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Top 24 Places To Retire In Florida

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A generation ago, retiring in Florida was the American dream for many. Palm trees, coastal breezes, a place to just kick back and relax. Growing up in the Northeast, I was one of the many kids whose grandparents pulled up stakes and headed south.

In the 1960s, plane travel was a luxury. It's hard to remember that people got dressed up to go on a plane. (Oh how I long for those days today when I'm seated next to a man or woman in full sweat pants attire eating a burrito.) Every year or two, my parents saved up their money and off we'd go to visit my grandparents in Daytona Beach.

I remember the first time I saw a palm tree; I'd only seen them in movies and it was so exciting. The air smelled different, like orange blossoms. And if we were good, (meaning if I didn't punch my brother after he called me Blimp-asaurus Maximus) my grandparents would take us to Orlando to go to Disneyworld. I have warm and happy memories of my childhood visits to Florida and bringing home big bags of oranges from the airport, not to mention being tan when I went back to school.

In the later part of the 20th century, Florida fell a little out of favor for retirees. My parent's generation wasn't so keen on retiring where their parents had gone. I guess every generation likes to carve out their own path. New places like North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia started gaining favor as people looked for a different kind of retirement experience. Florida, once the go-to place, was now competing with several states directly to its north.

What was once a retirement destination for our grandparents, Florida today has a lot to offer for everyone. Beaches, cities, education, sports, culture. As we Baby Boomers are getting to an age where we are considering our retirement, many of us remember fondly our childhood Floridian experiences and have started re-examining the many pluses of the Sunshine state, and there are many.

1. Climate: While south Florida gets pretty icky sticky in the summer, the north of Florida can be pretty darn nice most of the year. And South Florida is so air-conditioned that even the summer months are doable. Just like we stay inside and play scrabble and watch movies in the north in the winter, South Floridians learn to do their summer outdoor activities in early morning or evening. If you want visitors, your friends and family farther north are more than happy to take a long weekend in Florida in the winter. And if you have grandchildren, Disneyworld and Universal still have the same appeal they did when I was a kid.

2. Cost of Living: In general, most things are less expensive in Florida than places in the northeast. Food, healthcare, and housing can often seem like a bargain compared to New York or Connecticut.

3. Taxes: And this is a biggie if you are on a fixed income or living off of savings. Every little bit helps extend your money. Florida has NO state income tax. It does have a higher sales tax currently at 6%, but when you are retired, you don't consume quite as much stuff. Property taxes are pretty reasonable and there are no inheritance or estate taxes. Another big plus.

4. Healthcare: While this varies widely depending on where in Florida you live, one thing is for sure, there are a lot of options. With so many older Americans flocking to Florida over the past 75 years, there is an infrastructure of healthcare facilities and providers in place.

5. Proximity to airports: Something to consider if you want to travel or if you want friends and relatives to visit you. Florida has an abundance of airports throughout the state.

On our retirement planning website, GangsAway.com, we wanted to identify some popular spots along with other places that can offer the similar features at different price points to give people some new options. Depending on your budget, we created a list of some of the top retirement locations along with nearby alternatives, some of which are less expensive. See which location fits your personality and pocketbook.

Relaxed Gulf Living

Popular: Naples, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Clearwater

Alternatives: Bonita Springs, Dunedin, Safety Harbor

Margaritaville

Popular: Key West, Key Largo

Alternatives: Marathon, Islamorada

Atlantic Ocean Breezes

Popular: Boca Raton, West Palm Beach
Alternatives: Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Vero Beach

South Florida City Life

Popular: Miami
Alternatives: Fort Lauderdale

Mid & Central Florida

Popular: The Villages
Alternatives: Gainesville, Daytona Beach

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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