The Truth About Life in Florida

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There’s plenty of hype about Florida’s tropical weather, beautiful beaches and carefree lifestyle. As you’re daydreaming about moving to Florida, it all seems so appealing. But what’s it actually like to live there year-round? The reality may be a bit different than the vacation brochures make it appear.  

Before you pack up and head south, get the real scoop on life in Florida.  

The Pros of Living in Florida: Sun, Beaches, and No State Income Tax 

Florida is the place to be if you want to ditch those dreary winters for good. With an average of 230 sunny days a year, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the rays at the beach or while you’re lingering by the pool. The state’s natural beauty is stunning, from the Everglades to the Florida Keys. Adventure seekers can go boating, fishing, bird watching and hiking in unique ecosystems year-round. 

Living in Florida - Theme park - Mayflower

Families flock to Florida for the world-class theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Legoland. From thrill rides to character meet and greets and frequent fireworks shows, the Sunshine State is a dream destination for kids and families. 

Florida has no state income tax (*), so you’ll get to keep more of your hard-earned cash. However, housing and living costs do vary widely depending on where you choose to settle down. Cities like Miami and Orlando and coastal areas tend to be pricey, while small towns and rural parts of the state are often more affordable. 

Prepare for crowds, especially during peak season from December to April when snowbirds escape colder weather up north. Traffic and prices surge, but the payoff is enjoying the nice weather with fewer seasonal temperature extremes. Dealing with pesky insects like mosquitoes and palmetto bugs comes with living in a tropical climate, so be ready to spray. Alligators and venomous snakes are present too, though attacks on humans are rare. 

Ultimately, the culture is as diverse as the state itself. You’ll find Latin, Caribbean and Southern influences, especially in bigger cities. The laidback beachy vibe and outdoor lifestyle are appealing to many. Retirees favor parts of central Florida and the Gulf Coast, while other areas have a good mix of ages. 

If dealing with tourists, heat, and the occasional hurricane doesn’t deter you, the lifestyle in the Sunshine State could be well worth the move. A perpetual summer awaits in Florida for those seeking fun in the sun. 

The Cons of Living in California: Hurricanes, High Cost of Living and Traffic

If endless sun and sand sound appealing, the downsides of life in Florida may give you pause. Between the expenses, weather events, and congestion, living in paradise comes at a cost. 

The High Cost of Living in the Sunshine State 

Housing and living expenses in Florida can be steep, especially near desirable areas like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Home prices and rent have skyrocketed in recent years. Property taxes(*) and insurance premiums are also relatively high due to risks from storms and floods. Prepare for sticker shock, particularly if you want to live near the beach or Disney World. 

Hurricane Season is No Joke 

Living in Florida - Hurricane - Mayflower

From June through November, the threat of hurricanes looms large. While most storms amount to nothing, major hurricanes can be disastrous. Stock up on emergency supplies, create an evacuation plan and closely monitor the news during the season. After a big storm, power outages, flooding and damage can disrupt life for days or weeks. 

Traffic and Crowds Galore 

Snowbirds flock to Florida in the winter, while tourists descend in droves during spring break and summer. Traffic snarls and congestion are common, especially on weekends and holidays. Popular attractions like theme parks, beaches, and shopping areas get packed. If you value solitude, the seasonal influx of visitors may drive you nuts. 

An Insider’s Perspective on the Different Regions of Florida

Florida is a big state with distinct regions, each offering a unique slice of paradise. Where you choose to settle depends a lot on the lifestyle you’re looking for. Let’s explore some of the options. 

South Florida — encompassing Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Keys — has a heavy Latin influence and fast-paced party vibe. You’ll find glamorous beaches, an exciting food scene and world-class nightlife. Housing and living costs are high, and traffic can be brutal. If you’re looking for a cosmopolitan escape, South Florida could be ideal. 

Living in Florida - Arial view of beach in Florida - Mayflower

Central Florida, home to Orlando and Tampa, appeals to families and theme park lovers. You have easy access to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and more — but also beaches, lakes and natural areas. The weather is hot and muggy, and seasonal crowds descend, but for many, the benefits of living in the heart of the action outweigh the downsides. 

The Panhandle, especially around Pensacola and Destin, offers sugar-white sand beaches and Southern charm. The pace of life is laid back, costs are lower, and you can enjoy outdoor activities year-round. However, jobs are scarce and the region tends to be less diverse than in some other parts of the country. The Panhandle is perfect if you want a simple beach life. 

The Space Coast, surrounding Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, attracts those fascinated by the space program. You might spot rocket launches from your backyard and bump into astronauts at the grocery store. The surfing is world-class, and the beaches peaceful. Housing here is relatively affordable, but the economy depends heavily on the space industry. 

Moving to Florida? How to Prepare for the Big Relocation

If Florida sounds like the place for you, it may be time to prepare for a big life change. 

Do Your Research 

Before packing up your belongings, learn as much as you can about your new home. Study the area you’re interested in, from cost of living and job opportunities to climate and lifestyle. Some places cater more to families, while others attract mostly retirees or snowbirds. Make sure the region aligns with what you’re looking for. 

Delve into our comprehensive guide to Moving to Florida

Budget for Additional Costs 

While Florida lacks income tax, costs like property taxes and home insurance tend to be higher than average(*). And housing prices have skyrocketed in popular cities and coastal communities. Make sure your budget accounts for potentially paying a premium for housing, as well as preparing for seasonal spikes in populations that can drive up prices for goods and services. 

Prepare for Relocation Expenses 

The move itself also comes with significant costs, from hiring movers to transporting vehicles and belongings to setting up utilities in your new home. Get estimates from moving companies in advance and start setting aside money to cover all relocation expenses. Make a checklist of tasks and logistics to keep everything organized. 

Dealing With Hurricanes and Wildlife 

Part of living in the Sunshine State means preparing for storms and encounters with local critters. Stock up on emergency supplies, create an evacuation plan and learn how to properly respond to warnings about approaching hurricanes or floods. You’ll also want to educate yourself on how to safely handle encounters with alligators, snakes, insects and other Florida wildlife. 

Living in Florida FAQs: Answering All Your Questions About Life in the Sunshine State

Florida has a lot to offer, from gorgeous weather to natural beauty and fun recreational activities. But before you pack up your belongings, you may have some questions about what life is really like in the Sunshine State. 

Is Florida full of retirees? 

While parts of Florida do have large retirement communities, especially along the coasts and in central Florida, the state’s bigger cities like Miami, Tampa and Orlando have a good mix of ages. Florida’s average age is only slightly higher than the national average. While you’ll find plenty of retirees, there are also lots of young families and professionals. 

How bad are the bugs, snakes, alligators and other wildlife? 

Bugs, especially mosquitoes and cockroaches, can be an annoyance, especially in the hot summer months. It’s a good idea to regularly spray your yard and home. As for gators and snakes, attacks on humans are rare. Just use caution if you’re in wooded or swampy areas. Fortunately, most wildlife prefers to avoid people. 

What are the people and culture like? 

Florida is an incredibly diverse state, attracting transplants from all over the country and world. There’s a laid-back beach and outdoor culture in many parts of the state. The bigger cities like Miami and Orlando have vibrant food, arts and nightlife scenes. Culturally, you’ll find influences from Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond, ensuring there’s something for everyone. 

Is Florida affordable to live in? 

Florida does not have a state income tax(*), but housing costs and insurance rates can be on the higher side, especially in popular cities and coastal areas. More rural parts of the state typically have a lower cost of living. Home prices vary widely depending on location. If living affordably is a priority, do your research to find an area in your budget. 

Overall, while Florida isn’t perfect, the state has a lot going for it, from the weather to natural scenery to an abundance of recreational activities. If you go in with realistic expectations about the potential downsides like heat, humidity, tourists and wildlife, you’ll be on your way to enjoying all the Sunshine State has to offer.  

Relocating to Florida from another region? Count on Mayflower’s reliable long-distance moving services to facilitate a seamless transition to the Sunshine State. From packing and unpacking to efficient storage solutions, car shipping services, and even debris pick-up, our comprehensive moving services ensure every aspect of your relocation is handled with utmost care. Request a quote today and let us simplify your move to Florida.

(*) Please note: we are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances.

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