affordable than you might think. However, prices have been rising in recent years.

A single-family home sold for a median sale price of $415,000 in August, which was 2% higher than the year before, according to Florida Realtors. A condo sold for a median price of $324,000 during the same month, marking a 6.2% increase from the year before.

By comparison, the National Association of Realtors found that nationwide, the median listing price for a home was $435,000 in August.

Homes are getting harder to find

Andy Dean/Adobe real estate sign that reads

The inventory of homes for sale in Florida has improved a bit recently, but finding a home can still be challenging.

Florida housing inventory hit a recent peak of more than 155,000 homes in February 2019 before dropping to a low of 35,590 in February 2022, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Things have gotten better this summer, though. August of this year saw 84,883 homes on the market. That number is higher than last year's lows, but you still may have trouble finding a place.

The weather isn't always great

InversedSlayer/Adobe palm trees during tropical storm.

Florida sees its share of extreme weather, from hurricanes and tropical storms to flooding from less robust storms.

In addition, some people find the heat and the humidity of summer to be oppressive. The sun shines much of the time in Florida, but during the summer, frequent afternoon summer thunderstorms are a fact of life.

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Local conditions can take a toll on your home

andrei310/Adobe mold growing in the corner of the roof.

It’s not just the hurricanes and tropical storms that can take a toll on your home. The salt air can cause corrosion or damage to your home or car.

Humidity can cause issues such as mold and mildew. You’ll also want to factor in sand if you live near a beach.

Insurance can be expensive

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe distressed older couple talking about their bill payments.

Homeowners insurance can deliver one of the biggest hits to your budget. The cost of such coverage has skyrocketed in Florida.

The Insurance Information Institute says Floridians pay $6,000 on average for a homeowner premium in 2023. That compares to an average of just $1,700 nationwide.

Florida also has high auto insurance rates. Insure.com recently found that annual auto premiums average $2,560 in the Sunshine State, the most expensive in the nation and 52% higher than the nationwide average of $1,682.

Scammers love it here

bestforbest/Adobe scam phone call from unknown number.

Keep an eye out for scammers if you plan to live in Florida, as the state is one of the more popular places for criminals to prey on residents.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the state ranks third in the U.S. for identity theft scams and fourth in the nation for fraud and other scams.

Scammers took $556.8 million from Florida residents in 2022. Median fraud losses were $800 compared to a national median loss of $650.

There’s a ‘halfback’ trend

Brian/Adobe north carolina state entrage sign board.

Some retirees who move to Florida soon discover it's not for them.

In fact, there are enough of these folks that they have earned a nickname: “halfbacks,” as in residents from northern states who move to Florida and then leave to head “half the way back” and stop in a place like North Carolina.

Florida tops the list of states where residents move from when they head to North Carolina, according to a report by Carolina Demography and the University of North Carolina.

This may be a good reason for you to look at other potential locations outside of Florida before you decide to pick up and move to the Sunshine State.

The state is great for sports enthusiasts

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe elderly friends on golf course.

Florida has something for all types of sports enthusiasts, from those who enjoy watching sports to those who participate in them.

The state has plenty of golf courses that can be played year-round due to Florida’s great weather. You can also head out on the water for boating, kayaking, and water sports.

Florida is also well-known for hosting plenty of baseball teams during spring training, and you can see many of them for a fraction of the cost of watching them play in their hometowns.

The state also has professional football, baseball, hockey, and basketball teams, and soccer is also becoming more popular.

There are plenty of attractions

Fabio/Adobe couple enjoying cocktails togather.

You’ll never be bored in Florida — and neither will family members who come to visit your new home.

The state is home to amusement parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios. You will also find plenty of beaches for fun in the sun.

Florida hosts major events such as the Daytona 500 and annual music festivals that are sure to attract visitors who want to spend time with you in Florida. Your friends will likely appreciate the opportunity to stay with you and save money on travel.

Bottom line

peopleimages.com/Adobe old woman working remotely from home office.

Florida can be a great option for retirees, but there are several things you should consider before you decide to move there.

So, before you relocate, grab one of the best travel credit cards and book a trip to the Sunshine State. After visiting for a while, you might better understand whether retirement in paradise is the right fit for you.

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Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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