This guide is
meant to provide information for those seeing to move or relocate
Basic Florida Facts
- Florida 's Population (2003) - 17,019,068 (ranks only behind California, New York, and Texas )
- Total Area - 58,560 Square Miles ( Florida is the 22nd largest state)
- Life is a Beach – Florida has over 1,200 miles of sandy beaches!
- Largest County – Palm Beach County (2,578 square miles)
- Largest Lake - Lake Okeechobee at 700 square miles (the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the United States
- Number of people who move to Florida each day - 1,000
- Number of major commercial airports - 20
- Number of international airports - 12
- Number of golf courses - more than 1,250 (Florida has more golf courses than any other state and Palm Beach County has more golf courses than any other county in the country).
- Number of hotel rooms in Florida - more than 370,000
Why Relocate to Florida?
As seen above, Florida is the 22nd largest state, but has the 4th highest population. Florida’s weather, recreational opportunities, tax benefits, entertainment, and more make it a popular place for those looking to move or retire. Because Florida's economy is largely based on tourism, there is always something to do. Whether you want to tour the Daytona Speedway, scream on a rollercoaster, spend time with endangered species, or just relax...Florida can be an attractive place to move.
Where To Live in Florida
A fairly big misconception surrounding moving to " Florida" is that Florida is a homogenous place. In all reality Florida weather and lifestyles vary significantly by region. Florida is not a large state, but its unique location make for a wide variety of climate variations.. Where you choose to live in Florida will affect your lifestyle. Do your homework and find a part of Florida that fits your lifestyle, desires, budget, etc. Choose a top realtor that will take their time to show you a particular area of Florida.
The northern part of Florida offers a lifestyle that's more akin to "The South." Its lifestyle and culture is more Alabama, Georgia than it is the Florida that many think of. The winter months can be fairly cold, and the regions sees snow from time to time (a half inch is a major storm for them!). Popular cities in North Florida include Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Gainesville, and Panama City. The cost of living tends to be better in North Florida than South Florida. The area is growing quickly due to popular vacation sites such as Destin and Fort Walton Beach. Towns in these areas are becoming very resort-oriented.
Central Florida offers significantly milder winter weather than North Florida. Major cities in Central Florida include Orlando, Tampa, Daytona and New Smyrna. Many people enjoy the Disney and other theme-parks in the greater Orlando area. (By the way, that is where I live).
Major South Florida cities include Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Key West, Naples, Fort Myers, and others. Geographical and cultural isolation is the primary disadvantage of South Florida, but with airports many people gladly take the trade. The weather is semi-tropical and you will find abundant palm trees and lush green vegetation.
Inland Florida vs. Coastal Florida
When most people think of Florida, they think of beaches. In reality, most of Florida’s real estate is “inland.” However, even inlanders are usually an hour or so from the beaches. Areas that are west of Interstate 95 (usually 30 minutes from the beach) or east of Interstate 75 are generally considered "inland." Inland Florida has been traditionally rural, but these areas are growing rapidly. Real estate bargains are to be had in this area, making it a popular place to move. Nature surrounds residents with springs, forests, rivers, and lots of lakes.
East Coast vs. West Coast
Two cultures, Two Areas, Two Environments – One Florida.. Florida's east coast borders the Atlantic Ocean., and has great beaches. Sunrises beat sunsets and surfers love the waves. Florida's west coast abuts the Gulf Of Mexico, where the beaches tend to be wider and boast a delicate, fine white sand. Sunsets are spectacular, and many people consider this one of the best “natural” features of the state.
In GENERAL, Florida's west coast lifestyle tends to be more casual (Midwesterners) and the East Coast is a bit more of the “rat-race” (New Yorkers!) The cost of living is higher on the East coast, and the lifestyle is generally more fast-paced. Southeast Florida is a melting-pot of different cultures, and you will generally find more crime, entertainment. Conspicuous consumption is everywhere.
Major Geographic Areas and Cities
There is something for everyone in Florida and here are some breakdowns of popular areas:
Orlando( Ocala, Kissimmee, Winter Park, Winter Haven, Winter Springs, Oveido) – Very family-oriented area with theme-parks and golf being major activities.
Recommended Orlando Communities – Bella Vista at Tivoli Woods, Artisan Park
Tampa/St. Petersburg/ Clearwater - This area west of Tampa features great beaches, lots of business opportunities, and generally is a great place for families.
Recommended Tampa Communities - Suncoast Lakes, Rivercrest
Naples/Fort Myers - A bit far from major cities (an hour from Tampa) this is a popular retirement area with upscale housing.
Recommended Southwest Florida Communities - Burnt Store, Daniel's Preserve, Tropical Cove
Port St. Lucie south to West Palm Beach –
Affordable housing to mega estates, this area has it all. Great
Beaches, golf (Palm Beach has more golf courses than any county
in America), and entertainment can be found for those deciding
to relocate to this area of Florisa.
Recommended South Florida Communities - Lake Tuscany, Paseos
Boca Raton – Miami ( Southeast Florida) – This area of Florida boasts a wide variety of cultures. Northeasterners often settle here. Again, entertainment and conspicuous consumption abound. Beaches and boating are popular activities. You will find many high-end homes near the beach, and affordable living further inland.
Recommended Southeast Florida Communities - Boynton Beach
Destin/Panama City Area - Stunning beaches and sunsets. Extremely popular area for vacation homes and second homes. If you can retire or find work in your field here, don’t miss looking in this area of Florida.
Recommended Panhandle Communities - Watercolor, WaterSound, WindMark Beach
Jacksonville - Jacksonville is geographically the largest city in the United States. Those looking to relocate to Jacksonville will great beaches, affordable living, and definitive seasons.
Weather varies by region, but like anywhere we get occasional rain, cold-spells, heat-spells. Summertime often brings late-afternoon thunderstorms (the land heats up and when the heat rising from the ground collides with coastal winds..the systems collide to form these brief, beautiful, and occasionally dangerous storms).
80.5 (F) degrees (26.9 C) ( North Florida)
82.7 (F) degrees (28.2 C) ( South Florida)
53.0 (F) degrees (11.7 C) ( North Florida)
68.5 (F) degrees (20.3 C) ( South Florida)
Hurricanes - Ahhh, hurricanes. The season is June – November, but August and September are the “hot” hurricane months. Had I written this a year ago, there wouldn’t be much to say, but following last 2004 storm season it is on everyone’s mind. Hurricane’s Charlie, Jeanne, Francis, and Ivan all had a huge impact on the state of Florida. Central Florida saw more damage than most coastal regions as the hurricanes ripped across the state. Charlie, Jeanne, and Francis all tore through the Orlando/Lakeland areas. There is no predicting what future seasons will be like, but they are a fact of life for Florida residents. Educate yourself, know the evacuation routes, and have supplies on hand. I personally waited 6 hours beginning at 4am for boards for my windows. Ice is also a valuable commodity and can take hours standing in line to get. Get a generator if you can afford one. It may just come in handy, and make you some new friends in your neighborhood!
What is it really like to live in Florida?
Be Prepared for Guests – Once friends and family know they have a friend or a free home to stay in while in Florida, watch out! Keep the guest room ready. If you love company, Florida is the state for you.
Taxes - Florida has no state income tax and favorable death taxes (insert joke here J). To make up for this Florida has fairly high property and gas taxes. All in all, Florida has a lesser tax burden than 45 other states. Take advantage of the Homestead Exemption Law. Florida homeowners are entitled to a significant tax Exemption. Ask your real estate agent for more information!
Snowbirds – Florida has a huge seasonal population, which peaks in the winter months. In some areas you will experience lots of drivers on the road, waits at restaurants and other minor inconveniences, but it’s part of living in Florida.
Natives – Most Florida residents are transplants. You aren’t the only one that has chosen to or is considering relocating or moving to Florida. You are sure to find someone from your home state or someone that moved for similar reasons as you. Florida is an easy place to make new friends.
Maintaining Your Florida Home – Sun, wind, salt-air, mold, algae, pool heaters, air conditioning….there are more variables when owning a home in Florida. Budget a bit extra to take care of these items.
Storage Space – It’s hard to come by. Basements….Wrong state! The soil isn’t right for them. Attics? Um, try crawl spaces. Many new residents need to rent a storage unit, but they are relatively inexpensive. We suggest a nice tag sale before you move!
Bugs – You might want to get a contract with an exterminator if you don’t like bugs. The moist, warm atmosphere means lots of mosquitoes, no-see-ums, spiders, ants, and more. Fire Ants will live in your lawn. Watch out for the harmless love-bugs as during some months they decorate the front of your car. Love bugs are highly acidic and can damage clear-coat and paint. Be sure to wash your car after long drives to keep it clean.
Swimming Pools – Florida swimming pools stay open year round. If you have never owned one, hire a pool company for a month or two and learn the ropes from them. Many stores offer classes to get you started maintaining your pool. No matter how new your pool is it will need maintenance. Pumps, heaters, cleaning, etc are all concerns with a pool, so be prepared!
Home Owners Associations – Many Florida communities are run by Home Owners Associations. There may be strict rules and regulations that dictate where you can park cars, what color your home may be, what type of landscaping and more. Before buying a home in a gated, planned or other community with a Home Owners Association, try to talk to neighbors to get a feel for the governing board. These empowered people can make your life miserable if you let them.
Schools – Florida schools have a reputation for being sub par. Unfortunately, it is mostly justified, as the state is consistently ranked as one of the 5 worst in America. There are several reasons for this: There simply aren’t as many school-aged children in the state, Retirees aren’t likely to vote for positive changes in education (and thus politicians don’t push it), and Florida state taxes are lower. This being said, there are great schools throughout the state. Look for “A” rated schools in a district before buying a home or real estate in Florida.
Health Care – Florida’s healthcare is among the nation’s best. Try to schedule well visits in the summer when many older snowbirds have flown north for the winter.
Employment in Florida – Florida's economy
is largely based on tourism, construction, entertainment, and
healthcare. The state very much has a service based economy. Many
people are self-employed in the construction or business sectors.
There are not a huge amount of companies headquartered in Florida,
but Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Jacksonville boast many “business”
Physical Fitness and the Body – Big biceps and big boobs are pretty common in Florida. To many having
a great body, a tan, and looking good are really important. It is hard to go anywhere in certain parts of Florida without seeing a billboard for a plastic surgeon, or passing a tanning spa / salon. In general, Floridan's spend allot of times outdoors, and place a premium on looking good. That is NOT to say everyone does, but if you are young and active, this is often the case.
Florida Drivers – Before you relocate to Florida, know that slow, elderly drivers exist. It is just a fact of life. Tourist with screaming kids in rental cars do too. Add your typical bat-out-of-hell drivers and there is a potentially ugly mix on the roads. Rain makes roads slick and can bring traffic to a halt. Torrential downpours can literally force all cars to the side of the road for a few minutes until the rain lets up. Be patient, be aware, and be smart (same as anywhere!)
We have tried to be honest and objective about living in Florida. There are both negative aspects and positive aspects, but this is true for anywhere. If you are looking for a new home, whether for a change of pace, career-move, retirement, or other reason, Florida is a great place to consider.
Enjoy the Weather – Many people love Florida primarily for its weather and related outdoor activities. Relax on the lanai, ride the jetski, cruise in your convertible, bike, fish, canoe, or whatever it is that floats YOUR boat. Wear your sunscreen, be safe, and have fun! Many of Florida’s benefits are outdoors and lifestyle related. Make the most of them, and you will be thrilled that you chose to relocate to Florida.