Retire in Florida – Top 4 Florida Retirement Options
Floridians have been discovering new options for a comfortable retirement — right in their home state.
Gainesville, Tallahassee and even Miami offer all the essentials of retirement living.
With affordable housing (the median house price is $130,800) and some of the best healthcare in Florida (five stellar university hospitals), Gainesville also offers plenty of intellectual stimulation from the University of Florida and warm, freshwater springs where you can swim, fish and canoe.
The median age here is only 29, but more seniors are scoping it out, thanks in part to Oak Hammock, a life-care community affiliated with UF.
Oak Hammock’s 390 residents pay between $115,000 for a studio to nearly $500,000 for a 2,350-square-foot club home, as well as a monthly fee of $1,100 to $4,300 to cover meals, maintenance and future healthcare costs.
Residents don’t own their homes (and don’t pay property taxes or bills for electricity or cable).
What they’re paying for is any future assisted living they may incur as they age.
In addition to independent homes, the community has assisted-living apartments with attendants, housing where skilled nursing is available for a few days to several months, and a ”memory unit” for residents with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions.
At the 3-year-old community, UF students work in occupational and physical therapy in the rehab center, serve as personal trainers in the fitness center and work as interns in nursing and veterinary medicine.
Students from the university’s music and fine arts department perform regularly, and professors hold classes and lectures on art, law, healthcare and history at Oak Hammock’s Institute for Learning in Retirement.
Keep an eye out for more university-linked retirement communities: The Praxeis Group, the development company that manages Oak Hammock, is planning similar communities in Tallahassee affiliated with Florida State University and in Orlando connected to the University of Central Florida.
The state capital has a revitalized downtown and two major universities.
A three-bedroom, two-bath house will run about $300,000, but seniors here receive an additional $25,000 homestead exemption on top of the statewide $25,000 exemption.
Intellectually, people here are the highest-educated in Florida, with 49.9 percent of the population with either a bachelor’s, master’s, professional or doctorate degree.
(Florida’s average is 22.4 percent, and the national average is 24.4 percent.)
Its image of strip malls and Waffle Houses is quickly fading.
With its proximity to the state Legislature, Tallahassee offers opportunities for consulting and lobbying businesses.
It has its own regional airport and is home to Florida State University, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College.
Listed as one of ”tomorrow’s retirement hot spots” by Consumer Reports Money Advisor, Tallahassee has a senior population that accounts for only 8.3 percent of all residents.
But the number is expected to climb to 16.3 percent by 2030 as more retirees move to the low-priced and low-taxed city.
More and more boomer retirees are shirking suburbia and returning to major urban areas as they seek out more cultural and entertainment opportunities.
They even have a name: ruppies (retired urban people).
Miami is welcoming them with a huge condo market, the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, a farmers’ market at Bayfront Park, art galleries in Wynwood, a thriving restaurant scene and trendy shopping in the Design District.
Add an international airport, several major universities and the Metromover and Metrorail for getting around, and Miami starts to sound downright desirable.
Miami is listed at one of the country’s 20 best retirement downtowns in the 2006 book Retire Downtown: The Lifestyle Destination for Active Retirees and Empty Nesters, by Kyle Ezell (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $18.95).
The book sings the praises of the Brickell area and neighborhoods west of Bicentennial Park, calling Miami the ”New Hollywood” for the attraction it holds for many of today’s celebrities.
Miami is one of the least-affordable places to live, with 69 percent of its residents spending at least 30 percent of their household incomes on homeownership.
With downtown condo prices in the millions, it only holds appeal for those who can afford it.
The small, civilized town on Florida’s Gulf Coast has 35 miles of beaches, good boating in the Gulf and Sarasota Bay, fine dining (not an early-bird special in sight) and amazing cultural opportunities.
The city has its own opera, a symphony, a film society, a theater scene, lots of art galleries and the Ringling Museum of Art, with paintings by Rubens.
The median house price is $176,100 — and you may find a mid-century gem in the housing market.
The city, which cultivated its own group of mid-century modern architects, is home to the Sarasota School of Architecture.
The style incorporated elements of Bauhaus and Frank Lloyd Wright’s ”organic” architecture.
Sarasota ranked in the Top 5 in a recent AARP report on ”highly livable” towns that took affordability, community life and job growth into account.
There’s Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport nearby, and the local economy is robust, with unemployment a mere 2.8 percent.
It’s also spring training camp for the Cincinnati Reds.
A downside: Snowbirds flock here in the winter, which means traffic can get very annoying.
Halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach, DeLand is home to Stetson University and a downtown area that has been undergoing extensive renovations in recent years.
”There were lovely old almost-mansions, a college campus, a downtown that was revitalizing, although it was a little rough,” Bland says.
Retire in your own backyard (Miami Herald)
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