OFB 50 States Project: Florida

OFB 50 States Project: Florida

In The OFB 50 States Project, you the readers spill the beans about your state: the good, the bad, and the delicious. And thus provide “forever place” seekers (like yours truly) a useful resource in their search. We’d love to hear about your state! To be a part of this project, click here to fill out the form!

The Facts

Low State Taxes Ranking:  24Low Cost of Living Ranking:  25

State Economy Ranking:  47

Average Temperatures (Tallahassee):

  • Winter:  64°
  • Spring:  80°
  • Summer:  92°
  • Fall:  81°

The Nickname

The Sunshine State

The Short of It

The state of Florida is brought to you by the following awesome OFB readers:
1) Jen S.  //  2) Mrs. PoP  //  3) Lizzy K.  //  4) Kiley   //  5) Sarah H.

What food best represents Florida?

  • A fresh juicy orange 2, 3
  • Gulf seafood 4
  • Fresh fish 5

What song best represents Florida?

  • Welcome to Miami – Will Smith 2
  • Any Jimmy Buffett song 4
  • Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett 5

How does FL refer to a carbonated beverage drink?

  • Coke 1
  • Soda / Fanta / Coke / Perrier 2
  • Soda or coke 3, 4
  • Soda 5

If you could take a friend to one place in FL, where would it be?

  • Sanibel Island 1
  • Tie — beaches or Miami Zoo 2
  • Siesta Key Beach 3, 4
  • Key West 5

Siesta Key Beach Siesta Key Beach (photo by Robert S. Donovan)

The Long of It

Biggest misconception about FL?

  • That it’s all old people! Or that we’re rednecks. Florida is extremely diverse — where I grew up (in Clearwater, on the central west coast) are a lot of Northern transplants with a lot of Greek and Jewish heritage mixed in. I live in Jacksonville now, and it’s definitely more “southern.” I think Florida has a little bit to offer everyone culturally. 1
  • That there’s anything uniform about it. South Florida is an entity unto its own and there’s a place for just about everyone here. On my run this morning I started in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, ran through some generic (not heavily Jewish) retirees, then passed through the Argentinian/Brazilian (blue collar area), passed through a more Reform Jewish community, and ended in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country. All in the span of six miles on the beach. Pretty much whatever you want, there’s a pocket of it somewhere south of Lake O. Unless it’s snow. Or mountains. If you want those things, head to CO. 2
  • It’s all like Orlando or Miami and beaches, beaches, beaches (but FYI — the beaches are the best part). The Panhandle is so different than the rest of the state. It’s like southern Georgia more than Florida. Only the part of the state north of Ocala is in the Deep South, and if you’re below Ocala, you get to say you grew up south of The South. But note, this is also different from saying you’re from South Florida, which means you’re from Miami or near Miami. 3
  • That its all old people or crazy nightlife like Miami. Which really depends on which city you are in, there’s a good balance of young fresh towns and retirement communities. 4

Best aspect about living in FL?

  • The weather! Especially in North Florida where I live. We get enough of a ‘winter’ (ie lows in the 30s/highs in the 60s) to get a break from the heat but still plenty of sunshiney beautiful days! 1
  • People are happier when they get their daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun. And happy neighbors makes for a happy Mrs. PoP. But since this is a PF blog, the best part about FL is that it’s got a “choose your own adventure” approach to taxation. With no income tax, a very reasonable sales tax (ours is 6%), and generous property tax exemptions for residents, you get to choose how much taxes you pay based on how opulent of a lifestyle you want to lead. Live a frugal life in a modest house and you’ll pay very little in state taxes even if you’re banking $1mm from your blog. 2
  • Sunshine! And you get really good at/used to driving in rain and don’t necessarily worry about hurricanes until you’re in the three day cone…and even then it’s like, “Ok, but where’s it really headed?” Also, we don’t pay state income taxes. 3
  • Always being only two hours from the beach, wherever you are!  5

Worst aspect about living in FL?

  • Traffic/tourism/snowbirds! 1
  • Snowbirds and tourists are probably the worst part about being a FT resident down here, but it’s hard to complain about them since their taxes pay for all the tax breaks residents get.  Not to mention their greatest sin is not knowing where they’re going or driving 20mph under the speed limit.  It’s really not a bad thing to be forced to slow down or stop and smell the roses a little for 6 months every year. 2
  • Summer traffic! 4
  • It can feel like you’re breathing water during the summer. 5

Summarize your feelings about Florida in five words.

  • Lots of diversity; great weather! 1
  • Born elsewhere, FL now HOME. 2
  • Sunshine on a cloudy day. 3
  • Sandy. Sunny. Summer. Hot. Flat. 4
  • Relaxing, entertaining, beach life, FTW! 5

Our Freaking Take

Here’s a clue on how we feel about Florida: we’ve vacationed in the state ever.single.year since we got married. That’s a pretty stellar track record, huh? Or we’re the boring people who find something they like on a menu and always order the same thing. In any case, Florida has never really crossed our minds as a “forever home” state because it’s our “vacation state.” But we’d be happy to change that. The state’s economy ain’t hot, but if the weather is, we’re willing to overlook that. The humidity might have been a dealbreaker for me a few years ago, but this California kid has adapted. All-in-all, pretty stellar reviews from our trusty OFB reviewers. And that means Florida makes our shortlist.

How did these answers line up with your perception of Florida? Have your thoughts on the state changed after reading this? Could you see it fitting your forever-place bill? 

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  • Reply Amanda June 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

    We vacationed in Orlando, Florida last year and will be vacationing in Daytona Beach this summer, so Florida’s a vacation place in our minds too. The heat would probably bug me, but wow, no income tax sounds great!

  • Reply Brian June 14, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I don’t think Florida would ever be my forever place. I love visiting there and the idea of no state income tax sounds nice but I just don’t think it is a place I could ever call home.

  • Reply kate June 14, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I’ve lived in a northern-Orlando suburb for 24 years and I like it. It’s very far from the “bad side of Orlando” (Disney, Universal, etc) as the locals call it- and that’s a bonus. My home backs up to a state park- which is awesome. May through August are uncomfortably, miserably hot and humid and almost unbearable- even for a native. I also spent 5 years in the panhandle during college (Go ‘Noles!) and I would venture to say that north Florida is truly the BEST part of the state (Pensacola, Destin, Grayton, Seaside, etc)- amazing weather, less humidity, so many gorgeous beaches, less traffic, less tourism, seasons(!), kind people, relaxed lifestyle, great public schools…I could go on and on! I hope to make the Panhandle my forever home one day. You should check it out if you haven’t already!

    • Reply Johnny June 18, 2013 at 1:05 am

      We honeymooned on the panhandle on the Gulf coast and LOVED it. I don’t know what if I could make my career work there unless I went the freelance route, but even if we don’t make that our forever home now, I could totally see us moving there later in life. Such a beautiful area.

  • Reply Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies June 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Yay for Florida! Though I still think you should have done two state profiles since the panhandle is so much different from everything in the southern end. =).

    • Reply Johnny June 18, 2013 at 1:09 am

      As a Southern Californian, it pained me to pollute our CA post with Northern Californian opinions, but we decided to keep each state to one post. If anything, it just goes to show that the state has more than one opinion to offer.

  • Reply debtperception June 14, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I’ve never heard the term snowbirds before. I’m only guessing this is a term for people who migrate to warmer climate in the winter? I’m from the midwest and know a lot of older folks who migrate down to Arizona. I wonder if they have a similar term there!

    • Reply Carolyn June 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      They’re also referred to as snowbirds in AZ.

  • Reply Sara @ Fit.Fun.Femme June 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Hi J & J! I crew up in South Florida and went to college at Florida State in Tallahassee so I’ve lived in both parts of the state (south of The South and the real South). Parts of it I LOVE. Parts of it…notsomuch. My husband and I purposely didn’t look for jobs in South Florida because we didn’t think it was a great place to raise kids (even though we we were both raised there and turned out A-OK). South Florida tends to be more materialistic (in my opinion) and that’s just not what we were looking for. The further north you get, the better. Good luck on your forever home search!

    • Reply Johnny June 18, 2013 at 1:10 am

      Very cool perspective. And we have a few friends who have said similar. Thanks for the suggestion and chiming in.

  • Reply My Financial Independence Journey June 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I used to live in FL. The one thing that I can say is that it’s a very strange state – just check out the news stories coming out of FL if you don’t believe me. And nothing (infrastructure or government wise) ever worked right in FL. But the warm weather and lack of an income tax is a strong draw for me to move back there – if there were any jobs for me…

  • Reply Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle June 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I have no opinion of Florida because we went straight from the airport to Disney then back to the airport at the end of the week.

    Hundreds of seniors in my small city are snowbirds that leave southern Ontario for Florida every winter and comedians make jokes about the restaurants being busy at 4:00 in the afternoon. I see sink holes, wild boars and wild weather on the news but I am sure it is a nice place.

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone June 16, 2013 at 12:27 am

    I lived in South Florida for a year, and miss the Cuban food so much!!!

    I think it’s funny when people from FL brag about the weather. I suppose it’s all relative, but I moved there from Southern California, and the weather is TERRIBLE (humid, rainy, and just way too hot) when you’re used to the typical 80 degrees, blue skies, and zero humidity of Los Angeles!

    I agree with the writers who said they’d bring friends to the Keys. The Keys really are amazing! 🙂

  • Reply Tara June 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I would move to the gulf coast in a heartbeat. I’ve been down there a few times with my sister who lives in Atlanta and that beach culture is exactly the type of life I want to live.

    • Reply Johnny June 18, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Amen. Now if someone could just hook me up with a forever career down there, too, I’d be ready to move tomorrow.

  • Reply Challie June 17, 2013 at 12:20 am

    I’m from Tallahassee Florida and I pretty much second Kate! The panhandle is another world, in a good way. Fewer tourists, the charm of the south with gorgeous oaks and countryside, and proximity to beautiful gulf beaches. I’ve seen beaches all over the world and nothing quite compares. Florida also has some of the finest sand in the world (in terms of size of individual grains).

    What does suck is the humidity. It is like breathing water… and it’s worse when you’re inland because there is no ocean breeze to cool everything down.

    • Reply Johnny June 18, 2013 at 1:14 am

      Having grown up in Southern California, the only ocean I knew was the Pacific. The water was cold, the sand was dirty, the weather was overcast until 1pm, etc. We honeymooned on the Gulf coast and I was absolutely blown away. It pains me to think I didn’t know a true beach for the first 22 years of my life.

    • Reply debtperception June 18, 2013 at 9:54 am

      My mom and I once went camping on St. George Island. The humidity was horrendous. Try taking a cold shower and then being covered in sweat the second you step out. Despite that, the area was gorgeous!

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