As retirement nears and the coming polar vortex punch brings dreams of warmer temperatures and a lost salt shaker, you have Florida on your mind. After all, it is the epitome of existence in the post-work world, we are told. but is it good for you?
Before you jump into Florida, let us give you some serious advice: try before you buy. Spend some free time in the Sunshine State. Just be sure to skip the hotel and rent an Airbnb in a residential area that interests you, or park the motorhome you just bought in a RV friendly spot in Florida. Introduce yourself to the neighbors, shop and dine on site, and watch the rhythms of life. Stay a few days – or, better, a few weeks – and, as the realities of life in Florida sink in, you might not like what you see.
To that end, we’ve taken a serious look at the downsides of Florida retirement. Here is some of what we found.
Do you really want to join the grizzled crowd that made Woodstock a thing? Let’s face it, your riff for retiring in Florida isn’t just yours. Look at the numbers and think about what you will be facing in the years to come.
Florida’s estimated population of nearly 21 million includes some 4.2 million people aged 65 and over. This is an increase from the 3.3 million seniors in the 2010 U.S. Census. By 2030, the number of seniors in the Sunshine State is expected to reach 6 million. That’s a lot of rigged golf carts. Other popular Southeastern retirement states – Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas – are all much younger than Florida.
It is common knowledge that Florida has many alligators. There are also invasive Burmese pythons, green iguanas, and wild monkeys carrying herpes. Then there are the rats: rats on the beach, rats in the palm trees, and rats on your roof. Molly Elliott, who lives in Fort Myers Beach, said beach rats were a big fit for her, just like the expenses incurred to keep them out of his house. She pays $ 300 a year for rodent control.
Other transplanted northerners agree that parasites and exotic creatures are an acquired taste. “Creatures! Says Trisha Torrey, a transplant recipient who now lives in central Florida. “It’s not uncommon to see snakes and alligators, especially on golf courses. Neighbors have found poisonous snakes on their verandas and patios on three occasions [since] we lived here.
Maybe Florida gets bad press, but come on: it certainly has more than its fair share of weird stories floating in and out of the news cycle. Craig Pittman, native of Florida and reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, literally wrote the book about the weirdness of Florida: “Oh Florida! How America’s Strangest State is influencing the rest of the country. Here’s a revealing excerpt from a review of Pittman’s 2016 New York Times book: “The Florida deal is about Snapchat’s famous charlatans, lunatics, and plastic surgeons.” These are the Ponzi schemes, Byzantine corruption, evangelical fervor and the depravity of consenting adults. It is the climate without season. Lack of historical awareness. The way the creamy elements of this nation tend to spread like Florida is the grease trap under American grill George Foreman.
A big cry for many Florida transplants is that there is no state income tax, including no income tax on Social Security benefits, pensions, and other retirement income. . Score one for the Sunshine State.
But don’t confuse “no state income tax” with “no tax at all”. State and local taxes in Florida can reduce your retirement savings. For example, the combined state and local sales tax averages 7.01% in Florida, according to the Tax Foundation. That’s higher than the combined rates that retirees from snowbird states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are used to paying. Buying a new vehicle for your retirement? 6% state sales tax applies to the full purchase price, and counties can add their own vehicle sales tax. Fees may also add up. Florida charges a hefty “initial registration fee” of $ 225 to register an out-of-state vehicle, for example, and a driver’s license costs $ 48 and is valid for eight years (compared to $ 10 for a driver’s license. in Arizona for 50 year olds and that’s good for 12 years in this competing retirement hotspot).
Let’s say it right away: Florida got three spots on the list of the 10 sweatiest cities in the United States Tampa and Miami were No. 1 and No. 2. Orlando came in at No. 5. If you think that it’s just those cities in Florida that are sweaty, you’re kidding yourself.
However, your actual place of retreat goes hand in hand with your degree of sweating. You may be sweating all year round in South Florida, where even in the dead of winter, temperatures can reach 80 degrees. But the further north you travel, the more temperate the climate becomes. Yes, summers are hot, but expect winter temperatures to drop below freezing in parts of North Florida. And in places like Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville, it’s even snowing.
After years of being locked in an office, you can’t wait to spend hours outside soaking up the everlasting Florida sunshine. Hold that thought. Remember those sweaty temperatures we warned you about? Many savvy retirees limit outdoor activities, from rounds of golf to leisurely walks, to the early mornings when mercury and humidity levels are still tolerable.
“Summer is so hot, hot, hot! says Torrey, the transplant recipient from Florida who has lived in central New York City for many years. “Now, like I tell my friends, at least we don’t have to shovel 90 degrees.”
In addition to the heat and humidity, there are also biting flies, mosquito swarms and columns of fire ants to keep away.
Looking to cool off or eliminate these insects while swimming in the ocean. Watch out for the red tide. If it blooms on your favorite beach, you won’t be swimming, and that smell? Dead fish, destroyed by the deadly red tide.
Naturally, you’ll want a pool to beat the Florida heat. Plus, imagine the joy of watching your grandchildren splashing around on the lanai. And while you’re at it, you’ll need an attached spa to soak those aging muscles.
Just be prepared to pay a pretty dime to keep your pool running year round. It costs an average of $ 177 per week to maintain a standard 14ft by 28ft pool. You’ll also spend hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars on routine repairs to torn siding and leaking plumbing fixtures. And if you want to heat your water, expect to shell out between $ 100 and $ 600 per month to run a pool heater. Total annual pool costs: $ 3,000 to $ 5,000, including maintenance, repairs, electricity and water.
Oh, and before you call the pool company, know that since the start of the pandemic, there has been such a shortage of materials (and labor) that some pool companies are putting a pencil to you – up to two years.
Many baby boomers who grew up in the 60s and 70s strolled at the beach, smearing themselves with baby oil for to improve the tan. FPS? Who knew? And those same baby boomers, now aging, are hungry for the tropical Florida sun. But consider the dark side: Too much sun causes premature wrinkles, uneven skin coloring and worse.
“The skin can get tough and leathery,” according to the Florida Institute of Neuroscience. “You may also notice more wrinkles. The sun can also cause brown, red, yellow, or gray spots on the skin called sun spots.”
Prolonged exposure to the sun and frequent sunburns can also increase your risk of skin cancer. Sun worshipers are urged to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (when the rays are most damaging) and use broad spectrum sunscreens. And when you’re on the beach or by the pool, sit under an umbrella.
The hurricane season in the Atlantic is long. It runs from June 1 to November 30 – half of the year – with a peak from August to October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Florida is in the crosshairs of many of these deadly and destructive Atlantic hurricanes. In 2018, Hurricane Michael, one of the strongest storms to hit the United States in 50 years, killed at least 20 people and devastated towns in Florida’s Panhandle. Total losses exceeded $ 25 billion, according to NOAA. Hurricane Irma, one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, hit Florida in 2017 and caused $ 52 billion in losses.
Retirees who move to Florida are often shocked to find that deductibles for hurricane insurance often range from 2% to 5% (and sometimes up to 10%) of policy coverage, rather than the fixed amount. in dollars, say $ 500, which they were used to. to the north. And that is if you can line up any insurance at all.
“Home insurance in general can be difficult to obtain when you live on a barrier island. “ says Elliott, the northern transplant who now lives in Fort Myers Beach on the Gulf Coast. “No one wanted to insure us, so we had to use the public insurer by default.”
If you want to spend less on insurance, you will need to do a wind attenuation test for the home you are considering purchasing to see how well it would withstand high winds. Why? “The cost of insuring a home without wind attenuation devices could be four times higher than a home with wind attenuation,” says Chris Heidrick, an independent insurance agent in Sanibel, Fla.
Oh, and if you buy a home in a designated flood zone, your mortgage company will insist that you purchase flood insurance. Typical home insurance covers wind and rain, but not flooding.
Newcomers to Florida tend to be prepared for many visitors from the north. After all, there’s the irresistible allure of sun, beaches, theme parks, and a free place to stay, right? But, according to some transplants, it fades after the first visits to Florida from your siblings or adult children.
“Loved ones are often far away (ours are in New York and Pennsylvania),” says Torrey, the transplant recipient from central Florida. “Phone calls and video calls are helpful, but we don’t spend as much time together as if we were still up north. “