If Florida is on your list of retirement destinations, then you should know there is a lot more than meets the eye in the Sunshine state. Apart from the sunny weather, never ending beaches and retiree-friendly taxes, Florida spoils its residents with many other perks.
First of all, you should know that it is no coincidence that Florida is one of the most sought-out retirement destinations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22 percent of Florida’s 22 million population consists of Americans aged 65 or more. This means it offers plenty of amenities and advantages if some many senior people have come to Florida and stayed.
But enough with the chit chat. If you weren’t yet convinced that Florida is the place to spend your golden years, here are 9 lesser-known reasons to spend your retirement years in the Sunshine state.
Reasons to spend your retirement in Florida:
Discounts to important attractions
Why pay the full price if you can enjoy major attractions for much less? This is one perk that Florida’s senior residents have when it comes to visiting popular theme parks and other major spots that attracts thousands of tourists every year. This includes major discounts to Disney World and Disney Cruise, Universal Studios, and Gatorland.
More than that, you can get major discounts for annual passes at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, Legoland and other popular parks.
Did you know that Florida has around 825 miles of sandy beaches? Well, let that information sink in. Apart from the days you get to spend at the beach, you can also enjoy numerous outdoor activities such as kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, sailing or hiking. There are over 5,000 miles of trails, so you’re obviously not lacking options to stay active and in shape.
If you choose to visit Everglades National Park spreading across 1.5 million acres, you’ll have the opportunity to see alligators, manatees and even panthers. Retirees benefit from major discounts for entrance fees, annual passes and free entry six days a year.
According to Stacy Johnson, founder and CEO of Money Talks News, who live in Florida for 20 years, she “would never consider being anywhere else. I love the proximity to the beach, the bike paths, and the hordes of friendly folks who are my age but have yet to realize it!”
Golf, golf and…golf
There are more than 1,300 golf courses in Florida, so golf fans won’t have a problem in finding a place to enjoy and practice this sport/hobby. Residents and seniors can get important discounts on many courses.
Not to mention that are numerous retirement communities in Florida, many of which offer access to their own golf courses. For instance, residents of The Villages retirement communities have free access to their golf courses, all year round.
Find out more about these 6 Tips for Making Your Money Last as a Retiree.
If you’re a sports fan you’ll have plenty of sports team to cheer for as Florida is home to major teams in most sports leagues. There are three NFL football teams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers; two MLB baseball teams, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays; two MLS soccer teams, Inter Miami and Orlando Cit; two NHL hockey teams, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Retired fans benefit from loyalty and group discount programs which help them land major ticket discounts, as well as fan trips. During the Florida Grapefruit League, senior fans can see their favorite players and teams at really discounted prices.
Looking for a dinner on a budget? Or a fancy outing to a top-notch restaurant? Or just going for the classics? Whatever your preference and favorite flavors, Florida has them all. And senior residents can get even more out of a night in town at really good prices and deals.
Given the state’s rich history, diversity in terms of population and impressive natural resources, the culinary experience will be just as diverse, including Caribbean, Latin American and Southern dishes. Not to mention the fresh state-grown produce of tomatoes, bell peppers, oranges, grapefruit and strawberries. See also: 6 Online Courses Seniors Will Love That Won’t Cost Them Anything
Living in Florida does not mean you get everything for free, but you can stretch your dollars more than in other states. The average 65 plus household in Florida has an average income of approximately $50,000 a year, according to state institutions. This kind of money can make your life easier in Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa.
The downside is the housing costs. According to a Council for Community & Economic Research, average home prices are a bit higher compared to the national average; luckily, the state makes it up with the costs for health, transportation and utilities. Believe it or not, the Sunshine State is one of the cheapest states in terms of energy consumption, even if it ranks third in terms of air conditioning use, as per information provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Sales tax exemptions
According to Florida’s main tourism corporation, Visit Florida, there are way more tourists in the Sunshine State than actual residents, with a 6:1 ratio. This is not necessarily a bad thing as they are also required to pay sales taxes in Florida, which, in turn, prevents tax burdens from going up.
As detailed by the Tax Foundation, the state sales tax rate is 6 percent, with an extra 1 percent or 1,5 percent added by many counties. Florida residents benefit from sales taxes breaks to prepare for hurricane season, back-to-school clothing, accessories, footwear and supplies. In addition, they receive tax exemptions for tools, and storm-resistant doors, windows, gas stoves and garage doors.
Lower property taxes
Whether you’re an owner or a tenant, you still have to pay property taxes one way or another. In Florida, property tax is 0.80%, lower than the U.S. average of 0.99%. This can work in your favor, especially when retirement comes with a tighter budget.
More than that, homeowners and dependents may benefit from a tax break of maximum $50,000 on the assessed value of their property. The Save Our Homes Benefit caps the property’s assessed value to maximum 3 percent increases in one year, regardless of the fluctuations on the market.
Health and wellness
The Sunshine State is home to more than 200 hospitals and 57,000 doctors, with many of them specifically created for retirees. Seniors in poor health and frail conditions who need placement into long-term care facilities can find support with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. For more useful information and resources, check their online newspaper Aging Outlook.
In terms of health services and hospitals for older people, Florida ranks 101 on the list made by U.S. News & World. This top was based on patient experience, experienced staff, survival rate and the like.
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