Retiring in Florida
From the pros and cons to the best places to live and other considerations, we give you the low-down on retiring in Florida.
The Sunshine State is a popular retirement destination for many Americans. In 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that Florida had a population of approximately 22.2 million people, with more than 21% of residents over the age of 65, making it one of the largest retirement populations in the country.
More than 4 million Floridians are older than 65.
Retiring in Florida has pros, such as a lower cost of living and good healthcare.
Florida has cons, such as relatively high sales tax and property insurance.
Sarasota and Naples are among the best places for retirees.
Speak to a financial advisor about retirement savings in Florida.
If you’re thinking about making the state your home when you retire, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons. It is also worth getting expert advice from a financial advisor before making a decision. Find out what you need to know.
What are the pros and cons of retiring in Florida?
From the warm weather and affordability to hurricanes, traffic, and crowds, retiring in Florida has its pros and cons. Let’s delve into them.
The benefits of retiring in Florida include:
No state income tax: One of the most significant financial benefits of retiring in Florida is the lack of a state income tax. This can be a huge advantage for retirees living on a fixed income, as it means they won't have to pay state taxes on their retirement income. Check out the complete guide to taxes in Florida here.
Lower cost of living: Overall, the cost of living in Florida is lower than many other popular retirement destinations. Housing, food, and healthcare costs are all generally lower in Florida than in other states.
Homestead exemption: Florida's homestead exemption laws can provide significant financial benefits to retirees who own their own homes. Under the homestead exemption, homeowners are able to exempt up to $50,000 of the assessed value of their primary residence from property taxes.
Tax-friendly retirement accounts: Florida does not tax Social Security benefits and other types of retirement income, such as pensions. 401(k) withdrawals are also tax-friendly in the state.
Warm weather: The climate in Florida is warm and sunny year-round, which is a major draw for retirees who want to escape the harsh winters in other parts of the country. The warm weather also makes it possible to enjoy outdoor activities like golf, tennis, and swimming.
Healthcare: Florida is home to some of the best hospitals and medical centers in the country, making it an attractive destination for retirees who may require regular medical care.
Outdoor activities: From fishing and boating to hiking and biking, there are plenty of outdoor activities that make retiring in Florida appealing to anyone with an active lifestyle. The state is home to several national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as numerous beaches and golf courses.
The main cons include:
Property insurance costs: One of the major financial drawbacks of retiring in Florida is the cost of property insurance. Because of the state's high risk of hurricanes and other natural disasters, property insurance can be expensive, particularly in coastal areas.
High property taxes: While the homestead exemption can help mitigate some of the property tax burden for retirees, Florida's overall property tax rates can be relatively high.
Tourist areas can be expensive: While Florida's cost of living is generally lower than many other states, certain areas of the state can be quite expensive, particularly in popular tourist destinations like Miami, Orlando, and Naples.
Sales tax: Florida has a relatively high sales tax rate of 6%, which can add up over time for retirees who are living on a fixed income.
Crowds: Florida is a popular destination for tourists, which means that some areas can be very crowded during peak season. This can make it difficult for retirees to enjoy certain activities, such as going to the beach or visiting theme parks.
Traffic: With a growing population, traffic can be a major issue in some areas of Florida. This can be frustrating for retirees who may not be used to dealing with heavy traffic.
Heat and humidity: While warm weather is a pro for many retirees, the heat and humidity in Florida can be overwhelming for some. This can make it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities and may lead to health problems for some individuals.
What are the best places to retire in Florida?
If you have your heart set on the Sunshine State, these are the best and most popular places for retiring in Florida:
Sarasota: Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, Sarasota is known for its beautiful beaches, cultural attractions, and vibrant arts scene. It also boasts a low crime rate and a high quality of life.
Naples: This upscale city on Florida's southwest coast is popular among retirees for its luxury amenities, beautiful beaches, and excellent healthcare options.
The Villages: This planned community in central Florida has become a top retirement destination thanks to its abundance of activities, shopping, and dining options, as well as its low cost of living.
St. Augustine: Known for its rich history, charming architecture, and coastal location, St. Augustine is a popular retirement destination for those who want to enjoy a slower pace of life.
Fort Myers: Located on Florida's west coast, Fort Myers offers retirees plenty of sunshine, beaches, and outdoor activities, as well as a relatively low cost of living.
Tampa: This bustling city on Florida's Gulf Coast is known for its lively downtown, world-class museums, and excellent healthcare options, making it an attractive destination for retirees.
Destin: This small city on Florida's Emerald Coast is a popular retirement destination for those who love boating, fishing, and other water activities, as well as its stunning beaches and laid-back atmosphere.
Pensacola: The most western city in Florida, Pensacola is an ideal location if you’re looking for a beachside retirement, with abundant boating and fishing opportunities.
Jacksonville: One of the state's largest cities, Jacksonville boasts miles of white-sand beaches, making it a top location for potential retirees. It is also popular with golfers and has an extensive museum and art scene.
Port St. Lucie: Regularly ranked as one of the best places to retire in Florida, the affordable coastal city of Port St. Lucie is one of the fastest growing in the US.
If you plan on retiring in Florida, it's worth speaking to a qualified financial advisor to find the best city for your budget. Match with an advisor here.
What age can you retire in Florida?
If you're wondering when you can retire in this popular state, there is no specific retirement age that is mandated by law. This means that you can enjoy the benefits of retiring in Florida as long as you can financially support yourself. However, there are some age-related benefits and considerations for retirees in Florida that might encourage you to wait for as long as possible:
Social Security benefits: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62, but if you delay taking benefits, your monthly payments will increase. Full retirement age (FRA) is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. Delaying benefits until after FRA can result in even higher monthly payments.
Medicare eligibility: Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of retirement status. However, if you choose to retire before age 65, you will need to find alternative healthcare coverage until you become eligible for Medicare.
Age discrimination: While there is no mandatory retirement age in Florida, it is still illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on age.
Retirement savings: Regardless of retirement age, individuals need to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 15% of your income for retirement. You could check out the average retirement savings in the US.
Is Florida tax-friendly for retirees?
Retiring in Florida certainly comes with many benefits, and the state is certainly what you’d call tax-friendly for retirees.
The lack of state income tax means that retirees have fewer financial obligations. Plus, there’s no savings, inheritance, or estate tax, and the favorable property tax exemptions make it an even better option for older people on a fixed income. Overall, when compared to other states, Florida’s tax laws allow retirees to save thousands in taxes every year potentially.
Ensuring you enjoy the tax benefits of retiring in Florida is so much easier if you have the expert advice of a financial advisor. Unbiased can help you to find an advisor who’s best suited to your needs.
Is Florida a good place to retire?
Florida has had a long reputation as being the state of choice for retirees looking for an endless summer. There’s no denying that the Sunshine State offers many benefits, many of which have financial implications. However, you must be aware of both the pros and cons of retiring in Florida.
Speak to an SEC-regulated financial advisor about your thoughts on retiring in Florida. Visit Unbiased to learn more about retirement options, and let us match you with an advisor who can offer expert financial advice.
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.