Retiring in Florida Pros and Cons

Retiring in Florida Pros and Cons

Warning, there are cons or negatives to retiring in Florida. Actually there are quite a lot of them.

However, as a real estate broker and talking with 1000’s of new retirees moving to Florida, you wouldn’t think so.

Most people retiring to Florida learned all they know about the state during one week vacations. Florida is a great vacation destination. We spend 10x as much as we normally would and live like royalty for a week while on vacation. Is that how you’ll be living on a daily basis after retiring to Florida?

Most don’t feel the need to investigate the pros and cons of Florida for retirement, and whether the state is actually a better place to retire (live, not vacation) than where they were moving from.

The problem with that? Seniors retire to Florida for the pros, and then later move out because of the cons.

So you are smart for seeking to learn both the advantages and the disadvantages of retiring to Florida, before you actually spend a lot of your retirement savings to sell, buy and move 1000 miles south.

What Are the Advantages of Retiring to Florida?

The Pros/Advantages/Benefits of Retiring in Florida

  • You will love going to the beach all the time, in the beginning.
  • You’ll enjoy visiting theme parks without the hassle, time and expense of 2000 mile round-trips. At first.
  • You can buy that boat you’ve always thought about, because there’s water everywhere and now you’ll have the time to use it.
  • Florida offers it’s residents the best built in protection of your assets than any other US state (Okay, maybe it’s tied with Texas on that). Seriously, if you have a sizable net worth, or if you want to protect what you have no matter how much that is, becoming a Floridian has a wide range of specific advantages not found in other states.
  • Big tax savings for high income individuals. Every state must tax it’s citizens to fund everything from roads to schools, to state trooper salaries, patrol cars and training on how to remove 10 foot alligators from your pool. Okay, maybe not the alligator part, but every state needs to raise money to run its government. Florida doesn’t have a personal income tax, but it does raise funds through gas and liquor taxes, car registration fees, etc. The bottom line is although many of these other fees and taxes may be higher in Florida than in other states, if you are a high income earner, you will keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket by paying a lower overall tax burden, by living in Florida. If you don’t earn a lot of income or live on social security or other fixed income, you may not benefit or may even pay a higher overall tax burden to Florida than where you live now, according to this report.
  • You will love the change of place/pace. If you aren’t affected directly by a hurricane, or a well intentioned mandatory evacuation, you will love living in Florida for a period of time stretching from months to many years. Almost everyone loves living in Florida after they first move there, during what I call the “honeymoon period”. But over time, the bad morning breath and other irritations start to build that you never thought of before you got married, I mean relocated, so eventually the honeymoon ends and you’re trapped.
  • The weather in Florida is as close to perfect as you can get in the US, during the winter months. The hurricanes season is over and the threat is gone. The horrible humidity is gone or is minimal. It rains less. The sun doesn’t start burning the skin within minutes, it actually feels good for awhile. The central air takes a long deserved break as your electric bill drops like a Florida home’s value during a recession. People start to venture outdoors and there’s festivals and a lot more to do. Mosquitoes, snakes, alligators, etc make themselves scarce. Even birds, butterflies and fish that spend the rest of the year elsewhere come to Florida for the winter.
  • You will feel like the smartest investor on earth when your Florida home is worth more each and every day during good economic times.

florida move guide book cover and discription

What Are the Disadvantages of Retiring to Florida?

The Cons/Disadvantages/Drawbacks of Retiring in Florida

  • You’ll learn why the mosquito is the official state bird and the state animal is the fire ant. Okay, maybe that’s not quite official, but the alligator is the official reptile.
  • You’ll learn that Florida is prone to potentially home destroying sinkholes. The state even has a part of it that’s known as “sinkhole alley”. You may have to pay for sinkhole insurance to protect the value of your home.
  • A long bout of red tide can make you regret retiring to Florida for the beach.
  • If you’ve lived your whole life where the biggest weather “threat” you faced was a snowstorm, you may be in for a shock the first time a hurricane heads your way. Snowstorms don’t usually destroy miles of homes.
  • Many retirees want to live on the coast or at the beach. Much of this is only a few feet above sea level and is designated a hazardous flood zone. To protect yourself, you may have to pay for a flood insurance policy in addition to homeowners insurance.
  • Most retirees find going to the beach often, can get old. Quick. If not, we look wrinklier quicker from the sun damage.
  • You’ll never look the same again after you live in Florida, because no one in the state knows how to cut or style hair.
  • The cost of homeowners insurance can rise quickly and at times be difficult to secure. Having your policy renewed doesn’t always happen.
  • You will miss the grand-kids. Maybe not at first, but… Actually, almost everything you are worried about before moving to Florida, will likely happen.
  • People from “home” will come to Florida to visit you at first, but that will tail off and then become rare.
  • You will travel back to visit often, at first, but that will tail off and then become rare as long distance travel becomes more difficult.
  • Your love for Florida will start to change when you learn there’s a difference between the perceived “warm and sunny all the time” and the reality of “I can’t stand it” hot (high temps + even higher humidity). But you can say you were right, every winter, when it is actually warm and sunny most of the time.
  • In winter, when the weather is horrible elsewhere, but as close to perfect as you can get in America, Florida is now so crowded full-time Floridians complain about the human snowbirds and tourist. Florida is now the 3rd most populated state with over 20 million residents. More than 100 million tourists a year now stay in Florida. All during the winter. And all in the very town you relocated to. Okay, of course that’s not true but it will seem like it is. Expect traffic jams, long lines, no place to park, rudeness, drunkenness, etc. This gets worse every year.
  • Many people think everyone in Florida is old. That’s not true. They just look that way, prematurely, from from sun damage.
  • You won’t enjoy doing anything outdoors quite the way you imagined you would, or as often, or as long, unless it’s winter. But that’s when the beaches, theme parks, golf courses, restaurants, etc. are badly overcrowded, plus you get the privilege of paying higher fees for everything after a lot of waiting.
  • Unless you plan on selling your Florida home, those steep appreciation gains only mean you get to pay higher real estate tax bills and insurance payments to cover the higher value.
  • If you don’t sell your Florida home and cash in during those good times when prices are high, you’ll be depressed when it’s worth less each and every day when recessions hit and now you can’t sell, no matter how much you want or need to.
  • You’re going to miss that good doctor you had before you moved to Florida.
  • If you thought finding a good dentist was a challenge where you moved from, wait until you retire in Florida.
  • As a Floridian, you will have the “privilege” of paying more for homeowners insurance than anywhere else. Are insurance agents just greedier in Florida? No, there are just more risks that threaten to damage your Florida home and result in a claim, than elsewhere. It’s not just hurricanes and flooding.
  • The cost of living in Florida can increase faster than your retirement income. Unfortunately, I’ve met a lot of seniors who never thought they would have to work again, toiling away their limited time at low paying jobs just to make ends meet. I’ve also sold homes for retired folks who had no other choice but move out because they couldn’t afford to live in Florida any longer.

So, Will You Find More Pros, or More Cons After You Retire to Florida?

Will you retire to Florida, only to become one of the roughly 1000 people a day that move out (that no one selling stuff in Florida wants to talk about)?

Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.


33 thoughts on “Retiring in Florida Pros and Cons”

  1. I definitely agree with the comments. I moved to Miami in 1999 with my two children who were young teenagers. Miami is like being in a different country without leaving the country. I loved it but it was hard on my kids. After a while we all missed family and I was worried about doing it alone with my kids. So I moved home. I am now thinking about spending Winters down there but I would never give up my home in Indiana. I have also known a lot of people who moved down there only to move back.

  2. I don’t know how old this blog is, but i stumbled upon it and it made me so angry i had to respond. I have read so many negative comments about my home. You are right-do your homework before you move somewhere!! There was a slam on our Colleges and Health Care System. Really? Not good enough? Maybe because that are busting at the seams from people who float in and out of here. Schools suffer from retirees (I am one) that don’t want to pay for schools. Or anything else. And the weather? DUH!! Florida has a SUB-TROPICAL
    climate. That alone should be a clue about the weather. (Did i mention that we don’t have snow?) The cost of living has certainly gone up, as well as crime, traffic, etc. Unless you are living in Montana or Wyoming-I bet it has where you are as well. We have also taken in tons of people displaced from storms in the Caribbean. We have tons of transients that grace our State when it gets cold wherever you live that we have to take care of. What you failed to mention is that we are great at pulling together in a crisis. We LOVE our College teams, and support them like rabid animals. We FLORIDIANS still say hello to you as we make eye contact. Just face it, you are never going to be happy anywhere than your hometown if you try to make Florida a NY,NJ, or any place else. Real Floridians are Proud of our home, our State and our people. Maybe if you stopped complaining you might see that a bit more.

    • Thank you, thank you!! Florida is amazing! Stay home if you don’t like the humidity, good grief! Don’t come down here to be pampered, give back! I presently live in Idaho and I MISS the weather, the people, the water, and the nature. If you find bad things about Florida, go home or make it even better!! Start with your attitude. I’m so tired of people picking on this beautiful state.

      • Loved Florida so much you moved out? You can always visit Florida as a tourist, it’s the best way. Hurricane heading to Florida? It would suck to actually live there, but as a tourist you can leave or cancel your trip. No big deal. Horrible heat and humidity? If you live there you hide from it indoors most of the year in the AC listening to the AC crank up your electric bill. As a tourist, you can just visit florida during winter when the weather is great. Florida is a great place to visit, but it’s a sweaty horrible place to live and it’s becoming an environmental disaster because of overcrowding and excess building. I don’t miss it one bit.

    • Amen sister !!! Go home if you don’t like it !! And as mentioned earlier…DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Florida is hot ?? What??? DUH!

  3. Everyone in Florida smokes. Everyone. It’s f*****g disgusting. I can’t make friends because at some point, in the middle of an interesting discussion, a cigarette appears in everyone’s mouth, and then there’s 1) the stench 2) the litter and 3) the fact that I cannot take them seriously as a sapient being with individual agency. Smokers are not people.

    • Your first problem is you! I noticed your language which I find offensive if I am meeting a new person. Everyone has an issue with something someone might be doing. Claiming a person “not a people” is disgraceful! You can surely get up and leave if you don’t like the atmosphere, whatever that happens to be. I certainly would. And, I certainly would leave if a foul mouth like yours was around me!
      Living in Florida does not mean everyone is a smoker in that state nor anywhere else for that matter! Don’t blame the state! You don’t like the company, than leave!

  4. I “moved” to Fl in 2017. I have been here a total of 6 months.
    Jobs: it is pretty easy to find a job. It is not so easy to keep it. This is a “right to work” state. Means you can get fired for virtually any reason (no job security). In 4 months on the job, 3 people have been let go where I work. Low wages compared to certain other states.
    Driving conditions: people let out their anger and frustration on the road. Speed demons. Tailgating is the norm, thus, many accidents. However, little, if any, honking (Central Fl).
    Living conditions: depends. Choose from gated newer cookie-cutter developments, to non-gated older communities. Housing prices have increased sharply in the past 7 years. Rents are around $900-1,400 for a two bedroom, one bath. House prices vary.
    People: I thought they would be friendlier. I have found more than a few men willing to fight with women- domestic violence is big here. High crime rates, from theft to murder. Just watch local news/ read local paper.

  5. Intriguing article. Presents that there may be cons of the move, BUT DOES NOTHING TO QUANTIFY THOSE CONS! Nor does it address the current political climate. Specifically, let’s imagine someone moving from MA to FL. in addition to the climate shock, both in weather and subsequent costs incurred, that someone’s medical costs are affected. I have MassHealth and SS Disability income… Can I afford to live in Florida?

    These are the questions I am searching for the answers to.

    • If you have to ask if you can afford to retire in Florida, you probably can’t. Better to learn you can’t afford retirement in FL while you’re still in MA, then after you move someplace you can’t afford.

    • Finding medical care will be a huge problem – HUGE! From one New Englander to another – you’ve got some the top healthcare in MA – not here. Plus your medical will probably not be accepted down here Cost of living IS NOT INEXPENSIVE in Central Florida (or the rest of Florida for that matter). And there are few services for the disabled though Florida tries to present otherwise.

  6. I absolutely agree. I moved here 3 years ago and I do love some things about Florida. Winters here are spectacular but the days are shorter. I work all day and when I get home it’s dark already. So the best part of the year is the shortest lived. The seafood is spectacular. The negatives…the traffic, the horrific drivers, it’s so hot in the summer you want it to be dark but the days are long. I have not found the area to be that friendly and I hate the SEC! I am ready to move back to the Midwest!

  7. I agree with this assessment. What isnt discussed is the much longer range for florida real estate prices given escalating global warming, increased hurricane activity and severity, flooding, fresh water supplies ruined by salt water infiltration etc. The cost of and eventual impossibility to insure the home, etc etc……. Id say given a 20 year time horizon if you buy SOUTH florida property, either coast, you better expect toward the end of that time frame your property will be worthless and there will be mass climate change out migration of floridians. If this is a second home purchase and $ is not an object, enjoy another decade, 2, at tops of florida s great winter weather. My opinion.

  8. There is no place that is perfect. You have to enjoy the things you like most and learn to deal with the negatives. So much depends on the persons income level and where you live in Florida. I have found that the people who are happiest with their move to Florida have a place here in Florida and a summer place in the mountains or back where they originally came from to escape the summer hurricane season. I moved here from NY in 2002 and live on the Barrier Island. We have experienced some of the most powerful storms to ever hit Florida. with out having any damage to my house. The loss of power after a major storm is the real problem. So those who have a place in Florida and another place in the mountains seem to have the best of both worlds in my estimation. My advice to any retiree is to do your homework and find a place that fits your life style, comfort level and income. Florida is not for everyone.. It can be a paradise to some and a bug infested SWAMP to others.

    • Hello Chris,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, you make some very good points. Just a few thoughts…

      1) Hurricane season lasts 6 months in Florida and “summer” hot humid weather longer than that. One of the big misconceptions of people moving to Florida is that it’s only hot for 3 months a year.

      2) The vast majority of people who move to Florida can not afford to live on a barrier island or a own a separate “summer” home in the mountains. Most people ride out every hurricane season and 7-9+ month summer every year. There are better options available for people who can’t afford two homes as covered in How to Retire Happier.

      3) You are absolutely right. Not having power, especially when it’s 91 degrees outside and hotter in your home with no AC takes you back to the stone-age.

      4) Whether someone will be happy with their move to Florida long term (almost everyone loves it at first) is affected by where they move from. Florida is not a highly rated state according to quality of life ratings such as crime rates, healthcare, etc., but it’s better than New York overall, for instance. Again, How to Retire Happier has a chapter that rates all states based of quality of life factors and gives predictions of Florida relocation happiness long term, based on whether you’re moving from a lower rated state, or a higher rated one, to Florida.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
  9. I was born and raised in Florida. My husband and I spent 32 years in Los Angeles before his recent retirement. My family is in Central Florida.

    After living in a world-class city for so many years, I am finding Orlando very dull. The Florida drivers are terrible, the summers are interminable, and there is really nothing here. There was a reason I left Central Florida many years ago, and I ask myself every day why I am here.

    • WHY would you move to the ORLANDO…or central Florida area???? We are here for the BEACH….all YOUR area of our beloved state has is unbearable humidity….tourists…amusement parks…and traffic! We live in northern Florida…Ponte Vedra Beach to be exact….paradise. Do your homework before you move!

      • Why would you move by the beach with all those tourists, higher home prices, taxes, insurance rates and have your home blown or washed away by a hurricane? Who needs that in retirement? If i want to go to the beach, I go on on vacation but if a hurricane heads my way, I just go home to my nice safe home. Where will you go???

        • Because we can afford it! As far as hurricanes to this date everyone has missed Florida and headed up the gulf.
          Luck of the draw much like life!

  10. Thank you everyone for pros and cons. We were there for few months to check it out, then we never wanted to go back.
    I got choked up from the heat and high humidity. Those snakes are everywhere in the grassy areas. The alligator was chasing my dog and we ran for life.
    Got hit by the golf cart while we were out to walk the dog. Gossiping about friendliest in the neighborhood at the pool areas, we just laughed out tears and left.
    We try to looking into the pros beside the cons, so we were going to the beach for a chance. Most of beaches here are pretty and clean. However, they’re all flat , when you see ones beach you have seen all. Therefore less pros then cons.
    We are not big on lightning and thunderstorms, they’re coming and going any time of the day regardless of seasons.
    Good lucks to you for your new retirement settlement, go there to see it for yourself.


    • You may want to think about switching to decaf. So I guess it’s safe to say your living in Florida experience didn’t go as planned? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

      Actually, the anger and some cons expressed in this comment are not that uncommon. Many frustrated sellers who want out of Florida express similar negative feelings, but only professed positives about Florida, a place they never lived but visited often, when they were buyers moving into Florida. This is why I wrote the Florida Move Guide so people could be aware of the negatives, and how to make decisions when moving to Florida to reduce or eliminate them where possible.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Your analysis for retiring in Florida is good for moving anywhere really…like Hawaii, a place we have considered. Homes are built like paper mâché, frequently have termite damage. Yet are very expensive. How about a $875,000 fixer in Honolulu! And I mean fixer as in light a match. Places that profess to be on a beach but there is no longer a beach at all. The best thing to do is buy a new home, which are available on the Big Island. At a price. Same is true of CA where many homes are built like paper mâché, are falling down a hillside, etc. People must do research. I imagine the same things apply to Florida. Buyer beware.


    • Which part of Florida has the most of these unpleasant things you mention? Does this include most of coastal Florida? Thx for the tips from a senior single women considering the Florida move. I’m a San Diego, CA lifetime resident & as a widow, can hardly afford to live here anymore.

  12. My Wife and I retired to Ft Myers in October 2019. We are from Cleveland Ohio area. This was the best move ever, down sized to a 1300 sq ft villa (new) in a active adult development. Yes there are changes from living up north. Car insurance is higher along with Health insurance. Our house insurance is about the same as in Ohio. Weather year round is a Lot better, we live inland about 12 miles.
    We handle humidity just fine. We did find good medical doctors and dentist. Somethings we do miss a good locale bakery nothing around. Polite drivers many are just idiots behind the wheel.
    Every day is a vacation for us. So living here in Florida is not for everyone and i know there will be some wild negative people with comments, I don’t have time for them. So if you looking to move down do your homework.

  13. This is a good article for anyone to read who is planning a permanent move to Florida. I’m a Cape Codder and hear people dreaming about the day they will retire to Florida. My advice, as a snowbird, is to look at any savings you gain from no State income tax in Florida and then offset that against the high property taxes, and insurance rates to see if it works out for you. The comments about crime in Florida are valid. Good idea to have a home security system. My biggest complaint is high property tax. Rate in Florida is three times what I pay on Cape Cod.

  14. I’m a snowbird, born and lived in SE Wis all my life. 4 years ago I bought a winter home in Fort Myers, on the water, dock, boat, etc…it’s in a retirement community…all doublewides in a park…well maintained and clean.
    I keep a car there and fly back and forth.
    I don’t know, it just feels like fancy camping. I feel a little trapped.
    I’m considering selling my FL home and staying in WI.

  15. Thank you for all the thoughtful comments! Wanting have a real place of our own and become part of the community for half of the year, we have been considering buying a place in Naples (Pelican Bay) or a condo on Sanibel.

    We effectively spend 5-6 months a year in Florida – during the winter since own timeshares at the beach on Captiva and rent a condo on Sanibel.
    Though the tax benefits of Florida residency are not available to us, after reading this info I’m wondering if just paying timeshare fees and rental costs (HOA’s approx. $17k + rental $21k) is a more practical solution to escaping the NE winters.

  16. You have to choose carefully as to where you choose to live in Florida. My husband and I moved here 36 years ago. My husband has since passed away in 2020. Since I owe a small amount on my mortgage for my home, which has increased in price considerably over the years, I couldn’t live anywhere else for the amount I pay on my mortgage. The rest of my family also now lives here and have been here for many years, and some have never lived anywhere else. I love my home and wouldn’t live anywhere else. If you choose the right location, hurricanes are minimal or not dangerous (hopefully). Since I have lived on the southern Gulf Coast of Florida, we have only been hit by one hurricane (Irma) a #2 hurricane, which did no damage to my home. I hope I am not jinxing myself with this statement. However, we were dangerously close to hurricane Charlie. No damage from that either. I pray it remains that way.

  17. Wow ! this was some fun filled information shared by all. From weather , storms , sink holes, insects , drivers , right location to retire and possibly going bust, with bad health and no teeth. People overall seem to suck, may smoke, can’t drive, and are not to friendly. Made me wonder, is it possible it could be all the transient people to have visited , who only came back and planted themselves bringing their nonsense with them ? .. My take , I think I will go with having the best of both worlds, stay put , and vacation in FLA at lengthy clips and then going back to where I came- Of course while visiting , keeping my nonsense in check, avoiding snakes, crocs, mosquito’s and all the other pressing issues. For certain, avoiding the summer months . thanks for helping me with my decision in thinking of transplanting ! WOW !

  18. We have a small condo in Florida, and a house on Long Island. I realize I’m years out from the original article/post here, but my house on LI could be considered a starter house. It’s a nice starter house, but it’s under 1700 sq ft and 55 years old. This house is now worth about 600K, and taxes are over 10K a year. Soon the property tax will be 11K a year. It’s already been approved, before Covid, to rise 20% over four years. There was a one year moratorium due to Covid. Police officers and teachers average about 150,000 a year with overtime and/or Masters degrees and tenure, then retire on a pension half that amount. This situation, tax wise, is untenable. Both my wife and I are living on one decent pension and two SS checks. We’ve had to start cutting corners due to inflation now.
    Add to all this the liberal/socialist policies in NY, like the catastrophic No Cash Bail law, and the general belief among state legislators that very few people actually belong in jail, and you get an even more unlivable situation. Crime is creeping into the suburbs. The state government is controlled by people in NYC voting, as the city is so much more populous than the rest of the state. The city is 8M people, while the whole is state is 18M, or maybe down to 17M now. Throw in the suburbs, which are now more democratic than republican, and you get a state controlled by progressives. Their next plan, and they will sneak it through like they did No Cash Bail, is for everyone to be released from prison at a certain age, say 60, no matter what their crime was.
    For the same money, I can pay my properly taxes in Florida, and pay my HOA $400 a month, and live in a gated community with a “vacation lifestyle” including swimming pool(s), gym, walking trails, etc.
    I also have much less to fear legally should the day come when I have to defend myself or my wife from an aggressor.
    Could a hurricane hit? Yes. Is it more likely that one does hit, compared to NY? Sure. But that’s still just a possibility, whereas three feet of snow every winter and four months of winter in NY is a given. I can always evacuate if a hurricane hits Florida, or I can have hurricane shutters or impact resistant windows and just ride it out, as I did a few years ago down there. We didn’t even lose power down there during the ‘18 hurricane, compared to 5,6,7 days without power on LI due to Sandy and Irene.
    Just food for thought.

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