37 Pros and Cons of Living in Florida

Last updated on October 18, 2023

As a native Floridian, I offer up a unique perspective on the pros and cons of living in this sunny southern state. I lived in Florida for much of my life, but I’ve also lived elsewhere—in other places in the U.S. like Los Angeles, and I’ve lived abroad in places with a much lower cost of living, like Mexico and Thailand.

I currently split my time—I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida for part of the year, and I live in Spain and raise my son there for most of the year.

My family drove the eight hours from St. Pete to the Keys every summer of my childhood. That’s me in the center, and my three of my four brothers. We always camped right on the water at Bahia Honda State Park—my parents would unload our canoe, fishing poles, and snorkeling gear and then let us run loose.

Clearly, since I continue to return to the place I was born and raised year after year, there are benefits to living in Florida. But there are a number of disadvantages that ultimately convinced me that living overseas for part of the year was a better fit for the life I wanted to create.

Here’s the rundown of all of the factors that keep me a resident of Florida—of Clearwater to be exact—but convinced me to live in Spain, too.

Pros and Cons of Living in Florida

Pro: It’s known as the Sunshine State for good reason.

should you live in miami florida?
As iconic as this strip of beach is, most people can’t afford to live in Miami Beach—but it’s a gorgeous place to visit year round.

As that rare breed of native Floridian, one of the things I missed most when I left to travel was the abundance of sunshine. Florida is called the Sunshine State for a reason. With an average of 237 days of sunshine per year, you can expect to bask in the sun most days.

The warm, sunny weather means you can wear shorts and short sleeves for most of the year. Even in the winter, daytime temperatures rarely drop below 60°F—usually only in January—making it a great place to escape the cold weather in other parts of the country.

Living in a place with abundant sunshine is also good for your mental health—I need all the help I can get some years. Since exposure to sunlight increases the production of serotonin, living in Florida means you’re less likely to experience seasonal depression from lack of sun exposure.

Con: The humidity in August is enough to wilt even the hardiest resident.

The Conch Restaurant in Old Town Key West with misters to beat the florida heat
Water misters like these ones are popular in the hottest areas, and in places where people queue—this includes some theme parks, and this trendy Key West restaurant.

The humidity in August is no joke. The air gets so thick that it feels like you’re walking through a sauna. Even the most hardy resident can wilt under the oppressive heat and humidity.

In Florida, it’s not uncommon for the humidity to reach 90% or higher. This can make it difficult to breathe and can be especially dangerous for the elderly or those with respiratory issues. My toddler has permanent heat rash from July through mid-September when we’re in Florida since he adores playing outside.

The high humidity also makes it feel much hotter than it actually is. In August, the average high temperature in Orlando is 92°F, but it often feels like it’s over 100°F with the humidity factored in. This is especially tough for those who are not used to the heat.

To make matters worse, the heat waves are getting stronger thanks to climate change. This means that the summers are getting hotter and more humid. Most residents rely on air conditioning to get through the dog days of summer, but this is expensive and puts a strain on the power grid.

Pro: You’re never more than an hour or two from the beach.

sunset beach in florida
I am surely biased, since I’ve only ever lived on the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s the better side to live on. Sunsets are always beautiful, and the water is swimmable most of the year.

Living in Florida means that you are never too far away from the beach. Whether you live near the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean, you can easily access the coast in under two hours. This is one of the biggest draws for many people who are considering moving here.

One of the biggest differences between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean is the type of beach experience you can expect. The Gulf of Mexico tends to have calmer waters and warmer temperatures, which makes it a great spot for swimming and sunbathing.

On the other hand, the Atlantic Ocean has stronger waves—too strong for my taste—and cooler temperatures, which is preferred by some for surfing and other water sports. The great thing is, you can live near one and visit the other whenever you want since the state is skinny, and traveling from one coast to the other takes three-to-four hours, max.

Con: The extreme weather is only getting worse.

storms over key west are getting worse
You learn to read the weather when you move to Florida—these may be dark skies, but none of the boaters are worried since it turned out to be a short thunderstorm that rolled through in under an hour.

You can’t call yourself a true resident of Florida until you face down a hurricane. I lived through Hurricane Andrew in the 90s, which decimated Homestead, Florida, and the four hurricanes in 2004 that caused widespread damage across the state.

These hurricanes knocked out power, caused massive flooding, and took out many of the ancient oaks on the University of Central Florida campus, where I was attending college. Every part of the state was impacted by the Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne hurricanes.

Unfortunately, these extreme weather events are only getting worse due to climate change. Florida is already the most hurricane-prone state in the country by a factor of nearly double, and rising sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures are making these storms more frequent and more powerful.

And if hurricanes weren’t enough, Florida also has tornadoes!

Pro: The cost of living is mid-range for the U.S.

boating on seminole lake in florida
We took the boat out on Seminole Lake for my birthday—notable is that I was born on December 28th, and it was still t-shirt weather that year!

The cost of living in Florida is around the national average, making it more affordable than many other states such as California and New York. While Florida is not the cheapest state to live in, it’s also not the most expensive.

One of the biggest factors contributing to the relatively low cost of living in Florida is the lack of a state income tax. This means that more of your paycheck stays with you, which can help offset some of the higher costs of living in certain areas.

Additionally, housing costs can be reasonable in many parts of the state, particularly if you’re willing to live outside of the major cities or tourist areas, and inland from the coast. But that may not be a tradeoff some transplants are willing to do, so they will face steep housing prices for trendier cities.

The cost of living greatly varies depending on where in Florida you choose to live. For example, the cost of living in Miami or other coastal cities is higher due to the popularity of these areas and the high demand for housing. But if you want to live in some random small town in the center, like DeLand, you can find a great deal.

Here’s how Florida compares to other U.S. states on average cost of living, home prices, and if they have a state income tax. Recent data for 2023 was pulled from the Missouri Economic Research Center and Zillow.

State Average Cost of Living Median Home Price State Income Tax
Florida 99.5 $315,000 No
New York 135.6 $342,000 Yes
California 149.9 $654,000 Yes
Texas 91.2 $279,000 No
Arizona 97.7 $332,000 Yes
North Carolina 92.0 $278,000 Yes
Nevada 108.2 $364,000 No
South Carolina 95.5 $255,000 Yes
Tennessee 88.7 $275,000 No

Con: The cost of living in Florida has leapt higher in recent years.

weeki watchee river
One of the reasons my family heads out into nature is partly because the it’s free and beautiful. Besides gas for the boat and the parking fee for our truck and boat trailer, a day on the rivers of Florida is a low-cost win for anyone moving south for the sunshine.

Post pandemic prices in the state have left me shocked when I return from Spain each year. Although inflation has hit the entire world—and all of the U.S.—grocery bills in Florida have leapt higher. It has caused real strain for residents—my dad has felt the pain acutely living on his social security check.

While Florida was always been an attractive destination for retirees and snowbirds, the pandemic also caused a surge of people moving to the state, driving up housing prices and making it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing.

Property taxes in Florida are notoriously high, and in some of the most desirable areas, such as Miami and Naples, they can be exorbitant.

In addition, home insurance rates have skyrocketed in recent years, with some areas experiencing rates that are among the highest in the country. This is due in part to the state’s propensity for hurricanes and other natural disasters, which makes insurers wary of offering coverage.

Another factor contributing to the high cost of living in Florida is the increasing difficulty in securing flood insurance for your home. Many insurers have pulled out of the state, leaving residents with few options for coverage. This is especially problematic for those living in coastal areas, where the risk of flooding is high.

boating down the river in Florida with my dad
A lot of people spend tons to live right on the water—either along the coast, the intercoastal, or the interior lakes. That will drive up not only the price of purchasing a home, but flood insurance and more. We own a small boat and have no issue driving it to a boat ramp when we want a day on the water.

Pro: No state income tax makes it a haven for residents and business owners.

I run my business out of Florida, and one of the key advantages of living in Florida is the lack of state income tax. You’ll keep more of your hard-earned money, and new small business owners can bootstrap their business. While corporations pay state income tax, “LLCs, sole proprietorships and S corporations are, however, exempt from paying state income tax.”

Compared to other states with high income tax rates, Florida’s no state income tax policy makes it an attractive place to relocate. This is especially true for retirees, who can stretch their retirement savings further without having to pay state income taxes on their retirement income.

cross bayou park in pinellas county florida
Even causal days out to a park nearby our house was an adventure for the kids as we explored the boardwalks, played in the parks, and watched for alligators.

Con: A state sales tax makes every purchase cost more.

State sales tax is one of the biggest downsides of living in Florida. Currently, the state sales tax rate is 6%, which is higher than the national average of 5.2%. Every purchase you make in Florida will cost you more than it would in other states with lower sales tax rates.

Since Florida doesn’t have that state income tax, the state relies heavily on sales tax revenue to fund its government programs, infrastructure, and services. As a result, the state sales tax is applied to a wide range of goods and services, including groceries, clothing, electronics, and even some professional services.

This can have a significant impact on your quality of life in Florida. For example, if you’re used to buying groceries tax-free in other states, you may be surprised to find that you have to pay sales tax on your food purchases in Florida. This can add up quickly, especially if you have a large family or eat out frequently.

The state sales tax also makes big-ticket items like cars, boats, and electronics much more expensive. For example, if you’re in the market for a new car, you’ll have to pay the 6% sales tax on top of the purchase price. This can add thousands of dollars to the cost of the car, making it a less attractive option for budget-conscious buyers.

And to add insult to injury, some counties tack on an additional sales tax, making it 7% in Miami, and my my hometown of St. Petersburg.

Pro: There’s a surprisingly huge amount of cultural diversity.

Florida is a melting pot of cultures. Miami is probably the best known place in the state for its diverse population, with a large Hispanic community and a strong influence from Caribbean and Latin American cultures. You can find everything from Cuban coffee shops to Haitian art galleries in Miami.

But cultural diversity isn’t limited to Miami. Tarpon Springs, a small town on the Gulf Coast, has a large Greek community that settled there in the early 1900s. The town is known for its Greek restaurants, bakeries, and sponge diving industry. It’s a unique and fascinating part of Florida’s cultural tapestry—and the place you want to head for authentic baklava.

Pro: There’s no lack of natural beauty.

Weeki Wachee River kayak rentals
Kayak rentals abound, particularly on the dense interior waterways. My dad and I were boating down the Weeki Wachee River when I spotted this idyllic set up.

There is a true abundance of natural beauty in the state. From the pristine beaches to the lush forests and wetlands, Florida is a state that truly has it all.

One of the biggest benefits to living in Florida is the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature. With over 175 state parks, numerous national parks, and a wide variety of wildlife, there is always something to explore. Whether you enjoy hiking, kayaking, or simply lounging on the beach, there is something for everyone.

Even if you live in a city like Orlando or Miami, you’re never far from incredible natural wonders. Orlando residents can take a short drive to Crystal River or Weeki Wachee Springs to swim with manatees and explore the crystal-clear waters.

And for those living in Miami, the Florida Keys are just a short drive away, offering some of the most beautiful beaches and coral reefs in the world.

Con: We need to talk about the cockroaches.

Living in Florida has its downsides, and one of them is the prevalence of cockroaches. These pests are a real problem, especially in cities like Tampa and Miami, two of the most cockroach-infested cities in America.

Cockroaches are not only unsightly, but they also spread germs and bacteria, causing health problems. They can also trigger allergies and asthma, making it difficult to breathe.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development has found that “South and Southwestern Florida have some of the densest roach populations in the entire country.”

And if that wasn’t enough, those metropolitan areas are also prone to the most rat infestations.

The house I grew up in did not have central heat and air, which means it was a lot more open to the elements than many homes and I still shudder at memories of late-night bathroom trips where I discovered a roach sitting on the toilet seat. 😱

Even in the nicest and well-kept homes, you will find roaches in your garage or on your property from time-to-time.

Oh, and the cockroaches here fly. Enough said. It’s horrifying, and don’t click that link if you plan on going to sleep any time soon.

key west sign "take a chicken"
Key West undoubtedly is the town with the best sense of humor in the state, but the resident population is actually quite small. It’s a fun place to visit that’s right on your doorstep for most Floridians (it would be a haul to visit from the Panhandle).

Con: Holy moly, the mosquitos are enough to drive you batty.

In addition to cockroaches, Florida’s balmy weather invites a variety of other insects to call it home, including mosquitoes. These pesky bugs are everywhere, and they quickly ruin any outdoor activity if you haven’t bathed your skin in repellant.

You can’t even step outside without being swarmed by these annoying pests. That sound of them in your ear is your constant companion when outside in Florida in the evening especially, but really any time of day.

Pro: Sports fans have things to love across the state.

Whether you’re a football fan, a baseball enthusiast, or a racing aficionado, there’s something for everyone in the Sunshine State.

One of the biggest draws for sports fans in Florida is spring training. Every year, numerous Major League Baseball teams come to the state for spring training, giving fans a chance to see their favorite players up close and personal. From the Grapefruit League in Central Florida to the Cactus League in the Tampa Bay area, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a game.

And football is also a big deal in Florida, with three NFL teams calling the state home. The Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Go, Bucs!), and Jacksonville Jaguars all have passionate fan bases, and attending a game is an experience like no other.

College football is also a big deal in Florida, with powerhouse programs like the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of Miami all located in the state. UCF, my alma mater, has never been a big contender, but I was swept up in the Gator madness whenever visiting former high school friends on their campus.

If you move to Florida, your new home will also host numerous NASCAR races, including the Daytona 500, one of the biggest events in all of motorsports. And if you’re a golf fan, you’ll be happy to know that Florida is home to numerous PGA Tour events, including the Players Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

I could go on and on. The great weather year-round means most sports are doable here, and many sports like NASCAR are based here.

Pro: You can get your adrenaline pumping on the regular.

my family dog, loki, boating on a river in florida
For our dog Loki, a boat trip along the Anclote River is about all the excitement she can handle in a day. How cute is she in her doggie life preserver! Note that we are always incredibly cautious when boating on rivers and lakes that she stays in the boat, because of the alligators. We usually just dip her in the water using the handle on her life preserver to keep her cool.

Move here and you’ll have access to a wide variety of outdoor activities that can get your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping. From kayaking with manatees to skydiving over Cape Canaveral, there are many adventures for younger (and older) people who move to the state.

While I am more likely to head to Universal to ride a rollercoaster than surf the waves on the East Coast, plenty of people move to Florida for its surfing, camping, biking opportunities (there’s a whole lotta flat terrain where you can get up some speed and zoom), and more.

There’s even lake and river diving in some areas of the state! I mean, it’s all here.

Con: The cities are stuffed full of people.

The population density here is higher than many are used to. The cities in Florida are packed with people, which can make it difficult to navigate and enjoy your surroundings.

As a native Floridian, I have experienced this firsthand. Even smaller cities like Tampa and Orlando can feel overwhelmingly crowded during peak tourist season.

One of the biggest issues with the high population density is the traffic. Commutes can be long and frustrating, especially during rush hour. The highways and roads can become gridlocked, making it difficult to get from one place to another. This can be especially frustrating if you are used to living in a less populated area.

Another downside of the high population density is the lack of personal space. Public places like beaches and parks can be crowded, making it difficult to find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the scenery. It can also be challenging to find parking in busy areas, which can add an extra layer of stress to your day.

lake in florida with alligators
My toddler deeply loves the park near our house, which is huge and never overcrowded, but that lake has three resident alligators, so I need to be on guard at all moments. They often sleep underneath that pier in the right of the photo.

Pro: Florida boasts world-class hospitals.

The state has some of the best hospitals in the world, a boon for anyone moving here. One of the most notable hospitals in Florida is the nationally-recognized Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Pete.

This hospital is known for its exceptional pediatric care and is consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the country—this hospital saved the life of one of my nieces who had a rare intussusception at six months old. We live 20 minutes away and had she not had immediate surgery, she would have died. We were so lucky to have this hospital nearby.

And it’s not just Johns Hopkins that makes Florida a great place for healthcare. The state is home to other world-class hospitals, such as the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and the Cleveland Clinic in Weston. These hospitals offer top-notch medical care and are staffed by some of the best doctors and nurses in the country.

Because the state has a large population of retirees, there are also many healthcare professionals who specialize in geriatric care. If you’re a senior citizen, you can be sure that you’ll be able to find a doctor who understands your specific healthcare needs.

Sunny days kayaking around the quiet rivers, channels, and waterways in Florida.

Con: Healthcare outcomes in the state correlate to race.

According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, Florida ranks 45th out of 50 states in terms of achieving racial and ethnic equity in healthcare. This means that people of color in Florida are more likely to experience poor health outcomes and have less access to quality healthcare compared to white residents.

One area where this is particularly evident is maternal health. The maternal mortality rate in Florida is higher than the national average, and Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. This disparity is partly due to systemic racism in the healthcare system, which results in Black women receiving lower quality care during pregnancy and childbirth.

In addition to disparities in health outcomes, Floridians also face high healthcare costs. According the Kaiser Family Foundation, Florida residents spend an average of $8,201 per year on healthcare, which is slightly higher than the national average. However, this cost is not evenly distributed, and many low-income residents struggle to afford healthcare.

I’m a WASPy white woman, so I can’t attest most of firsthand to this—except for how much I had to pay for insurance—but given the large immigrant and African American populations in the state, it troubles me that we aren’t working on this issue and I’d be wary of the disparities if I was a person of color moving to Florida.

spanish moss on a tree

Pro: The state and private universities are among the best in the country.

Call me biased since I attended the University of Central Florida, but Florida has among the best higher education systems in the country—and number one national rankings back that up.

The state university system is comprised of 12 public universities, including the University of Florida, Florida State University, and UCF. These universities are highly regarded for their academic programs, research facilities, and athletic programs.

UCF, in particular, has been recognized as one of the best up-and-coming universities in the country, with a rapidly growing student population and a commitment to innovation and excellence. As a UCF alum—Go, Knights!—I can attest to the quality of education and the opportunities available to students at this university.

In addition to the state universities, Florida is also home to several acclaimed private colleges and universities. These include the University of Miami, Rollins College, Flagler College, and Stetson University, among others. These private institutions offer a unique and personalized educational experience, often with smaller class sizes and more individual attention from professors.

Con: Primary and secondary schools are mediocre compared to other states.

If you’re thinking about relocating to Florida and schools are a crucial part of your decision-making, it’s essential to approach the state’s education system with a nuanced understanding.

When I was in high school, the state was among the worst in the U.S. But Florida has made substantial strides in PreK-12 education in recent years, ranking 14th in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 rankings. This metric, however, tells only part of the story.

Florida’s embrace of charter schools and voucher programs has been a point of controversy. While some see these alternatives as offering much-needed choices to parents, critics argue they divert critical resources away from traditional public schools. This matters most for parents without the resources to drive their kids across town to a better school than the public one nearby.

A recent wave of book banning in some Florida school districts has also sparked debates about academic freedom and intellectual diversity. While this issue is not confined solely to Florida, it’s a concerning trend and one of the reason I plan to send my child to primary school in Spain for the foreseeable future.

Pro: Florida Bright Futures scholarships are a phenomenal opportunity for high achievers.

college graduation with florida bright futures
My bestie Niki and I went to high school together and then both attended UCF on a full Bright Futures scholarship. This is our graduation day back in 2006.

As a graduate of the International Baccalaureate program at St. Pete High, I can attest to the incredible value of Florida Bright Futures, a merit-based scholarship program open to all high school students in the state. This program provides merit-based scholarships to Florida high school graduates who meet specific academic requirements.

The scholarship amounts vary depending on the level of the award and the institution attended. As a Florida Academic Scholars recipient, I received 100% of tuition and applicable fees at my Florida public university, the University of Central Florida.

Lower level recipients receive 75% of tuition and applicable fees—still a lot when you think of the national conversation around student debt!

Pro: You get to hang out with manatees.

Hospital Hole weeki watchee river diving in florida
Hospital Hole is one of those spots that mostly locals visit, but it’s a great place to nearly guarantee a manatee sighting as they love the cool waters of the sinkhole. For the truly adventurous, some people actually dive down there.

From the crystal-clear springs to the white sand beaches, Florida is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the country. And one of the best ways to experience it all is by hanging out with manatees whenever you need to recalibrate and remember it’s all going to be okay.

Florida is the only place in the world where you can swim with manatees in their natural habitat. These gentle giants are a beloved symbol of the state, and for good reason. They are incredibly friendly and curious, and getting up close and personal with them is an unforgettable experience.

The best place to swim with manatees is in Crystal River, located on the west coast of Florida. But they live throughout the state’s freshwater rivers, and my dad regularly convinces me to boat in his little “gheenoe” to a spot near our home where manatees congregate.

Pro: The coral reefs are also top notch.

me preparing to go snorkeling off the coast of Key West
When an Aussie friend came to visit Florida, we roadtripped to Key West so I could show him the gorgeous reefs and the Dry Tortugas, which are beyond special. This reef had fire coral though, so we kept our snorkeling trip short and cautious.

Let’s be frank, Florida is home to the most incredible coral reefs in the U.S., and among the best in the world. The Florida Keys, located at the southern tip of the state, are famous for their vibrant and diverse marine life.

Snorkeling or diving in these waters is like exploring an entirely different world—on a good day you can spot colorful fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional shark. And if you’re lucky, a pod of dolphins may just swim by.

I’ve been there more times than I can count—we vacationed there every summer of my childhood. The Keys are a vacation spot for most, but there are plenty of great snorkeling spots all along the state’s coast, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the best include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Looe Key Reef in the Lower Keys, and Sebastian Inlet State Park on the east coast.

Con: Alligators are a fact of life.

Alligator at a lake near our house in florida
About 20 seconds after my son started throwing sticks from a pier into a lake near our house, this alligator glided out from underneath us to investigate. Even after nearly 40 years living here, that moment stopped my heart for a few seconds, and I grabbed my toddler tighter. There’s a reason the lake had a no swimming sign, and notifications that dogs must stay on leash.

Living in Florida means sharing your new home state with alligators. These reptiles can be found in all of the state’s lakes, and it’s important to be aware of their presence, especially if you have pets or small children. Once you move to Florida, it’s inevitable that you’ll hear firsthand stories of alligator encounters, and have your own fair share of close calls.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a Nuisance Alligator Hotline that you can call if you spot an alligator in a public area or if you feel threatened by one. However, alligators are a natural part of Florida’s ecosystem, and you have to treat them with respect.

Alligators are most active during the warmer months and in the evenings, and they can be aggressive if they feel threatened or if they are protecting their young.

While alligator attacks on humans are rare, they do happen—and with tragic outcomes. In fact, Florida has more alligator attacks than any other state in the country. This is why it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions when you are near places where alligators live, including parks that have swampy areas and lakes.

Pro: Southern and Northern culture collide here.

When I leave the state for my months abroad, I miss Florida’s unique blend of southern and northern cultures. While Florida is technically a southern state, the influx of northern transplants has created a melting pot of cultures that is truly one of a kind.

When you live in Florida, you get the best of both worlds. You can enjoy southern hospitality and cuisine, but you also have access to all the amenities and entertainment options of a more northern state. For example, in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, you can find amazing Cuban food and experience the vibrant Latin culture that is so prevalent in Florida, but you can also attend a Broadway show or visit a world-class museum.

The collision of southern and northern cultures in Florida creates a unique and wonderful place to live. Whether you’re a fan of sweet tea and fried chicken or sushi and craft beer, there’s something to love in the Sunshine State.

Pro: Cultural diversity means there’s great food to eat.

Key West sells the best key lime pie in the country. I’d drive down there for that alone. Blue Heaven is an institution in the Keys and serves Floridian-Caribbean cuisine, and the best pie of your life.

With a large Hispanic population, Cuban food is a staple in Miami, and you can find delicious Greek food in Tarpon Springs. Seafood is also abundant all along the coast, and you can always order fresh catches at local restaurants.

But it’s not just Latin and Greek food that Florida has to offer. The state is home to a variety of cultural pockets that offer unique and delicious cuisine. For example, in the panhandle and as you move closer to Georgia and Alabama, you can find more traditional southern food like fried chicken and collard greens.

And if you know where to look you can score a batch of slow-boiled salted peanuts throughout the state.

As a long-time vegetarian, I no longer partake in the fresh seafood, but one of our special treats as kids was the chance to eat a sandwich near the beach at a place that served fresh grouper just off the boat.

Pro: There’s a booming job market and economy.

The state has a diverse economy that includes sectors such as tourism, healthcare, finance, and aerospace. Tourism is among the biggest employers in the state, with millions of visitors coming to Florida every year to enjoy its beaches, theme parks, and other attractions.

The state’s unemployment rate is consistently lower than the national average, and the job growth rate has been above the national average for several years. In late 2023, the unemployment was a mere 2.7%, compared to 3.8% nationally.

And since Florida’s population is growing, it drives demand for housing, healthcare, and other services. This growth also creates opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Con: The minimum wage is laughable compared to the cost of living.

Florida has always had one of the lowest minimum wages in the country, but a law a few years ago is slowly changing that, moving the wage $1 higher until it reaches $15 per hour. It’s at $12 per hour as of late 2023.

Even with the increases, many need to work multiple jobs or make significantly more than the minimum wage just to afford basic necessities like housing, food, and healthcare.

According to the MIT living wage calculator, the living wage for a single adult in my area of Florida, Pinellas County, is $18.08 per hour, and for a family with two working adults and two children, it is $26.28 per hour. This means that if you are earning minimum wage, you are still far below the living wage and may struggle to make ends meet.

Some cities and counties in Florida have implemented their own minimum wage laws that are higher than the state minimum—the city of Miami Beach has a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Research the areas you’re considering living to better assess how much you might earn in your profession.

Pro: The transportation and traffic infrastructure work well.

biking in the sunshine is a benefit of living in key west florida
A local woman enjoys a bike ride near a beautiful mural in Old Town Key West, Florida. Key West is probably the only spot (besides gated communities) where cars are not the primary form of daily transport for locals.

Florida has a well-maintained transportation system that makes daily life much easier. Of course, there are some areas with heavy traffic, like Miami, but overall the state has wide roadways and highways that allow you to get around quickly and efficiently.

One of the best parts of living in Florida is the ease of access to other parts of the state. There are large highways and toll roads that make road trips a breeze. Whether you want to visit the theme parks in Orlando, the beaches on the Gulf Coast, or the nightlife in Miami, you can get there quickly and easily.

In addition to the well-maintained roads, Florida also has a variety of transportation options. Most major cities have public transportation systems, such as buses and trains, that make it possible to go longer distances without a car. And for those who prefer to bike or walk, many cities have bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly areas.

Con: Florida is a car-dependent state and public transportation is a joke.

motorbike parking in forida
Motorbikes are popular in Florida, and you have to be extra cautious when you’re driving because there are no mandatory helmet laws in Florida, so accidents can be deadly.

With its well maintained roads and a strong statewide transportation network, Florida is a car-dependent state. Public transportation is almost non-existent, and even within the larger cities, it is laughably bad. Sure, there are buses, but the networks are not dense enough and frequent enough to make it feasible to use long-term. You will need to buy a car.

If you are used to living in a city with a robust public transportation system, you will be disappointed with Florida’s public transportation. The buses are not frequent enough, and the routes are not comprehensive enough to make it a viable option for most people. Even if you live in a major city like Miami or Orlando, you will need a car to get around.

I have lived in Mexico and Thailand, and now live in Spain. In each of these countries, I was able to get around easily without a car. Public transportation was affordable, frequent, and reliable. But in Florida, it’s a different story. Even if you live in a major city, you will need a car to get around.

That being said, there are some bright spots. I have taken the train from Tampa to Orlando and back, and it was great. The train was clean, comfortable, and fast. However, getting to and from the train stations would have been a nightmare without friends picking me up and dropping me off in cars on either side.

Pro: Florida excels at the theme park game.

Running a marathon through Disney theme park
When you live in Florida, you get to do fun things like run a marathon through all of the Disney Parks. My bestie and I ran ours in January, which was about the only way to avoid the heat, since it’s among the state’s driest and coolest months.

You’re thinking of moving to the theme park capital of the world—fun! Tourists flock to the state year-round for places like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens.

But what many people don’t know is that Florida residents get steeply discounted tickets to these parks, and if you live near them, you can even get an annual pass. I had one of these for Universal Studios during college and used it weekly!

Dinosaur world in plant city florida
My nephew was beyond thrilled that we lived near Dinosaur World, which is one of those “weird Florida” things to do and is located between Orlando and Tampa.

In addition to the well-known parks, there are also lesser-known but equally fun ones like Weeki Wachee and Adventure Island. These parks are more local, but offer a fun day out with the family if you live nearby. And there are even more off-beat things like visiting Dinosaur World in Plant City.

Con: High crime rates permeate most Florida cities.

While some areas are relatively safe, crime is a pervasive issue that affects most places in Florida. According to USAFacts, Southern and Western states tend to have the highest crime rates in the US, and Florida is no exception.

Property crime is particularly common, with larceny/theft being the most common form of property crime in the state. Burglary and motor vehicle theft are also significant issues.

In addition to property crime, violent crime is also a concern in Florida. The state has a Stand Your Ground law, which allows residents to use deadly force in self-defense without having to retreat first. While this law is theoretically beneficial in certain situations, it has also lead to dangerous confrontations between residents when one or more parties were armed.

Pro: Our citrus game is on point.

So many plants natively grow in Florida, and for those with a green thumb, that means it’s easy to have your own garden. My dad’s house features a mango tree, four papaya trees, a vegetable garden, a hedge for tomatoes, and about 10 mango plants. All in just a normal-sized house lot with a small front and back yard. He’s also tried his hand at coffee plants, macadamia, and more over the years.

Let’s be honest: Florida produces the best citrus in the world. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are just a few of the delicious fruits grown in my home state. The warm climate and fertile soil make it an ideal location for citrus farming.

When it comes to oranges, Florida oranges are simply unbeatable. They are sweet, juicy, and bursting with flavor. Once you’ve had a Florida orange, you’ll never want to go back to the California ones.

Florida is also home to a variety of other fresh produce. From strawberries to tomatoes to avocados, you can find a wide variety of fresh, locally grown produce throughout the state. And if you’re a fan of strawberries, you won’t want to miss the annual Strawberry Festival in Plant City. It’s a celebration of all things strawberry, and it’s a great way to sample some of the best locally grown produce in the state.

Con: Florida was ground zero for the opioid epidemic.

Florida was one of the hardest-hit states during the epidemic, with prescription painkillers being widely overprescribed and sold on the black market. Drug companies pushed pill mills out of Florida and a few other states to fuel the epidemic, resulting in many Floridians becoming addicted to opioids.

During the beginning of the epidemic, my brother died from an opioid overdose. It was a devastating loss, and it made me realize just how serious the opioid epidemic was becoming. I’ll never know for certain what led to his addiction, but I do know that Florida’s lax regulations on prescription painkillers played a role.

While Florida has made strides in combating the opioid epidemic, fentanyl is now spreading in the state compared to other places—last year I lost another brother in this new epidemic. I can’t help but think these deaths might have been avoided if we lived in a different state with more proactive drug rehabilitation programs.

Now that I have a toddler, I just can’t stop thinking about the impact the drug culture has on teens and young adults, and I wouldn’t wish the pain of addiction and overdose on any family.

Pro: You can travel the world while still near home.

plane flying over the florida keys
I always know I am close to home when I spot the coastal islands and reefs out of my airplane window.

With its diverse population and thriving tourism industry, Florida is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and traditions from around the globe.

For example, if you’re a foodie, you’ll love the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, which takes place every fall at Walt Disney World Resort. This annual event brings together more than 30 global food and beverage marketplaces, each featuring regional specialties and traditional dishes from countries such as France, Italy, Japan, and Mexico. It’s something my friends and I do every year, and it’s always a fun and delicious experience.

And if you’re looking to travel even farther afield, Florida’s international airports make it easy to hop on a plane and explore the world. Whether you’re heading to the Caribbean for a quick beach getaway, or jetting off to Europe or Southeast Asia, I’ve always found great connections out of Miami or Tampa airports.

Con: Tourists swarm the state year round.

One of the biggest drawbacks to living in Florida is the constant influx of tourists. With its beautiful beaches, world-renowned theme parks, and warm weather all year long, I understand why everyone comes from all over the world. And tourism is needed to prop up the economy. But it can also be a major annoyance for those who call Florida home.

According to the latest statistics, Disney World alone attracts over 50 million visitors each year, with Orlando and Miami also drawing in millions of tourists annually. This means that no matter where you go in Florida, you’re likely to encounter crowds of people, long lines, and traffic jams.

Another downside of the tourism industry in Florida is the impact it has on the environment. With so many visitors flocking to the state each year, it’s no surprise that the natural beauty of Florida has been affected. From pollution on the beaches to damage to wildlife habitats, the tourism industry has taken a toll on the state’s ecosystem.

Pro: You’ll save money on clothes and shoes.

beach in the florida keys
A beach down in the Keys—you don’t need many clothes to enjoy the weather down south. Just a good bathing suit or two, sunscreen, and shade.

Hear me out on this one, which is a tad strange, but living here can save money on clothes and shoes purchases. This might seem like a small savings, but it adds up over time.

Since Florida is warm and sunny most of the year, you won’t need to buy expensive winter gear like parkas, snow boots, and heavy-duty jackets. Instead, you can wear lightweight clothes and sandals almost year-round—I’ve yet to find a reason anyone would need a $200 pair of sandals, while that price is the norm for great winter shoes.

You can get away with a smaller wardrobe down here, and when you do need to replace items, you almost certainly live near an outlet mall or discount stores. These stores offer great deals on brand-name clothes and shoes, which means you can buy high-quality items without breaking the bank.

Draped in Spanish moss, this Florida tree puts on a dreamy display, though don’t be fooled—the moss is a charming parasite that lives off its host. Beauty with a dash of intrigue!

Con: The polarization of politics in the state is unsustainable.

While some may argue that the increasing polarization of politics in the state is simply a reflection of the national political climate, the reality is that the polarization in Florida is particularly intense and unsustainable.

No matter where you lean on the political spectrum, recent years have seen some pretty nasty fights between the left and the right over some of the most fundamental issues: guns, abortion rights, and education. The state leans right more than it used to, meaning those who spent a lifetime in a place that was broadly tolerant of both political inclinations is now a hotbed of negativity for all political leanings.

The political polarization in Florida has led to a number of negative consequences. For one, it has made it increasingly difficult for lawmakers to pass meaningful legislation. Instead of working together to find common ground, politicians focus on scoring political points and catering to their base.

Furthermore, the political polarization has also led to an increase in hateful rhetoric and intolerance. It seems that in today’s political climate, it is no longer enough to simply disagree with someone—you must also demonize them and question their motives.

I’ve felt this profound shift in the past five years or so every time I return home, and it’s made things a lot more tense in friend groups that used to congenially steer far clear of politics.

Pro: Cultural landmarks are spread throughout the state.

A stunning architectural feat, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg captures the imagination just as Salvador Dali’s art does. Remarkably, it’s engineered to withstand Category 5 hurricanes, making it as resilient as it is beautiful.

From the historic city of St. Augustine, the oldest city in America, to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida has something for everyone.

If you’re interested in space exploration, the Kennedy Space Center is a must-visit destination. I’ve been to the Cape countless times to watch shuttle launches throughout my youth, and it’s a truly awe-inspiring experience. The center offers tours, exhibits, and even the opportunity to meet an astronaut.

And I can’t count the number of times I’ve taken visitors to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, which is incredible.

In addition to museums and galleries, Florida is also home to several historical landmarks such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West and the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. These landmarks provide a glimpse into Florida’s rich history and offer a unique learning experience.

Con: Why I moved to Spain to raise my son.

beach town in spain
Like Florida, Spain has hundreds of miles of coastline with charming towns and gorgeous beaches. The difference is, it’s affordable for expats to live near the beach in Spain, while the same cannot be said for Florida.

Living in Florida was not the right fit for me and my son. Despite being a native Floridian and having lived there for most of my life, I found that the aggregate of the cons of living in Florida made it difficult for me to be a single mom and raise my son in the manner I wanted.

One of the biggest issues I faced was healthcare expenses. In Florida, healthcare expenses alone can eat up a mortgage payment, making it difficult to afford other necessities. However, in Spain, I pay only $300 per month for $0-deductible health insurance. This has allowed me to save money and have peace of mind knowing that my son and I have access to quality healthcare.

And there’s no getting around the gun violence. Unfortunately, Florida has had its fair share of gun-related tragedies and it’s hard to reconcile that with the lifestyle I want to live.

And then there’s the fact that living in Spain has allowed me to work less and spend more time with my son. Spain has a lower cost of living than Florida, and it also has some other more socialized benefits like free daycare, free healthcare for tax-paying residents, and amazing public transportation. All of these factors have made it possible for me to be the kind of mom I want to be, without sacrificing my career or financial stability.

Pro: Why I still live in Florida part time

All of that is to say, that while Florida has a ton of positives, only you know if the cons tip the scales. Even though I find it hard to consider living in Florida full time again, I still spend three months or more living in Florida to be near family. Family is my number one reason, but there are many other reasons why I still consider Florida a great place to live part-time.

One of the biggest pros of living in Florida is the access to nature. Florida is home to some of the most beautiful national parks in the country, including the Everglades and the Dry Tortugas. Spain’s pretty too, but Florida was my home; it’s familiar and it fulfills me to visit the places I’ve loved for a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

dog dish florida
Because so many people live an active life outdoors, a lot of places accept dogs either on the patios, or even for a quick coffee. This is certainly not true of Starbucks, but locally-owned business across the state are pretty laid back in all types of ways.

What are the financial benefits of living in Florida?

One of the most significant benefits is that there is no state income tax. This means that you get to keep more of your paycheck. Additionally, the cost of living in Florida is relatively low compared to other states. Housing prices are reasonable in some areas, and there are many affordable options for groceries, entertainment, and leisure activities.

What are the health benefits of living in Florida?

The warm weather and sunshine provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities, such as swimming, biking, and hiking. This leads to a more active lifestyle, which can improve overall health and well-being. Florida also has a strong healthcare system, with many high-quality hospitals and medical facilities throughout the state.

For the elderly, Florida also features a vast number of residential communities where 55 and ups can socialize and build a new friendship network after they move south—having an antidote to loneliness is a huge part of staying healthy as you age.

What are the biggest risks of living in Florida?

The threat of hurricanes is a very real concern for all residents. These storms can cause significant damage to homes and property. This is particularly true since much of Florida has a high risk of flooding, particularly in coastal areas.

Other risks include high humidity levels, which can lead to health problems, and a higher risk of insect-borne illnesses—relevant now that locally-acquired malaria cases are popping up in Florida.

southermost point in the us in the keys

What are the pros and cons of moving to Florida from New York?

Probably the main benefit is that Florida has a much lower cost of living than New York, with both lower taxes and housing costs. Additionally, the warm weather and range of outdoor activities are a significant draw.

However, there are also some downsides to moving to Florida, such as the risk of hurricanes and flooding, and the potential for culture shock when adjusting to a new state—it’s a whole lot more right-leaning than the liberal parts of New York, and even outside of politics the culture and pace of life are a big change.

Is Florida a good place to live for young adults?

Now that I’m tipping 40 next year, I may not be considered a young adult, but I spent a great many good years in my 20s enjoying Florida. And I have three nieces and nephews who are now young adults and enjoy living in the state.

Even outside of Miami, there are a number of cities with vibrant nightlife scenes—there are many bars, clubs, and music venues throughout the state. And if you’re more into craft beers, that scene exits too.

Additionally, there are many outdoor activities and recreational opportunities, which can be appealing to young adults. And although young adults may not prioritize this, the excellent graduation rates and affordable higher education means that young adults in the state are increasingly well educated and ambitious.

Also considering moving to Mexico? Here’s the cost of living in a Mexican beach town.

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