When you are deciding where to retire. You need to look at a range of factors. Every state has something unique to offer. Which automatically makes choosing an area difficult. However, there is a slew of other considerations. Particularly those that impact affordability and quality of life. That’s why choosing the right option is so vital. If you want to retire well in Florida. Here’s what you need to know.
Cost of Living
An area’s cost of living is a reflection of overall affordability. The national average is always scored at 100. If a state has a score below 100. It means that it costs less than average. While a score above 100 shows that the area is more expensive.
Florida’s overall cost of living score comes in at 99.0, putting it just barely under the national average. When it comes to the smaller cost of living categories. Florida’s scores vary, with some being over the national average and some falling under the 100 mark.
On the higher end, you’ll find groceries (104.2) and utilities (101.1). That means food, electricity, and similar costs are slightly above average in the Sunshine State.
However, housing (96.8), transportation (99.1), and healthcare (97.5) all come in below average, albeit only a little. Still, this can be a mark of potential affordability.
When it comes to home values, Florida is neck-and-neck with the national average. The Sunshine State’s average home value comes in at $262,291, while the national average is $262,604. That’s only a $313 difference.
Before you choose a place to retire, you need to take a look at the state’s tax rates. How much you need to pay in taxes influences how far your retirement savings will go and your quality of life, both of which are important.
One of the biggest benefits of choosing the Sunshine State is that it doesn’t have a state income tax. You won’t have to pay anything more than federal income taxes, allowing you to keep more of your money in your pocket.
Now, Florida does have a sales tax. However, it’s fairly reasonable. The general sales tax rate is 6 percent, barring a few exceptions.
It is important to note that municipalities can add surtaxes to the Florida sales tax rate, causing purchases in cities or counties to be subject to higher taxes. For example, Miami-Dade’s total sales tax rate is 7 percent as the county has a 1 percent surtax that it adds to the base 6 percent rate. Still, considering that the average sales tax rate is 7.12 percent and you don’t have to deal with state income taxes, that isn’t too bad.
Florida’s property tax rates are near the national average. Plus, seniors can qualify for property tax breaks, which is a bonus. For example, you may be eligible for a homestead exemption of up to $50,000, which dramatically reduces the taxable value of your home.
Part-Time Job Opportunities
Usually, part-time job opportunities are available in Florida, particularly during tourist seasons. However, COVID-19 has altered the landscape a bit, making it harder to find opportunities.
Before the pandemic, in February 2020, Florida’s unemployment rate was a shockingly low 2.8 percent. The national average at that time was 3.5 percent, which showcases the strength of the Sunshine State’s economy then.
However, once COVID-19 became a factor, the unemployment rate in Florida rose to 13.8 percent in April 2020. That was a bit lower than the national average for that period, which sat at 14.7 percent, but was still a significant number.
Florida’s unemployment rate has fallen, getting down to 7.2 percent by September 2020, while the national average came in at 7.9 percent. However, COVID-19 resurgences may continue to influence the landscape. As a result, retirees may need to plan as if part-time jobs aren’t readily available, just as a matter of caution.
It is important to note that part-time jobs in Florida will be more lucrative here in the near future. While the minimum wage in 2020 is $8.56 per hour, it’s set to move up to $8.65 per hour in 2021. Then, it will keep moving up, ultimately reaching $15.00 per hour by 2026.
A rising minimum wage can be a boon for retirees. It means many low-key, part-time positions will have more to offer financially. You may be able to work less while still bringing in the cash you need, which could make your golden years more enjoyable.
Best Cities for Retirees in Florida
When you’re trying to decide where to retire, you need to look beyond the state. The city you select has a significant impact. It may impact overall affordability as well as your quality of life, both of which are important parts of the equation.
Florida is a very popular destination for retirees, so many of the cities and towns can potentially meet your needs. However, some of the options do stand out from the crowd, making them a good starting point if you don’t know where to look first.
Sarasota can be an excellent choice. It offers long stretches of white sand beaches along the gulf coast, as well as a number of lush parks that are ideal for a stroll. The arts scene in Sarasota is also incredibly active, and the city still maintains a touch of historical charm due to its Spanish colonial history.
Gainesville is often thought of as a college town. However, it has a lot to offer retirees as well. The city is incredibly vibrant, for one. For another, the Institute for Learning in Retirement offers a slew of classes to help you stay active and engaged in your golden years.
Also, make sure that Naples is on your list. The city offers up amazing beaches, breathtaking banyan trees, and exceptional air quality (which could make it ideal for retirees with breathing trouble). It is more expensive than many other cities but may be worth it for retirees with room in their budgets.
How Much Money You Need to Retire Well in Florida
With a reasonable overall cost of living, you can retire well in Florida with a moderate amount of retirement savings in many cases. Now, the city you choose does play a role, as some areas are more costly than others. However, there are some lower-cost regions that can support an amazing retirement thanks to all of the amenities.
Generally, if you have access to about $62,883 a year, you can potentially retire well in Florida. That should cover all of your needs as well as plenty of wants, giving you a chance to enjoy your golden years once you get there.
Do you have any other tips that can help someone retire well in Florida? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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