20 Reasons Not to Move to Florida
Everyone wants to live in Florida.
According to the 2014 Census projections, Florida is now the third most populous state in the nation putting it ahead of New York, but still behind California and Texas. Currently, about 19.9 million people live in the Sunshine state, and the growth rate of 2.7% is above the national average. Most of the population increase is due to people moving to Florida from other states.
Florida, The Sunshine State
Are you thinking of moving to Florida? Think again. It’s not all sunshine, seashore, and smiles. Here are 20 reasons not to move to Florida.
1. There are too many old people living in Florida.
There are a lot of old people in Florida and they drive too darn slow. With their blinkers on. I know because I’m one of them. You can’t blame the old people too much. Hearing and vision are not as good as they used to be. You can’t blame them, but you have to share the road with them.
Most of Florida’s growth is due to retirees moving to the state, so this problem is going to get worse.
2. Too many tourists come to Florida.
Last year about 95 million people visited Florida. That’s a lot of people. They clog the airports and roads. In Orlando, for instance, where I live, the roads near the theme parks are bumper to bumper pretty much all day.
Being forced to drive at 5 mph will give you plenty of time to enjoy the sights--the tacky and garish souvenir shops and fast-food eateries that line the tourist strip. Inside the parks, everything is shiny and new and clean—a fantasy land. Outside the parks—not so much.
A cruise ship in Key West
3. Traffic is terrible in Florida.
In Central Florida where I live, the main highway is I-4. It goes from Daytona Beach on the East Coast, thru Orlando, and ends in Tampa on the West Coast. It is the main road to the theme parks. Traffic is very congested, and when there is an accident (and there are plenty), traffic can come to a standstill for hours.
Traffic will be even worse as I-4 undergoes a major renovation to add additional lanes. The renovation will take six years (2015-2021).
I hear I-95, around the Miami area, is just as bad.
4. George Zimmerman lives in Florida and he still has his gun.
George Zimmerman, who killed an unarmed teenager (Trayvon Martin) and was found not guilty, is not the only trigger-happy fool in Florida. Two other notorious recent cases come to mind. Curtis Reeves shot and killed an unarmed young father in a movie theater because he was texting during the previews (trial is pending) and Michael Dunn shot into a van full of teenagers, killing one of them, because they were playing their music too loud. (Dunn got a life sentence so you will be safe from him at least.) Florida has a “stand-your ground” law which some people interpret as a license to kill.
Florida is NRA territory. Road-rage shootings are so common that the media doesn’t even bother to report on them anymore. Florida has gun ranges where young children can shoot automatic weapons. Recently a person was killed when a nine-year old girl was firing a UZI and lost control of the gun. (Give an UZI to a nine-year old—what could go wrong?)
In Florida, we routinely hear about someone killed by a bullet shot into the air in celebration of something or other or someone shot by a stray bullet in their own backyard fired by someone doing a little target practice down the road someplace.
5. The people of Florida elected Rick Scott governor.
The people of Florida elected Rick Scott governor. What you have to understand about Rick Scott is that before he ran for governor (and got elected-- twice), he was CEO of Columbia/HCA. The company presided over the biggest Medicare fraud in history and the company had to pay a $1.7 billion fine. Rick Scott claimed he didn’t know anything about this fraud, but he had to plead the fifth about 75 times during the investigation.
If Rick Scott was CEO and didn’t know this massive fraud was going on right under his nose, he is a really poor manager. If he did know, he is a really bad criminal. Either way, is he the kind of person you would want running your state? The people of Florida said “Yes.” Do you want these people who have such poor judgment to be your neighbors?
6. Florida is hot!
I realize people are coming to Florida in search of a warm climate. But Florida is really, really, hot. And the humidity is high. There are only two seasons in Florida--summer and August. And August lasts about 150 days.
If you like a 90 degree heat wave in December, then you will like Florida.
7. The roaches are huge.
Roaches like the hot weather just as much as humans do. They grow really, really large—about as big as your fist. OK, not that big—maybe as big as a baby’s fist, and that is still pretty big.
If you move to Florida, the first thing you need to do is sign up with a pest control company. They will come to your home on a regular basis and treat for “pests.” Fortunately, these days the pest control companies use “chemical barriers” that they apply to the outside of your home. They are not 100% effective, but when they fail, the pest control company will provide additional treatments at no additional cost. (At least my company does; be sure that the one you hire does.)
8. Sharknado would probably happen in Florida.
Volusia County in Florida is the shark-bite capital of the world. Lots of people in the water, lots of the type of fish sharks like to eat, and lots of sharks mean lots of shark bites. The sharks often swim in close to shore. Still it is only 20 to 30 attacks per year and most are not fatal. So far, no tornado-borne sharks. So come on in, the water is fine.
Lots of sharks
9. You might find a bear in your garage.
Developers rule in Florida. What developers want, developers get. What developers want is more sub-divisions. As the population of Florida grows, the number of sub-divisions increases and the habitat for wildlife decreases. Homes get built too close to the bears' habitats. Hungry bears go looking for food. People put their garbage out in unsecured trash cans. This is like putting out an “all-you-can-eat-buffet” sign for the bears. These animals are big and strong. They can break into your garage or patio.
When bears attack
10. You might find an alligator in your pool.
There are over a million wild alligators in Florida. These reptiles prefer freshwater habitats like swamps and marshes. They can also be found in rivers and lakes and other small bodies of water, like your swimming pool or retention ponds. (A retention pond is a small pond built to catch excess rainwater runoff.) If you live near alligator habitat, you may just find an alligator taking a dip in your pool.
Alligators take a dip
11. You might find a python in your backyard.
Pythons are an invasive species in Florida, so they have no natural predators.
Every year, there is the Great Burmese Python Hunt for hunters to go out and kill pythons. If you bring back the largest one, you win a cash prize.
Snakes on a patio
12: Florida has hurricanes.
Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30, although every now and then a hurricane hits earlier or later. Fortunately, the hurricanes have been passing Florida by for quite a few years now.
I survived the hurricane season of 2004 when four major hurricanes hit—three of them where I live. The first and the worst was Hurricane Charlie with winds up to 150 miles an hour. I had some relatively minor damage to my house, but the worse thing was no electricity for a week. The first few days, it was kind of fun—like a camping trip—but it gets old fast.
Maybe, I shouldn’t even mention the hurricanes—everyplace has natural disasters. The North has blizzards, and I’d much rather mop up water than shovel snow. The West has earthquakes, and I don’t much like the idea of the earth opening up.
13.The earth opens up in Florida. It is called a sinkhole.
The earth opening up? That happens pretty often in Florida. It is called a sinkhole. A hole suddenly opens up in the ground. It can swallow a car, or a house, or even a whole neighborhood.
A sink hole occurs because of the Florida Aquifer. It is the source of much of Florida’s drinking water. The ground beneath Florida is composed of porous limestone which is a natural cache for rainwater. When the water level gets too low, the ground can cave in forming a sinkhole. As the population of Florida grows, too much water is being taken from the Aquifer. This means more sinkholes.
The earth opens up
14. Florida has tornadoes.
Florida has more tornadoes per square mile than any other state.
However, to be fair, the tornadoes in Florida are not usually as bad as those in the Mid-west.
On the other hand, five times more people die from a tornado in Florida than in Kansas.
A mighty wind
15. Florida is the lightning capital of the United States.
Sea breezes from the east and west coast meet in the middle of the state and cause severe thunder storms during the summer months. Thunderstorms, which occur, on average, 100 times a year, are often accompanied by lightning.
Lightning lights up the sky.
16. Florida is flat.
The highest elevation in Florida is 345 feet. It is called "Britton Hill.” In comparison, the Empire State Building in New York is 1,454 feet high (including the spire).
17. Florida can’t run a national election right.
In 2000 election, Florida earned the nickname, "Flori-duh,” because of the Bush-Gore presidential election recount. Twelve years later, Florida still has election problems. In 2012, some people had to stand in line for 7 to 8 hours in order to vote.
18. Florida is not pedestrian friendly.
Pedestrian deaths are significantly higher in Florida than the national average. There are many roads without traffic lights, but even when there are lights, there are often long stretches between lights. This leads to people trying to cross six lanes of traffic in the middle of the street.
Although pedestrians in Florida have the right of way, drivers don’t like to yield. If you stop for a pedestrian, the cars behind you will probably start honking their horns. Please stop anyway.
19. Many Florida public schools are not very good.
The failures of the public schools are not due to bad teachers as recent governors (Jeb Bush and Rick Scott) would have you believe. It is due to low funding and a deliberate attempt to undermine the schools.
I don’t have the space to go into all the details here. Learn more at Fund Education Now, a non-partisan parent-led organization.
School starts in the middle of August. Everyone knows school is not supposed to start until after Labor Day.
20. Florida’s government is rife with corruption.
Oh wait a moment; it’s not just Florida, although Florida under former governorJeb Bush and current governor Rick Scott may be among the worst.
It's not all bad.
It's not all bad.
Florida has a lot to offer--the warm climate, natural beauty, theme parks, resorts, and no state income tax. Orlando, where I live, is an up and coming cosmopolitan region—good colleges, a thriving arts community, great museums, and fine restaurants. We even have a shiny new commuter rail line called Sun-Rail which may help with traffic congestion on I-4.
It’s why so many people want to live in Florida. It's why I'm glad I moved to Florida in 1995.
If You are Thinking of Moving to Florida...
The author of this book, Ron Stark, is a Florida real estate agent and is, himself, a "transplant" to Florida. He has helped many people make the move to Florida, and also helped many others sell their Florida homes when they decided to move back home. His clients have given him a good understanding of the issues that you should consider when deciding if this move is right for you. He heprovides an honest look at both the pros and cons of living in Florida. I'm glad I moved to Florida over 20 years ago, but I wish I had read this book before I moved--I think I would have made different decisions about where to live, what type of house to buy, etc. His most important tip: Don't decide to move to Florida based on your experience as a vacationer in the state.
Just for fun
Do you want to move to Florida?
Questions & Answers
What is the estimated salary I should make to purchase a home worth $200,000 to $250,000 in Florida?
The rule of thumb is that your total cost for your home (mortgage, homeowners insurance, and property tax) should be no more than 35% of your pre-tax income. The amount of income you would need for a $200,000 to $250,000 home would depend on many variables, such as the amount of the down payment, the interest rate on the mortgage, the cost of insurance, and the tax rate for property tax in the locality in which the house is situated. This applies no matter where the home is located; not just for Florida homes.
You can find mortgage calculators online. You fill in your income, and other financial information, as well as estimates of homeowners insurance and the property tax rate and the calculator, will tell you what price you can afford to pay for a home. Google "What house can I afford," and you should see a few of them.
We are thinking of retiring in Punta Gorda in 15 years. I live in Connecticut, and we have some family on the Gulf side of Florida. I like the hot weather and love the beach. Is Florida a lot better to retire to and buy a little house there?
Punta Gorda is on the southwest coast of Florida. If you like the beach and year-round hot weather you will like Southwest Florida. But please don't move to Florida thinking it is a paradise. Florida has plenty of problems, just like Connecticut.
I suggest that you talk to your family members who live in Punta Gorda. Then come for a visit to see how you like it. Talk to the locals in the area where you want to live. Read the local newspaper every day to get a sense of what is going on in the area. Go online and check out the housing listings to get an idea of how much the type of house you want will cost. In other words, do your homework to be sure that this is the right move for you. If you move here and then decide you don't like it, you will have made an expensive mistake.
Why is Orlando not considered on the list of places for retirees? I like it due to the close proximity to the airport and the low airfares. I plan to fly back and forth to the northeast a lot.
I think Orlando is a great place for retirees for the reasons you mention and more. Orlando is a cosmopolitan city with a home town feel. There are universities and colleges here, there is a Performing Arts Center, and lots of entertainment options. There are some great restaurants along with the familiar chain restaurants. In short, people from Northeastern cities should feel right at home here.
So why isn't Orlando on the list of "The 10 Best Places to Retire in Florida." Perhaps because Orlando, unlike the other places, is not primarily a retirement community. In fact, the age demographics make it similar to other cities. The demographic mix is what I like about Orlando.
On the other hand, if you want to live among retirees, there are plenty of 50+ complexes in Orlando to accommodate you.
And finally, as you said, you have easy access to a major airport. And you can thank Disney for the low fares. Orlando is a major tourist destination because of the theme parks located here and that keeps air fares low.
How is public education bad when we have AICE, and the IB program with magnet schools as well as dual enrollment offered almost everywhere?
I didn't say that every school, or every student was terrible. There are certainly some good schools and students in Florida.
However, overall education in Florida lags behind that in other states. According to an article in the Jan. 17, 2018 edition of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, Florida ranks 29th in a report on education quality and 45th in education financing. This means that Florida is sub-par compared to other states.
However, on the upside, the article notes that Florida is improving.
© 2015 Catherine Giordano