Florida - Continuing To Attract Retirees
In spite of concerns about hurricanes, over-crowding, escalating real estate prices and environmental issues, Florida remains at the top of the list for most retirees searching for sunshine and warm weather. True, the retirement migration has increased in other Sun Belt states, notably Arizona and the Carolinas, but Florida continues to lead the way in terms of sheer numbers of newly arriving retirees.
Drawn by the promise of sunshine and warm breezes, miles of sandy beaches, golf courses sprinkled across the landscape in every direction and the absence of a state income tax, thousands of newly retired couples and individuals settle here each year… welcomed by an almost overwhelming choice of new real estate developments. Oceanfront, high-rise condos keep springing up along all coasts... traversing the Gulf of Mexico from the Panhandle throughout the urban centers along the West Coast and extending along the East Coast's Atlantic shores. And for those who can an afford an executive lifestyle beside the fairways, designer golf courses inside upscale master planned communities continue unabated.
However, that is not to say that developers are neglecting retirees seeking a more modest lifestyle. While in the past, the only choice for an affordable retirement in Florida may have been defined as "mobile home living"; today there are a number of well-designed and affordably priced housing choices ranging from attractive, thoughtfully-planned manufactured home communities with spacious, luxuriously equipped modular and manufactured homes, set on permanent foundations and virtually indistinguishable from site built housing.
Nor is retirement living relegated to more expensive oceanfront communities and tourist destinations. Smaller towns, places like Fanning Springs, Apalachicola, Niceville and DeFuniak Springs, are less crowded and usually offer more attractively priced housing. Mid-sized cities, notably the university communities of Gainesville and Tallahassee, have seen a growing influx of retirees in recent years, drawn by quality housing, a vibrant urban scene and excellent medical care.
Horse lovers and those who prefer a more relaxed pace in their daily life will find a great place to retire in Ocala and the surrounding countryside, with rolling green pastures and tree-lined roadsides that might, to some, seem out of place in this coastal region. Developers have recognized the desirability of this area, and some of Florida's largest developers of retirement communities currently are building new projects here.
For some, small seaside locations, like Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine and the Keys, have a charm and sense of history that is more than enough to offset the inconveniences of the tourist season. And Seaside, a relative newcomer, is a small resort village whose architectural influence spawned an exciting new trend in master planned communities and traditional neighborhood design that has, literally, spread across the U.S. in the last twenty-five years and attracted, not only summer residents, but also a core group of active retirees drawn by the sense of style and urbanity.
Many people are surprised to discover that there are still affordable places to live in Florida. In fact, simply for no other reason than the fact that there is such an abundance of housing options available for retirees, prices in many instances are actually a bargain when compared with those in other areas. While a $300,000 home in Boynton Beach or St. Petersburg may seem high to some, it looks very affordable when compared with the $450,000 price tag for a building lot in many of the new mountain communities now on the market in western North Carolina. Moreover, several communities for active adult living can be found with homes priced under $200,000.
Anyone with Florida at the top of their list for retirement choices is certain to confront a perplexing array of cities and properties from which to make their selection. But anyone willing to invest the time and effort necessary to make a learned decision is likely to find just the right place to make retirement in Florida an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
This Month's Spotlight City: Gainesville
photos courtesy of VisitFlorida