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Why You Shouldn’t Retire to Florida: 11 Iffy Reasons

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

March 13, 2019 — Over the years millions of Americans from the Midwest and Northeast have packed up and moved to Florida for their retirement. They move there because of the warm winters and long coastlines, and retirees have been doing it for at least 100 years. But the Sunshine State has its detractors too; a Florida retirement is not for everyone. To wit, a recent article from Kiplinger, “11 Reasons Not to Move to Florida,” caught our eye.

We agree that there are some valid reasons against retiring in Florida (and we will include them later in this article). But we have to say that the ones cited in the Kiplinger article seemed a bit grasping. These are the basic reasons why their editor said you shouldn’t retire to Florida:

  • Florida is crawling with baby boomers
  • It is crawling with critters
  • Too much weirdness
  • Makes up for no income tax with other taxes
  • It makes you too sweaty
  • You’ll be inside more than you think
  • Swimming pools are expensive
  • The state is hard on your skin
  • Hurricanes are a problem
  • So is hurricane insurance
  • You’ll miss your family

Let’s take a look at their reasons:

Certainly there is some validity to many of the reasons expressed in the Kiplinger piece. Particularly if you retire in Florida full-time, summers are sunny, hot, humid, and stormy. Critters from alligators to giant bugs abound. Hurricanes are a big and increasing problem, although not necessarily the most serious climate issue its residents face.

But many of the other objections raised in the article seem petty. More notably, they are not the only states that have these negatives. Florida doesn’t have a monopoly on weirdness, swimming pools, hurricanes, and baby boomers. We can think of many places that are either so strange or so boring that we wouldn’t want to retire there. Swimming pools are ubiquitous in any state. Seventy six million strong, baby boomers are numerous enough to blanket any place in this nation. Hurricanes Sandy and Irene cut a huge swath across the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England in 2011 and 2012. Ever increasing insurance bills are a problem in many places besides Florida – if you live in the path of a hurricane (most of the East coast and Gulf of Mexico), forest fire (California and Pac Northwest), tornado (midwest), or flood (just about anywhere).

Their tax argument against Florida seems particularly weak. The state has no income tax, which means your IRA and 401k distributions, your Social Security income, and any other money you have coming in is not going to be taxed. There is no estate or inheritance tax, unlike some 20 other states (see Further Reading below). Florida is ranked 29th highest in per capita property taxes, which puts it in the bottom half of all states. At 6.8%, its state sales tax ranks as the 28th of all states (and unless you are buying automobiles or luxury items, sales tax is a minor budget item for most people).

So what are some good reasons not to retire to Florida?

Like we said earlier, there are some valid reasons to move your retirement dream to somewhere that is not Florida. Here are some of those (and again, they are not all exclusive to Florida):

  • Rising coastlines. Most of Florida is very flat and not very much above sea level. Rising oceans mean that a many Florida cities and coastal communities are facing flooding, higher tides, and wave damage. Some cities are working on it, most are not.
  • Traffic. The most popular retirement destinations in Florida are jammed to overflowing in season. Going out for shopping, eating, or entertainment in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, etc. is increasingly an excruciating experience with bumper to bumper traffic and endless waits at gigantic intersections. New Urban communities and small towns that are walkable offer some escape to these traffic problems.
  • Critters. South Florida is home to mosquitoes that can transmit dangerous diseases like dengue fever or zika virus. There are programs to help control them, but… Alligators can kill small pets and unattended children. Invasive species like burmese pythons abandoned by reckless owners are a threat to other wildlife.
  • Concentrations of senior citizens. Although not the only place with too many retired boomers for comfort, there are communities where the sight of a young person is a rarity.
  • Powerful storms. Again, Florida doesn’t have a lock on dangerous hurricanes, but almost anywhere in the state is susceptible to experiencing one. Insurance rates increasingly reflect that.
  • Endless strip malls. Many Florida towns grew too fast to control zoning. The result is often mile after mile of boring strip malls where one sees the same retail and restaurant chains endlessly repeating themselves. The result is charm that can be hard to find and a rarity of interesting downtowns.
  • High humidity. Florida does have a humid climate. Good for people with dry skin, terrible for those who hate humidity.
  • Sinkholes. There are parts of Central Florida where sink holes are a very serious, even catastrophic problem for homeowners. It often has to do with acidic groundwater dissolving limestone type bedrock (thanks to several members for suggesting this negative).

Plenty of reasons to retire in Florida. The most obvious one is its warm winters where you can enjoy outdoor activities year round. The tax situation is excellent. The state has relatively good fiscal health and a growing population. If you live in Florida as a snowbird you get the best of both worlds – warm winters and an escape from summer humidity. We’ll talk about more on these positive reasons in an upcoming article.

Comments? What do you think are the negatives about retiring to Florida? Would you, or have you already, consider retiring there? What are the positives? Please use the Comments section below to share your opinions.

For further reading:

Posted by Admin on March 13th, 2019


  1. Snowbird sounds like a win/win situation!

    by Tommy Peay — March 13, 2019

  2. I volunteer in the Visitors Center of our mountain town in western North Carolina. We see a lot of folks who have moved to Florida for retirement and then, for one or more of the reasons enumerated in your article, choose to move to North Carolina. We call them “halfbacks”—they moved to Florida, then came halfway back (and seem to be much happier).

    by Patty — March 13, 2019

  3. Coming from the Northeastern state of NY I’m able to comment on many things listed:
    1. Florida is crawling with baby boomers
    So does many other states.

    2. It is crawling with critters
    “Critters” exist everywhere.
    3. Too much weirdness
    (See answer #2)
    4. Makes up for no income tax with other taxes
    NY’s TAXES are squandered by wasteful state government spending and rampant nepotism and sweetheart deals.
    5. It makes you too sweaty
    You’re gonna sweat it out in NY too, wondering if you’ll be able to make ends meet after the HIGH TAXES.
    6. You’ll be inside more than you think
    You’ll be inside more often than you think in NY too because you’re going to have to work several jobs in order to pay the TAXES.
    7. Swimming pools are expensive
    In NY they’re expensive too, especially considering that you’ll only get a few preciously short amount of time to enjoy it.
    8. The state is hard on your skin
    So is a NY winter.
    9. Hurricanes are a problem
    They’re a problem in NY too. Superstorm Sandy & Hurricane Irene among others.
    10. So is hurricane insurance
    In NY too. Ask any coastal resident.
    11. You’ll miss your family
    Don’t have any left in NY…ALL down South.

    Editor’s note: Love this, thanks!

    by Curt R — March 13, 2019

  4. A plus: You don’t have to shovel sunshine!

    by Jan — March 13, 2019

  5. I am frozen in Connecticut surrounded by tons of snow! Dreaming of Florida! I wanna be a snowbird!

    by Jasmine — March 13, 2019

  6. There’s a good way to beat all of the negatives – retire in two places – Florida in Winter (establish a residence for the tax breaks) and then escape the heat, humidity and critters in the Summer by going North to New England, Michigan or Wisconsin. Take your RV there.

    by Nomadic Pilot — March 13, 2019

  7. And sinkholes are not even mentioned! How about rising sea levels and high tide flooding (already a problem in some cities)?

    by David Moewes — March 13, 2019

  8. Florida summers are MUCH better than summer in north Texas.

    by lynnda — March 13, 2019

  9. You forgot to mention sink holes!

    Editor’s comment: Good point Bruno, we will add that “gaping” omission!

    by Bruno — March 13, 2019

  10. I spend winters in SE Florida in an over 55 community and summers in a retirement community in Louisville, KY. I hate the traffic and the crazy driving and the high insurance and the crowded restaurants in Florida. But I just love Florida’s weather in the winter. But would never want to live through a hurricane there. Or spend any time at all in most Florida hospitals or nursing homes/rehab facilities (overcrowding and a lack of regulations). I think the ideal situation would be to spend November – April in Florida and April to November to either the upper Midwest or New England.

    by Janet Greenlee — March 13, 2019

  11. We closed on a condo in Fort Pierce last November, and moved the 2nd of January. We kept our home in Tennessee because of my wife’s parents, and our kids and grandchildren. We’re going to go back and forth until her parents are no longer living, but we love it. If it wasn’t for family, I don’t know that we’d ever go back to Tennessee.

    by JD — March 13, 2019

  12. Well, I don’t know where all these mosquitoes are that are allegedly an issue. I haven’t seen one yet since I moved here. The mosquitoes in Minnesota would carry you away. Also haven’t seen a gator. Or a python.

    Hot and humid in the summer? So is Minnesota. That’s why air conditioning was invented. At least I’m not stuck indoors year around like I was in Minnesota, with either the furnace or the AC running. Have never turned my furnace on here.

    The taxes in Minnesota will carry you away just like the mosquitoes. There is no way I could afford to live on the water in Minnesota. Here I live on a lovely wide canal and an intersecting canal which goes out to the river and thus to the Gulf. Get to watch the boats, dolphins, manatees, jumping mullet. My friends who have boats can stop at my dock and pick me up.

    People ask me if I miss my friends. No. They all come down here in the winter. Had lunch with one last week. Going to lunch tomorrow with another one.

    by Linda — March 13, 2019

  13. Too late, got tired of Southern California’s (I live near the Orange County Order) crazy standstill traffic, even on weekends. Sales tax is 9.75-10%. So, I recently made a deposit, and are awaiting completion of, my brand new 3000sqft single story home in a gated 55+ retirement community in Pt St Lucie, which is 45 minutes from Palm Beach County. Amenities includes, gym, entertainment center, community gardening, walking trails/park, etc., and it’s anticipated to have its own town center for shopping, etc. There’s a fairly new hospital, hotel, an existing town center for shopping (Target, Bed, Bath n Beyond, grocery stores, etc.). Florida, here I come this Fall, God’s willing. Just a reminder that almost every state has its pros and cons. It’s how well you adjust to your new environment that matters. Enjoy your retirement while you still

    by Eloise — March 13, 2019

  14. Florida is a great state to visit in the Winter and even late Fall and early Spring but the potential for a major disruption to a peaceful life like hurricanes, sinkhole, tornados (they have them), when we get less able to deal with those things keeps The Sunshine State low on my list. Right now I’d have no issue hopping in the car to evacuate before a hurricane (good excuse for a “road trip”! ) but cant say that if husband or I became disabled it would be foo much fun, and I think even now would not be happy if the house was destroyed or even suffered damage from a hurricane, tornado or sink hole, let alone trying to deal with those things in my super senior years. When I think about moving anywhere I imagine what’s the worst thing that could happen, how would I deal with it, and how well will I cope with whatever it is in the coming years. That’s one of the reasons we are now in Bucks County, Pa; much more willing to deal with being housebound for a day by occasional snow than to being forced to evacuate for who knows how long by occasional hurricane.

    by jean — March 14, 2019

  15. Wow, it sounds like bring around baby boomers is disgusting. Heaven help the U.S. when we are all dead in the ground.

    by Karen — March 14, 2019

  16. Don’t know where all the mosquitoes are??? Well that’s plain rubbish. Even when we visit in winter in Ft. Myers, there are a lot of no seeums that come out in the pm. We have friends who have bought on the intercoastal rivers and they slather themselves with deet, whilst they enjoy the lifestyle. The bugs might not be as big as other places, but saying that there are no mosquitoes and bitey thingums in Florida is like saying people from Florida go to Minnesota for the winter!

    by sandyw — March 14, 2019

  17. Good things about Florida…and bad about New Jersey shore towns

    1. Empty beaches in most places, as compared to the jam packed beaches of the New Jersey seashore towns, especially on a holiday weekend.

    2. No biting bugs on the beach, as compared to the greenheads and black flies in New Jersey seashore beaches, especially if there is a “land breeze”.

    3. Ocean water temperature in Florida (I live in Palm Coast) is like a nice bathtub during the summer, as compared to the freezing water of the New Jersey seashore, especially if there is a ocean water “inversion” .

    by Dave M. — March 14, 2019

  18. Here’s another reason to maybe avoid Florida….. Kidney stones!

    by jean — March 14, 2019

  19. Lived in Florida for 12 yrs. prior to any retirement in Orange Park (next to Jacksonville) and Deleon Springs. Once you get out of coastal or tourist trap areas, living is nice. Yes you deal with cockroaches, palmetto bugs (really big cockroaches), etc., you adapt. Florida publishes many guides on plantings to limit bugs plus growing fruit and veggies. Yes, it’s humid but during Christmas you’re sitting outside and Facebooking pics to northern friends. It’s your near the ocean or Gulf a d deal with the mess or find those areas where living is good and less stressful. Also, Florida natives know when it’s snowbird season..they’re not fans.

    by Nancy Noonan — March 14, 2019

  20. @sandyw: Well I guess you have your experience and I have mine. I live in the Cape full time and am not bothered by either mosquitoes or no see ums. Rather rude to denigrate another person’s experience as rubbish, in my view.

    by Linda — March 14, 2019

  21. Linda and SandyW – Regarding mosquitoes, It might come down to your blood type and genetics. Controlled studies have shown that mosquitoes land on people with type O blood twice as often as type A with type B being in the middle. Also some people emit certain chemical signals thru the skin that attract bugs while other do not. Havent read anything about other bugs’ preferences but garlic has been shown to repel werewolves. 😉

    by jean — March 15, 2019

  22. In response to all Florida I’ve lived in Conn, Texas, and now
    SE Florida. I’ll take Florida hands down 12 months a
    year! After many cold and snowy winters and tax on top of taxes it’s a wonderful change where you can enjoy the
    outdoors twelve months a year. Regarding Texas,
    the summers are very hot and too many hail storms
    and tornadoes. On the plus side the cost of living is equal
    to Florida lower taxes without the extra burden of
    State Income Tax. If you enjoy fishing, boating, the
    ocean, outdoor then Florida may be the place for
    your Golden Years.

    by Skip — March 15, 2019

  23. We beach vacationed in SW FL for 25 years and loved it. We moved to New Smyrna Beach 6 years ago. I retired but my husband still works (full time) from our home running our small radio station located in OH. We have experienced 1 tropical storm and 2 hurricanes. Evacuating with 1 cat, 1 small dog, 1 Rottweiler and a horse is not easy (read not likely to happen). I’m ready to move. I miss my family. I miss 4 seasons. I would move back to TX or up North in a heartbeat. I find the humidity here unbearable. I live in a lovely neighborhood. Ponds are everywhere here, including our back yard. And yes, there are alligators in it so you have to watch dogs and kids closely. In our neighborhood we’ve had water moccasins, pigmy rattlers, black racers, and roof rats. Noseeums are miserable certain times of the year. I’m always fighting to keep teeny tiny light-color ants out of the house. You MUST spray for termites and other bugs. We have a near constant layer of white sandy dust everywhere, inside and out. You have to pressure wash your driveway, sidewalks, pool enclosure, and street gutter frequently. I bicycle and about 9 months of the year I have to leave the house by 6:30 am at the latest because it’s too hot and humid by 9 am for that intense exercise. Restaurants, stores, the beach are packed during the season as well as all summer and fall. Traffic is bumper to bumper. Quality of local healthcare here is not up to the standard of Texas and Ohio. The salt mist is very damaging to cars, AC units and all other metallic items. Property taxes are high but less than the NE U.S.
    The positives: beautiful tropical flowers, swaying palm trees, the beach. You are close to the ports in Cape Canaveral, Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Millions of people love living here and gladly trade the snow and cold for year round hot weather.
    My advice is to consider all the factors before you make a permanent change. If you have the finances to be a snowbird, you can eliminate many of the negatives.
    Thanks for the opportunity to vent! Lol. Good luck!

    by Helen — March 16, 2019

  24. Dear Helen, thank you for a balanced view. I value your opinion.

    by Daryl — March 16, 2019

  25. After living in Florida for 48 years,coming from the northeast, I have listed my house for sale and making a break for it. Moving to a lovely small town in So Carolina, where I can get to the mountains to the north in a little over an hour, and if I ever want to go to a beach again I could get there in less than 2 hours to the south. Florida is getting hotter and more humid every year, I find myself trapped in the house with the A/C going most of the time, and I am a gardener who loves to be outside. Snowbird season and the crowds associated with it, is getting longer every year with crowded roads, hour long waits at your favorite restaurants and crowded supermarkets. I live in a very nice beach city on the east coast that unfortunately has been discovered. Big developers have moved in, the citrus trees are gone and they are building humongous cookie cutter homes in gated communities with ridiculously high HOA fees and HOA Commandos. Folks moving here think they are getting a good deal compared to prices up North until the tiles are falling off the bath walls and their A/C needs to be replaced in three years. The threat of hurricanes (and the cleanup involved after) every year is getting old (I have been thru 5, during the back to back hurricanes just two weeks apart in 2004 I was without power for 32 days.) I have always missed the change of seasons esp. the Fall and Spring, the winding roads, hills, etc. Florida is flat and topography is boring. My family is finally raised and I can head for the hills! Yes SC has hot humid summers but it’s only 3 months, not 12, there is Fall, Spring and mild,no snow Winter. SOOOOO……if any of you folks that are wanting to move to FL …I have a lovely house for sale… LOL ?

    by Diane — March 16, 2019

  26. OH! I forgot to mention the coyotes! Yes, never mind alligators and mosquitoes (which have never been a problem) coyotes have invaded residential areas and have even been seen downtown at night. Have to be very careful out walking your dog, as they have been snatched…have to carry small dogs and lots of cats have disappeared ?

    by Diane — March 17, 2019

  27. Diane and Helen: The reasons you mentioned are the reasons I will NOT be locating to Florida unless to stay for short periods with my Aunt in Naples or a nice hotel. I hate snakes and alligators terrify me too. Why go where there is nearly as much traffic in season as we already have here in Washington, DC? Many of my patients were relocating back up north to Virginia when I was still actively a nurse due to the hurricanes and the insurance which is soaring. It takes three weeks to get reservations to a nice restaurant and then for my Aunt to get out of her development takes time due to all the cars. Good luck to all who want to live full time in Florida.

    by Jennifer — March 17, 2019

  28. Diane, enjoy yourself in South Carolina. Hope their terrible roads don’t swallow up your car!

    I’ve not noticed summer lasting 12 months in Florida, but I guess everyone’s experience is different.

    by Linda — March 17, 2019

  29. Helen and Diane, Your experiences echo my sister’s and that’s why she moved north after 10 or so years in Jupiter. Diane, Coyotes are everywhere! SC has plenty and they even show up in NYC from time to time!

    by jean — March 17, 2019

  30. I’ve noticed some overemphasis by people posting here who are, for whatever reasons, not enamored of Florida. We bought a condo here five years ago and have been snowbirding from New England during that time. We like it here so much, we have decided to move to the condo permanently. The flowers and trees (especially palms) are beautiful at all times of the year. We got a reservation last night at a nice new restaurant with about three hours’ notice, and for 7 PM on a
    Saturday, too. The idea of many restaurants, even in season, taking three weeks to get a reservation is basically preposterous. I lived in Florida full-time for 6 years and in 2004, with its 3 hurricanes, we were out of power for 6 days (4, 2 and 0). It would be almost unheard of for people to be out of power for over 30 days, although if a Category 4 or 5 hit, it could happen (like Hurricane Michael on the panhandle coast last year). In the 11 years I have lived full or part time in FL, I have never seen an alligator except on a nature cruise, and even then the alligators were only about three feet long. As to bugs and mosquitoes, our condo has a 6 x 15 screened-in balcony, so we can enjoy outside time with nary a mosquito or other insect bothering us. Nice breezes, too, especially in the mostly glorious days from December through March.

    I guess what I’m saying is that people who don’t like Florida for full-time living seem to bask in pointing out what they perceive as flaws, to the point of exaggeration.

    by Clyde — March 17, 2019

  31. I would add that, as to traffic, if you are retired, you can fairly easily adjust your driving to avoid the heavier times. And in grocery stores, etc., during the season, you just need to know when to shop. 8-10 AM and 6:30-8:30 PM usually work. But I honor people’s reasons for not liking Florida. I just don’t like to see them overstated. However, the bottom line is that we should all be entitled to live wherever we want in this country.

    by Clyde — March 17, 2019

  32. We moved to southeast Florida 5 years ago from Connecticut and the advantages of FL outweighs anything in CT. We are 1miles from the Atlantic Ocean so we don’t see the humidity and the oppressive summers that the middle of the state has. We are 2 miles to RT 95 so traffic is not a problem. Everyone has their must haves and we have ours.

    by Ralph — March 18, 2019

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