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Which is Better for Retirement – Florida or Arizona

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

February 15, 2017 — From time to time we get the question, “Which is the better state for retirement, Florida in the East, or Arizona in the West”. Both states are popular and have many great places to live. Based on the interest we see on Topretirements.com, Florida attracts more retirement interest than any other state: in the last quarter of 2016 people saw our two main Florida pages 24,000 times, double the number viewed for Arizona (just under 12,000). Tennessee, both Carolinas, and Colorado also generate a lot of prospective interest.

Further down in this article we will present various factors for each state so you can draw your own conclusions from the facts. But first, here is your Editor’s personal opinion about what makes each of these two states a great, or not so great place to retire. As always, reader input is extremely important. We encourage you to use the Comments section below to tell your stories and express your preferences.

Winners and Losers
Everyone’s situation is different. Depending on what you are looking for in retirement, one or more of these factors might tip the scales for you.
Ocean – Florida wins this one with over 2,200 miles of tidal coastline
Lakes – The Sunshine State again, with hundreds of them for fishing, boating, or living on the shore of.
Mountains – AZ wins this hands down with beautiful mountains spread throughout the State. As for FL heights, Britton Hill near Clermont tops out at 312 feet.
Deserts – Not much contest here, Arizona has incredible deserts to hike in or just enjoy the amazing views and vegetation.
Warm winters – Southern Florida is warm all winter with few days dipping below the 60s. Most of Arizona is comfortable, but can get chilly by comparison.
Humidity – If low humidity is your preference, go to Arizona. Florida in summer can be pretty rough.
Taxes – Both are among the lowest tax states. If your income is large FL might be a better choice because it has no income tax.
Number of places to retire – Florida has a lot more possible retirement towns and active/55+ communities – Topretirements has reviews of 117 and 524 respectively! But Arizona offers plenty of choices too – 38 towns reviewed here and 230 active communities.
Ethnic Diversity – Both states have it, although you would probably have to give the amazing city of Miami with its vibrant latin community the edge there.
Political environment – Donald Trump narrowly carried Arizona 48% to 45%. Florida’s race was a little closer – 49% to 47%. So both would qualify as (narrowly) Red States. Both have pockets that are deeply conservative (red). The larger cities in Florida are blue, whereas Tucson tends to the only blueish city in Arizona.

Population (Data from the Census Bureau).
The Grand Canyon State is smaller and has a younger population than the Sunshine State. Its population was an estimated 6.9 million in 2016, about one third of Florida’s 20.6 million. The median age in Arizona was 35.9 vs. Florida’s 40.7. Some 13.8% of the Arizona population is 65 or over compared to 17.3% in Florida. In our experience, most retirees who immigrate to Arizona tend to have lived their pre-retirement west of the Mississippi. Florida immigrants tend to be from the Northeast and Midwest, although there are certainly exceptions to both rules.

Sedona area

Economics and Home Prices.
The 2011-2015 median household income in Arizona was $50,255, a bit higher than Florida’s $47,507. Both markets experienced horrendous real estate crashes starting in 2008, but they each have recovered much of that since then. For example, Zillow estimated that Arizona’s median home value was $211,600 in 2016 (vs. $270,000 in mid 2006). The same source put Florida’s mid 2016 median home value at $194,200 (vs. $256,000 in mid 2007). Each state has areas where prices are higher than the national median (Scottsdale and Sedona in AZ and Miami and Naples in FL). They both also have very inexpensive areas with homes for sale well below the NAR 2016 national median sales price of $235,000. Both enjoy relatively good fiscal health: pension and debt obligations are manageable.


Climate
In the area of climate there are striking differences between the 2 states. Most of Arizona has slightly cooler winters than Florida, and in the northern parts of AZ around Flagstaff there is not only snowfall but a ski resort. A desert state, AZ’s humidity and rainfall are far lower than Florida’s, which normally has very wet summers. Comparing 2 central cities in each state, the average January low in Phoenix is 48 vs. 50 in Orlando. The average July high in Phoenix is a blistering 104 vs. Orlando’s 92. The wettest month in Phoenix is March (1″), while June is Florida’s wettest (7.3″).

Tax Environment
Florida is one of the most tax-friendly states in the U.S. (the Tax Foundation ranked its State and Local Tax Burden the 34th highest in 2012). It has no income tax and a 6% sales tax (which works out to an average 6.8% with local taxes – Source: Tax Foundation). Counties and states can and do charge additional sales taxes. There are no inheritance or estate taxes. Its Save Our Homes initiative prevents property tax assessments from going up higher than the rate of inflation, a major help in keeping property taxes down for seniors. Arizona is also considered a tax-friendly state (ranked 36th highest), although it does have both an income tax (highest marginal rate is 4.54% on joint income of $300,000) and a sales tax (5.6% which translates to an average 8.25% at the local level). Retirees are generally not very affected by the AZ income tax, as Social security income is not taxable in Arizona. In-state government and military pensions have a $2500 exemption, other out of state pensions are taxable. Property tax protections are a big reason for Arizona’s tax-friendly ranking. AZ does not have an inheritance or estate tax. See our Florida and Arizona Retirement Guides for more on taxes.

Physical Environment and Diversity
Both Florida and Arizona are good sized states with a fair amount of diversity within each state. Arizona would probably win the geographic and physical diversity prize between the 2 however. The Grand Canyon State has much higher elevations (Flagstaff is just under 7,000′) and a greater range of climates, ranging from temperate Flagstaff to very hot Tucson in the south. Arizona has plenty of mountains, forests, national parks, and deserts. Florida has several geographic features that Arizona does not have, and that is a gigantic coastline (over 2,200 miles of tidal coastline), over 11,000 miles of rivers and streams, plus many large lakes.

Sanibel

Places to Live
Florida has many more cities and towns, so it probably has to win in any “choice” contest. We have reviews of 117 Florida retirement towns and cities on this site, 80 more than we have for Arizona. It has towns and cities along the gulf (Pensacola), along the north coast (St. Augustine), in the interior (Ocala), and in the southeast (Miami), and southwest (Fort Myers). Florida has any number of college towns, large and small. It also has many charming smaller towns such as Winter Park, Lake Mary, and Key West. Arizona, by contrast, is mostly concentrated around the Phoenix area, with smaller offshoots to the north (Sedona, Prescott, Flagstaff), and south (Tucson). Most of the towns around the Phoenix area are suburban and often predominated by new growth. Arizona has some nice places to live, but they are fewer in number. Topretirements has reviews of 38 AZ retirement cities and towns.

754 Active Adult and 55+ Communities!
At Topretirements we count 230 communities in our Arizona Directory of Active Communities, vs. an amazing 524 in our Florida Directory. Arizona has the original active adult community (Sun City), but Florida probably gets the edge for the diversity of communities available in that state. Our annual lists of 100 Most Popular Places to Retire is dominated by Florida and to a lesser extent, Arizona.

Retirement Popularity
The relative popularity of states as retirement destinations is hotly contested, but unfortunately, not well supported by data. Del Webb conducted a survey a few years ago that found that the Carolinas (both North and South) had gone ahead of Florida and Arizona as preferred retirement destinations. That survey, however, should probably be viewed as a measure of future indications rather than past performance, since more retirees currently live in AZ and FL. Meanwhile at Topretirements, we receive more visits to our Florida retirement guide than any other, followed by North Carolina, Tennessee, California, South Carolina, Arizona, and Texas. (all of our guides can be found at //www.topretirements.com/state/).

Political Situation
Arizona is generally considered a Republican and a conservative state, and has voted that way in Presidential elections since 2000. The governor and both Senators are Republicans, although it has 4 dems and 5 repubs as Representatives in the House. Florida is more mixed, with certain portions being more conservative (the center and north) while others more progressive. FL has a Republican Governor, one of each party for Senator, and its Representatives are 16 (R) and 11 (D). In the 2016 Presidential election Trump won its electoral college votes (Obama won in 2012).

Aesthetics and Intangibles
Both states have their admirers and each has its detractors. Both have many new communities that lack charm and good transportation. Rather than take sides on the issue, we recommend that you visit cities and towns in both states and see if you can’t find the place of your dreams. Certainly both states have some of the most desirable communities in the world, waiting for you to discover them.

This article, based in part from one we wrote in 2010, is part of our series comparing retirement states. The 2010 article has 190 Member comments, which make for interesting reading. We welcome ideas for future comparisons (see list of other comparisons at end of article).

For further reading:
State Retirement Guides
Gulf Coast Retirement: Sun, Tax-friendly, and a Lower Coast of Living
Retirement 101 Mid-Atlantic States: MD, DE, VA, NJ
Florida Retirement 101
Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC
Dueling States: Arizona vs. Florida
California Retirement 101
Retirement in the Southwest: AZ, NM, and Utah
The Mountain States: CO, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY
The Pacific Northwest: Oregon vs. Washington

What state do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.



Posted by Admin on February 15th, 2017

62 Comments »

  1. Hello, I live in Tucson, AZ, and I thought I would chip in a few comments for clarification.

    – There are multiple ski resorts in the state, including Snowbowl near Flagstaff, Sunrise Park in the White Mountains (eastern AZ) and Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley just outside of Tucson.

    – Tucson is about 5 degrees cooler than Phoenix in the summer due to its being 1440 feet higher in elevation. I know it doesn’t make sense because Tucson is farther to the south, but that’s the way it is. Phoenix is more humid in the summer too, due to more agriculture around it.

    – Tucson is politically blue, and so are scattered pockets around the state. See this map for more info: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/11/18/more-arizona-voters-didnt-equal-more-votes-donald-trump-hillary-clinton/93805952/

    – AZ national Republicans tend to be more middle of the road than perhaps other states (e.g., our senators are John McCain and Jeff Flake); state Republicans are conservative.

    Thank you.

    by Elaine C. — February 15, 2017

  2. We searched for probably 9 years looking for THE place for us. We were living in Texas and had forever. Texas had become a very costly place to live……..especially for retirees, plus I could no long breathe in the humidity. We did research throughout Texas just because we hated to leave the state, but no go. We also researched and visited various places in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and California. California was out because of the high cost of living plus earthquakes, forest fires, and the erosion. Florida was out because of the high humidity and hurricanes, plus we were not seeing affordable housing unless we bought a mobile home so it was out. We liked Nevada but again, the cost of living was higher, and the people overload and traffic turned us off. We really liked New Mexico, especially Albuquerque, but Albuquerque does get some snow. That combined with the fact it “just didn’t feel right” put it on the back burner……….still a possible choice, but…………… One day I was on TopRetirements.com and I saw something about Green Valley, AZ. I started reading everything I could about Green Valley. The more I read, the more I liked and could see myself living there. Finally I brought it up to hubby who kind of brushed it off. I continued to research. Everything appeared to be less expensive. I really, at this point, didn’t want to buy another home…………and was looking more at rentals. In passing, I mentioned to hubby that they had (at that time) 11 golf courses, and that really got his interest. We flew out to check out Green Valley. The first day, he said if this is where you want to live, we will move. By the end of the week, he was telling anyone who would listen that we were moving to Green Valley. We allowed ourselves one year to sell the house and make the move as we had a couple of cruises booked out of Galveston that we wanted to take before leaving Texas. During that year, I continued to read and research Green Valley and wondered if my dream would ever come true. It did…..in 2015 we made the move. When I saw how reasonable houses were, I changed my mind and bought. It is 2 BR, 2 BA, 2 car garage larger than our 3 BR in Texas. It was built in 2004, and price had gone to $225K, but thanks to the property collapse, we paid $132K. Property insurance and property taxes are 1/4th of what they were in Texas. Car insurance is half. Car registration is higher as you pay by the age of your car, but is nowhere near what we save on car insurance. We have found everything to be less than it was in Texas except food which is the same. Things like pest control, electricity, carpet cleaning, etc. are way cheaper. There is so much to do, we have to keep a calendar of where we are going to go on any given day. Weather is beautiful. Monsoon season we get less rain than we got in Texas in a normal rain. In fact, Texas had much more rain than we get during Monsoon season. The mountains are awesome. We live in our Paradise, and I thank TopRetirements for whatever article it was that got me interested in Green Valley, Arizona..

    by Joanne Hice — February 15, 2017

  3. We moved from Connecticut to Florida because of the “in-state” college costs and we saved over $30K for our childs education.
    We lived on the Eastern side of Orlando, the winters were nice and my medical issues (bones) did not bother me except for the humidity in July and August. If you find a place with a pool you should be good taking a walk in the early morning or after dark during these months.
    Lot of people on thier phones while driving, but we were told its a “college town” issue.
    Have to watch for the geckos, because they try to get in your house all the time.
    Open UPS or FEDEX packages outside.
    During the “rainy” season of spring/early summer it can do impossible to see while driving because it rains with such force.
    We met a lot of nice people there but had to move north again for work.
    Hope to get back down there again one day.

    by Richard Burton — February 15, 2017

  4. I would like to see and know more about retirement in Bay and Gulf counties Fl. Mexico Beach , Panama City area and Port St. Joe. on my radar. Health care issues very important. Love Mexico Beach! All family on East coast , lived in Indian Pass Bch, Fl as a very poor young man 34 years ago. All that I am reading about retirement , All my and wife’s families lives in East. NJ, Pa, Tn, and NC That’s important. Gotta go with East and Fl. Been to Tucson seemed like a great place. Az would be a wonderful place to consider for retirement but too far from family.

    by Sam — February 15, 2017

  5. Lived I Florida 20 years (too hot and humid and ugly trees). Now live in s Carolina (beautiful trees gorgeous spring fall and winters) lower real estate taxes which Balances out the state income tax and. An drive north south of west in one day to major towns and cities.

    by Phyllis hurst — February 16, 2017

  6. “Retirement Popularity”

    Despite Del Webb’s survey, the actual numbers according to the US Census Bureau for 2014 (the most recent available data) is reported in an article on smartasset.com, May 4, 2016. The top two states for net migration of people aged 60 and older mirrors this blog post on Topretirements.com: #1 Florida = 57,724; #2 Arizona = 18,733. The rest of the top 5 are as follows: #3 South Carolina; # 4 Georgia; and, # 5 North Carolina.

    Congratulations Joanne! Your persistent and hard work paid off.

    by Doug — February 16, 2017

  7. Joanne,

    Thanks for the post. We currently live in SF Bay area . For years we have been saying
    “it’s time to get out”… We will be checking out Prescott and Tucson in spring this year.
    While I was a Marshall at this year’s AT&T Golf Tournament, a person next to me said
    they had moved to Green Valley and really liked it..

    So, maybe we will put this on our ‘check-out’ list.

    by mike — February 16, 2017

  8. What amenities does the green valley area have?

    by Vickie — February 17, 2017

  9. Joanne, can you share what the name of your community is and HOA fees? Does anyone know of 55+ places in AZ that have large lots? I don’t think I could handle being so close to my neighbors considering I have a one acre lot right now. You never know what kind of a neighbor you will have to live next to.

    by Louise — February 17, 2017

  10. I’m north of Tucson – about 20 miles in http://www.thehighlandsatdovemountain.com HOA fees $193 – full amenities including golf & restaurant homes all resales range from $180,000-$450,000. There are 4 other 55+ communities with comprehensive amenities north of Tucson. Del Webb of Dove Mountain, new and building, Saddlebrooke Ranch still building (larger lots – Robson), Saddlebrooke (Robson), Sun City of Oro Valley (older and built out Del Webb) and Continental Ranch Sunflower (built out less amenities, less expensive). These are all outside of Tucson and very safe areas also better to be on the north side of Tucson with quicker access to Phoenix airports if you travel. Green Valley is an older community and much closer to the border if that is a concern but it is very nice as well, newer community there Quail Creek (Robson) with golf and all amenities.

    by ljtucson — February 18, 2017

  11. You can buy a large lot in Buckeye, which is west of Phoenix, if you don’t mind paying $100,000+ for your lot. You will still be relatively close to your neighbors. I think those lots are half an acre.

    by Linda — February 18, 2017

  12. My wife and I are looking to re-locate from San Diego and retire in Arizona or New Mexico in possibly a year. We have looked at a 55 plus community in Sierra Vista, Az and some properties in Las Cruces, NM. Later this month we are planning to tour some communities in Green Valley, Az. I am now focused on rental single family home properties as well in Tucson. We will be on a fixed income of Social Security and landing a part time job , possibly substitute teaching. Any feedback or advise regarding renting in the Southwest would be much appreciated.
    Respectfully, (This comment came in from Gerry)


    This is what we replied, anybody else have advice?

    From what you’ve described I would say you are doing all the right things to prepare . I am not as familiar with the southwest so I do t have any specific advice . Go visit all the places you are interested in and then rent for a month or a season. No need to rush into something – take your time and feel comfortable

    by Admin — February 18, 2017

  13. Gerry, if weather will be a factor in your decision between an Arizona location (Tucson – 2,500 ft) vs. Las Cruces, NM (4,000 ft), check the stats. Big difference in night time heat. Also crime and cost of living.

    by BeckyN — February 19, 2017

  14. Am contemplating a move from Fort Piece, FL (Hutchinson Island) to the Winter Haven/Lakeland area. Seashore is nice however packed in the winter with snowbirds. Roads clogged, beaches full…etc. Also want some bigger trees and landscape…tired of sand and palm trees! Can anyone give me info on retirement living in these areas? Cost, amenities, 55+ communities, shopping, medical facilities, etc. Anything would be helpful. I plan on taking an exploration trip up there in a couple weeks. We will be renting, hopefully a condo or home/villa in a gated community..if they exist….. thanks for any input!

    by Barbara O. — February 20, 2017

  15. Can anyone please comment on living in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

    by Linda — February 21, 2017

  16. Your choices could not have been more different. Also you need to be specific on specific areas in each state.
    Florida is getting more and more crowded every year and with that comes all of the issues associated with it.

    Tucson is a nice area but very hot and ugly if you are from the North
    Phoenix is a traffic nightmare.
    Some areas of Arizona have a very snowy winters and more moderate temps.

    Florida is excessively hot and humid most of the year. Much of the state is a swamp so livable areas are very congested. The panhandle is nice but winters are cooler there than South of Orlando. South of Orlando you begin in the tropical zone wit heat and humidity driving everything. Consider tha Florida is one of the most vulnerable States to global warming and its negative effects that Miami is already struggling with

    If I were you I’d look at South Carolina or Georgia to retire

    by Ron — February 22, 2017

  17. Saying Phoenix is a traffic nightmare has not been my experience at all. As a matter of fact, I have lived in the following cities and none has as good a traffic situation as Phoenix. LA, Denver, Seattle, Miami, New York, Atlanta, Boston

    by tony — February 23, 2017

  18. Florida’s main issue with global warming is encroaching water from the ocean and gulf. It also affects any area that is affected by tides or near a tidal canal or inlet. It is not overly problematic now, but could be in just a few years. That is why it’s probably best to live at least a half mile to a mile away from these waters, as the vast majority of Floridians do. I’ve lived in central Florida (Orlando, the Villages, etc.) and the heat and humidity are usually worse there than near the coast, due to the tempering influences of ocean and gulf breezes. The trick is to live near the water, but not so close you’ll risk tidal flooding.

    by Clyde — February 23, 2017

  19. I have been reading this website for a while now and I am so tired of the bashing that Florida gets!! I have been a Florida resident for nearly 25 years and love it here. I do have something to compare to since I grew up in Kansas, moved to Denver then California and finally landed here in Florida. Here is what I can share:

    No weather is perfect but I am sitting on my patio typing this in beautiful 69 degree and breezy weather, as they say, “A perfect day in Paradise”. I haven’t shoveled snow since my arrival and in fact we have never had a frost. In summer we NEVER top 100 degrees as do most places even up north. Humidity, yes it is hard to adjust to when you first get here but my skin thanks me every day for getting it out of the dry West where I suffered with dry “Gator” hide. If the heat gets really bad, you stay in but I do that far less often in the summer than Northerners do in the winter. That’s why Air Conditioning was invented!! I love this place because weather rarely keeps us from being outdoors enjoying the day. There have been 4 Hurricanes since I moved here but if you are really scared you have days of warning to get out of town. Much better than the sudden unexpected fear of an earthquake!!

    Another myth are the bugs and critters you might encounter. I have seen 2 snakes in 25 years, both black snakes that are actually good to have around to get rid of other pests. I have never seen a gator up close, only at a distance when driving across “Alligator Alley” and those are behind a fence. Mosquitos are rare in the cities because they spray to keep them away and most porches are screened in for the occasional exception. I had never seen a cockroach until I moved to California and experienced an infestation in my apartment. In Florida you rarely see one unless it is a big Palmetto and by the time one finds its way into a house it is dying. Hardly ever see a fly, ant etc. They are no more common than anywhere else I have lived.

    As for real estate, you can find all sorts of good deals depending on what you want, even here in Palm Beach County. Yes cities are crowded. Aren’t all cities? Our bad traffic exists primarily from January to March when the snowbirds are in town. Things are crowded then but those tourists are what keep our economy humming and keep us from having state income tax. When I moved here from California I got a raise of over $3,000 a year from not having to pay state income tax and that was in ’92, not to mention the savings on car registration and insurance. I also don’t know any place that has less local sales tax. At 6.5% here I am always in shock when traveling and encounter sales tax closer to 10% elsewhere. Property Tax is in line with many other places and the Homestead Discount allows for additional savings.

    Now for the wide open space lovers, do you know Florida raises cattle second in number only to Texas? Those cattle have to graze somewhere are there are miles and miles of open land in our state. We are a huge agricultural producer. Having grown up on a farm I love seeing the huge semi-trailer trucks filled to the brim with green beans or oranges. We are not all swamp land. You can go to all parts of the state and find open fields and pasture not to mention parks and preserves. We are much more than our beaches although with the many miles of coast land, who can beat that?

    Of course, thank Goodness, Florida isn’t for everyone. My sister wouldn’t live here on a bet!! It is a good thing because we don’t have room for everyone. However, if you are considering Florida for retirement, I think you would have a hard time beating this state. You can even find cold and snow if you go to the north end! Thanks for letting me add my two cents worth and happy hunting.

    by Laura — February 23, 2017

  20. Tony, I agree with you. I live in N. Phoenix, and compared to other large cities, this place has awesome roads and freeways. Yes, if you are out at 5pm during rush hour, you may get stuck in some congestion, but there are so many side roads here to avoid that, and if you are retired you can plan around that. I have lived in other big cities, LA, DC, San Francisco, and I know what crazy traffic looks like. We have everything here. Love it!!!!

    by Loralee — February 24, 2017

  21. Well, my pod is packed (almost) and will be picked up Monday. I close on my house in Kansas City on March 7 and my new condo in Green valley, Arizona, on March 13, with a 1220 mile drive in between for me and my 4 pound yorkie. I hope we will love Arizona as much as I have during six trips there over the past four years, most for 3 or 4 weeks. There is so much to explore in the desert southwest that I am sure it will take me years to see everything I want to see. It is not a total retirement, but I am going to just do a bit of mediation to keep busy rather than getting my law license there, which completely ties you down once there are regular clients to be responsible for. I am excited for this Third and Final Act!

    by Pat R — February 24, 2017

  22. Totally agree Laura here in NY if you own a home average taxes are $10,000 a year
    Florida looks better and better and I love the warm weather….beats being locked in your house for 4- 5 months in the winter

    by Donald — February 24, 2017

  23. Laura, I totally agree with your comment. I’ve lived all over the world. Loving my little piece of Paradise here in Cape Coral on a beautiful canal. So glad my sister moved here 11 years ago and I started to visit her. No issues with bugs, snakes, gators, etc.

    by Linda — February 24, 2017

  24. Pat R,

    Congratulations on your move! Did you focus solely on Green Valley or did you explore other areas of Arizona on your 3-4 week trips? We’re behind you in making a relocation decision by approximately 3-4 years. We also live in the KC area and need to go south for warmth. Thanks for any info.

    by Doug — February 25, 2017

  25. I get daily emails from GreatRetirements.com.

    in today’s email, one of the cities is Green Valley.

    Hopefully the links below will work for you to view…

    http://www.greatretirementspots.com/short-profiles-green-valley-arizona.htm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XSZHixv1D8

    by mike — February 25, 2017

  26. I am so glad I took the time to read this thread. I hadn’t even thought that a HOA would be financially responsible for street maintenance. There are so many things to consider when choosing what hopefully will be the last home move!

    by ron p — February 25, 2017

  27. Occasionally I look at Top Retirements and I can tell you what to watch out for in Florida. We are on the west coast and bought our house before we retired thinking my husband would find part time work here and he never did. I fell in love with a house not in an over 55 big mistake. Secondly we moved into a community with something called a CCD. They are community development bonds that can be 25 or 30 years long that you pay every year, so that can be anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 extra a year plus your HOA, plus $110 once a year for a company to come around and check that you are maintaining your property, every other month I spend $50 for lawn treatment demanded by our community. Our property taxes are $4800 a year if I bought this house today they would be at least $ 6,000. We are responsible for maintaining our own lawn and bushes and trees. I just spent $400 for tree cuttings. When we bought here we thought we would sell the house in a few years however the prices fell so much that after 12 years we are not at the price we paid so we are still here., but thinking of selling this year. I am in an area where they are building like crazy and traffic is too much. When getting older something that happens faster than one can imagine plan carefully about going into to a mixed age neighborhood, there are all age groups in mine and no activities. We could have stayed in NJ with family and friends rather than make this choice. I cannot stand summers in Florida and fortunately we spend our summers in NJ at the beach. Buyer beware and happy hunting.

    by Ginger — February 26, 2017

  28. Ginger is correct. Always asking about CCD is a good thing. My wife and I found out quickly that almost all communities have one. Some a one time payments and other like Ginger mentioned can run thousands of dollars a year for 20 years or longer. We have found them both in Florida and Arizona have them. We checked out the Del Webb community in Ponte Vedra near Jacksonville loved it until I found out about the CCD of 20 years. The 55 community is part of a larger community which has parks and a water park and is the reason for the CCD. I don’t care about a water park or paying for it. We live in Minnesota and my taxes here are over $7K and a new home in Ponte Vedra would have had the same out of pocket costs just paid to different sources. Communities we visited in Arizona and South Carolina had one time CCD payments mostly under $2k. We are leaning more towards Arizona at this time.

    by Bruce — February 26, 2017

  29. We are moving a raft of misplaced Comments about Florida to this Blog (they were posted to Flo’s Carolina trip Blog, where they didnt fit well). We love your comments, but if they don’t fit the topic, we probably have one where they will be more relevant:


    From Linda:
    Re homeowners’ insurance in Florida:

    It’s been quite a few years since insurance companies pulled out of Florida. For the most part, they’re back. When I first started looking down here, USAA did not write insurance in Florida. They do now. Also AAA. I have my insurance with a private company. I was careful to review the flood insurance maps and did not purchase in an area of Cape Coral which requires flood insurance. Even though I’m on a canal with direct access to the river and thus the gulf, my condo is not in the flood insurance zone. So this is all very local and needs to be reviewed at the local level.

    From Clyde:
    Insurance for your dwelling is unquestionably a concern in Florida. Generally, the further you live from the Ocean or Gulf, the less expensive flood insurance is. Hurricane/wind insurance is a bit different since there is no place in Florida, coastal or otherwise, where major hurricane/storm impact cannot occur. Central Florida can have significant damage, such as in the Orlando area from Hurricane Charley in 2005. Most major insurance companies (State Farm, etc.) stopped writing homeowners insurance several years ago. Those companies were replaced by Citizens, a state-run public company authorized by the legislature. It is still where most homeowners obtain insurance, although recently some private insurers, mostly smaller Florida companies, have been allowed to sell homeowners insurance, thus introducing a bit of competition. The bottom line is, if you are interested in buying in Florida, check out all insurance costs before making an offer. This is also true for any coastal property near the Atlantic or Gulf coasts (regardless of the state), and probably for a few hundred miles inland as well.

    This does not mean that all coastal states insurance is exorbitant. Our particular Florida condo HOA dues includes all exterior and roof insurance. Since we’re on the second floor (with elevator), flood insurance is not required. We live about five miles from the ocean in a 900+ square foot 2BR 2BA unit. I do carry contents and liability insurance that runs about $600 annually. Our HOA dues are $390 a month and also include all exterior maintenance and replacement, all landscaping and mowing, cable, courtesy bus service, clubhouses, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, pickleball, three 24-hour manned gate entries, etc., (besides the previously-mentioned exterior insurance also included in HOA dues).

    So you can find places to reasonably insure in Florida. You just have to spend time researching it in advance. The bigger the house or condo and the closer it is to coastal water, the higher the insurance premiums. And even if you’re not in a flood plain, flood insurance is probably a good idea. Consult your insurance agent.

    From Ron: Boca Raton Florida! We lived there before work moved me to the Carolinas. Great town, great Downtown area for browsing. Best Beach in Florida in my opinion.
    Many reasonably priced homes as you get farther away from the ocean.
    Close drive to Palm Beach or Lauderdale
    Catch a train to both

    From LMB:
    Ron, I hear you loud and clear and I believe we in South Florida are being ripped off. No matter how much we try to bring the cost of homeowners insurance down if your house was built before 1987 your rates keep going up. There are no breaks. We have done everything we could except tearing off the whole roof and rebuilding it as our we do not have the correct number of wraps. Might I add our roof passed the hurricane code after Wilma but right after that the code was changed again and for us it would mean actually mean an extensive overhaul costing more than the insurance. I feel for those of you living 2-5 miles from the beach we are 15 miles away.


    From Phil:
    Hi
    Wife and I have been staying in Ft Meyers Go. We are looking for a home to buy. Ft Meyers is way too expensive for us. Any help in areas of Florida to look for housing. Thinking $125,000 tops for pirchase. Thanks

    Cons: North East Snowbirds crowd the town November – April but still tolerable.

    by Admin — March 18, 2017

  30. Phil,

    Some places to check for 3/2 houses around $125K or less: Lakeland, Winter Haven, and surrounding area (located near I-4 between Tampa and Orlando); Palm Coast (bit north of Daytona); Palm Bay (Atlantic coast South of Melbourne). See realtor.com

    Others may also have some ideas on Florida towns with house prices in that range.

    by Clyde — March 18, 2017

  31. My wife and I moved to Tucson AZ 15 years ago from Wisconsin. We looked at 5 cities before moving. San Diego, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Denver, and Tucson. We had frequently visited Hilton Head island and Charleston S.C. and while we enjoyed them both, the humidity and musty smells were not for us.

    I personally have traveled around the world on business and have been in 43 of the 50 states. I have to say, Tucson is one of the best places ever. Home prices are attractive, lower cost of living, favorable income taxes and outdoor activities abound. And lots of choices for a home in or out of a 55+ community.

    Both my wife and I are Realtors serving the greater Tucson area and Green Valley, AZ. And biased about Tucson AZ.

    by Ben Boldt — June 1, 2017

  32. After researching and looking at numerous places to move to from the crowded SF Bay Area…
    we have chosen a wonderful place – Prescott, Arizona.

    It’s at 5000′ elevation so it 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix
    surrounded by lots of Pine Trees and National Forest
    Has 4 lakes for waling, kayaking and fishing.

    by Mike Arnold — June 2, 2017

  33. Hi Mike:

    Are there any water issues in Prescott? I know you have lakes there. I had been told that this is a good place for those who like seasons. I seem to be one of those people. I may still end up in a warmer climate but seasonal is my preference.

    by Jennifer — June 3, 2017

  34. They may or may not have water issues in the future.
    But out Real Estate agent told me they don’t have issues and that any new building is
    permit is only given with the availability of 100 yrs of water.

    we chose Prescott for many reasons, including:
    avg 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix (yet still only 90 mins to PHX).
    moderate, 4 seasons (18″ rain, 18″ snow).
    low humidity makes for pleasant weather
    Community Diversity –
    “tahoe-like” feel with Ntl Forest, lakes, etc and areas of Red Granite Rocks and Ranch lands.
    People are extremely friendly and seem to take pride in their small town
    clean town (roads nice, now litter or grafitti)
    lots and lots of activities each month (e.g Balloon festival this weekend, major rodeo next month)
    Known as “Christmas city”
    Small town feel (40k in Prescott, 40k in Prescott Valley) yet has all major shopping needs –
    Costco, 2 Walmarts, Trader Joes, Target, etc.

    Mike

    p.s. when we tell people we are moving to Arizona, they look at us and say “why, that state is too hot”.
    But, when we show them pictures and they visit… they go “ahh, now I see why !”

    by Mike — June 4, 2017

  35. Florida is cooler mostly and has an ocean

    by ron — June 5, 2017

  36. So much about AZ and FL depends on what an individual really prefers for a living environment. I’ve day-visited in Prescott several times (while staying in the Verde Valley) and REALLY liked what I found. My question for Mike is whether it is also as windy, gritty up there as in the lower elevations? And does is get those haboobs?

    We finally decided that we love the green first and the east coast is for us. I personally have no issues with humidity and FL as long as A/C is available at night. Bring it on! But it took years of acclimation to get to that point.

    As far as other issues, I think this topic and others here at TopRetirements have provided enough info for anyone to make a decision — as long as they visit a potential new home for at least a month during July/August!

    by Rich — June 6, 2017

  37. I agree. Neither is better. It depends on what you want. I’ve spent a lot of time in Arizona, my son lives there. Just not a desert person. I wanted to live on the water. Would have loved California. No way I could afford to live on the water there. Florida works for me. Talked to two couples at our New Resident Club this morning–one from San Francisco and one from from Sacramento. They both said the same thing–they moved here because they couldn’t afford to retire on the water in California.

    by Linda — June 6, 2017

  38. I lived in Fla for 10 years….loved the beaches. Could not handle the humidity, bugs and everyday thunderstorms though. I also don’t like having to depend on air conditioning. Parents bought a condo 5 miles from the beach in san diego ca for $58000 20 yrs ago. So now that investment pays you back 4 times over what you originally paid. If you can pay cash upfront you can afford to live in California on an income of $35000. You have very low utility bills and food prices are good also. I will be inheriting the condo but will have to sell because won’t be able to afford the mortgage and all the HOA fees. Moving to coastal Oregon where the apts are much cheaper and condos on the beach go for less than $150000!!

    by mary11 — June 7, 2017

  39. Both areas are remarkable in several ways.
    I lived in Tucson, and the outdoor activities are spectacular – the mountains, hiking and desert (much like most of the state) lives up to it’s hype. Short flights to west coast, trips to Mexico and neighboring areas are a bonus.

    Florida, having left the beauty of Maine where we lived for 20 years, presented us, as we get older, a number of advantages. We live in Gulfport/St. Pete area, have a nice little downtown, a few miles to vibrant St. Pete, which has a lot of pluses (not unlike Portland, ME), and for someone who loves to garden, kayak and walk, really can’t beat it. Sure, it is hot/humid in summer, but I’d rather sweat than freeze, and haven’t slid off the road down here. And, if you’re a blues fan, there are more blues venues than any other place in the country. Great music, festivals and access to water.

    by Mike — June 8, 2017

  40. Mike, regarding your comment on living in Florida, you are spot on. We love Florida 12 months a year.
    If you can tolerate the high humidity then Florida is a great spot to retire.

    by Skip P — June 9, 2017

  41. Skip, which area of Florida do you live in? We are planning to move there in the next few months, we checked out Orlando last August and again last month and are leaning towards the suburbs there. We haven’t gone there in the cooler months but expect it to be fine if we can tolerate the summer heat and humidity. Any recommendations would be appreciated from other readers too. Thank you.

    by Mimi — June 9, 2017

  42. I live in Tallahassee, FL which is in the panhandle of the state. We have four seasons but no snow or ice. It is beautiful in the springtime. We do have high temperatures & humidity in the summer. There are moss covered oaks & magnolias & the city is known for its canopied roads. Tallahassee is a much slower pace of life than the large cities. We do have 2 major universities here & we are about 1 hour from the gulf coast. We also have good medical care.

    by Cathy W — June 9, 2017

  43. Mimi-Check out The Villages in Florida. Incredible place.

    by Bart — June 9, 2017

  44. Mimi,
    Central Florida is a breeding ground for huge insects especially mosquitos. Locating no further than 2 miles from the ocean or Gulf usually eliminates the big bugs and gives you a nice daily breeze,
    Boca Raton is perhaps the nicest community on the East Coast for many reasons. Not sure of its equivalent on the East coast.
    Traffic in the Orlando area is terrible most of the year

    by Ron — June 9, 2017

  45. Mimi, we lived in Naples on the west coast and in Port St Lucie on the east coast. We are now residing in Texas and plan on relocating to SE Fl in the next
    4-5 months.

    I find the summers more tolerable in the summers
    on the east coast than the west coast. Do your homework regarding Orlando and the year round weather. Summers are very humid and winters may be cooler than you prefer. Try visiting your favorite area in the heart of the summer August or September and then decide.

    Best of Luck on your search.

    Skip Pr

    by Skip P — June 10, 2017

  46. We retired to Fort Myers, FL 5 years ago after extensively researching the entire state. We found anywhere south of Tampa/St. Petersburg was very nice and wound up in Fort Myers because of the community we found to live in and that wound up being our deciding factor over a few other cities that we would have also considered. I’ve lived in Clearwater on the West Coast and in Port St. Lucie and West Palm on the East Coast and grew up in Key West so I have a pretty good knowledge of Florida. We like Fort Myers because it’s just big enough to have wonderful medical care, good shopping and the beaches are very close to us and we enjoy going to Sanibel periodically. We live here year around and the humidity does not bother us in the summer since we have the rainy season (it’s raining right now) to help keep us cool. Winters are mild but we do get in the 50’s and 60’s at night which makes for nice sleeping weather. As for bugs – Get a good pest control service on a regular basis and you need not worry. We are just far enough away from the coastline that flood insurance is not required; however, because we live in a community full of lakes, we choose to have flood insurance anyway. We came from the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area when we retired to Florida and have not regretted the choice at all….

    by Toni — June 10, 2017

  47. Mimi, I would second Ron’s comment about central Florida in general and the Orlando area in particular. I would never live there. It was one of the coasts or nothing for me in Florida.

    Hi Toni, neighbor across the river!

    by Linda — June 10, 2017

  48. OK, what about the snakes in Florida–forget the bugs.( We can spray for the bugs and noseeums )That is my big fear. My Aunt live in Naples year round since 20 months ago it has been dry, but the monsoons have set in and that will help greatly. She lives in a golf course community with ponds here and there as well so when she takes walks at dawn, I am sure there are creatures there.

    by Jennifer — June 10, 2017

  49. Toni … My wife and I have been looking at the Ft Myers area for possible relocation in a couple of years. You say you really love your neighborhood. Any advise on areas of Ft Myers we should look and also maybe to avoid? Thanks for any info you can provide.

    by Charles — June 11, 2017

  50. Jennifer, what about the snakes in Florida? We have black racers who eat bugs and mice. They’re good snakes to have. Haven’t seen any others. I’m sure they’re around, but probably not in the more populated areas. As for your aunt in her golf course community with ponds–there will be gators in those ponds. And on the golf course from time to time. That’s a fact of life down here. Just don’t try to go in the ponds or hang around the edges and you should be OK. I live on a canal in Cape Coral across the river from Fort Myers. The intersecting canal leads directly to the river and then to the Gulf of Mexico and thus is brackish and tidal. Our canals have seawalls. Not particularly hospitable to gators–they prefer fresh water. But we get dolphins. As for bugs, I had more in Minnesota than I do here. We do have a good bug guy. And Cape Coral does a good job spraying for mosquitoes.

    by Linda — June 11, 2017

  51. Linda–be careful I have an acquaintance who lived near the canals and cottonmouths were in the canals occasionally. I am glad that black snakes are good to have. I plan to buy a condo–and not on the ground level, at least 2nd or third floor if I find one I like. My Aunt’s good friends had a black snake or two behind their dishwasher–he must have gotten in when they were unloading their car and the door was open. It is a ground floor condo. They had to call an exterminator and animal control….oh well I hope I can get over my phobia somehow.

    by Jennifer — June 11, 2017

  52. Charles….Fort Myers is like most mid sized cities with many good neighborhoods and a few not so good. We did not deliberately set out to look at gated communities in our Florida search but ultimately found that many of the better neighborhoods were gated. Fort Myers has a large area on McGregor Blvd. that is not gated and is very nice. I researched on realtor.com and other sites before we came to Fort Myers and then contacted a Realtor which proved to be invaluable as she was able to quickly steer us to homes we could afford and communities in nice areas plus she advised us on areas to avoid.

    I do have to comment to everyone on the “critter” issue in FL….makes me smile! We bought on a lake and have to tell you we enjoy the various birds, herons, ducks, etc. and the occasional alligator that takes up residence. As long as you do not feed them, they leave you alone. We have seen exactly one snake in our yard in 5 years and it was a black snake considered a “good” snake. We all get more excited about a FL panther sighting than anything and we even had a black bear lumber through a year ago but he was just as anxious to get out of our gated community as we were to have him leave. The wildlife was here before all of us so enjoy it rather than be apprehensive about it….

    by Toni — June 11, 2017

  53. We have lived in New Smyrna Beach, FL for over 4 years now. In our neighborhood we have had rattlesnakes, multiple cottonmouths, and many black racers. We were warned not to walk barefoot in the yard and to be very careful with pets getting bitten by snakes. Snakes are there, you just haven’t seen them. We love the water fowl, including the ducks and seasonal hummingbirds. We also have had otters, opossums (who are great exterminators) and a few coyotes, in addition to a few alligators. I’m not trying to frighten you, but you need to be aware of the wildlife here. Regular insect extermination is critical. Also keep your eye out for teeny tiny ants that get in your house.

    by Helen — June 11, 2017

  54. This is just a suggestion but in my experience a cat is very good protection against snakes. If nothing else, their behavior will alert you something is afoot. I have also heard that snakes are afraid of cats and will thus keep away, although I don’t know if this is true.

    by Alice — June 12, 2017

  55. Jennifer, nobody in their right mind would actually go IN the canals here. Except in a boat. I suspect that cottonmouths would prefer the freshwater canals. We have two different kinds of canals in Cape Coral. The freshwater canals and lakes are a closed system with no access to the river or the gulf. They are used to store irrigation and firefighting water. They almost dried up during the recent drought. The other canals have direct access to the river or the gulf and are tidal and dynamic. They’re basically streets for boats. We have over 400 miles of canals in the Cape.

    by Linda — June 12, 2017

  56. Isn’t this a post for Florida vs Arizona? The last half dozen posts have distracted the conversation away from the intended subject.

    Admin note: Good point Partagas, thank you for getting us back on track. We move those Oregon/Washington comments to https://www.topretirements.com/blog/great-towns/dueling-retirement-states-the-pacific-northwest-or-and-wa.html/, where they fit a lot better.

    by Partagas — July 8, 2017

  57. It seems that Arizona and Florida are at opposite ends of the spectrum as far as weather is concerned– one is hot and dry, the other moist and humid. Are there areas in those states that are more moderate in their climate? If so, which would be preferable?

    by staci — October 14, 2017

  58. Both states have a warmer winter climate than about anywhere else in the U.S. Florida has a gradual transition from north to south. In the north Tallahassee and Jacksonville can get cooler days and nights in winter, even the occasional frost. By the time you get to Miami and Fort Myers in the south the climate is almost tropical. The whole state is pretty humid.

    In Arizona, by contrast you also get a temperature shift from north to south (from Flagstaff in the north to Tucson in the south). But in many places you also get the moderating effects of altitude, which makes summers a little more bearable than in low lying places like Phoenix. Mount Wrightson, which is 30 miles south of Tucson is over 9000′. Flagstaff even has a nearby 12,000′ ski resort.

    by Ken — October 14, 2017

  59. While in the military, we lived in Homestead, Florida for five years during our early age of mid 20s. We also lived in Glendale, Arizona for 8 years from our early to late 30s. I grew up in Hartford, Connecticut and my wife in Bangor, Maine. Since we both were raised in States with brutal Winters, the hot climates were a welcome relief and we loved living on both Florida and Arizona. We are now in our early 60s and have been living in Bangor, Maine 24 years. We want to retire to place with no snow, ice and brutal cold temperatures. We have research retirement communities in Florida, South & North Carolina, Colorado (where our son lives), Arizona and various overseas countries. We wanted what most middle-class retirees are looking for: low crime rate, low cost of living, warm or mild Winters, recreational opportunities, good medical close by, and most importantly for us, the least amount of natural weather disasters. We can find all of what we want in all the States we researched but the one with the less natural weather disasters is Arizona. We lived there; no hurricanes, no devastating tornadoes, no snow or ice storms (unless you want that, you can have it), no huge forest fires like California, very little flooding disasters (only during monsoon season), no earthquakes and not a lot of bugs. We believe we have found our paradise retirement dream location in Saddlebrooke, Arizona. Research it and if you’re looking for what we are looking for in a retirement community, you will come to the same conclusion we have. We love it and have not even visited it yet, but plan to do so this coming Spring of 2018.

    by Eduardo — January 10, 2018

  60. Rick sent in this comment concerning communities in Maricopa, AZ:

    I found some info elsewhere on 55+ communities in Maricopa, AZ (Province, being one). I don’t see any info on your site about communities in Maricopa. Is there another way I need to search?

    by Jane at Topretirements — December 5, 2018

  61. Hi Rick,
    Thanks for your inquiry about Maricopa.  It seems like a pretty rural area and not much around it. We do have a lot of communities in nearby Casa Grande, which you could check out.  We will look for more communities but at the moment that is the best we can offer.

    by Admin — December 5, 2018

  62. Don’t put your current state on the back burner.
    Check all the facts before you make decision to move out looking for adventure.
    Florida has warm weather and beaches and about it.
    Florida Real Estate/School Taxes are not for behind NY State, and about 3 times higher than RE Taxes in Arizona.
    The Home Owner Insurance in Florida can be as high as 8 times or more than in NY State or Arizona.
    Florida State Income Tax free status? It makes not much difference if you take under consideration that what you save on Florida SIT, you spent that much or more on HO Insurance and RE Taxes.
    Condominiums Homeowner Association on average is also higher in Florida than fee on similar Condominium in Phoenix or Scottsdale.
    Most people writing articles about Tax/Retirement Friendly States just repeating each others without checking other factors.
    It is lot to consider, example; yearly cost of electric bills for AC in AZ could be double the cost of heating your home in snowy Syracuse NY.
    Another point to consider is Tax discounts for retirees in your State.
    Pennsylvania is excellent, but NY State is very good as well.
    In NY State your SS is not taxed and Private Pension, IRA, 401k and other retirement income are tax exempt for total combine of $20K per retiree.
    So in NYS, couple’s SS and $40K from other retirements benefit are tax free. On top of it, there is $16K standard deduction on NYS Income Tax, which can put couple’s Retirement Income way above $120K before they own any NYS Income tax.
    And of course, in NYS there is RE Tax reduction for senior homeowners as well.
    I did calculation of yearly cost of living and taxation owed to States living in Tampa Area FL, Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area AZ and Syracuse NY.
    All three were within $900.00/ year from each other.
    For calculation, I used my/wife income and housing with similar sq feet in each location and I tried to cover everything, including groceries and gasoline cost in each location.
    If you don’t mind shoveling the snow, northern states are beautiful too.
    Good Luck…
    Andy

    by Andy Prubas — December 23, 2018

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