Things to Know Before Moving to Florida
When envisioning a life in Florida, things like Disney World, sunny weather and the beach may come to mind. But Florida is much more than that.
Florida is the third most populated state in the country with 18.8 millions residents. Most of the state is located on a peninsula, and it is the only state that borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The state of Florida is so large that it has two different time zones!
The climate in Florida will most likely mean spending a lot of time outdoors. There are plenty of beaches and wildlife to see, theme parks to visit, and history to uncover. You can work on a tan all year round while developing a new appreciation for air conditioning.
Staying hydrated is the key to taking on Florida summers.
Largest Cities in Florida
The largest city in Florida is Jacksonville with a population of 868,031. Jacksonville (or commonly known as “Jax”) is the cultural, commercial and financial center of northern Florida.
Miami is the second largest city in Florida. Known for its nightlife and gorgeous beaches, Miami has a large influence on Florida life. It is a leader in finance, culture, media and the arts. The population here is 441,003 and there is a large Hispanic population in Miami.
Next up is Tampa, Florida. It boasts 369,075 people and is commonly known as the “Tampa Bay Area”. Tampa is known for its beaches, bays, restaurants and attractions.
The fourth largest city in Florida is Orlando. Nicknamed “The City Beautiful”, Orlando is home to Disney World, Universal Studios and Seaworld. For this reason, it is often referred to as “The Theme Park Capital of the World.” The population in Orlando is around 270,934.
Weather and Climate
The weather in Florida would definitely be considered tropical. Nicknamed the “Sunshine State,” you may assume the weather is always great. However, this is not the case.
Florida weather is greatly influenced by its geography, as no part of the state is very far from the ocean. This humid state causes thunderstorms pretty much all year round. The good news is that the rain storms never last very long, often clearing up within an hour or so.
During summer months, the average temperature is in the low 90s, but can certainly get higher. In the winter, the average temperature ranges from the low 40s (in the northern part of the state), up to above 60 (in the southern parts). As the warmest state in the country, the average daily temperature in Florida is 70.7 degrees. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Florida was 109 degrees in Monticello on June 13, 1931.
Believe it or not, there have been several cold spells in northern Florida where temperatures dropped below 10 degrees. However, southern Florida rarely gets below freezing. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -2 degrees near Tallahassee on February 12, 1899.
Florida is unfortunately extremely prone to hurricanes. Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30. Of all the category 4 or higher storms that have hit the United States, 83% of these have been in Florida or Texas. In general, Florida will experience at least one hurricane or tropical storm during the season.
There are plenty of major highways across the state of Florida, making up 1,473 miles total. The primary interstate is Interstate 4, which connects Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando and Daytona. More commonly known as “I-4”, this roadway can get extremely crowded and delayed during rush-hour, or when it rains.
Another major roadway is Interstate 10. This is located near the panhandle of the state and connects Pensacola, Tallahassee, Lake City and Jacksonville.
Interstate 75 travels southward in the state through Gainesville, Ocala, Bradenton, Naples and Fort Myers. This highway crosses over what is known as “Alligator Alley” and becomes a toll road.
Interstate 95 is located near Jacksonville and goes along the Atlantic Coast to Daytona Beach, Palm Bay, Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, just to name a few. This highway will also take you all the way down to Miami.
Florida Housing Market
In 2008, Florida had the highest mortgage delinquency rate in the United States. In 2009, the real estate crash left Florida with over 300,000 vacant houses. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau states that Floridians spend nearly 49.1% of personal income on housing costs, which was the third highest in the country.
With the increase of available jobs in Florida today, the housing market is definitely on the rise. It is definitely a “seller’s market” right now, as people selling their house continue to get more than their original asking price.
Real Estate Pricing
The middle class homeowners in Florida will mostly likely continue to see their property values increase, but at a slower rate. The demand for houses to buy in Florida has increased, but it is a struggle to find a decent family home for under $500,000. Because of this, the value of homes in the low and middle end of the spectrum will keep increasing.
Florida was greatly affected by the housing market crash. There was an extremely high rate of foreclosure and the value of homes greatly decreased. If you want to buy a home in Florida now, the average sales price is about $200,000 according to Realtor.com.
It’s important to note that the price of a home in Florida is greatly affected by the city it is located in. For example, a medium sized home in Monroe County will go for $409,000, but the same size house in Hardee County will likely only cost around $50,000.
In addition, Florida saw an extremely destructive Hurricane Season in 2004. At that time, there was an influx of insurance claims. Since then, the insurance prices have risen 40%-60%, and the deductibles have greatly increased.
Renting may be the best option for you. However, it won’t be cheap. The average price for a studio in Florida is around $1,224, which is $115 more than the U.S. average. A one bedroom averages around $1,150, which is about $150 above the national average.
If you are looking for a two-bedroom home or apartment, you’ll be shelling out around a staggering $1,587 which is almost $400 more than the national average. If you need more room, a three-bedroom apartment is close to $2,000, which is about $300 more than the rest of the country.
Florida may be beautiful, but it isn’t without its faults when it comes to safety and crime rates for the state.
In 2015, there were 1,040 murders in Florida alone, which increased from 984 murders the year before. There was a 11.2 percent increase of crime involving guns. In addition, there were 7,537 reported rapes, and 60,539 aggravated assaults.
Governor Rick Scott defended his state, saying that the overall number of crimes actually decreased by 1.6%. This was mostly due to a 10% decrease in burglary. He credits the Florida law enforcement, and always references their hard work with keeping Florida safe.
Financial Living in Florida
The median household income in Florida was around $49,426 in 2015. Compared to other states, Florida is about $6,000 lower. The average household income is around $67,975, and the per capita income is $26,829. To be considered high income households in Florida, you’ll need to make over $200,000 a year.
The per capita personal income in 2011 was around $40,000, and Florida is ranked the 27th state in the nation for personal income. The minimum wage in Florida as of 2017 was $5.08 for tipped positions, and $8.10 for a non-tipped job. This is higher than the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Florida is affected by the city or county you decide to move to. Of course the more popular locations are going to cost a lot more to live there. Along the coast of Florida, housing, food, medical care and energy will cost you a lot more. If you want to lower your expenses, moving more inland is smart.
One great perk to living in Florida is being in a low-tax state. The average property tax in Florida is 1.1%, which is below the national average. In addition, there is no state income tax. This may be why so many people relocate to Florida for retirement!
However, you won’t be completely off the hook from taxes here. There is a statewide sales tax of 6%, with a top sales tax rate of 7.5%. This is still lower than states like California and Illinois.
Here’s the downfall though: the taxes on gas are pretty high, at 36.42 cents to the gallon. This is the 11th highest tax rate in the entire nation. And if you’re a drinker, get ready to pay up! There is an alcohol tax of 40 cents per gallon of beer, and $6.50 per gallon of spirits.
Florida Job Market
Florida was greatly affected by the recent Great Recession, which took a toll on both the housing market and the tourism industry. However, thing are definitely looking better these days.
The economy in Florida is expected to grow 2.3% annually in 2018, and incomes will increase 4%. The unemployment rate has actually gone down by half to 5%, compared to five years ago.
It should come as no surprise that tourism is a huge industry in Florida. Thanks to all of the theme parks, there are plenty of jobs to fill!
There was a record-breaking 97 million tourists who visited the Sunshine State in 2014, which was a 4% increase from the year before. The Department of Economic Opportunity states that out of the 9.1 million people employed in Florida, 1.1 million have a career related to the tourism industry.
Florida also has a huge agriculture industry. Florida’s agriculture industry is primarily made up greenhouse and nursery products, oranges, tomatoes, dairy products and sugarcane.This field employs 2 million people and contributes more than $104 billion to the economy each year.
The warm weather also helps with farming success. Florida farmers are able to extend their growing season about 100-200 days longer than most other states.
If you are moving to Florida, you have plenty of stellar hospitals to choose from if you get sick. The number one hospital is tied between the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida and UF Health Shands Hospital.
The Mayo Clinic is nationally ranked in eight adult specialities and is listed as highly performing in seven procedures and conditions. UF Health Shands Hospital is located in Gainesville. It is nationally ranked in 8 adult specialties and 6 pediatric specialties.
Tampa General Hospital is ranked number three in the state. It is nationally ranked in 6 adult specialities, and is high performing in seven procedures and conditions.
Florida Food & Culture
Florida is a coastal state. Its culture has been greatly influenced by the European and Latin American immigrant populations who reside here. In addition to an international crossroad in the United states, Florida has long been considered a melting pot.
Being a southern state, Florida has a bit of southern charm in its culture. The further north you go in Florida, the stronger the southern accents will come out. The southern culture is more prevalent in the North, but will certainly be noticed across the state as a whole.
The cuisine in Florida is extremely diverse. The northern part of the state has lots of southern cuisine, whereas the more south you go, the more seafood you will see.
There are also plenty of tropical fruits incorporated into the meals in Florida. Bar-b-que is a state favorite, and can be found all over. Hispanic cuisine is most prevalent in the South around Miami.
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri famously said: “If you can’t find something to do in Florida, you’re just boring!” This couldn’t be more accurate!
Let’s start with the theme parks because there are tons of them! Just to name a few favorites in Central Florida, there is:
- Disney World
- Universal Studios
- Volcano Bay
- Islands of Adventure
- Busch Gardens
- Sea World
- Animal Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
…and that’s not even all of them!
Florida actually broke the 100 million visitor mark for the first time in the history of the state in 2015. In 2016, this went up to 112.8 million tourists. Luckily since you are moving here, you will have plenty of time to visit them all!
Being a peninsula, Florida is also famous for its beaches. In 2000, 23 million tourists visited the coasts and spent nearly $22 billion.
Miami is one of the most popular beaches. Known for its nightlife, gorgeous ocean views, luxury shops and delicious meals, this is one place that you’ll have to visit as a new Floridian.
Of course there is also the famous Daytona Beach. Known for wild Spring Breakers and Nascar, visiting Daytona is definitely and must-do! There are also the gorgeous Florida Keys, Clearwater Beach, Amelia Island, West Palm Beach and Sarasota.
These all deserve at least a weekend where you can swim, lay out, jet ski and snorkel!
Kennedy Space Center
On the coast of Cape Canaveral is Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Beginning in 1968, KSC was the primary launch center for human spaceflight. Located about an hour from Orlando, KSC is considered a tourist destination, but should be visited by residents as well.
You can take public tours of the facility and the Air Force Station. And if staying inside in the air conditioning is what you’re after, a fun day at Kennedy Space Center sounds right up your alley!
Due to the warm and sunny weather, Floridians usually like to be outside and on the water. Whether it is boating, water-skiing, snorkeling, or scuba-diving, there really is so much to do. However, during a crazy hot summer day, you can find most Floridians on their couch with the air conditioning on full blast!
Colleges and Universities
There are plenty of university and colleges to choose from in Florida. However, there seem to be three that tend to stand out the most.
University of Florida
First up is the University of Florida (UF) located in Gainesville. In 2017, UF was ranked the 14th best public university in the United States, and it is the third largest university by student population. In addition, it is the 8th largest single-campus university in the country with almost 50,000 students enrolled.
Florida State University
Florida State University (FSU) is located in Tallahassee, Florida and was founded in 1851. In 2015, there were more than 41,000 students enrolled, 78.3% of which were undergraduates and 18.9% graduate students.
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida (UCF) located in Orlando is the largest university by enrollment in the United States. With over 64,000 students enrolled, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCF as the 3rd best “up-and-coming” university in the nation. They also ranked UCF as the 13th most innovative school, and 91st among other public universities in the U.S.
It’s a rule in Florida that if you follow college football, you are either a Seminole (FSU) or a Gator (UF). There is no in-between and you can’t be both! To say there is a huge rivalry between to two universities would be an understatement.
The history of the “Sunshine Showdown” two schools dates back decades. Even though both colleges participate in other sports, the rivalry is most prevalent in football.
There are three NFL teams in Florida: the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. There are two MLB teams, which are the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins. The two professional NBA teams in Florida are the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. The professional soccer team in Florida is Orlando City Soccer Club.
Politics & Religion
Among Florida’s 11,446,540 voters, 40% are registered as Democrat, 30% are Republicans, 20% Independents and 4% minor parties. The northern part of the state is mainly Republican, while the further south you go, you’ll find more Democrats. Politics in Florida mainly revolve around budgeting and how the money should be raised.
In the state of Florida, 9.75% of people identify as being religious. Catholic is the most prevalent religion at 13.91%, .76% identify as Latter Day Saints, and 6.75% consider themselves another type of Christian faith. The Jewish religion makes up .69%, .43% practice eastern faith and .89% affiliate with Islam.
History of Florida
The earliest residents of Florida arrived here almost 12,000 years ago. The sea level at that time was much lower than it is today, which caused the peninsula to be double the size. With that said, many modern researchers believe these inhabitants were hunters and gatherers who lived off the land.
In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon stumbled upon Florida and named it La Florida, meaning “land of the flowers.” There is a rumor that he was looking for the infamous Fountain of Youth, but that is just a myth. Florida became a state on March 3, 1845 and was the 27th state to join the U.S.
During the 1920s, the growth of the tourism industry called for hotels and resorts to be built all over the state. During this time there was a brief increase in development. Devastating hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, in addition to the Great Depression, caused this construction to stop temporarily.
Now that you know a brief history of Florida, you’ll want to know some fun facts to fit in:
- Saint Augustine is the oldest European settlement in North America.
- Clearwater is known as the Lighting Capital of the World because it has the highest rate of lightning strikes per capita.
- The hottest town in the state goes to Key West, which has the highest average temperature.
- The Shark Tooth Capital of the World is located in Venice, Florida.
- Plant City (near Tampa) is called the Strawberry Capital of the World.
- The “Eye of Florida” is Lake Okeechobee, which is the largest lake in the state
How Are You Getting to Florida?
Depending on the city you decide on, you will have various options on how to get your belongings to Florida. Whether you are flying, driving or even taking a boat, you’ll want to rest assured that your items will get to your new home safely.
Be sure to research local and reliable moving services near you. They can help make a stressful situation much simpler by doing the heavy lifting for you. Most companies will pack up, load and unload your belongings for you at your new Florida home.