The Best Cities to Live in Florida 91 comments

If you’re moving to Florida and like the the energy that larger cities provide, then you probably have best cities to live in floridabeen searching the web for the best cities to live in Florida. If so, you probably have been disappointed because Florida cities have not appeared anywhere other than the bottom of the best places to live lists for years.

Forget Looking for Best Cities to Live in Florida for another 2-3 years.

NEW: See The Best Cities to Live in Florida 2015 List!

The last recession hit Florida harder than just about any other state in the U.S. It’s hard for a city to make a best places list when it has the among highest unemployment, foreclosure and crime rates in the country. In fact, Florida cities have made it to the top of a few lists and even dominated the top spots, unfortunately they were not the kind of lists you want to be on.

Florida Tops Most Miserable Places to Live in the US List

Forbes Magazine, a well respected business related publication named Miami as the most miserable place to live in the US in 2012. This year, thanks to Michigan cities like Detroit (#1 most miserable US city 2013) and Flint (#2) and multiple cities in California and Illinois, Florida Cities that dominated the list last year have been dethroned from the worst of the worst.

High Crime Miami Florida and Police Refusing to Take Emergency Calls While on Duty

Most large cities have a crime problem, but Miami has consistently ranked among the worst or the worst city. This video could help explain part of the problem.

Miami, named the #1 worst place to live in the US last year dropped all the way down to 20th worst place this year. That’s nothing to brag about and it still has the 7th highest crime rate of anywhere in the US. But it was given points for continuing to attract new residents (suckers?) and the unemployment rate has improved from the worst to just about average for the country. Florida is still the king of foreclosures but housing values have climbed back from the 60% drop in values at the beginning of the recession.

Florida Cities the most “depressed” in the US

Men’s Health Magazine did a study to see where the most depressing places to live in the US were. They used criteria such as anti-depressant use, high divorce, unemployment, and foreclosure rates among other factors that signal a less than ideal life. St. Petersburg and Tampa topped that list. The article explaining the results said that people living in Florida cities in particular were more depressed than in any other state. Could it be because a millions of people spent a fortune to move to Florida for paradise, but after living in Florida for a few years determine that it was just a mirage? Over 10 million people have moved to Florida only to move back out. The study from Florida’s own “University of Florida” where that data came from is the subject of other posts on this blog.

So Where are the Best Cities to Live in Florida?

UPDATE! Here’s our Best Cities to Live in Florida in 2015!

If you are lucky enough to be in the top 5% of the wealthiest households in the US, you can find pockets of true paradise in any of Florida’s Major Cities. These areas are extremely expensive to buy or rent in, but they offer the best waterfront and or beaches, shops and restaurants all in a bubble of relative safety.

For the other 95%, my pick would be Jacksonville, Florida. In my opinion, it’s nowhere near the best place to live in the US, but I picked it for three main reasons. First, it’s the “least worst” city based upon my own observation from stays in each of Florida’s largest cities, and it suffers less from the ills that caused the other Cities to top the worst places lists.

Jacksonville is the northern most major Florida City. Although summer still last far longer than in the rest of the county, In Jacksonville you won’t be worn down by 9 months of heat and humidity every year like in south Florida. You could say it has 4 seasons but winter isn’t cold, just refreshingly cool in my opinion.

Because it’s just across the Florida border, it’s a shorter drive to visit the smarter people who still live back home. If you ever drove from the northeast US to anywhere south or west of Orlando Florida multiple times, or were unable to fly anywhere after the attacks on September 11th years ago, you’d appreciate how much easier the drive is from north Florida. Every year there seems to be more traffic and therefore more accidents and frustrating traffic jams.

The Best Places to Live in Florida in 2015 if You Still Need to Generate Income

Another place that I would suggest you consider is Gainesville Florida, home of the University of Florida. It is not a major city but because it’s home to the largest college age population in Florida, you’ll find most of the great things you wanted a city for, and a lot less of the crime and things you don’t want. Gainesville is also discussed in other posts on this blog.

In the late 1990’s Florida dominated best places to live lists. The sunshine state was the default place to move to for retirement. Things have changed. People are now moving to places that they perceive offer a more active lifestyle. Colorado and North Carolina make the top spots on on many of today’s list. More retirees are retiring in place. My own observation from spending a lot of time in Florida as well as the northeast US is that the winters in the north are getting milder (much to the dismay of ski slope operators) with the exception of this past winter, and Florida is getting hotter.

I do believe that Florida will rank higher on these lists within the next few years until the state experiences ugly hurricane seasons, similar to 2004 and 2005. Florida has gone eight hurricane seasons without a landfall by a major hurricane. That hasn’t happened since they’ve been keeping records of storm activity. That no major hurricane hit is going to end. That’s when I think that hurricane loss and sea level rise will combine to make homeowners insurance a real nightmare again. Florida already has the highest rates in the US. I don’t think it will be the default place to live or retire in the future.

Florida may or may not be for you, but if I was looking for the best city in Florida to live in 2014, Jacksonville and Gainesville would be on my short list. Actually, I would just chose Gainesville, but I’m not really a big city fan. In case you were wondering, I do not live in, nor do I actively show homes in either of these cities.

Learn why 7000 people move out of Florida every week now and how you can avoid making the same mistakes!


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91 thoughts on “The Best Cities to Live in Florida

  • Jamie

    I hadn’t realized unemployment was so high in Florida. That always takes a big toll.

    I also am a big fan of university towns and will be reading some of your other posts on Gainesville. I love Boulder, CO and Eugene, OR–both are smaller cities but great places for art, movies, and great/affordable food because of the university presence.

    Will also look into Jacksonville more closely. The climate you describe sounds very appealing. I want some sunny weather, but I don’t want to swelter all year long!

  • deb broos

    I lived in Lake City, Fl for 10 years. It has a laid-back country charm, no state taxes, and the ability to homestead ($25,000. tax relief) after the first year of home ownership. The property taxes are quite slim. That is one reason I hope to leave Ohio and head back to the Land of Dixie!!!

    • India

      I live in Ohio also and I want to move out too I hate the cold winters it hurts my bones. I want to move to Florida but I want to make sure I move into a good neighborhood.

      • Ron Post author

        My experience has been that most people who move to Florida just to escape cold winters end up up moving back home or to a third state. Moving to a state that has 9 humid months can be worse than a state with 3 cold months and 3 humid ones. However, I’ve also noticed that long term satisfaction with Florida’s tropical climate is higher for people older than 75, or people under 75 if they have joint damage, bad arthritis because of certain long term employment, disease or just genetics or other ailments that worsen with the cold.

        Many older women (and men too) that suffer from osteoporosis may be right for Florida too. If you wear a sweater or jacket to the grocery store in the middle of summer, you may be an ideal candidate for Florida. The key to a successful move is to make sure that you won’t likely encounter more negatives in the other reasons folks move out of Florida, that will outweigh the perceived temperature advantage. The temperature in the grocery stores, malls, homes, cars, etc. in Florida are the same as they are in any other state. Don’t throw your coats away.

  • Alex

    Lol you picked Jacksonville. The city with the highest crime rate, highest rate of depression and suicide, and least amount of stuff to do for a major area in this state. Its ok, Im sure it will be worth it to be 4 hours closer to the Northeast and all the “smart” people there.

    • Ron Post author

      Check your facts Alex. Miami has the highest rate of crime in the state St. Petersbug and Tampa the highest rate of depression, suicide, etc (although all of Florida’s major cities rank high on the depressed chart compared to the rest of the US). Read more here

      Jacksonville has golf courses, beaches and everything else the rest of Florida has except theme parks, but they become boring to Florida residents after about the 6th visit in a year. Being 4 hours closer to the northeast saves on time and money visiting the people back home. Moving to and from Jacksonville (because most will move back eventually) from the northeast (where the “smart” people who only vacation in Florida live) costs less than moving from Tampa or Miami.

      • Ryann

        I was born in Gainesville and I still live here.

        However,I have also lived in Jacksonville and worked there. The crime rate is high and unless you plan on buying home starting at $300,000, you will be living in the more unfortunate areas. There are beaches but they are definitely not the nicest and the traffic is terrible. Some places like the San Marco area near the river are nice but very expensive.

        I love Gainesville. The homes are overpriced for the area, but overall it has everything you need. We are two hours from the beach, and we have multiple springs and rivers for kayaking. We also have a nice camping area and all of this in a 10 mile radius. Just like any other place there are “bad areas” but the majority is safe and nice. Our biggest crimes here are bicycle theft…

    • Ron Post author

      All of my picks in the “Best places to Retire Florida 2014” are small towns or small cities (just big towns really), so you may want to start there. Please be aware that because they were chosen as a place to retire, they were chosen without regard to school district rating or the availability of employment. A planned February 2014 post on the “Best Places to live Florida 2014” will include schools and jobs as a main consideration.

    • mm

      Ocala is a good place to retire. Rent is still ok and you can buy many houses for a great prize. Country feel with everything close around to have fun.

  • Laurel

    We are looking for a place to move, near the beach and near a big city for things to do like theater, shopping, ball games, concerts. We need to be near several big hospitals for my work so that I have options for jobs. Any suggestions?

    • Ron Post author

      Laurel, the Jacksonville, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Miami areas may be places to consider based on the criteria you mentioned. Jacksonville will be noticeably cooler in the winter (but rarely cold) but will have fewer months of oppressive humidity. The Gulf of Mexico water off of the beaches in the St. Pete/Tampa are will be clearer, warmer and with calmer waves than the east coast beaches, although west coast beaches may be more susceptible to oil problems (rare but can lower property values with oil washing up on the beach) like the BP disaster. Cuba also now has a Chinese oil rig closer to Miami than what the U.S. will allow our own oil companies to drill.

      You may also want to look at Sarasota. It’s known as the cultural capital of Florida and has some of the best beaches in the world. It’s a very tolerable commute to Tampa/St Pete normally. Tampa is also home to Busch Gardens, one of the best theme parks in Florida. You can see a list of Florida hospitals here

      • silvia

        I was just here in Jacksonville I loved it! Love the weather, but how are the jobs for nails technitians there? Do you know?I live in vVirginia bit I’m so done with the cold weather.

        • Ron Post author

          Hello Silvia,
          You may want to visit in May, just one of the months when the weather in Virginia will likely be better than in Florida. I can’t help you with specific job availability, but nail salons seem to be everywhere in Florida. I can also tell you that Florida is adding jobs faster than most other states right now. This is part of a pattern. When times are good, Florida adds jobs faster than most states, when times are bad more people become unemployed faster than most other states. It’s the same as in other transient (former?) high growth states like Nevada. In the mean time, people complain that wages paid for most jobs are lower in FL than in other states. Because of low wages, business owners can do well during the good times. Most people move to Florida when they’re done with the cold weather, then move out after they’re done with the hot humid weather and other issues unique to the most southerly US state.
          Thanks for commenting and good luck.

    • Ron Post author

      St. Augustine was my #1 pick here. It is a smaller town, but anywhere worth living (for most people) in Florida may not qualify as quiet, especially near the beaches and during season aka the winter months, because of tourists/snowbirds. Not all tourist are alike though. Many visitors to St Augustine are attracted by the historic sites and downtown and they’re different from “spring breakers” for instance. I’ve known longer term Floridians to vacation in St Augustine, even though they already live near beach towns, so that says something. I will be posting a “best places to live in Florida in 2014” in a few days. It may be a little different than the list for retirees because of differing priorities.

      • Ryann

        St. Augustine is my absolute favorite spot In Florida. We have been trying to move there for years. Unfortunately because it is a tourist area and smaller town, there aren’t many job opportunities.

        • Ron Post author

          Actually tourism is responsible for much of the job growth in Florida the last few years. While many retirees will never be looking for a job again, some work just to get out of the house or for just a little extra cash to make ends meet, and will work for less. Since many such retirees are usually conscientious, dependable and don’t need a wage to fully support them, they are attractive candidates to employers. I agree that St Augustine Florida is one of the best places to live in Florida. St Augustine was named as our top pick to retire to in Florida for 2014 a few months back.

    • Julie

      Wade, it seems like you and I are in re same boat. I’m looking to relocate south, also in my early 40s and single. I like the idea of a small town but need to be close to places where I can work in an office environment.

  • Michelle

    St. Augustine is wonderful. This northerner would live there, but maybe I would also pick something a little further south since I love the heat/humidity. Vero beach? Port St. Lucie maybe? I’m learning more about these areas- real estate/ employment opportunites…

    • Ro

      Michelle, I relocated to Vero Beach in Sept. 2013. I love it. The beaches are gorgeous, never crowded and always free. The shopping is great as well (although I’m not a big shopper). A few really great organic farms, lots of culture and decent amount of people my age (50). I telecommute, So I am not aware of employment here. Property values are beginning to rise a bit, so If you’re looking to buy, now is the time. WE bought a great house for a little over 100k.

    • crabby in florida

      I loved living in florida too, the first couple of years. After about 3 years I could take or leave florida because I was getting tired of being burnt by the sun, tired of the constant sticky weather among other things. After about 5 years, I had enough. I never use the pool I had to have and have been to the beach so much I can’t stand it anymore. I called my realtor to sell but was informed the value dropped so much I owed twice as much as my home is worth. The value has slowly risen over the last couple of years but still not enough to break even. After talking with neighbors who’ve been here forever, they say home prices always go up but then crash every few years. I’m hoping I can sell and get out before the next crash or I’m leaving anyway, bad credit and all. I hardly see my neighbors because they are all hiding from the sun. New people all always out, in the pool but over time they hide in the house too. My neighbor says he hates Florida but is too old to go through another move. Everyone around here is crabby and I gotta get out before I’m old crabby and trapped like everyone else around here. Think long and hard before trading the things you don’t like about where you are now, for an even longer list of things you won’t like about florida. Scratch that, you’ll love Florida so come buy my overpriced home.

  • elizabeth

    My husband and i are wanting to move to florida but all we ever hear is that all of florida is extremely violent and super expensive, we dont make alot of money out here our rent here is 525.00 for a three bed house, is there any true safe affordable towns there to live in? Plus is it hard to find any work?

    • Ron Post author

      The truth is that almost every city has safer areas, even Miami, a city that is usually at or near the top of the FBI’s move violent city list every year. When Forbes business magazine named Miami the most miserable city in the US, they also noted that there were great areas to live in the city, if your income lands you in the top 1% of Americans. Florida’s job picture is better than the US’s as a whole at the moment, because Florida usually sheds jobs faster than any other state in bad times like the last recession when unemployment was the worst in the US, or adds them faster which is happening right now. Unless you have skills for select high paying occupations, the pay will be lower in Florida than in many other states.

      Is there a place in Florida that is real safe, real cheap with high paying jobs, fantastic schools and while were at it let’s throw in beautiful beaches and no humidity? Absolutely not. Why? One reason is Florida’s population count is about to overtake New York’s and 30,000 people a month or more move to Florida (more than replacing the 30,000 that leave every month). If there WERE a place that wonderful in Florida, everyone would move there and ruin it, in no time it would become another congested costly city with crime issues, EXCEPT in the more expensive areas.

      You said, “My husband and i are wanting to move to florida”, but you didn’t say why. If you don’t have a compelling reason, you may need to do more research because you may be a good candidate to join the millions of people who in the past moved to Florida for greener grass, didn’t find what they expected and moved out. The rate for people moving out is now about 30,000 a month. Look for my post on the cheapest places to live in Florida for 2014 in the “best places to live” menu choice, that will highlight the places closest to what you are looking for. Hope you make the right decision for you, whatever that is. To lighten things up, I hope you get a chuckle out of this video.

      • Ms. Grier

        Love it! I think I’ve been there. The allure of the warm and sunny weather lead me to move to AZ. I indeed enjoyed the warmth, but ended up moving. The cultural and economic environment at the time was very different. Anyway, I really like the video.


  • Noelia

    I am currently living in Germantown MD. My husband and I wish to move next year to Florida. We were thinking Sarasota or ST Petersburg, but we don’t know anything about those cities.. We are on ours high 30ths. we have our jobs in MD but here is nothing to do. any suggestions? do you know if can we find a job there? housing? crimes? thanks Noelia

    • Ron Post author

      Hello Noelia,
      Lets take this point by point.
      “We were thinking Sarasota or ST Petersburg, but we don’t know anything about those cities”
      Sarasota has been a steady pick of ours as a best place to live in Florida, year after year. St Petersburg was named as the MOST depressing place to live of all cities in the US in a study done by Men’s Health Magazine based on high rates of divorce, suicide, anti-depressant pill use, etc.

      “we have our jobs in MD”
      Quitting jobs during a time of historically high unemployment in the US is risky. If you get hired in FL first, less risky. But getting a job in FL while not already living there can be next to impossible, unless you qualify for a position that is in demand. Just moving to Florida to look for jobs presents it’s own problems. You’ll be competing with hundreds of thousands of unemployed people already in Florida looking for work and Florida landlords don’t like renting to unemployed tenants because they’ve been burnt too many times in the past. Unemployed tenants eventually can’t afford to pay rent, and can’t afford to move. So they must be evicted, and the place gets torn up before the eviction happens leaving the landlord with hefty repair bills. I’m not saying this would be you, but this is why it would be tough just to find a place without verifiable employment references. You may see ads on craigslist claiming they’ll rent to anybody, “no job, no credit OK”. The problem is often there is no apartment or home because it’s a scam by people preying on people who’ve been turned away from legitimate landlords. Sometimes the property is in foreclosure, so they’ll take your money, let you move in and collect the rent without paying their mortgage. At some point the foreclosure is final and the bank evicts you and any security deposit or prepaid rent could be gone. In Florida, just like almost everywhere, the lowest rent areas are usually the ones with the highest crime rates.

      “but here is nothing to do”
      There is nothing that you can do in Florida, that you can’t do in Maryland, except the things that should be kept special by only doing them on vacation. I remember having a great time at the shore in Maryland as well as one of the best soft-shell crab sandwiches in my life. I have relatives who recently went to Inner Harbor, again, and loved it. Having lived in Florida as well as the northeast for long periods of time, I can talk about the differences for days (believe me you don’t want that) so I’ll just mention a few. Maryland has four seasons, and you learn that’s refreshing. Florida has three seasons. Three months of glorious warm non-humid weather during the winter, nine months of oppressive humidity making almost any temperature difficult to enjoy doing anything outdoors (unless you’re a big fan of constant perspiration) and six months of hurricane season. There have been a record 8 years without a major hurricane leveling Florida cities. What do you think the odds are that the next eight years will even things out?

      Too many people assume that just moving to Florida will improve their lives. The numbers prove that’s not the case. If you have a compelling reason like a big job promotion, or your doctor suggested your asthma could improve by moving out of a landlocked valley where air pollution just hangs to a coastal town on the ocean, etc., that’s compelling reason. Quitting jobs to move to Florida without new employment, because a belief “there’s more to do” I’m afraid would just lead to disappointment while burning up your cash. After weighing all the options, if you do decide to go, take a look at the posts on this website about places in Florida where the unemployment rates are the lowest in 2014 so your chances of becoming employed may be higher. Quit your job and move to Key West? Good luck no matter what you decide.

  • Tom

    Ron, thanks for the post. I am sure we all consider places like Florida after the winter we just experienced. I live in the South now but miss the water, because I but spent ten years before here in Southern California. I loved the climate there, but over population and liberal government has simply ruined it. I love the ocean, and my fantasy would be to live in a house with a dock for a boat. Any thoughts? I currently live in a small city, and love its convenience, lack of lines, etc., but miss the vibe of a cultural city like I have enjoyed before.

    • Ron Post author

      Hello Tom,
      Yes, the south experienced more “winter” weather than they are accustomed to, and southern US road crews aren’t exactly equipped for it. A lot of Florida offers waterfront homes with access, but he small city that comes to mind that also offers the other things you’re looking for is Sarasota, on Florida’s west coast right on the Gulf of Mexico. However, you must realize that just about anywhere in Florida that is worth living will be invaded every winter by “snowbirds”, and for about 3 months the roads, stores and restaurants will be packed. They’ll leave about the time the humidity rises to the uncomfortable level. The entire state of Florida is either humid subtropical or tropical. No portion of California has that humidity-prone climate classification. As a rule, most California transplants that move to Florida, (lured by lower housing cost and taxes) are not satisfied with their relocation, and 9 months or more of high humidity annually is just one reason. There are comments in one of the “pros and cons” posts from former Californians living in FL and wanting to get out, it’s the post with about 70 comments.

      The dream of moving to Florida and buying a home and boat to put in the water in the backyard is an understandably common one. Since I’m not trying to sell you a boat or a home in Florida, I’m going to give it to you straight. The reality of owning a boat and waterfront property in hurricane prone Florida ends up being more of an expensive nightmare than a dream. My experience has been that people moving to Florida to be first time boat and waterfront owners get talked into buying the wrong boat. Or they get bad advice and buy an expensive waterfront home from a real estate agent that advertises herself as a “waterfront specialist” but has never navigated a boat in the waterways she’s selling access to. The result? You have a boat that can’t get under the bridge to get out to the big water at high tide. Or at low tide your boat get’s hung up on the bottom of the waterway because the water isn’t deep enough to use. Or you bought less expensive waterfront (but all waterfront is expensive) only to discover after you move in that it takes all day in “no wake” zones just to get out to bay, gulf or ocean, or your canal dead ends 6 blocks from you expensive new digs, etc. If you think a new car loses value when you it drive off the lot, wait until you see what happens with a new boat. Buy a used boat to save money? You might as well call it the SS Minnow because that used boat may leave you stranded like Gilligan, on your first voyage. Tow boats are more expensive than tow trucks and you can’t call AAA.

      Getting the wrong advice could mean you end up with the wrong boat, expensive waterfront home or both. Losing 50k, or 100k or more to correct such a situation isn’t anyone’s dream of course. There’s little recourse available too. Boat salesman represent themselves and the boat dealer. Most Florida real estate agents and brokers work as “transaction brokers” which means they do not have a fiduciary relationship with you the “customer” and do not represent your best interest when selling you a home. The Florida Move Guide goes into more detail about moving to Florida and buying waterfront property, boats, etc., and how to go about it to help avoid expensive mistakes.

      Note: If you an experienced avid boater and navigable waterfront owner, then some of this won’t apply to you because you may know as much or more than the salespeople you are dealing with in Florida. Or at least you’ll know what questions to ask to determine their level of honesty and knowledge.

  • Mariel

    Wow a lot of comments regarding florida amazing how people wants to run away from the cold just like i did back in 2003 from ohio To TAMPA florida. To be honest with all florida could be warm and have beaches etc, but theres also hurricane season, people that are rude as well and i know is not the only state like that but been there live there and finally got out of FLORIDA just in feb 2013. My husband got hired companies wont tell you if is seasonal or not so we were very unstable nothing is secured in life but it really sucks to have a job today and tomorrow you wont know. I have a disable son who was not getting the resources neither in school or hospitals as a matter effect they did a surgery in tampa fl and now his legs are getting deformed its very hard. I look a way to leave the stay because schools and education in Florida is not the greatest and for a better future for my family. i research for almost a year. My husband cant handle the cold weather so we ended up looking at 3 states, Savannah, GA, Charlotte NC and Columbia SC 29229. Well my husband and I decided that we will sent resumes to this states who ever he get a response first that where we were going. Well ended up in COUMBIA SOUTH CAROLINA we have been here for almost 14 months when we move my husband had a job already set up a house( Rent) and since then everything has been just a bless, my disable son is getting physical therapy in school and speech which the state of florida is prohibited those services. Schools in here are great, people are very nice and its great to race a family not much crime there is some but not high at all. Please do a good research before moving to another state for the best interest of your family if i knew it was going to be like that when i move to florida i would it never left ohio in the first place. There is other places just look and make sure you look at the ratings on schools, neighborhoods and the most important jobs.
    Hope this info help someone out there

  • Natalie

    We have been vacationing in Fla for the past 10 years. A couple of months at a time
    to start then couple of weeks because not wanting to leave the house in Ct. for too
    long because of concern about freezing pipes, damage due to snow on roof

    I love the warm
    weather, my husband likes it but feels the heat much more than I do. Ct. is becoming
    an undesirable place to retire because of high taxes, unfriendliness to small business
    and longer winters. We like St. Petersburg-love what has happened in the town-more
    sophisticated, restaurants, cafes, art, or nearby art galleries, theatre and closeness
    to Sarasota and Naples, Orlando, etc. We are both 74, looking to live in a condo.
    not having to worry about maintaining property and spraying grounds, etc. I have seen
    some small condos that friends have and like them-reasonable, to fix up for a small
    amount of money and love the town of St. Petersburg. We could go to the east coast
    where we also have friends and they are in Highland Beach, near Del Ray and Boca.
    Like that area because of shopping, restaurants, beaches, artsy community in Del Ray but also more expensive-friends live in a high rise on A1A- not an option for us,but even though we are New Yorkers originally from Brooklyn, except for friends we like the people better
    on the West Coast. We could sell our house in Ct. and stay here and try to find a condo
    but still have the high taxes, etc. Our family, is in Long Island and Boston and that is
    going to be hard to leave them. We have hopes that they will come down and stay
    with us from time to time and we will come back to stay with them over Christmas and
    possibly other holidays. Love winter for Christmas and that is about it. Otherwise hate it. Any suggestions???

    • Ron Post author

      Hello Natalie,
      If you’ve read any of my long winded responses on this blog, hopefully you’ll understand why I can’t respond to your particular comment, which I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write. The reason I can’t respond is because you brought up so many extremely valid points like leaving family up north, carrying two homes, friends already in Florida, condos, east coast vrs west coast, perhaps one spouse more motivated than they other, how often will family really visit, etc. It would take me days and many pages to fully and adequately respond. It would be like re-writing the “Florida Move Guide, The Unofficial Warning, Decision and Help Guide”. I do cover these very issues in the book (and a lot more), just take a look at the table of contents found here. I hope you understand.

      I do thank you for taking the time to write because I think your comment will help others. It shows that making the right decisions about moving to Florida aren’t easy, even for someone who has already “lived” in Florida for weeks and months at a time over a 10 year period and has friends now living in the state. Good luck Natalie.

  • Jason

    We are a family of 3. I work from home so I’m not concerned about employment. My son will be 4 this year and I’m looking to move to florida becouse of the tax benifits and the strong homestead laws. We want a beautiful beach town where it’s not too hot. Has great schools , low crime and plenty of restraunts and shops. So far I’m looking at Destin/St Augistin and Anna Maria Island. What area is the best out of those 3? And any other suggestions?

    • Ron Post author

      I’m impressed, all three places are very good choices for living in Florida. But they are like trying to compare apples to oranges. General rules:
      1) Yes, Florida has the best mix of of income tax and asset protection in the country (Texas may not agree) which can include excellent protection of equity in your Florida home, your IRA’s, etc.
      2) Many communities have both highly and poorly rated schools within the same system.
      3) Many areas have both high and low crime areas, but in lots of cities the size of one will far exceed the other.
      4) There are many beautiful beach towns in Florida, but if you are looking for one that’s “not too hot”, you won’t find that in Florida. As a general rule, the farther north you are, the shorter “too hot” lasts, for example maybe 7 months too hot in north FL vrs 9.5 months in south FL this year. Also as a general rule, the east coast may be a few degrees cooler and slightly less humid more days, probably due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the warmer (hotter?) Gulf of Mexico.

      Destin- People from rural areas (as opposed to cities), the south and midwest, or people from cities who THINK they want a drastically more laid back lifestyle may be happiest here. Mostly down to earth people, shops and restaurants which is what many people are looking for. For example, transplants from NYC or LA may become bored to death here quickly regardless of how much they think they want a more relaxed place to live. People from upstate NY or northern CA may find it to be just right, but remember the trouble Goldilocks had? You can get a lot more for you money here. Home values here may be more susceptible to booms and busts, and environmental issues than the east coast overall.

      St Augustine- Probably the best match of the three given the limited criteria you’ve given, mainly because it’s about as close to “not too hot” as you’re going to get in Florida. With a young child, you will want to do your due diligence on crime and schools (because like most areas there are good and not so good) before you look at homes. You don’t want to live in a place that isn’t right for you just because the agent made twice as much money on the sale (both the list & sell side) when the perfect area for your family is just a mile away, but she only would have half as much (sell side only) of the commission, if you bought there. Decide what area/neighborhood/schools and then find the best agent that lives in that area or an office that is located there.

      Anna Maria Island- Wow. Completely different from your other choices. Living here you will experience a true island lifestyle that most people can only dream of, because of cost. There are downsides like being more susceptible to storms and evacuations, but you gain a lifestyle that can have amazing benefits. I don’t care if someone lives just a mile from the beach by car, when you live on a key and can bike or walk to the beach in a few minutes, you will enjoy the the beach far more than commuters will ever realize. You will also be affected more by the problems, like water unsafe to swim in due to high bacteria counts, toxic red tide blooms, etc. Great asset protection and homestead laws can’t shield you from rising sea levels, storms washing away beach and land and the possibility of prohibitive future homeowners insurance or being dropped and not being able to get insurance at all. Who will buy a home that can’t be insured any longer? From the changes I’ve personally seen in Florida over a long period of time, I would never park money in a structure on sand that could be the first to get washed or blown away by a hurricane, or just swallowed by the water. I recall showing buyers vacant lots on an island, and one listing had a picture of a great lot with beachfront but upon arriving there, we saw that about 3/4’s of it was now under water. Out of curiosity, I looked up what they payed for it, they lost a ton of money…….

      A topic of concern among knowledgeable people who own lots of Florida real estate, is when will the next Florida hurricane wipe out cities and cause billions in losses occur, and will that cause insurance rates to increase to the point that they become prohibitive for the average Florida homeowner and home buyer? When will the average buyer become aware of sea level rise and will that drastically lower prices? The “Florida Move Guide” explains why you may want to reconsider buying a home near the coast. People who own lots of Florida homes and land will obviously want to liquidate BEFORE the public (agents, buyers, sellers) becomes aware of the issue if it will drastically lower prices, because doing so afterwards could result in huge losses. Will it become mandatory to give all buyers a “sea level rise” disclosure in the future in addition to all the other disclosures that are now required?

  • vivi

    We may be moving back to South FL. I moved to South FL from NY in the early 1990’s, met my hubby there & left due to job transfers to other parts of the county & now we’re THINKING about moving back. We’re early 50s/60s & hubby is retiring this summer. The climate & being closer to family/friends are the only things that may steer us back to FL. Anyone considering moving to FL, must do their homework, otherwise, they’ll be in for a big disappointment. If we do decide to go there, we’ll be smarter this time around. I work from home & hubby will be on pension/ss, so we don’t have to worry about looking for jobs. First of all, most cities down there are not cheaper than where we’re moving from (Houston, TX). For one thing, the homeowner’s ins is sky high ($3,000-$4,000 estm for a $200K house) & this puts your mortgage payment high. Next, statistics show only 37% of FL residents are native to FL, so this gives you an idea of how diverse the place is. Many Floridians are from other parts of the country or other countries. We lived in Tamarac & some of the people we came across were rich snobs (sorry) from the Northeast who took their bad habits down there. OR, people from the Caribbean who’s driving skills & mannerism weren’t any better (some). I don’t have a problem with diversity, but it’s the mannerism that got to me…in driving, service, etc. However, there’s still good people there. Last time I checked FL allows 90 yr olds to maintain their drivers license..don’t know if other states do, but I remember several fatalities down there because of that. JOBS: Because some of foreigners accept lower wages, this keeps the salaries down. We lived in Tamara before moving down to Miami to be closer to our jobs. The place is beautiful to look at, & there’s lots to do outdoors & the beaches are to die for, but that’s about it. Miami has a huge Cuban pouplation & I observed that non-Cubans are treated like 2nd class citizens & if you’re not missed out on good jobs.***If you’re thinking about “finding a job” when you get down to South Florida, or other parts of FL, you’ll be in for a surprise. Statistics show that most people who move down there, relocate back after finding out what the place has to offer. The unemployment rate is high, cost of living is high, jobs are low-paying, weather is good (if you don’t mind several months of humidity), it reminds you of a foreign country, so you have to be open minded & tolerant of other cultures & the behavior that comes with that. If you’re rich, then head to the Boca Raton, or Parkland areas & the nicer parts of Miami & you should be fine, but if you’re the average middle-class person like me, you have to be smart. We’re considering other parts like West Palm Beach/Boynton Beach, or other places on the East & West Coast of FL. Good Luck!

    • Ron Post author

      Thanks for the informative comment Vivi. The more comments we get from people who actually live in or have lived in Florida that tell what areas they lived in and what they liked or disliked, the more it will help readers who are just now seriously thinking of moving to Florida. Too many people move to Florida believing that their life will improve drastically because they didn’t encounter any negatives while vacationing in the sunshine state. Since the facts show so many people who relocate to Florida will actually end up moving out, comments like your that show there are negatives to living in Florida, may prompt more people to spend more time researching their relocation to better determine if it is really the right move to make.

      Your particular situation, of moving to Florida “again” is not that uncommon. I can remember selling a home for a family that was selling in Florida for a THIRD time to move back to Texas, for the third time. Their moves had nothing to do with employment, it was always just personal dissatisfaction. Considering they always bought and sold so they can live in a home they owned, their moving habit was extremely expensive. Owning a home in Florida AND “back home” is one of the best options with many benefits, as explained in the “Florida Move Guide”, may have been a better option for them and less expensive than all the closings costs caused by all that buying and selling, the loss of money paid to move, not to mention the months of aggravation and problems that long distance moving involves.

      I agree with you Vivi, having lived in Florida previously and knowing what it’s really like will lead to better decisions if you move to Florida again. I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for this time. Good luck and thanks again for your insightful comment.