11 Things Retirees Must Know Before Moving to Florida From New Jersey

Here is what you need to know before moving to the Sunshine State.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Florida has always been among the most attractive destinations for retirees. The dream of moving from the North to the South for a warmer way of life remains among the most popular retirement planning moves.

If you live in New Jersey and are considering retirement in Florida, there are a few things you should know before making the move. Some are good, some are not so great, but all are helpful to know ahead of time.

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There is no income tax in Florida

fizkes/Adobe senior couple celebrating after reviewing bills

One of the biggest differences between New Jersey and Florida is the income tax.

New Jersey has some of the highest income taxes in the U.S., with a top rate of 10.75%. In Florida, your income tax rate will be zero.

So, as soon as you move to the Sunshine State, you might feel like a bonus has just hit your pocket.

Housing is less expensive

Michael Moloney/Adobe high end real estate in bonita springs

There are plenty of expensive estates in Florida. If you want to live in a spendy villa in Naples or a mansion in Palm Beach, you will find it.

However, you will generally pay less to buy a house in Florida than you would in New Jersey.

The population is older than in most states

Adriana/Adobe senior friends posing at beach vacation

More than 1 in 5 folks — 21.6% — in Florida are 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That compares to New Jersey’s 17.4%.

This can be a good thing if you are looking to be surrounded by your peers. It’s always easy to find people for a leisurely Monday lunch when everyone around you is retired too.

But some transplants from New Jersey might miss being surrounded by a little more youthful energy.

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You might have to pay a tax when leaving New Jersey

Andrii Zastrozhnov/Adobe mature woman in glasses

Did you know there is a tax upon leaving the state of New Jersey? Although it’s commonly known as an “exit tax,” it’s really an estimated capital gains tax.

Upon leaving New Jersey, either 8.97% of the net gain of selling one’s home or 2% of the total sales price — whichever is higher — goes back to the state.

Homeowners insurance is more expensive

Charlize D/peopleimages.com/Adobe senior woman signing

Homeowners insurance has increased by a staggering 102% in Florida over the past three years, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Some insurance companies are pulling out of the state altogether. Prepare to dig deep to insure your new digs in Florida.

Hurricanes are a constant threat in late summer and fall

lavizzara/Adobe Hurricane Ian heading towards the coast of Florida

From summer through fall, Floridians have their eye on the weather forecast.

Hurricanes are a major threat no matter where you live in the state, with storms regularly making landfall on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Summer is really hot

Krakenimages.com/Adobe middle age woman using handfan

Perhaps you know “hot” in New Jersey, but you don’t know “Florida hot.”

Highs in the summer are typically in the 90s, and humidity is an ever-present and unwelcome wet blanket over the state throughout the sweltering months. Don’t expect any relief from cool fronts until at least October.

High season brings tourists

phaelshoots/Adobe beach with colorful umbrellas people swimming in the sea

From spring break to the annual influx of snowbirds, you are going to encounter the buzz of the winter high season when you move to Florida.

That could mean you will have to wait longer for a table at your favorite restaurant, sit longer in traffic when heading toward the water, or endure the fact that college students are mobbing your favorite local bar.

The pests are bigger

nechaevkon/Adobe virus infected culex mosquito parasite insect on skin

If you are used to fending off small pests in New Jersey, you might want to get a bigger fly swatter when you move to Florida.

From “palmetto bugs” — essentially, cockroaches — to big spiders and alligators, the pests tend to be bigger in Florida. And in some cases — such as fire ants and scorpions — they are a lot nastier.

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There is a lot of diversity

Seventyfour/Adobe diverse group of people clinking glasses

Much like in New Jersey, Florida is one of the most racially diverse states in the nation.

In Florida, you will find much of what you love about the diversity in New Jersey — a vibrant mix of cultures, incredible food — but in a climate where it is warm and sunny throughout the year.

Car insurance is expensive

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe Man holding hands on steering wheel

If you are crafting your retirement plan for Florida, you might want to consider moving to a golf cart community: Car insurance is more expensive in the state than in many other places.

Full coverage costs 55% more in Florida than the nationwide average, according to a recent Bankrate study.

Bottom line

XaMaps/Adobe senior couple enjoying life after retirement

Florida is a state geared toward retirees. So, if you live in New Jersey and are hoping to find an easy, breezy, sunny lifestyle, this could be the place.

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Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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