Many folks think about retiring to Florida. It’s important to have a plan, so here are ten tips to help you if you are thinking about retiring to Florida.
1. There are a lot of people who want to retire to Florida.
As you fantasize about retiring to the south, there are already 1,000 people who have packed their bags and are on their way to paradise. So expect to see others with the same idea in mind. There are already 4.3 million residents in Florida who are 65 or older, that’s over 20% of the population. Depending upon what area in Florida you move, you’ll be surrounded by a lot of seniors. There is all types of senior housing options, volunteer opportunities, early bird dining specials and plenty of discounts for seniors.
2. It’s not always sunny in Florida.
If you’ve visited here for vacation or for short periods of time, you won’t have the realistic experience of what the weather is like here. First off, it’s rains quite often and thunderstorms are intense and frequent. Florida is also a major target for hurricanes. Many snow birds make a point to not be in Florida from June through November which is considered hurricane season. But aside from the stormy weather, we do have plenty of sunshine and warm tropical weather.
3. You’ll save big in taxes.
Florida is one of the most tax friendly states, as we have no state income tax. We have no state taxes on Social Security benefits, pensions, IRAs, 401K’s and other retirement income. Plus, we have no inheritance tax or estate tax. In order to take advantage of these tax savings you’ll need to claim Florida as your primary residence and prove that you spend more than half of the year or 183 days in Florida. Here are some ways that you can prove your residency: Change your driver’s license and car registration, register to vote in Florida, and if you receive a jury summons, perform your civic duty, apply for a library card, establish relationships with health care providers in your new location, open an account at a local bank, and keep receipts of ATM withdrawals, shopping locally is also a good idea: State tax auditors sometimes review credit card records to determine where you were during the year, file a Declaration of Domicile with your local county court.
4. There is not a lot of properties for sale.
You can find a gorgeous waterfront home starting at one million, but the median sale price on a single-family is $345,000 as June 2021, up 24.3% year over year according to Florida Board of Realtors Research.
But still, Florida homes are affordable, compared to the median price of $374,900 for the United States. Florida, like elsewhere in the country, is low on inventory in this seller’s market with about 1.5 month of current inventory, which is an all-time low.
5. You’ll need insurance.
Expect to pay more for insurance in Florida, starting with auto and homeowner’s insurance, along with paying a higher deductible for hurricane damage. It’ important to get a home inspection when purchasing and make sure you get a wind mitigation report to gage insurability and receive discounts for things like hurricane shutters or impact windows. If you are in a flood zone, you will need to get flood coverage. Be sure to shop around for insurance. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has a great Rate Comparison Tool that provides premium estimates from insurers in your county. Among the insurers listed on the comparison tool is Citizen’s Property Insurance Corporation, a nonprofit created by the Florida legislature to provide insurance to property owners who can’t find coverage from private insurers
6. Florida has bugs and other pests.
Mosquitos are common with this tropical climate and it’s always a good idea to have a regular pest control maintenance plan. However, there are also termites that could take a bite out of your wallet if your home is made of wood. Most of the newer houses are concrete block structures. But if you do have an issue with termites it could cost up to $5,000 to treat the problem, therefore it’s recommended you have a termite inspection when purchasing your new home. In some areas there are rats, possums, rabbits, coyotes, and even panthers. There are also plenty of snakes, including Burmese pythons that are not native to the area, but plentiful at the everglades national park and slipping into residential areas. Additionally, Florida is home to over 1.25 million alligators that can be found in community lakes, golf courses and other residential areas.
7. Not everyone is near the beach.
While there is 1,100 miles of coastline in Florida, some area are an hour away from the beach. A great example of this is Orlando, which is home to many attractions and theme parks. Each one of Florida’s metro area has a different feel about it. The east coast and west coast are completely different, as is the north and south of Florida. They all have their own vibe, so it’s a good idea to visit and check out which vibe suits you best when considering relocating to Florida.
8. Florida’s tourists can slow you down.
Ever since you were a munchkin, you knew Florida as a tourist destination. If you visited Walt Disney World when you were a kid (and when it first opened, as I did), you marveled at the crowds. As a resident, you’ll probably only be annoyed by them.
Prior to covid 131 million tourists visited Florida in 2019 and since 2010, there have been over 100 million visitors. They visit the theme parks, beaches, Everglades National Park. The busiest times being from December to April. But let’s not forget summer is also a busy time of the year for vacationers. This means that during that time, the snowbirds are also in town and there is traffic galore, which can be a pain for those of us who live here year round.
9. Florida sunshine is not always good for your skin.
I remember slathering on baby oil on my skin and soaking up the rays to get a nice tan. Well we all know better now that the sun can not only cause skin cancer, but enhance it can cause premature aging, wrinkles, sun spots and give your skin a leathery texture. Now it’s important to avoid the sun from 10am-4pm when it’s strongest. We also need to put sunscreen on our face and body. When you plan to go to the beach, bring your umbrella for some shade and lather on that sun screen.
10. Scammers are everywhere.
No matter where you go these days, it’s hard to avoid scammers. You know that ones that call you on the phone, send you emails or text messages trying to gather information or money from innocent victims. Florida ranks #3 in the United State for fraud.
The most common scams in Florida involve debt collection, identity theft and imposter scams. Scammers try different angles, from romantic interests to government officials, in an attempt to talk would-be victims out of their money and personal information. And the stakes get higher the older you get. The median fraud loss for victims in their 40s is $278, but that figure rises to $635 for victims ages 70 to 79 and $1,300 for victims 80 and older.
The best expert advice: Hang up or hit delete if a stranger calls or emails out of the blue asking you to verify information about your bank account, credit cards, Social Security benefits, Medicare coverage, tax returns and so on. It’s a scam.
Well there you have it, ten tips to help prepare you to retire to Florida.