A flurry of weirdness, boomers, and critters. The dark side of the Sunshine State is here.
Florida is a place you should be thinking about as you approach retirement. The coming polar vortex will bring with it warmer temperatures and less salt. It’s the ideal post-working life, or so we are told. Is it right for me?
Let us give you some honest advice before you make the Florida plunge. Spend some quality time in Florida. You can avoid the hotel by renting an Airbnb in your neighborhood or parking your RV in an RV-friendly area in Florida. Meet your neighbors, shop, and eat locally to get to know the rhythms and ways of life. You might not like what is around you after a few days or weeks.
We took a hard look at what it meant to retire in Florida. Here are some of the things we discovered.
Florida is crawling with Boomers
Are you ready to be part of the graying group that made Woodstock a thing, or do you not want to? Realize that your decision to retire in Florida may not be solely yours. Take a look at the numbers, and think about what you will face in the next few years.
Florida’s population is estimated to be nearly 21 million. This includes approximately 4.2 million people 65 years and older. This is an increase of 3.3 million seniors according to the U.S. Census 2010. The Sunshine State’s senior population is expected to reach 6 million by 2030. This is a lot of golf carts that are tricked out. Other popular Southeast states include Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas. They are all much younger than Florida.
Florida Residents Can Tax Snowbirds
Florida is home to a large number of alligators. You will also find invasive Burmese Pythons, green Iguanas, and herpes-carrying wild monkeys. There are also rats. Rats in palm trees, on the beach and on your roof. Molly Elliott, a Fort Myers Beach resident, stated that beach rats were an adjustment and a cost to keep them away from her home. She spends $300 per year on rodent control.
Others transplanted from the north agree that exotic animals and pests are an acquired taste. Trisha Torrey is a transplant living in central Florida. “Critters!” she says. It’s not uncommon to see alligators or snakes on golf courses. Since we moved here, neighbors have reported finding poisonous snakes in their patios and lanais three times.
Florida has an excessive amount of weirdness
Florida may get a bad reputation, but it sure has its fair share weird stories that drift in and out the news cycle. Craig Pittman, a native Floridian journalist at the Tampa Bay Times wrote the book about Florida weirdness. How America’s Most Strange State Influences the Country” Here’s an excerpt from a 2016 New York Times Review of Pittman’s book. “The deal is Florida’s charlatans, lunatics, and Snapchat-famous cosmetic surgeons. It’s the Ponzi schemes and byzantine corruption, evangelical fervor, and consenting-adult depravity. It is the insatiable climate. It is the lack of historical consciousness. The way this nation’s unctuous elements tends to trickle down like Florida was a grease trap under America’s George Foreman grill.
No state income tax? Florida makes up for it
Many Florida transplants find it a big plus that there is no state income tax. This includes no income tax on Social Security benefits and pensions. One for the Sunshine State.
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However, “no state income taxes” should not be confused with “no taxes at ALL”. Your retirement savings can be impacted by Florida’s state and local taxes. According to the Tax Foundation, Florida’s combined state-and-local sales taxes average 7.01%. This is higher than what snowbird state retirees in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Massachusetts are used to paying. Are you thinking of buying a new car for retirement? The entire purchase price is subject to the 6% state sales taxes. Additionally, counties may add their own vehicle sales taxes. Additional fees can be costly. For example, a Florida driver’s license costs $48, which is valid for eight years. A drivers license in Arizona costs $10 and is valid for 50-year-olds. It can also be used to register a vehicle outside of Florida.