The Sunshine State is a popular destination for those who want to move to warmer climes. Larger cities like Orlando even have some of the top financial advisor firms in the region, helping you to manage your money whether you’re retired or not. It’s famously popular with retirees, but Americans of all ages are feeling the lure of Florida. If you’re thinking about moving to Florida, here are 15 things you should know before you go.
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1. Yes, there are lots of seniors in Florida.
Though Florida isn’t the state with the highest median age, it’s up there. It’s a popular destination for retirees, due in part to its warm weather and in part to its retirement tax-friendliness. That doesn’t mean that young people should scrap the idea of moving to Florida, though. The state has a lot to offer people of all ages. In fact, it’s a popular destination for millennials who want to become homeowners.
Related Article: Where Are Retirees Moving?
2. There’s more to the wildlife than alligators.
Florida gators get a lot of attention. It’s the state’s more dangerous wildlife that gets the most press. You’ll hear about gator run-ins and snakes under porches far more than you’ll hear – and read – about egrets and manatees. But if you’re an outdoor enthusiast you’ll love exploring the state’s diverse ecosystems and seeing the many critters of the Sunshine State.
3. The party scene is big, but it’s not everywhere.
Just like the senior scene isn’t ubiquitous in Florida, the party scene isn’t everywhere in the state. The two Florida stereotypes – of the sleepy retirement community and the raucous South Florida party scene – don’t give the most accurate picture of the state as a whole.
4. South Florida and North Florida are pretty different.
South Florida and North Florida can sometimes feel like different states. South Florida is more diverse and shows more of a Latin American and Caribbean influence. The southern half of the state is also where more of the nightlife happens. North Florida is home to the state’s capital and has a different climate from the southern half of the state. If you’re thinking of buying a home in Florida, it’s worth knowing that South Florida is feeling the impact of rising sea levels and other climate change-related events. North Florida is not as vulnerable to climate change.
5. You might want to brush up on your hurricane safety.
If you’re moving to Florida, and especially if you’re moving to South Florida, it’s a good idea to read up on hurricane safety and keep an eye on weather alerts during hurricane season. You might have to board up your windows or shelter in a place without electricity. If you do a bit of research before your first hurricane season in Florida, you’ll have an easier time of it.
6. Florida is a swing state.
Your vote in presidential elections carries a lot of weight in Florida. That means you’ll see more political ads, get more knocks on your door and maybe even have more frequent political discussions with friends, neighbors and coworkers.
7. Tourists are a part of life in Florida.
Whether drawn to the spring break scene in the Keys, to Disney World, the Everglades or the Art Deco architecture in Miami Beach, tourists love Florida. If you’re moving to Florida, be prepared to deal with an influx in tourists during the more popular times of year to travel to the state. You’ll probably encounter lots of Northeasterners taking refuge from the cold winters. Make them feel welcome. They’ve earned a bit of sunshine.
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8. It’s worth going to Disney World at least once if it’s in your budget.
Taking a trip to Disney World can be pricey, but it’s a very Florida experience. You can combine it with a trip to Universal Studios, too. If you live in South Florida you might not want to make the trip up to Disney World, but we’re guessing that if you have kids they’ll convince you sooner or later. Just be careful on the road. In a recent SmartAsset study, Florida came in first as the state with the worst drivers.
9. The Daytona 500 is a slice of Americana.
Just like Disney World, the Daytona 500 is a Florida institution. It’s not called The Great American Race® for nothing. Think car racing isn’t for you? You might want to give the Daytona 500 a chance anyway, if only for the people-watching.
10. Florida has a long history.
Florida has a long history that includes pre-contact Native communities like the Seminole Tribe (still very much a part of Florida life) and early Spanish settlements that you can visit and enjoy. The Spanish-established settlement of St. Augustine, dating from 1565, is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the continental U.S. and the nation’s oldest city.
11. If you like baseball, you’ll love living in Florida.
If you’re a baseball fan or are open to becoming one, moving to Florida will be a great change for you. Every spring, the Grapefruit League baseball teams train in Florida. You can see major league players or minor league aspirants at relatively affordable games in the pleasant Florida spring weather.
Related Article: The Cost of Living in Florida
12. There’s more to Florida’s nature scene than the beach.
It may not seem possible to you now, but it is possible to get tired of going to the beach – at least for some people. If you find yourself in that predicament, there are plenty of other outdoor options in Florida. You can go boating or padding in mangroves and the Everglades. You can hike, kayak, zip-line or hot air balloon around the Sunshine State.
13. It’s a golf state.
Love golf? Think golf courses are water-guzzling eyesores? Either way, you’ll be surrounded by golf-lovers in Florida. The state boasts a high number of golf courses and hosts golf tournaments throughout the year. If you’ve never golfed before you might want to try hitting the links after moving to Florida, if only to see what all the fuss is about.
14. Sinkholes are a risk in Florida.
Maybe you thought the alligators, pythons, flying roaches and hurricanes were enough to deal with. But Florida also has sinkholes that swallow up residents’ cars from time to time. Florida’s porous ground is prone to the occasional collapse, and there’s really no way to predict where and when a sinkhole will occur.
15. Florida taxes are low.
Florida is one of a handful of states with no state income tax, and has a pretty low cost of living on top of that. Score! On the other hand, gas taxes are high in Florida so you might want to save gas and money by being careful to combine errands and living close to where you work.
If you are moving to Florida, it’s a good idea to understand how the change will impact your budget. A financial advisor can help you navigate big life changes like a move, or just help you identify and meet your financial goals. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and your goals. Then the program will narrow down your options to three fiduciaries who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.
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