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Surprise! You’re Not Going To Believe Which Florida Cities Are Best To Retire In

Jill Gonzalez, Best Cities To Retire, Florida Retirement

With Jill Gonzalez, Finance Axpert at WalletHub.com

Steve spoke with Jill Gonzalez, finance expert at Wallethub.com, about the current influx of people to Florida. Approximately 906 people are moving to Florida every day. This is equal to adding a city that’s slightly smaller than Orlando every year. Steve and Jill discussed the cities/areas these people are moving to and which cities have the best quality of life.

Why Florida?

A lot of people are moving to Florida. Some are moving to the “Sunshine State” for new jobs. But a big part of the new population (around 300,000 per year!) is made up of retirees looking for a warm place to spend their golden years.

While states like South Carolina and Arizona are definitely moving up on the list of places to retire, Florida remains one of the most popular destinations for retirees. It’s hard to beat, especially because Florida is tax friendly to those choosing Florida as their retirement destination. For example, there’s no tax on pensions. There’s also excellent healthcare and a lot of things to do.

Ranking The Best Cities In Florida

The sample for determining the best cities in Florida consisted of 115 places. Each city was rated based on three main factors.

The first factor was quality of life. This includes things like fishing areas, golf courses, centers for seniors, how many attractions the city has, and activities available for seniors specifically. Other things considered include:

  • air quality
  • crime rate
  • the labor market (in case a retiree needs to get a part-time job)
  • healthcare
  • availability of physicians
  • life expectancy

The metric for each of the categories gets drilled down a bit deeper. But each city has the potential for a score of 100. Each quality/situation is scored and the city gets its score.

How Florida Cities Rated

The highest cost of living was in well-known places – Boca Raton, Weston, Key West, Parkland, Coral Gables. These places can cost up to twice as much as, say, Winter Haven, Fort Myers, or Daytona Beach, some of the Florida cities with the lowest costs of living.

Cities were also ranked according to the percentage of the population 65 and older. The Villages (which is a collection of retirement communities) all kind of tied for number one. This includes The Villages at: Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, New Smyrna Beach, and Dunedin. These places have about a 75% population of 65+. The places with the lowest 65+ population include Homestead, Doral, Oakleaf Plantation, Immokalee, and Horizon West.

Florida cities with the lowest crime rate include Weston, Parkland, Winter Springs, and Port Saint Lucy. On the other end, some of Florida’s biggest cities have the highest crime rate: Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Panama City, and Miami Beach.

Finally, the best cities, collectively. The number one city to live in? -Sarasota. Number two is Tampa.

Other Popular Florida Cities

Don’t be too depressed if you live in other cities in Florida. Miami, Boca Raton, Key West, and then Orlando come in at numbers 3, 4, 5, and 6, respectively. The top 11 cities are pretty well split between the East and West coast for Florida. Somewhat surprisingly, Miami Beach came in at number 39. And Coral Springs ranked near the bottom at number 110.

If you’d like to learn more about popular retirement destinations, check out https://wallethub.com/!

Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital.  Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions.  Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances.  The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.

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Steve Pomeranz: 906 people are moving to the State of Florida every day, according to a report just released. This tallies to over 330,000 people moving to Florida every single year. And that’s equal to adding a city slightly larger than Orlando every single year. It’s an awful lot of people.

So where are they going? And more importantly, what cities and counties have the best quality of life for us existing residents and these newly minted Florida residents. 

To discuss this with me is Jill Gonzalez from WalletHub. WalletHub is a Washington DC-based personal finance website with a lot of great information and can be found at WalletHub.com. Hey, Jill Gonzalez, welcome to the show. 

Jill Gonzalez: Thanks for having me back. 

Steve Pomeranz: My pleasure. So I know that some of these people are coming here to work, but many of these people are coming here to retire. So question number one, is Florida still the destination many think of when contemplating retirement? 

Jill Gonzalez: It really is. Other states like Arizona and South Carolina have certainly made some headway in the past few years, but Florida is still just very hard to beat, especially when it comes to the tax friendliness for retirees. No tax on a pension or Social Security, obviously, helps here, great health care, and lots of things to do. 

Steve Pomeranz: Wow. Okay. So let’s talk about the methodology because you’ve actually ended up ranking the best cities relative to the quality of life down to the worst cities, and I think your sample…how large was your sample? 

Jill Gonzalez: Just in Florida, we compared more than 100 of its largest cities. So for an exact number- 

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, no, that’s enough. 

Jill Gonzalez: It is 115 yeah. 

Steve Pomeranz: 115. Okay, so that’s a pretty large sample. And what dimensions of life did it actually measure? 

Jill Gonzalez: Well, it looked at really three categories. The first was quality of life. So things like how many golf courses there are, fishing facilities, senior centers, number of attractions, adult volunteer activities. That was the first category that we looked at. 

We also looked at the actual quality when it comes to crime rates, property crime, air quality, the elderly-friendly labor market, in case anyone needs to pop out of retirement, which hopefully is not the case. 

And finally, healthcare. Healthcare facilities and home care facilities, general physicians, life expectancy. So all of those things were considered here. 

Steve Pomeranz: Quality of life, health, and activities. So let’s drill down a little bit deeper. Let’s talk about quality of life here a little bit. So number one, cost of living was very important. Now some cities have a higher cost of living than others, and it looks to me from this work here, that you assigned about three and a third percentage points to each of these many categories. All of them eventually adding up to a hundred percent, and then what did you do? You rated them, you numbered them, and then you added up the points? 

Jill Gonzalez: Exactly. So the total points here obviously add up to 100, like you said. So depending on how many points each city got in a certain metric and a certain category that would be responsible for their final cumulative score. 

Steve Pomeranz: Okay. And we’re going to get to that at the end, in the big reveal at the very end. So cost of living was one, share of population age 65 and older was another, share of households with severe housing problems—that was pretty interesting—which is a metric measuring what, particularly? 

Jill Gonzalez: When it comes to severe housing problems, that’s where we’re looking at housing units lacking complete kitchen facilities, lacking complete plumbing facilities, households that are severely overcrowded. So that oftentimes happens to the elderly and in some of these situations, so that’s why this metric was included. 

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, I’ve never seen that before, very interesting. Discount stores per capita, elderly-friendly labor market. You mentioned that before, so if someone is still working and semi-retired or fully retired but doing a little part-time stuff, it’s the availability of outside work. Correct? 

Jill Gonzalez: Exactly. So elderly-friendly labor market looks at not only the share of workers aged 65 and up, but the ratio of part-time to full-time workers and that age group as well. 

Steve Pomeranz: Violent crime, you mentioned, share of commuters who use public transit, property crimes. So there’s violent crime, property crime, air quality and drinking, and then the quality of the drinking water. Moving to health care, health care facilities per capita, and that you weighed heavily, health care seems to weigh pretty heavily here or there were less categories so they were assigned more points. Homecare facilities per capita, family and general physicians per 10,000 residents, dentists per 10,000 residents, nurses per thousand residents, life expectancy and death rate for population age 65 or older. 

Under activities, number of attractions, which includes zoos, museums, theaters. What else is included in those types of attractions? 

Jill Gonzalez: Attractions would be most things that you can think of, besides zoos, museums, theaters, things like piers for instance, also movie theaters. So any of these things that you could potentially go visit, historical sites are included in that as well.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay. Senior centers, fitness and recreational sports, golf courses and music venues per capita, art galleries and so on. Okay, so we’ve kind of got a sense of the methodology. 

Let’s go to the cities and how they actually rank from best to worst, and we’re going to start with these different categories. So cost of living, the cities with the highest cost of living in Florida, were what?

Jill Gonzalez: The highest cost of living, a lot of very well-known places, Boca, Weston, Key West, Parkland, Coral Gables, those places all very close, just in terms of cost of living. So living there costs you twice as much as in, say, at Fort Myers, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, which all had some of the lowest cost of living. 

Steve Pomeranz: I think it’s interesting that Boca Raton was the highest of all of them. And you know, I can see, Key West I would think would be very high and Coral Gables perhaps, but I didn’t realize Boca Raton was number one. 

The lowest cost of living, as you mentioned, was Winter Haven, which is near Orlando, Daytona Beach, Immokalee and Titusville. All right, so population of people age 65 or older, the highest starts with The Villages, which is not surprising. Tell us more. 

Jill Gonzalez: Yeah. The Villages, which I think is a very well-known retirement destination, all of these places really tied for number one. Villages at North Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, New Smyrna Beach, Dunedin. So all of those places have a very high percentage of the population age 65 and up, 70% or so. So a lot of times the people-

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, that’s a lot.

Jill Gonzalez: Yeah, lower than that age are usually working at some of these facilities. 

Steve Pomeranz: On the other extreme, the places with the lowest population are Homestead, Doral. I don’t know where OakLeaf Plantation is. Is that just Plantation, Florida? OakLeaf Plantation, Immokalee and Horizon West. There’s a 15 times difference between the highest population of age 65 or older and the lowest.

All right, let’s move on to the most physicians, family physicians per capita. The most, start with Palm Bay Florida, Melbourne, Titusville, Merritt Island, Rockledge, and Tallahassee. The fewest are what? 

Jill Gonzalez: Those with the fewest family and general physicians per capita, included Jacksonville, Pensacola, Panama City, and, surprisingly, The Villages. So yeah, that was one area where we were pretty surprised. The only reason why we were researching this that we could think of is that one, they’re going a little bit further out from The Villages when they’re looking for some of their health care or it is such a well-known destination, are people really preparing themselves and being more healthy when they’re moving into some of these places?

Steve Pomeranz: Oh, I don’t know. I think maybe they travel up to Gainesville perhaps where the big a teaching hospital is up there, Shands. That’s just a guess on my part.

Let’s move to property crime rate. I think this is pretty important. So the lowest crime rate was Weston, Parkland, Winter Springs, Oviedo, Florida, and Port Saint Lucie. The highest property crime rate was what?

Jill Gonzalez: Some of the bigger cities in Florida here, which I don’t think is too surprising. Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Panama City, and Miami Beach all had very high property crime rate, about 13 times more than some of the cities that you listed off.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, 13 times difference. Okay, so drum roll. Let’s talk about the best and worst places to retire in Florida. Number one, I’m going to do a drum roll. Is that okay, Erica? I could hear that too, right? I can hear that. Number one best city in the state of Florida to live, based on all of these different rankings is 

Jill Gonzalez: Number one is, Sarasota. 

Steve Pomeranz: Sarasota. And number two is Tampa. So I don’t like this, West Coast has beaten us here, I don’t understand. But what is it about these cities you think have moved them to the top of the list?

Jill Gonzalez: So the quality of life is certainly there. A lot of golfing opportunities, fishing opportunities. You’ll see these even more in these places than other places in Florida, although you will see opportunities throughout. But it’s really hard to beat Sarasota, especially when it comes to health care and when it comes to activities. So that health care, having that very close right nearby within city limits, I think is huge here.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, but not to be too depressed over this. Miami was number three, Boca Raton number four, Key West number five, then Orlando back, to the West Coast for Bradenton and Fort Myers. West Palm Beach was number nine, Clearwater number 10 and I included number 11 here because it is local to us here, which is Fort Lauderdale.

So in the top 11, it’s kind of split evenly between East Coast and West Coast. Now I live in Delray Beach, so Delray Beach was number 15, still pretty high up on the list when you’re talking about 115 different places. Coral Gables was 18, Hallandale Beach 22, Boynton Beach 23. Let’s see, Hialeah was 31, Palm Beach Gardens 37, Miami Beach 39, Lake Worth 40, and going down towards the bottom of the list here, Aventura, which really surprised me because that’s a pretty upscale place as far as I can tell, ranked number 53. 

Royal Palm Beach 54, Weston 58, and getting down and down and down. Pompano Beach, which is a place that I really like is a number 87, Deerfield Beach, which I think has done a pretty good job of revitalizing themselves, they’re down at 106. Coral Springs 110, and this was the most surprising at all, Jill, The Villages second to last 114 out of 115, poor Deltona was very last in place. 

But The Villages, you think of people retiring to The Villages, and in droves and, obviously, you think they’d have a high quality of life. Final words?

Jill Gonzalez: Yeah. I hear a couple of things that really need to be better include property crime rate, I think because people know that it’s such an elderly destination. That’s where we’re seeing more and more property crime is taking place from fraud to breakins, et cetera. 

Steve Pomeranz: All right, so if you’re moved into The Villages, make sure you’ve got your house secure and you keep your eyes open. My guest, Jill Gonzalez from WalletHub, and to hear this interview or any interview again, and if you have a question about what we’ve just discussed and have a comment, we love to get your questions, we love to hear your comments. Go to our website, stevepomeranz.com to join the conversation and sign up for our weekly update where every single week in your mailbox, you will see the whole list of segments that we’ve done for that week, and you can pick and choose whatever segment you’d like. You can read it, read the full transcript or here the segment, of course, right on your computer, your iPhone, your iPad, and all digital devices.

Steve Pomeranz: Jill Gonzalez from WalletHub. Thank you so much for joining me.

Jill Gonzalez: Anytime.