Ocean views, sunny skies, and tropical climates may seem like paradise for retirement – especially if you’ve lived in the north for most of your life. However, there are a few more things you need to know about Florida before you solidify your decision.
Read on for our 10 key things you need to know before you make your final decision about retirement in Florida!
1. Not Always Sunny
Although Florida is known as the “Sunshine State,” it’s not always sunny. In fact, during the spring and summer, it’s especially known for its sporadic weather patterns. It may be bright and sunny in the morning, but gray clouds may roll in for a few hours in the afternoon, dropping buckets of localized rain.
You’ll need to learn to be flexible and realize that predicting the weather is something not even the locals have perfected. And remember to always bring an umbrella when you go out.
Florida is also known as the lightning capital of the United States. Thunderstorms are frequent and intense, to the point that you may feel walls shudder and power sputter.
It’s also a frequent spot for hurricanes. From June 1st to November 30th, the Atlantic hurricane season is strong. Natives may not take the hurricanes seriously, but they’re stressful to go through and require preparation and oftentimes mandatory evacuations depending on the elevation of where you live.
2. Fewer Taxes
Florida is a very tax-friendly state for retirees. It has no state income tax, meaning you don’t need to worry about taxes on your Social Security benefits, pensions, IRAs, and other retirement income. There is also no inheritance or estate tax.
However, you’ll need to claim Florida as your primary state of residence, which is harder than it sounds. You will need to have proof in the form of documentation for tax auditors that you spend more than half a year in Florida every year. You’ll also need to:
- Register to vote in Florida
- Apply for a library card
- Change driver’s license and registration
- Shop locally with credit cards
- Open a bank account at a local bank
- Find health care providers at your Florida domicile
- File a Declaration of Domicile at the local county court
You’ll also need to realize that because there’s no state income tax, Florida makes up for this with higher sales taxes, with some counties higher than others.
3. High Senior Population
You’re not the only one with the idea to retire in Florida. In fact, Florida is projected to have a population of 23.9 million in 2030, with 6 million people age 65 or older, which is twice the size of the current senior population.
You’ll find that stores, residences, and even commercials are geared towards the growing senior population. There are thousands of great retirement communities to choose from. Finding new friends your age won’t be an issue!
4. Creepy Creatures
Florida is essentially a swamp, and swamps come with plenty of wildlife that isn’t always pleasant. Dealing with pests such as termites, rats, cockroaches, and mosquitoes are a part of everyday life. Anoles will run underfoot wherever you go.
Burmese pythons, reptiles that aren’t native to Florida, are taking over the Everglades National Park and appearing in households, though the chances of one appearing in your condo are very low.
Alligator sightings in ponds, golf courses, lounging in the sun or crossing the street are also an everyday occurrence. You’ll see “Beware of Alligators” signs posted near many bodies of water, and for good reason: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has stated that attacks have risen in 2017 due to rising temperatures.
Alligators and coyotes are also known to gobble up household pets, so if you live near a lake, make sure that your cat or small dog are always supervised when they go out.
5. Protect Your Skin
It’s common for tourists and new retirees to Florida to underestimate the power of the Florida sun. In fact, 90 percent of signs of skin aging are from exposure from the sun. Summer afternoons are especially dangerous – people are encouraged to head inside from 10 am to 4 pm to avoid its full strength.
Going outside regularly without sunscreen can lead to:
- Increased risk of skin cancer
- Skin aging
When your skin is tan, this is actually an indication that your skin is at the beginning of skin damage. If you want that sun-kissed look, opt for tinting lotion instead!
Use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It should be applied every day, even if it’s cloudy outside. If you’re already sunburned, put lotion on the burn right away to mitigate the damage to your skin.
And if anyone ever tells you you need the vitamin D that the sun provides, remember that you only need 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure to get the amount your body needs. You can also get plenty of vitamin D in your diet.
Retirement in Florida: Be Prepared
Retirement in Florida is easier if you know what to expect: your preparation will pay off since you won’t be encountering any stressful surprises. Like any location, Florida isn’t perfect, but its cons balance out for the experience of its beautiful beaches, weather, and entertainment brings.
Whether you’re planning to retire close to the ocean or further inland where Disney and Universal reside, people retiring in Florida can find a lot to love in the Sunshine State.
Want to learn more about the best locations for retiring? Keep reading our blog for more informative articles!