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Old 02-05-2018, 09:57 AM
652 posts, read 333,615 times
Reputation: 887


When we Early Retired, we narrowed down our choices to 3 States. Hawaii (Big Island), California (SoCAL), Canada and Florida. We decided on Florida for a variety of reasons. BTW we have visited many of the popular Southern US Locations, as well as probably 80% of the other States. We do not care about proximity to Family as that is what Air Transportation is for. In fact we like being as far as possible from them. Not that we do not like them, we do, but do not want to get involved with the petty bickering that ensues, and it does. We like to keep ourselves to ourselves and enjoy our own company more than anything else.

Our HIGHEST priority by far was NO SNOW and the highest possible winter temps in combination with our other criteria, that sort of ruled out Canada (At least for Now).

1) No Snow and Warm (as possible) winters.
2) Proximity to an Ocean type Beach (Ruled out Land Locked States like NV and AZ)
3) Availability of good healthcare
4) Good quality well built reasonably priced housing (You get what you pay for)
5) Lower(ish) Taxes, although again you do get what you pay for, and we do not mind paying for it within reason.
6) Location to airports and lots of drivable attractions to keep us Busy.
7) Did I mention No Snow?

Traffic funnily enough was not on our radar, neither were bugs and Alligators. We lived in the Caribbean for few years and know all about humidity and bugs, and as mentioned earlier by someone, we were not bothered by it. And you have not seen traffic unless you have lived and worked in Southern California, we did for 15 years.

Hawaii was simply too far for us, we did not want to live on Oahu and access to good specialized healthcare on the Big Island ruled it out. (I see a good Cardiologist 4 times a year to keep an eye on a specific issue I have) We were told by our friends that live there, that most all the time, if relative major surgical assistance is needed, one has to go to Oahu. This one is petty, but I do not like the style of the houses in Hawaii. We are partial to Mediterranean architecture. The COL is quite a lot higher than all the others. So we simply choose to visit Hawaii instead.

Canada, fit a lot of the Criteria, Western Canada (Vancouver Island), but the dreary and Colder than we liked winter Weather, removed it from our list, at least for now. When we are older and less active, I am sure the weather will be less of a concern. We are both Canadian Citizens as well as US.

SoCal, this is was our second choice, we love the SoCAL weather, it is beyond reproach. We have a lot of friends there, and know the areas well. Healthcare is "OK" but because there are so many people there, it is not as efficient as it could be. But a combination of reasons made it second choice. First was the sheer amount of people, there are so many folk crammed into such small areas. To live anywhere near a beach is simply unaffordable for us, and not worth the housing premium. We like to live 5 - 10 miles max from a nice beach (Now). When we did live there we were 14 miles inland and it took forever to get there. Then when we did go, there were all to wall people everywhere. It is not fun at the beach when you cannot find a place to park and have to wait (and pay) for everything. As we lived in Caribbean for a while when we first retired, we had sold our home in SoCAL, as a result we were no longer protected by Prop-13 RE Tax laws. To go back we would need not only to sink $1m into a home remotely near where we wanted to be or were used to living, the Taxes would also be very high. Oh, and there is that State income Tax thing too. The ONLY 2 things we miss most about SoCAL are the weather and our friends, although we do keep in regular contact and see them occasionally.


We chose here for a few reasons. When we retired and came back from our 3 year Sailing trip in the Caribbean, we did not have a permanent home, but had a Mail forwarding service in Florida and as a result a domicile for tax purposes, as we did not want to pay California taxes while traveling. We took a trip to Florida (we had never been there before), to where our mail stop was, and booked a 2 week Hotel to look around. We hated the inland area of Florida where that was with a passion! Full of Trailer parks, Manufactured housing developments and terrible neighborhoods, NOT BAD or Crime Ridden, just NOT the kind of places that we wanted to live. Reminded me of come areas in East LA, Compton and Santa Ana, but without the Crime. Central Florida is full of them. Again, the people were nice, not crims or anything, not bad people, just what to us seemed to be..... I do not know how to say this without being somewhat condescending, I do not mean to be, but they seemed to be predominantly low income folk and the areas reflected it, and not where we wanted to be.

We drove around and looked for a longer term rental that was close to one of the big bodies of water (Gulf or Atlantic). In Florida you are never more than 65 miles from a beach. We ended up booking a 6 month rental on the water in St. Augustine, Florida and remember we had never been there before, let alone lived there. We actually extended that lease for the next 2 years. It was June, so it was hot, but as expected being on/near the water alleviated a lot of the discomfort as there was always a breeze.

We took 3 years to look for a home on the East coast, as where we were was far from crowded, 10 minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches we had ever seen. Which to this day 10 years later is still not as crowded as others we have been to. We were close to buying a home in Palm Coast, but for 30% more we settled on St. Augustine. there is always something to do and the people always seem so happy. The advantages of living in a tourist town. People you see here are either; on holiday (happy), getting married (happy) or retired (generally happy).

Now it does not snow here, the population is ~15k and traffic is average as it is a tourist town, but not bad when compared to say Jacksonville or Daytona.

The availability of healthcare here is outstanding. My GP is 2 miles away, I can walk there if I like and my Cardiologist is 3 miles away. I have used the hospital service 3 times since I have been here and the service was beyond my expectations.

So why are we looking around again, and looking at SW Florida? We live in Flood Zone "A", while our elevation is good and not prone to flooding, it is still the first evacuation zone; It does freeze here, probably about 5 - 10 days a year; It is not as warm in summer as we would like. We would like to move to an "X" flood zone where it does not freeze at all. We also want to downsize from a 2 story to a single story and no longer want a pool.

Sorry for the Thesis, but if you go this far, thanks for reading it.

We are still looking, it may be tough to find a place like we have here, walking distance to the beach. This year will visit all the areas we think we would like on the Gulf coast, we are retired we have all the time in the world.
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Old 02-05-2018, 04:40 PM
Location: Cape Cod
647 posts, read 1,036,075 times
Reputation: 612
Where are you thinking of moving to? The Gulf Coast would seem to me to be fairly dangerous relative to hurricanes.

SW FL beaches are beautiful, but from what we've seen, very very crowded during high season. We have friends in Venice that we visit in January, and it's not easy getting around, but it's beautiful.''

We've lived in FL twice but came back to New England (specifically Cape Cod). Sometimes in the middle of summer or during a snowy Nor'Easter, I wonder why we came back. So many roots here, but it's not an easy place to live. But, it's home!

Good Luck with your search; I loved reading your post, so informative but interesting and carefully thought out.
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Old 02-06-2018, 11:15 AM
2,132 posts, read 1,001,918 times
Reputation: 8672
Originally Posted by bpollen View Post
I don't know why people like Florida. I've been there. It's hot, flat, and in a hurricane zone. Why do so many people move there? I don't get it.
Mango trees in your backyard, for one.

The political climate is pretty bad though. I'm hoping the influx of Puerto Rican refugees will drastically change that.

If they had workable medical marijuana I'd move there today.
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Old 02-06-2018, 12:33 PM
652 posts, read 333,615 times
Reputation: 887
Originally Posted by GMarcan920 View Post
Where are you thinking of moving to? The Gulf Coast would seem to me to be fairly dangerous relative to hurricanes.
Yes, the Gulf Coast below the frost line. No worse for hurricanes that anywhere else in Florida really. People "Over" worry about the weather. We have been here 10 years. Like Tornadoes, you need a proper house, not a Trailer or Manufactured home, bad weather searches them out like magnets. A home Built of Concrete, and at least 10' above sea level. We have a 140 mph roof on our current home and went through 2 recent hurricanes unscathed. Yes you do lose the odd screen enclosure panel, but that is about it. I am more worried about trees falling on the roof than the weather itself. But again you can mitigate that by good trimming before the season. We call them "Hurricane" Cuts.

The Gulf coast has newer developments that are built in "X" flood Zones vs "A", and the homes are usually elevated more to about 20' or so. you do need to watch for Sink Hole history.

We have not found a place in the SW yet but only just started our search. If there were more choices that fit our requirements here, honestly we would not move. St. Augustine is a great place to be all year, with the exception of 2 weeks where the ground does freeze. but it does not snow.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:14 PM
8,190 posts, read 11,905,691 times
Reputation: 17963
Originally Posted by Pyewackette View Post
If they had workable medical marijuana I'd move there today.
I'm not sure what you mean by "workable", but the legislature approved the implementation regulations last spring and i believe that they went into effect in July. There's a couple of hoops to jump through, but if you have a legitimate medical need, then getting approval shouldn't be a problem. My oncologist would have started the process for me had I wanted him to.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:48 PM
Location: Paranoid State
13,047 posts, read 10,431,986 times
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Originally Posted by mlulu23 View Post
And lets not forget setting out all the smudge pots trying to save the citrus crops from freezes in Florida. I remember those.
Ugh. I remember smudge pots in the orange groves in San Bernardino & Redlands.
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Old 02-07-2018, 08:06 PM
15,133 posts, read 4,003,357 times
Reputation: 10950
Originally Posted by shokwaverider View Post

We have not found a place in the SW yet but only just started our search. If there were more choices that fit our requirements here, honestly we would not move. St. Augustine is a great place to be all year, with the exception of 2 weeks where the ground does freeze. but it does not snow.
Our Sarasota home is at least 22 feet above sea level (a mile plus inland from bay).

It was one of the original "burbs" close to DT Sarasota and the house is wood frame and was built in 1953. No storm has harmed it in any way even tho it's not built to any standard. Records show that we have not had winds here in excess of about 70 MPH in recent history (140 years). 70 MPH hardly hurt anything during Irma because large trees and other houses protect us from the full force. I doubt the house has seen 50 MPH.

Some of it is superstition, but if you watch a lot of bad weather that comes into the area, it stays just north of Sarasota and tends to hit Tampa Bay and then follow "lightning alley" right across the state. We'vIfe had days recently where inches of rain fell 30 miles north of here and we were outside fooling around painting the house.

In addition, we have barrier island that would take the brunt of any storm....then a 1-2 mile wide bay and then the city.

In short, I'm not worried. If a 1953 frame house survived this long that's saying something (between bugs, mold, wind, etc.).
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Old 02-07-2018, 08:17 PM
371 posts, read 316,907 times
Reputation: 349
My niece tried to live in Ft lauderdale 2 years ago and couldn't get a job anywhere or a place to live. She went to Miami Tampa Orlando back to Ft Lauderdale same thing. Everyone was moving north for the same reasons and they didn't want to. Have to buy socks jacket. She went to New Orleans which you'd think would be worse with the high crime rate and she said it was infinitely easier.
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Old 02-08-2018, 06:03 PM
2,498 posts, read 6,389,321 times
Reputation: 2257
We lived in Lake City FL for 25 years and enjoyed our time there,no taxes and $35 for vehicle plates,very little threat of hurricanes.Very convient to travel from,highways at your doorstep.I would not live in south Florida or south of Gainesville.
We would drive to a smoke free casino in Biloxi once a year,rooms were $49,Palace Casino Resorts,if someone were to smoke there was a $200 fine.
We had to move because of family and now flush $4000 per year down the toilet,as said hell on earth,CT,taxes,taxes and more taxes,along with snow and cold.
We are in our 80's.
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Old 02-09-2018, 02:43 PM
Location: Forests of Maine
30,677 posts, read 49,430,310 times
Reputation: 19129
Originally Posted by John1960 View Post
Florida ranks at the top of the best states for retirement.
Yet Florida is not the oldest state with the highest percentage of retirees.

I wonder why?
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