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Retiring in Florida

It isn’t difficult to imagine why people want to retire to Florida. The romance of white sand beaches and palm trees, pink drinks in hurricane glasses with umbrellas in them, new ways of cooking seafood, and the lure of blue water ocean are dreams and images that dance in retirees’ heads.

It isn’t simply growing tired of shoveling snow, bone chilling temperatures, and gridlocked traffic. Believe it or not, some people have never seen palm or pine trees, two things for which Florida is well known. Others simply crave a new lifestyle, while many just want warmth.

Add to all this the excitement of knowing Florida is the seat of much industry, commerce, and entrepreneurism. People need excitement. Florida supplies both business and entertainment, so retirees have the chance to mingle with fine young minds and see all the entertainment that Florida has to offer. Trust us, that’s a lot of excitement. So where should those wishing to retire to Florida begin?

Cheapest Places To Retire In Florida

While it’s true that many wealthy folks live in Florida, it’s also true that you can comfortably live here on a less substantial income.

retiring in florida

Lakeland

Thirty-eight lakes populate Lakeland while the area itself is situated between Tampa and Orlando. You can live inland and still live on the water. Lakeland is a college town with a population between college age on up to seniors. Generally, home prices begin below $100,000 on up, but most retirees pay around $108,000 for their homes according to Sperling’s Best Places.

The cost of living is less than the state of Florida and the country. The weather is warm and humid with November, March, and April the most comfortable. Unemployment is low with job growth positive. Lakeland receives four stars from those who live here.

Palatka

Palatka is on Florida’s east coast and just south of Jacksonville. The city’s population is only around 10,000. Home appreciation is up with homes for retirees beginning at $94,000. The town depends in a large part on its manufacturing concerns with unemployment low and job growth improving. The cost of living is less than in the state and the country.

Due to the Gulfstream right off the Florida coast, the weather is warm and muggy. The rainy season is from June to September with the dry season lasting from October to May. This is the more moderate season with steady temperatures and less rain. Palatka receives four stars from its residents.

Ft. Meade

Ft. Meade is located in the central portion of Florida almost equidistant from both Sarasota and Tampa. You’ll find gentle rolling hills among flat plains here. While you’re enjoying that, you’ll be enjoying one of the cheapest places to retire in Florida. The home you’ll be living in would cost you between $60,000 for a two bed, one bath house of 1,003 square feet. If you need more room, you can buy for $130,000 a four bed, one bath house in 1,475 square feet. The cost of living here is way below the state and national average.

Almost all of Florida is hot and humid. Some parts of the state get a rainy season, but most of all, it’s hot. Ft. Meade is no different, with November, March, and April your most comfortable months. Ft. Meade residents love it here.

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake isn’t necessarily a town (no zip codes,) but a group of people living in what the government calls a Census Designated Place. Technically, it’s part of the Lakeland/Winter Haven Metropolitan area. Now you know the basics, unemployment is listed as low with job growth positive. A little over 6,000 people call Crystal Lake home.

A plot of ground will run you $17,000 while a one bed, one bath house of 600 square feet will cost you $16,000. A three bed, one bath home of 900 square feet will be slightly more at $120,000. The cost of living is severely less than the national average.

Punta Gorda

On the Gulf Coast of Florida in the southwestern portion of the state lies Charlottte Harbor across from Peace River. On a spit of land between the two bodies of water you’ll find Punta Gorda. If you’re looking for the rush of exciting city life or a jumping night life, then you don’t want to live here. Laid back and slow moving are the keywords for Punta Gorda.

Your typical four bedroom, three bath house will cost $130,000. A two bed, two bath home would be about $145,000. The cost of living is below the state and national averages. The residents here give Punta Gorda four stars.

Best Places To Retire In Florida On The Water

While Florida does offer entertainment, fun for kids and familes, night life, and hundreds of other cool things, we think everyone will agree that Florida is about water. What better place to retire than the end of the continental United States with water as far as they eye can see on one side and land’s end on the other? We refer of course to the Florida Keys.

The Keys

Within 137 square miles lies about 1,700 islands in the archipelago of the Florida Keys. This archipelago stretches for 198 miles. Key West is the southernmost American city and the largest at 30 square miles. The Outer Keys are only accessible by boats. Thirteen of the islands are uninhabitable.

The Keys form a string beginning with the southernmost barrier islands on the Atlantic side of the state and continuing to the western side of the state to the Gulf of Mexico. Thus the breezes off the ocean keep the Keys at a steady temperature. It almost never dips below 60 degrees or over 75. Hurricanes do hit the Keys, but not many, and modern buildings are built to ride them out.

Real estate in the Keys is mostly around the $800,000 range for three and four beds and two to four baths. Check out the real estate on Marathon, Duck, Key Largo, Key West, and Little Torch Keys. The homes will be between one and two thousand square feet.

Naples

Naples is a coastal city one county north of the Keys on the Gulf Coast of the state. The temperatures here rarely fall below 55 degrees or over 100. The ocean breezes keep the temperatures somewhat steady. Naples is a city of quite some wealth with big business, tourism, and Fortune 1000 companies in its purview.

Naples real estate is priced for the modest as well as the wealthy. Homes begin in the $200,000s with three to four beds and two to four baths in 1,400 square feet up to 11,000 square feet for $65M with six beds and eight baths. You could also find two beds and two baths in 1,500 square feet for $159,000.

Clearwater

Clearwater is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida in the center of the state just north of Tampa and St. Petersburg. The city is in the subtropical zone with January temperatures in the 80s. The wet season spans June to September with the dry season following. The economy is healthy with very low unemployment. Major organizations like Honeywell have their offices here.

Real estate consists of mobile homes, condos, and single family homes. For instance, in 790 square feet, you could have three beds and two baths for $185,000. A real steal at $22,500 is a two bed two bath home in 768 square feet. You might be neighbors with or shop with such notables as Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise, singer Melanie Kafka, or football player Jeremiah George.

St. Augustine

Just below Jacksonville on the opposite coast is St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country. Ocean winds from Bermuda bring hot breezes to the city whose temperatures range from 45 in the winter to 89 in the summer. It’s a humid heat, with the dry season from November to April. The St. Augustine economy is jumping with unemployment very low and job opportunities very high.

Singer Tom Petty grew up in St. Augustine possibly in a house like this one. Three beds and two baths in 2,200 square feet goes for $165,000. If you need more room, then perhaps five beds and four baths inside 3,660 square feet will do. It costs $390,000.

Lake Kissimmee

Oceans aren’t the only water available to water frontage lovers. Florida is well known for its numerous lakes, and one of the best places to retire in Florida on the water is one of these blue lakes. Of the 30,000 lakes covering three million acres, Lake Kissimmee is the fourth largest at 35,000 acres. There are five islands in the lake all named for animals. Lake Kissimmee is located just south of Kissimmee FL and east of Lakeland.

Lake Kissimmee State Park surrounds the lake with homes surrounding the park. It’s possible to own a three bed two bath home in 1,550 square feet for $195,000. It might be nice to own a five bed five bath home in 2,600 square feet for the visits of family and children. You’ll pay $299,000 for it.

Retiring In Florida Taxes

An important consideration in retirement is paying taxes. You’ve had a lifetime of that, and it’s time now to enjoy your Golden Years without all that worry and strife. Well, welcome to retiring in Florida taxes where there is almost none. For example, Social Security income is not taxed. Retirement accounts and any withdrawals from them are not taxed. Pensions are not taxed. All that is taxed is wages and sales tax. You’ll pay federal taxes.

Retiring In Florida Pro’s And Cons

Before making a major move, most people research it down to the last penny. If the cons outweight the pros, many choose another place to which to move. We’ve compiled a comprehensive collection of retiring in Florida pro’s and cons.

Pros of Florida for Retirement

Relaxed Lifestyle

Perhaps the first and biggest advantage of retiring to Florida is the relaxed, laid back lifestyle. If you’re the nature loving type, there are plenty of parks, nature preserves, and other scenery to drink into every pore as you sit on the deck with your coffee in the morning or your wine at sunset.

Part of a relaxing lifestyle is enjoying that which you love. A gentle hike or bike ride around your chosen area means a healthy lifestyle as well. We’ve already discussed living on the water, so you’ll have lots of quiet days fishing and boating.

Climate

As the body ages, it no longer tolerates things that didn’t bother it in youth. Body temperature is one of these things. Arthritis is another. Many retirees head for Florida because they know the warmth will make their joints feel better. Their body temperatures will even out in the warmth as well.

Several memes have appeared on social media in the winter describing a grinning senior saying they miss the feet of snow back home. Not. While shoveling snow is great exercise, it’s not so much fun when we get older. Nor is there anyone around to help it seems, so seniors shovel alone. While Florida has seen a light dusting of snow in the past, it’s nothing compared to the piles and piles of the white stuff in the north.

Cost Of Living

The South has long been known and appreciated for its lower prices on everything from gas to groceries and from cars to homes. The economy is improving (after the coronavirus, it’s expected to explode) which means home prices are affordable. With no state taxes, groceries and other necessities are affordable as well.

Do your research to find desirable areas with lower prices than other cities and communities. They’re out there, and you don’t have to dig very deep to find them. Real estate professionals will be happy to help you locate the perfect house for you.

Something For Everyone

No matter what is your heart’s desire, you’ll find it in Florida. Want to try your hand at growing citrus? We’ll find you a farm. Would you rather grow beef cattle? We can do that. If you’d rather live where the action is, then we’ll find you a home near the Daytona race track. For those who want the ultimate in peace and quiet, many lovely neighborhoods surround the Everglades.

Prepaid Health Care

Numerous retirees prepay their health care costs. There’s a thing here called continuing care retirement communities in which retirees pay for future services with a plan. When the time comes to use the plan, you’ll have paid in enough to seriously reduce your health care costs. This plan works despite Medicare coverage.

Cons of Retiring to Florida

Too Many People

While Florida isn’t filling up by any means, still the secret is out that Florida is a great place to which to retire. You might find that retirement communities or those 55 and older communities hold more people than you feel like handling. On the other hand, a single family home with home health aids coming every now and then to help might be too lonely for you. Finding a comfortable place in the middle might be a little difficult.

Subpar Medical Access

With the crushing numbers of seniors living in Florida, the medical field is having a hard time keeping up with them. This means that quality health care is difficult to find. If you have a health concern or medical condition, then you might want to search for the best available health care professionals before you make a move.

Traffic Issues

We know, you just left gridlocked traffic back home. You have to keep in mind that not only are all those seniors on the road, but the young adult workers, teens, college students, and above all the tourists. If you live in a retirement community with its own stores, golf courses, gym, an other necessities, then you’re good to go. If not, either take public transportation, walk, or plan your trip around traffic.

Undesirable Animals

In most cases, it isn’t the sharks on beaches that get those in Florida. It’s the gators that regard a small pet or a toddler as lunch. People coming from around the country to settle here often think gators are no biggie. When your dog or cat disappears, remember that you were warned. Stay away from ditches on roadsides, any body of water at all, and if you value it, keep it indoors.

Hurricanes

Capricious in the extreme, these terrible storms bounce around and cause major destruction. Hurricane Katrina was supposed to hit Savannah, GA for example, but it skipped over Florida to almost wipe out New Orleans. While structures are now built with hurricane-proofing in mind, you’ll pay twice the insurance premiums other Americans pay, and they won’t need flood insurance. You will. Pay attention to the Weather Channel, and when they tell you to evacuate, do so. It’s easier to rebuild a house than to rebuild you.

Best Place To Retire In Florida Panhandle

When the Florida panhandle enters the conversation, people picture Pensacola, Panama City, and Fort Walton Beach. That’s okay, if you want to live in the thick of things. It will mean traffic, though. How would you like to live in a place with only two traffic lights in the whole county?

Backed by three wildlife preserves and fronted by the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola boasts less than 2,500 residents. The lifestyle is laid back, the beaches exquisite, the seafood fresh of course, and the economy growing. For those whose retirement doesn’t extend to wading through retirement communities, Apalachicola could be the best place to retire in Florida panhandle.

You can get by nicely with three bedrooms and two baths in 1,200 square feet for $115,00. You can really live in style, though, in a palatial almost 2,500 square feet with three beds and two baths for $399,000. Water frontage is available of course with lots of covered decks, sliding glass doors, docks, wooden paths down to the water, and water views from almost every window. Three beds and two baths in 3,500 square feet will cost around $890,000.

Best Places To Retire In Florida

Since retirees aren’t interested in the job market, (although they may have some side hustles) retirees will need to know if they can navigate the city streets amidst the worker bees before looking for a house. Retirees also check for affordability followed by safety and culture.

In researching the best places to retire in Florida, everyone looks for something different. Ultimately it comes down to personal taste and what area suits you best. This is our take on the best retirement places in Florida.

Clearwater

On a scale of one to ten with ten being the highest mark, Clearwater’s affordability is a winner at a solid nine. Safety, culture, and if seniors want to work a little, the job market all rate an eight. Numbers don’t seem quite so important, though, when retirees sip cold drinks on white sand beaches and contemplate how turquoise and lavender got into the water.

Lakeland/Crystal Lake

For seniors wary of hurricanes, inland homes close to or on the water are attractive. The lakes around Lakeland fit the bill at a nine for affordability as well as safety, culture, and employment.

Naples

Naples is close enough to the Keys not to notice the difference, but still affordable. Culture, safety, and employment added to affordability bring Naples in at a solid nine.

Final Thoughts On Retiring To Florida

Retirement is about enjoying the fruits of your labor and a life lived well. Lots of seniors retire in place, but many succumb to the lure of ocean breezes, lavender blue waters, and exotic flora and fauna. Add to this the plethora of entertainment available to all who travel to Florida, and you have a retirement with not one day with nothing to do.

Retirement is about relaxing and smelling the roses. It’s about having the time to hang out with friends and family. It’s easier to make new friends your own age in Florida than anywhere else. It’s more fun, too. Welcome to Florida!

Tim Schmidt

A Florida-based Entrepreneur, Author, and Life Hacker, Tim Schmidt decided to take control of his retirement portfolio several years ago by setting up a self-directed IRA. This website shares his thoughts and opinions on retirement, investing, and managing credit. You can follow his career and travels on his Official Website as well as on his Instagram page.