You’ll get more than you bargained for if you retire to Florida merely for sunny beaches and to kiss snow and state income taxes goodbye.
From metro areas to rural rolling hills, city centers to 55-plus resort-style communities, you can enjoy as vibrant, active or relaxing a time as you want — all in the same day.
And you’ll retire in good company. As of 2022, folks age 65 or older make up nearly 22% of Florida’s 22 million population, the U.S. Census Bureau says.
“I’ve lived in Florida for 20 years and would never consider being anywhere else,” says Stacy Johnson, founder and CEO of Money Talks News. “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!”
Here are many lesser-known reasons Florida entices retirees.
1. Major attractions discounts
Visit world-renowned theme parks and other attractions often for less than what tourists pay. You’ll skip some of the hotel bills out-of-towners pay, too.
You’re also in a position to take advantage of annual passes at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, Legoland and other parks. The Kennedy Space Center (pictured) offers annual passes and one- and two-day senior discounts.
2. Outdoor adventures
Aside from Florida’s 825 miles of white sandy beaches, you can connect with the state’s outdoor beauty by kayaking through crystal-clear springs or between islands, surfing and snorkeling, learning to sail or go hiking on more than 5,000 miles of trails.
See alligators, manatees and panthers when you explore the 1.5 million acres of Everglades National Park (pictured above), where you can go camping, hiking, boating, fishing or take in the sights while relaxing on a guided tram tour. The park offers senior discounts, annual pass deals and free admission six days a year.
Go birdwatching in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or some of the state’s other pristine natural sanctuaries.
3. Golf, golf and more golf
Chase birdies at over 1,300 courses spread throughout every corner of this golfer’s paradise where you can tee up year round.
Many courses offer discounts for residents or seniors, but you have to check with each. Many 55-plus communities include golf courses in their amenities. For example, The Villages retirement communities in Central Florida offers 50 golf courses with no greens fees for residents.
Among some of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach (pictured) hosts the annual Players Championship.
4. Pro sports
Florida sports fans are never far from a major team’s home, and most have loyalty and group discount programs so you can score game ticket discounts. Senior communities and clubs can put together fan trips that often include ticket discounts and food packages.
The state boasts three NFL football teams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers; two MLB baseball teams, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays; two NBA basketball teams, the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic; two NHL hockey teams, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning; and two MLS soccer teams, Inter Miami and Orlando City.
Get up close and personal when 15 MLB teams play all around the state in the Florida Grapefruit League spring training season. You can watch players practice and play in more-relaxed settings than regular season games and at prices more agreeable to budget-conscious fans.
5. Arts and culture
Whether you want to pay homage to Ernest Hemingway at his home in Key West (pictured) or relive the history of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida’s more than 400 museums cover art in many forms, state history, and eclectic and niche collections. You can find them by type of museum, region or city here.
Top pop music stars including Taylor Swift take their tours through Florida, but you can also enjoy symphony orchestras from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg and South Florida; chamber music from Jacksonville Beach to Miami, choral groups, Latin music and much more.
Whether hungry for a dinner deal or budget-busting splurge, sticking to classics or exploring new cuisines, you won’t run out of options for finding favor with flavors of Florida.
Iconic dishes include key lime pie, Cuban sandwich and conch fritters.
The state’s diverse population, rich history, and abundant natural resources help bring together Caribbean, Latin American, Southern comfort and fresh seafood offerings.
And don’t forget fresh Florida-grown produce including oranges, grapefruit and strawberries and tomatoes and bell peppers.
Not everything is a bargain in Florida, but you are likely to see your money go a bit further if you retire there.
While you can still hunt for thrifty housing around Florida, median home costs run slightly higher than the national average, according to a Council for Community & Economic Research report. However, utilities, transportation and health costs run lower.
Florida is one of the cheapest states for your energy consumption, a WalletHub analysis found when adding up electricity, natural gas, gasoline and heating oil bills. And that’s despite Florida being the third-highest state for air conditioning use, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
8. Sales tax breaks
Tourists outnumber Sunshine State residents roughly 6-to-1, according to the state’s official tourism corporation, Visit Florida. And they pay a good chunk of the state’s sales taxes, helping to keep residents’ tax burden from climbing.
Florida gives residents sales tax holidays to gear up for hurricane season, summer outdoor activities and sports, and back-to-school clothing, accessories, footwear and supplies. There are also breaks for gas stoves, tools, and storm resistant doors, windows and garage doors.
9. Lower property taxes
Own or rent, property tax rates affect you.
Homeowners or their dependents who declare their property as their residence may receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000 on the assessed value of their home. Under Florida’s “Save Our Homes Benefit,” the assessed value of a property with the homestead exemption cannot increase more than 3% in one year no matter what happens to the property’s market value.
10. Health and wellness
The Florida Department of Elder Affairs provides home and community-based services to seniors at risk of being placed into a long-term care facility due to their degrees of frailty. Aging Outlook is the department’s digital newspaper featuring resources, and tips for thriving while getting older.
U.S. News & World reports ranked 101 Florida hospitals on geriatrics care. The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville was the top-ranked in the state based on survival odds, patient experience, staffing and other criteria.