People enjoy the camaraderie that is found when they share a common experience. Part of human nature is to feel connections to others. For example, most people have a warm fondness or experience a sense of nostalgia whenever they think of home, their hometowns, even their home state. If you are a sports fan, regardless of where you hail, you instinctively root for the home team and feel an instant connection when other state fans surround you.
There’s No Place Like Home: Unless You’re in Florida
The collective connection is what draws human beings together and could explain why millions of people flock to Florida annually, either on vacation or as a permanent residence change. Florida offers an abundance of positive qualities that are wanted to be shared by the masses.
Key Reasons Why Everyone Is Moving to Florida
Our team gathered a list of the key reasons why people are moving to Florida to start a new life. Curious about what it costs to move to Florida?
1.The Sunshine State is a State of Attractions
What is it about the state of Florida that elicits such a magnetic pull from millions? As a resident and one of the only living 4th generational, true native Floridian, this author will affirm that Florida offers several incredible experiences found nowhere else on the planet.
When one of man’s primary goals is communicating with others and sharing common experiences with them, logically it makes sense for the people to want to vacation or move to Florida. Millions come pouring across our state lines annually to experience, enjoy, and share the many splendors Florida offers including its weather, beaches, oceans & lakes, theme parks, nightlife, historical cities, sports teams, wildlife, food & dining, and cost of living & sales tax.
While the rest of the world is roasting chestnuts on open fires, it’s not Christmas in Florida without the annual BBQ on the beach. It’s a family tradition. After breakfast, stockings, and presents, it’s time to load up the car for some serious “Sun in the fun” action.
Granted most people would say they want a white Christmas, but I’d bet Santa’s sleigh, no one delights in the chore of scraping the freezing tundra of a driveway in arctic temperatures. (That’s anything below 70’ F to us Florida girls, by the way.)
A common Florida saying is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute it will change.” This joke refers to Florida’s famous afternoon thundershowers. We may be the Sunshine State, but we’re also the lightning capital of the US due to the rolling clouds that come crashing across our shores every summer afternoon at about 4 p.m. like clockwork. These storms are a much-desired respite from the daily heat.
Most would view this record with trepidation; ironically, they too are a tourist attraction. Once you have witnessed one out across the bay, you’ll need never ask again. These thunderstorms accompanied by “God’s light show” across the sky, offer a visual masterpiece rivaling anything else found in nature.
After one of the miraculous displays of power and beauty, the Florida afternoon temperatures are always balmy, and people begin to gather on the beaches to collect the many shells that have gathered after the storm. All along Florida’s coastlines, people gather some of the most beautiful and colorful treasured shells in the world including conchs, periwinkles, starfish, and sand dollars.
3.Miles of Endless Beaches
And what shorelines does Florida have! Being the United States’ only peninsula state, the three sides, all 8,436 miles, is dusted with crystal water and shimmering sands. Private and public beaches account for every square inch of Florida’s mainland. The reason is as clear as our oceans.
Florida beaches are warm and inviting; they beckon the tourist to visit, and the wanderer to stay a while longer. If you long for romantic sunsets unlike any other, then stroll along with one of many of Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches. However, if you like to wake with the first kiss of morning light, you will get an equally impressive sunrise on Florida’s Atlantic coasts.
Along with the glorious beaches come the beautiful waters surrounding our tropical paradise. In those waters swim some of the best tasting and best-catching fish in the world, another reason tourists come, and others move to Florida.
4.Florida’s Oceans and Lakes
From the child to the seasoned professional, whether you prefer to surf, pier or boat, one of Florida’s largest attractions is fishing in her oceans and lakes. People from all over the world come to the Keys and other deep waters for the tastiest fish caught in salt waters like Mahi Mahi, Grouper, Red Snapper, and Drum and in our lakes beautiful largemouth Bass. The sunshine state has more than 700 springs, so our team compiled a list of the best Florida springs to visit with your family.
Besides fishing, our oceans provide a variety of other recreational activities tourists enjoy that can’t be experienced anywhere else. In Florida waters, people surf, scuba, swim with manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks, go kayaking and boating, search for starfish and sand dollars, parasail, and more. When you visit or live along with one of Florida’s beaches, you are only a Jimmy Buffet or Don Henley song and a margarita away from paradise.
5.Beautiful Theme Parks
However, it does appear that millions of people prefer a different kind of wonderland than the heavenly Florida beaches. A shared common love of Americans is theme parks, and Florida has their share of them primarily thanks to the world-renowned, visionary Walt Disney.
While Florida hosts other Theme Parks including Busch Gardens, Sea World, and Universal Studios, it is universally known for Orlando and the rodent monopoly/conglomerate that “all started with a little mouse”: Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, accompanied by Downtown Disney, and Disney Racetrack.
People love Disney; they spend additional money to stay at one of their many resorts, hotels, or campgrounds. If you are a Disney fan for life and plan to move to Florida, you can opt to purchase a house inside Celebration, an entirely Disney-owned community inside the Orlando city limits.
Other themed attractions for Florida residents and tourists to visit include Lego Land, Old Town, Lion Country Safari, Fun-Spot America, ICON Park, and Adventure Landing Jacksonville Beach just to name a few. When you’re in Florida, you never have a reason to be bored. You can check our guide about the best RV parks in Florida to pick the option that suits your budget.
Disney hasn’t forgotten that adults have different ideas of fun after the sun goes down. Disney knows how to throw a party! After each theme park’s nightly, thousand, dollar firework, orchestra display, adults are invited to Downtown Disney where the party can continue in one of the many “themed” bars designed for every person’s music and groove taste.
Although, Orlando is not the only Florida hot spot famous for its nightly celebration scene. Miami is internationally famous for its most popular tourist spot, South Beach. During the day, the ocean side’s fluffy white sands are populated with beach lovers. But at night, Ocean Drive is famous for its bars, shops, restaurants, and local scenery frequented annually by millions and viewed by millions more as it is also favorite scenery in hundreds of T.V. shows and films.
Tampa also has its historic nightspot that swings with the best; Ybor City. Once home to the finest Cuban cigar factories in the country and still home to the finest restaurants, clubs, and shops in Tampa. 7th Ave is on the Top Ten Streets in the USA for a reason and was recently the backdrop for the 2016 Ben Affleck film “Live by Night.” The title of the movie might say it all Ybor City does come alive by night and is a treat to locals and visitors of all ages.
If Hemingway didn’t make Key West and its sibling Keys famous with his literature, homestead, and legendary bar Sloppy Joes, it may have been every other star-eyed dreamer and writer that had the opportunity to visit. Located just 60 miles north of Cuba and with an ethnicity all its own that locals long ago adopted the name for themselves as “Conchs”. Time also moves very differently in the Keys. Every day is a holiday in the Florida Keys; in other words, don’t set your watch to anything. When visiting the Florida Keys, visitors should plan on forgetting the outside world, relax, and let whatever adventure happens, take place. You might never go home.
7.Florida’s Historical Cities
Every state is rich in its history on how it becomes a part of this country. However, only a few can claim to be quite as old as Florida’s that dates its history as early as Columbus with its explorers settling in St. Augustine in the early 1500’s. This city is famed for being the oldest continually occupied city in the U.S. and is a delightful diversion for exploration. Midway across the state, travelers run across attempts to convert native Americans, with missions founded near today’s state capital of Tallahassee. On the opposite end of North Florida, an overlooked early colonial city can be found in Pensacola, also marked by early British and Spanish forts.
Florida’s cities and towns are historically rich in their involvement with the original indigenous people, as well as other incredibly historical places that attract tourists and other visitors to move to Florida.
For those interested in cities dedicated to various war memorials and monuments, Florida’s filled from coast to coast. In Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Orlando, Miami, to the Florida Keys, Floridians honor those who have fallen in service of this country. Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell is one of the prettiest resting spots for veterans of the 20th and 21st century with rolling green acres and ancient, huge oaks standing guard.
Florida is also home to Kennedy Space Station located on Merritt Island, just east of Orlando. Residents and tourists across Florida are treated when they send something into space. An incredible benefit is being able to hear the sonic booms and see the liftoffs even up to 100 miles away.
Other cities of interest are dedicated to Seminole Indian chiefs, psychic phenomena, and some towns are even dedicated to the incredibly wealthy and freakishly odd of the 20th century (see Barnum & Bailey). Visitors should be sure to check out the African American history and heritage, in places like Eatonville, just outside of Orlando, where writers like Maya Angelou enlivened in her novels.
8.Award Winning Sports Teams
Supposedly all sports fans love their hometown teams. A part of being a part of the community is “root- root- root for the home team”, even though if they are playing against a Florida team, they are going to lose. Florida is home to professional teams in baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. It is also home to the famous NASCAR races and numerous golf tournaments. It is also home to nationally competitive college teams from all areas of sports.
This sports fan is no different, but of course, this writer’s teams are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Lightening. That’s right, boys, “The 2020 Super Bowl and Stanley Cup winners!!!” respectively said to the gentlemen around the globe.
Florida can also brag about the Miami Heat, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Orlando Magic as other superlative professional teams. Although no one is prouder on the college football field than it’s Florida Gators and Seminoles when there’s a game in the “Swamp”, (UF’s home field), war is in Gainesville and blood will be spilled. If the Gators have their way, the streets will be filled with weeping loss of burgundy that week.
Bright orange and blues will decorate the streets as fans around the state and country cram into this tiny college town. From there, people have prepared for a week-long tourist fest of fun-loving rivalry that brings in hundreds of thousands of revenue dollars in Florida tourism. Imagine a mini–Super Bowl combined with Mardi Gras, and you’ve got Gators in the Swamp for Homecoming.
Another habitat and ecosystem that Florida is famous for are its swamplands. Throughout large in-land sections of this tropical paradise encompass hundreds of untouched acres filled with national parks and preserves. Scattered across the state, these parks offer Florida tourists and residences the possibility of seeing one of the world’s rarest birds or animals in its natural habitat.
For example, one is only ever going to see the shepherd-size Key-deer if one visits the Florida Keys, the only home to this miniature, frolicking hoofed cervids. Florida’s lakes, estuaries, rivers, and intercoastal waterways are the homes to many of the world’s rarest and most stunning animals and winged beasts alike.
Only in South Florida will you find the American crocodile, not to be confused with the Southeastern American alligator, found in abundance throughout Florida, and a couple of other southern states. We are also home to the Florida Panther, the Manatee, the Bottlenose Dolphin, and the Florida Black Bear.
Earlier, we lightly mentioned how tourists and residents alike love the Florida oceans for the beauty of their inhabitants. Truthfully, most thrill-seekers come for the thrill of the hunt in swimming, photographing, and even catching some of the safest, some of the most dangerous, and some of the best fighting fish in the ocean. Florida’s oceans are home to the largest varieties of sharks in the world including Blacknose Sharks, Blacktip Sharks, Bonnethead Sharks, Bull Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Sharp-nosed Sharks, the Spinner Sharks, and on rare occasion The Great White Shark.
What most experts will tell you about sharks are that (for the most part) they are like every other predator on the planet. They have absolutely no interest in you; they don’t even like the taste of humans unless you enter their territory, or they are feeling threatened enough to strike.
What most experts won’t tell you and might not even know is that much of Florida’s intercoastal waterways, the rivers, and streams that often connect the oceans to larger bodies of water in, “brackish.” Brackish water is a mixture of salt water and fresh water; it is usually dark and murky, and it is the perfect water and breeding ground for both sharks and alligators.
Take it from a 4th generation Floridian, if you are a tourist or looking to move to Florida, do not swim in any brackish water you are unfamiliar with along the coastland or even further mainland. Good advice to follow when visiting Florida is “know the waters where you play”.
10.Famous Floridian Foods & Restaurants
Regardless of what is written, someone could argue that New York or California, or other states with equally high tourist rates are going to claim to have the finest dining and restaurants. Granted, each state offers foods equally worth experiencing, but money down says tourists or anyone planning on moving to Florida with fine foods and restaurants that equal and surpass any of those found within ANY OTHER state in this country!
The reasoning behind my statement is simple. If one thinks of the United States as a giant mixing pot of every culture combined into one united continent, then the best way to think of Florida is the country’s mixing pot of cultures. Everyone- young, old, rich, and poor seem to find their way to Florida’s shores, and in the spirit of the community shares their cultures, which means their languages and most importantly their food.
You would have to fly to Greece to find better Greek food than that found in the Greek settlement of Tarpon Springs. Texas may have a few Mexican dishes worth celebrating, but nobody can put together an entire Latin Festival and have Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Spaniards, Argentinians, etc. lining the streets to dance and play music and share their food. Dying for the best farm-raised steak dinner, wine from one of the world’s largest wine cellars, and finish inside a personalized wine barrel with pages of delectable dessert creations? Serving this world’s international elite since 1957 with the only (entire menu) from farm to table, there’s only one Bern’s Steak House.
Like NYC, all the major Floridian cities, and most medium metropolitans cater to the tourist and residential clientele through their flavor palette. A quick internet search will find you in a 5-star, Michelin winner and hidden treasure easily within any 20-mile radius of one of Florida’s flavorful cities.
11.Affordable Cost of Living & No State Income Tax
For those who are lured by all the sunshine and attractions, Florida has economic appeal as well. Probably the biggest economic appeal is the lack of a state income tax. Floridians who save money by not paying a state income tax. This is celebrated annually when tax returns are filed and paid as it tends to lead to Floridians having regular savings or more disposable income. The economic benefit for the state is the disposable income goes back into Florida’s wonderful attractions.
Moreover, Florida’s median household average hovers near the national average yearly. We are keeping up with most of the country. And while the cost of living rose substantially over the past year, according to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research. This is in part attributable to the fact that over 300,000 people moved to Florida between April 2020 and April 2021. Annually, our cost of living does not fluctuate that much. According to a recent report, Florida and Texas ranked as the top states people are moving to for living after the pandemic.
A part of that influx surely must be attracted not only by the lack of a state income tax but also by reasonably low property taxes, when compared with other high-density states. While city and local taxes vary, and sales taxes fluctuate often, there are other economic benefits to living in Florida. It is commonly reported that groceries, utilities, housing, and transportation costs are generally reported lower than the national average.
Things I Don’t Like About Living in Florida
There are several drawbacks and downsides to this tropical paradise—so-called—which might spur one to reconsider whether they would move them and their families to Florida. Here are some reasons why moving to Florida may not be such a good idea after all:
Real Estate is expensive.
When Florida real estate prices shoot up, so does the real estate taxes, and it happens quite often in Florida. Home insurance is among some of the highest in the country here due to this state being frequently visited by tropical storms. So, be prepared for the higher-priced real Estate, especially along the oceanfront.
Restaurants are too pricey.
There are no cheap places to dine on the beaches as they are overpriced – not just restaurants but parking too if you can find a parking space. No food stands on the street corners like in Jersey or Southern California with their Mexican food stands.
The population might be overcrowded.
With over 20 million residents and 100+ million tourists a year (2021), driving and parking just about anywhere in Florida can be maddening. It’s even worse in the winter months due to the snowbirds and tourists. Locals constantly complain that the tourists are ruining everything. During the winter seasons, droves of foreigners and temporary out-of-town people from far northern states (the snowbirds) cause overcrowding at restaurants, stores, hospitals, traffic-ways, beaches, and other public sites and attractions. Everyday living expenses, including groceries, rack up during this season also.
Beware of Hurricanes and severe tropical storms.
More storms hit Florida than any other state in the United States. Even though it is rare that a large Hurricane will hit Florida, Florida’s geographical location is right in the ‘bullseye zone’ for tropical storms and hurricanes generated from the Atlantic. These storms are ‘magnetically’ attracted to the tropical peninsula, passing through every June 1 to November 30. Long-time residents hold their breath and wait it out during this time, or else snowbird it to the Carolinas.
The highly humid air usually also entails fighting off swarms of mosquitoes, biting flies, biting fire ants. Other crawling critters like the hot, humid climate are lizards, snakes, and alligators—all reptilian families, of course! This means that small children need to be restricted from playing near any water or tall grass in the yard. Watch out for gators and snakes if you go trail hiking. And also, do not forget – NO swimming in freshwater ponds/lakes in Florida.
Higher costs for vehicle registration and licensing.
To make up for the lack of a state income tax, things like car registration in Florida, a driver’s license, and other fees and sales taxes will probably cost more than where you moved from.
Subdivisions are with Home Owner Associations (HOAs).
Florida has a lot of HOAs, and in fact, they are in most middle and upper-class neighborhoods. These organizations are highly regulated and very strict, even though they serve many goods in many ways. In Sarasota, for example, in the wealthy areas, they allow you to do two things—Walk in your house and walk out! To some, the strict rules of these communities limit the freedoms and privileges of its residents in the name of “maintaining a specific standard or policy”. And due to their strictness, you also get the privilege of trying to get through closed gates to visit anyone, and you have to “call-in” anyone who visits you.
Enjoy early rust on your vehicle.
The precipitation from the ocean and the saltwater mist carried by the wind get on the vehicles’ metal. The salt elements eat away at the vehicles’ paint and metallic elements, accelerating vehicle corrosion and damage. The sun and salty air can destroy a car’s finish. And other metallic parts of the vehicle, including brake calipers, nuts and bolts, can rust quickly.
Lots of homeless people are living in Florida.
Because of its warm weather and sandy Oceanside beaches, Florida is a favorite destination for the homeless. As of 2019, Florida ranks third among all the states with the highest homeless population—trailing behind only California and New York, yet with a comparable population to Texas. And with homelessness also comes drugs and crime.
Florida does not have a very good Healthcare system.
Florida is listed as number 48 of the 50 states from the bottom—the last being the worst Healthcare system in the country. Thus, Florida is a close runner-up for being the worst Healthcare provider.
Florida is a giant flatland,
Don’t worry about taking scenic hikes up mountain ridges or overlooking enormous towering bluffs – the only thing remotely close to this is a hilly ridge in the center of the Florida peninsula and some hilly terrain along the panhandle. And to Floridians, they pride themselves in virtually the only rare Floridan bulge of Earth they call a ‘mountain,’ yet would barely count as a molehill in many other states. It is called “Sugarloaf Mountain.” This hill, properly designated, is near the northern edge of the Lake Wales Ridge. The Lake Wales Ridge, named for Lake Wales in the middle of the ridge, was the location of Florida’s booming citrus industry that began in the early 1900s. This added elevation was perfect for citrus crops. But a series of freezes eventually caused farmers to move the bulk of the citrus production further south along the ridge.
We also cannot fail to mention increasing taxes, water pollution (in certain areas), sinkholes, invasive species, and traffic congestion. These problems mixed with a dull flatland experience and the lack of efficient transportation are major concerns in Florida. To the older folk, the idyllic concept of a Florida retirement doesn’t have the appeal it offered even 20 to 30 years ago, which was, in many ways, better than it is at present.
When one compares the cost of living and taxes with that of the national average and adds that to all the incredible benefits Florida has to offer, is it any wonder why it leads to state tourism and relocation or resettlement. Once a person has experienced all that Florida has to offer its guests and residences, he or she immediately wants to share the joy and excitement found here with others. From there the bond and the love of this great state continue to grow.
As a national melting pot of communities coming together, Florida offers something for everyone to share with those they love, as well as to share something they love with everyone. It is recommended that someone try staying 2-3 months in Florida state before making their move official. However, we must say that Florida, like everywhere, has its good things and its bad things about life.
This guide was shared with our team by Catherine Borkowski, Ma. Ed A proud Floridian who lives in the sunshine state for the 4th generation and is edited by Lauren Alba & Chris Maxwell.