Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Retire Here, Not There: Florida

A housing rebound restores some of the state’s appeal

Portfolio Relevance

By Catey Hill
Retiring to Florida: It’s a move that’s been so common, for so long, that even the jokes about it feel like clichés. Still, the state’s warm weather, great beaches, and lack of an income tax have allowed Florida to keep living up to its reputation as a retirement Mecca. And for newcomers, the state’s large number of retirees is a plus, since it allows for lots of opportunities to interact with others going through the same life phase, says Kathleen Campbell, founder of Fort Myers-based Campbell Financial Partners.
Florida isn’t all sunshine and sand, of course. The recent housing crash and recession hit the state particularly hard.

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Florida’s unemployment rate of 8.1% is still higher than the 7.8% rate for the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—which means retirees who want to work full-time may not have as many job opportunities.
For much of the year, “warm” can mean really hot, with temperatures in many towns staying in the 90s throughout the summer. Plus, residents must contend with hurricane exposure and expensive property insurance, says Tom Roberts, a financial planner at Sarasota-based A New Approach to Financial Planning.
Things do seem to be looking up where real estate’s concerned, with prices recovering in many communities. Indeed, some cities’ housing markets can strain a retiree’s budget. In Naples, which has Gulf Coast beaches, a number of championship golf courses and a fair amount of quality shopping for a town of just about 20,000, the median home goes for more than $500,000, and the cost of living is 61% higher than the national average, according to Sperling’s Best Places.

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