Florida has recently passed New York to become the 3rd largest population state in the United States. The state’s influx of retirees has had a great deal to do with this growth. By 2020, the Census Bureau estimates that 20% of Florida’s population will be 65 or older!
This is not surprising. The internet and print media are full of articles describing the advantages of moving a retiree (and their assets) to Florida. It is a retiree-friendly state in every way. Some of the reasons for retirees to relocate to Florida may be frivolous, or at least not essential, but many are very solid economic decisions. Retiring to Florida can be a wise part of a senior lifestyle transition.
Here are 10 of the best reasons for retirees to make the move to Florida.
- There is no state income tax in Florida. Only nine states do not collect income taxes from their residents, Florida being one. If you are receiving retirement income from investments, a pension or other sources, a state income tax can be a real burden. In New York, a couple with a modest taxable income of $25,000 would owe the state almost $1500 in state income tax. In Florida, a couple with the same taxable income would owe zero state tax!
- There is no estate tax in Florida. Fortunately, the state “death tax” is itself a dying institution everywhere, but 16 states and the District of Columbia still collect it. Many of these states are in the Northeast. Retirees who sell their homes and other real estate in high tax states like Massachusetts, New Jersey or New York can move to Florida and avoid both the state income tax and any possible state inheritance tax.
- Protection of Assets. Florida gives retirees’ assets more legal protection than almost any state. Legal residents of Florida do not have to worry about losing retirement assets in case of financial difficulty. If your retirement planning vehicles, such as IRAs or similar accounts, were set up in Florida, they are probably exempt from debt collection efforts and lawsuits in Florida. This includes money in annuities and even funds invested in stocks and bonds through retirement accounts.
- A large variety of lifestyles and community choices. Florida is not just Disney World and the giant metropolis of Miami. There are many small communities that offer a slow and relaxed environment.
- Friendly climate. You may have heard, “Florida is so hot”. The fact is that the months of June through September may be uncomfortably warm for some people but Floridians deal with it like “Yankees” deal with the winter months. They stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, or visit their families up north. For the 8 months of October through May, the climate in Florida is ideal. The fall, winter and spring months are temperate, dry and perfect for outdoor activities.
- Wealth of recreational activities. You did not retire to just sit and grow old. Staying active will help keep you healthy and happy. While people in the Northeast are sometimes shut in for long periods, you can be riding a bike, camping, hiking or just sitting in the sun.
- A large variety of active adult communities. Because of the state’s high percentage of retired citizens, Florida is home to hundreds of active adult communities, retirement communities, assisted living facilities and other choices. After a lifetime of cutting your own grass and attending to maintenance and repairs, a well-managed community can offer freedom from those burdens. Florida offers such communities at all levels of amenities and prices.
- Great travel connections. No place in Florida is more than an hour or two from a major airport. International connections are available from major cities like Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. If you feel like visiting your friends and family back home, you are not going to have to drive hours to get to a good airport and you can find non-stop flights to most U.S. cities.
- Lower Cost of Living. Overall, Florida’s cost of living is about in the middle of state rankings, but this is deceptive. Parts of Florida like Miami, the Palm Beaches or Naples have relatively high living costs, but there are places where living costs are lower. Florida’s smaller cities like Gainesville, Tallahassee and lesser known towns like Apalachicola, Port Orange or tiny Niceville offer lower costs. According to the Tax Foundation, Florida’s overall tax burden is quite low, ranking 47th among the 50 states.
- Good health care and medical facilities. Health care providers are all over the state. Again, this is because of Florida’s high percentage of senior citizens who are the customer base for this activity. Small towns in places like Kansas or Wyoming might have many attractions but easy access to health care is not one of them. Health care organizations like the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic know this and now have operations in the state.
Like most senior life transitions, retiring to Florida involves a number of decisions and choices. These challenges may involve tax planning, IRA rollovers, real estate transactions, choosing a community and many others. No one person can have the time, knowledge and aptitude to master all these skills. Finding the right realtor, lawyer and accountant can help with the transition. Don’t try to do it alone as there are many professionals willing to help.