Florida Pros and Cons 161


Does living in Florida even have any negatives?

Ask anyone thinking of moving to Florida about the pros and cons of living in the sunshine state, and florida pros and consthey will probably be able to give you a long list of imagined positives but may not be able to mention even one negative. Ask that same person five years after they have actually lived there (that is if they haven’t already moved out) and you will surely get a far different Florida pros and cons list.

What most prospective Florida residents don’t know, is that many people who move to Florida will at some point come to despise the place so much that they will move out of the state. You no doubt are probably saying, “this guy is nuts, I’ve been to Florida on vacation and it’s got to be a great place to live”. Well, that’s exactly what I thought before I moved to Florida almost twenty years ago too.

Florida has been a high growth state for decades. Most years, it’s the most traveled to vacation destination on earth. It has to be a desirable place to vacation to draw that many people year after year. I admit it’s logical for most to think after having such a great time while exploring Florida’s theme parks or laying in the sun on a beach while on vacation, that living in the state must be better than where you live now. That may seem logical, but the facts show something different.

Florida’s Healthiest Most Walkable Towns

In March 2010, the University of Florida published the results of a study done by Stanley Smith and Scott Cody titled “An Analysis of Annual Migration Flows in Florida, 1980-2008″. The study only counted people that moved from another state in the U.S. to Florida, or from Florida to another U.S. state, who’s movement could be verified through government records. Florida’s population did grow in every one of the years. The surprising thing was seeing how many people MOVE OUT of Florida to live in another state every year. Hundreds of thousands move out every year, and many millions have left “paradise” to move back to places such as New York, Pennsylvania and Iowa. More people have moved OUT of Florida over the last few decades, than the total population of MOST U.S. states today.

Adding up and looking at the numbers cited in the report, one can conclude that MOST of the people who move to Florida will eventually move out. As a licensed real estate broker in the state, I saw this first hand. I would sell people a home in Florida when they moved there for retirement, and sell it for them when they decided to move back home. It wasn’t just seniors though, the desire to leave Florida after living there for a few years (but sometimes after just a few months) was felt by people of all ages.  People would move down and buy a condo from me because it was their dream. Then they would discover they hated condo living, sell that and buy a home from me. Then in a year, they’d sell that and move back home. People would move down, buy a home, then move to a condo, sell that and move back to Michigan.

The Safest Most Affordable Places to Live in Florida Right Now

How could this possibly be? Why do so many people who make a “final” move to Florida end up moving out? It’s because we all learn the positives of Florida while vacationing there, but we don’t learn of all the negatives until we actually live there for a while. Millions of people just like you moved to Florida only to discover the CONS out weighed the PROS so much they had to get out.

Why should this study and doing more research before moving to Florida be important to you? Because although moving to Florida may work out for you long term, chances are it won’t. Moving to Florida only to discover you can’t stand living there has been responsible for scrambled nest eggs, health problems and divorces. If it isn’t going to work out, staying right where you are now may be the best thing for you and your family.

NEED PROOF? From The UF Florida Migration Report:

During the study period, 13,164,695 left their home state to move to Florida. During that same time 9,540,260 moved out of Florida for another U.S. state. Over 13 million people moved to Florida during the time studied, but the state only grew by 3,624,435. What do the more than 10,000,000 people who moved out of Florida know, that people thinking of moving to Florida today don’t? The REAL FLORIDA PROS AND CONS!


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161 thoughts on “Florida Pros and Cons

  • Linda

    If you are not a Florida native who is used to the “Florida” way of life already, I can understand why people leave. The job market is hard to get into for “out of towners”, so if you are not coming on a relo package don’t bother coming otherwise. Florida is not the south and it’s truly not the north or the Midwest. So better to stay where you are comfortable than to move just because it’s a vacation paradise.

    • Anonymous

      Such nonsense. I’m a biologist and I’m coming down for work. There are so many laboratory jobs in Florida compared to other places. And the field work in biology is through the roof. You can’t make such a blanket statement that if someone doesn’t have a relocation package that it’s not worth moving there. Maybe if you’re a cashier or something like that you can’t find work. But if you actually went to college and have a career and have done the research, you shouldn’t have a problem. As for all of the people who moved out, the study is biased. We don’t know the real reasons why people moved. Maybe they couldn’t handle the heat, had a death in the family, and a myriad of other reasons not taken into account. Science people! Try it, it works!

      • Ron Post author

        Anonymous, thanks for your reply to Linda. Glad to hear there are plenty of biologist job openings in Florida. You didn’t say if you actually have been hired or not. If you haven’t been hired yet, well good luck. If you have been hired congratulations, but I’m not sure what the percentage of visitors to this website are biologist so your experience may not apply to many readers. Florida usually sheds and gains jobs faster than most states. During the last recession it shredded so many jobs it had one of the highest unemployment rates in the US. Florida is now adding jobs faster than most other states. This is not common and the effects of this cycle on people who move to FL is explained in the “Florida Move Guide”. I’ve had people report to me recently that they have sent 100’s of resumes to those advertised positions but haven’t gotten one response. I’ve also been told many employers already have a good insider candidate that will likely get the new job but the position still must be advertised to adhere to company policy. But as daily reader of the WSJ I do know that even during the height of the recession there were a few rare occupations that had more openings than qualified applicants. “Anonymous”, I hope you aren’t suggesting that a family with children take the risk to move to Florida to lookfor employment based on what appears to be plenty of openings.

        I don’t know how you can say that the study was biased. It was done by two researchers at the University of Florida using IRS and US Census Bureau records. The university is a state of Florida entity, if they were to show a bias you would think it would be toward promoting the state because more people means more tax revenue. They carefully counted the number of people moving in and out during a certain period of time. It wasn’t a study of why all of those people moved out of Florida, just how many. The 10 million people who moved out (and still growing by about 30,000 more per month) is more than the total number of people who now live in most US States. Don’t worry about Florida losing population though, when the economy is good there are more new people moving in than moving out. This huge number of people moving in and out benefits people who make money when you move to Florida (Realtors, movers, etc.) and again when you move out. Every time a home is sold, the state and local governments generate income from transfer taxes/fees. While a very transient state has financial winners, it’s paid for by the financial losses of the millions who have moved to Florida only to move out again. That’s why people should do all they can to determine if they are more likely to enjoy Florida long term (almost everyone loves their first year, unless that year is an active direct hurricane hit one) or if they will just become another one of the millions that end up moving out.

        If someone is moving to Florida by themselves and can fit everything they’re taking in the car when they move, it’s a low risk move regardless of what happens. If someone is moving to Florida with children and requires an income to support a family (there are still over 500,000 unemployed in Florida), or is selling a home to buy in Florida or planning a “permanent” retirement move, they should be cautious knowing that a such a high percentage of people move out of Florida daily. Two long distance moves that involve multiple real estate purchases and moving can lead to large financial losses. Moving children in and out of different schools in differing states can have lasting negative effects. The last thing you want to do when retiring is spending a lot of effort on multiple moves while losing money. Thanks again for your comment “Anonymous biologist” and good luck.

    • Madison

      Honestly I’m not trying to be rude but I live in northern mn and I had lived in florida before but I am moving back because florida is a lot better then the north and Midwest so don’t tell people to stay where they are

      • Michael

        Florida is a terrible place to live full of snakes, infested with bugs and it’s a giant swamp with crime everywhere. I’m going back to MN the minute my FL house sells. It lost half it’s value and still not worth what I paid but I’ll take the loss just to get of this place. Almost nobody stays here more than a few years. Lots of empty homes from people moving out and forclosures. Ask your realtor what happened to the people who were living in that vacant house your looking at.

  • mike

    I wish i had read these comments before i moved down here.I’m here
    22 years,have a decent job,and own a home in delray.And looking to
    move back to N.Y. I’m 1 year short of Social Security,with my pension from
    the City.and hopefully i can leave this place.I honestly do not like living in
    florida. I never was able to call it home…

    • Krissy Smith

      Hi everyone. I have been reading numerous posts from all kinds of sites about living in Florida. I am 100% set on moving to Sarasota in June. I was hoping some of you might help out with some real specifics about life there. There are so many kind of general comments, like humidity, expensive, difficult job market etc. Compared to what and where from your experience. I have had a major life changing event, am in my early 50’s, no kids and will not be looking for work there. I have traveled a lot in my lifetime and lived in a lot of different places, from Los Angeles, New York, South Carolina and so on. And have come to fully understand that every point of refuge has it’s price. But if some of you could respond with some real specifics I would greatly appreciate it. Reading all these posts has got me a bit worried. Thanks :)

      • Ron Post author

        Hello Krissy,
        “I am 100% set on moving to Sarasota in June. I was hoping some of you might help out with some real specifics about life there.”
        I’m not sure how or why you’re 100% decided about moving to Sarasota Florida without knowing what living there is like, but that’s your business.
        My two cents?
        If you are really 100% set on moving as you stated, you may want to concentrate on where in Sarasota, house vrs condo, rent vrs buy etc. Sarasota is really one of the best places to live in Florida, and there are many posts on this site that explain why, there is no need to second guess your choice of that beautiful town. You might want to decide what area of Sarasota and then contact a few Realtors from that area for further insight. This site can help you in locating the area in Sarasota that would be right for you.

        If you aren’t really 100%, then yes, you really need to do more research. But asking opinions of random people can lead you astray, and you really don’t know who they are or if what they say is valid or not. Just look at “Doug’s” comment (a few comments back) where just about everything he wrote about Florida can be proven to be false, and he claims he lived here for years.

        If you’re 100% set, concentrate on what part of Sarasota and how to make it happen. If you really aren’t 100% set on Sarasota (it would be hard to do better in Florida) or Florida (that’s usually the bigger question, the “Florida Move Guide” can help you there), then more research is needed. Based on all the places you’ve lived, if it doesn’t work out, it sounds like you may be able to recover better than many most people. Good Luck!

      • Karen

        Hello Krissy, I have lived in FL since 1966 (moved when I was young, from Cleveland). Have traveled all over the state, east and west, grew up in Pinellas, moved to Sarasota/Manatee area 16 years ago. The facts on Sarasota: is probably one of the nicest places in FL, particularly if you can manage to live closer to the water. I am in healthcare and can honestly say they have the BEST doctors/hospitals in this area and the scores of 90-100+ seniors prove my point. Yes, it is hot…FL is hot and humid. I am not out gardening much during June-end of Sept. unless it is before 9am. But you adapt. If you don’t have to work, so much the better. Sarasota has a very affluent population and many healthy choices for restaurants, shopping, etc. If I didn’t own horses, I would not live inland but closer to water for the nice breeze. Bottom line: there are many worse places to live but home is what you make it and where you choose to feel comfortable. Good luck!!

      • Ron Post author

        Hello Karen,
        Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the Sarasota area with readers of this blog, especially your insight on the towns healthcare system. Healthcare quality is an important consideration when choosing a place to relocate to. Thanks again.

      • Ruth

        I have lived in California for 11 years, Connecticut for 19 years, New Jersey for 4 years, Minnesota, Virginia, and Michigan for about 1 year each. I moved to Florida in 1998 so I believe I qualify to say a little something about the pros and cons of living in Florida, but specifically St Augustine, Jacksonville or Miami. If you want quiet, small town feel then St Augustine is it. I presently live here and I love it. It’s not really a place for partying or nightlife because is very low key but it is a good place to raise children and enjoy history. We are the oldest city and this is where the Fountain of Youth is situated. The housing is affordable, wages are commiserate to the cost of living in the area and schools are amazing. Violent crimes are very low and traffic is good except for tourist season which is very busy. Compare to all the places I lived I can say this is by far the best place for me. Miami is for night life, fun and faster lifestyle, Jacksonville is also a much faster paced and the crime rate is a bit overwhelming but some people like it. I won’t put the other places down because everyone ‘s idea of a “good place to live” is different.
        If you want the truth about the place you want to relocate just log onto to their newspaper on the net and see for yourself. Don’t take anyone’s word for it because it has to be what you perceive as a “good place to live” not someone else’s.
        For St Augustine go to the staugustinerecord.com, for Jacksonville their newspaper is called The Times Union for the others just log on and search because I am not sure the names of their paper.

      • Ron Post author

        Ruth, Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your feelings and insight about St Augustine.

        Krissy, I agree it’s better that people make decisions based on the facts when available, not someone’s opinion. According to the website “Neighborhood Scout”, the violent crime rate in St Augustine is higher than that of Florida as a whole, and Florida is more violent than than the US median. Just scroll down to the part where it says “Violent Crime Comparison per 1000 people”, you can find on their website here.

        People can also click on the schools link on that page, at the top to see a map of neighborhoods where the kids go to better schools, and which areas where they don’t.

        We named St Augustine as our #1 place to retire in Florida for 2014 in this post. If you read many of the posts on this blog, you’ll realize that when we pick a place as “best in Florida”, that doesn’t mean it’s better than where you live now, it’s just the best place in Florida based on our opinion and data we looked at. For example, our post on the “Best cities to live in Florida” that we posted a while ago, we mentioned Jacksonville and Gainesville as better places to live in Florida. Recently, those places were chosen by a major non-profit organization (based on criteria, data and facts) as the top large and small metro areas in Florida for successful aging.While those places were the best in Florida, they certainly weren’t the best in the US in their report.

        Bottom line? Florida may or may not be right for you, and a “best” place in Florida pick may have higher crime and worse schools, etc. than where you now live. To find your best place, rely on facts, not fiction (opinions) or sales pitches from people looking to make $1000’s when you move to their “best” place.

      • Miss Sally

        If you have a lot of money Sarasota as well as other places in Florida are great! Who wouldn’t love to live on a mansion on the water/beach….. But realistically, most of us can’t afford that and if you are one if them then be prepared to live inland away from the beach. Florida neighborhoods are very transient and there are many criminals here. People keep to themselves for that reason so if you are alone and like being alone and are not social than you may like it. Otherwise , watch out!

    • jorge

      I lived in new york all my life and retired from the Police dept, moved to Florida in 2012 AND I HATE IT HERE IN Florida I want to go back to NY. The people here are so prejudice of the north and the health system sucks so now I am on depression meds, Mickey mouse could go to hell for what I care wasted all my savings on the Florida move I don’t recommend, just come down for vacation only :o(

      • Ron Post author

        A Gallup poll showed 54% of Florida residents don’t think Florida is the best state to live in, or even one of the best states. Residents of 26 other states have a better opinion of the state they live in. A Men’s Health Magazine study found that people living in Florida’s cities were more depressed than in other states (higher rates of divorce, suicide, anti-depressant use, etc.). Yet over a 1000 people a day move to Florida, convinced that it will improve their life. A report published by the University of Florida found that roughly 13 million moved to Florida and 10 million moved out during the time studied. A lot of soon to be Florida resident’s research consists of nothing more than looking at Florida home listings and prices on the net. Jorge, thank you for taking the time to let others know about your retirement move experience. It may help others by prompting them to learn more about whether a move to Florida would be right for them or not, before spending so much money, time, and effort just to learn it was all an expensive mistake.

    • Lori Vattes

      But, nobody says why they don’t want to live in Florida. They just say “don’t”. My job is moving me to Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve always loved Florida and always will. I even love the gecko’s!

  • Dina

    So in 1991 I made the big move from NY to FL. I absolutely loved it. I stayed for 12 years, and I only moved to NC to be closer to family. I desperately want to move back to FL. I so don’t like NC! I am making plans to move back, if my husband will join me. The key to moving to FL, is that you must be ready for it mentally. When I left NY, I realized there is no place like NY, and I was leaving all that behind. So I was prepared, to embrace the differences.

    • Lynn

      Nothing is the same when you leave a place and come back. I personally can’t wait to get back to Florida and I’m originally from D.C. area when I moved there in 1996. Had to leave in 2007 for a job (due to economy). Now retired, living out west and can’t wait to get back to that humidity. It’s just as hot here but so dry. I miss the gulf. I’ll take hurricanes over earthquakes any day:) Guess it all depends on where you come from and where you are going. I’m going back to Florida!

  • tom

    moved down here back in may of 2012, and just love it down here. company I worked for from nj opened a branch down here in Orlando,with awesome pay that I was making up north and I have to say that I will be staying as long as I live! although I miss family and friends up north. lucky for me,if it wasn’t for my job bringing me here I probally would not have moved here..so happy im here!! and don’t forget to visit your local wawa coming to a town near you!!

  • Earl

    I loved it too, at first. After about 2-3 years the humidity started bothering more every day. Every time I went outside i’d feel sweaty and sticky, summer lasts most of the year there. My pool was no relief water 90 degrees for months on end. I moved back and now enjoy 4 seasons again. Lost a fortune on my house though. Still not a fan of humidity but now just when i just can’t take it anymore fall comes and it cools off. I still love to visit FL but only in the winter

    • tom

      I agree about the humidity for sure..luckily I work in ac all day, I do have to put icecubes in the pool though lol..I still own my house up north just in case I miss the 4 seasons as well in the future..we shall see..keep you all updated!