As temperatures begin to drop in many areas of the country, some older people may start to ponder if spending their retirement in Florida might be the way to go. For so-called “snowbirds” who have already made this senior living decision, cooler weather is a sure sign that it’s time for their annual trip south to spend the winter with the many other retirees in Florida. If you’re considering whether retirement living in Florida might be right for you, here are a few important points to consider.

The tradeoffs of year-round warm weather

Boasting year-round warm weather and numerous picturesque water views, it’s no wonder that the Sunshine State is home to four of the top 10 best places to retire in 2022-2023, according to U.S. News & World Report. Specifically, Pensacola came in at third on the list, Tampa at fourth, Naples ranked sixth, and Daytona Beach checked in at seventh as the best places for retirement in Florida.

Retirees in Florida no doubt see the state’s climate as one of its biggest draws, particularly for older people who no longer want to shovel snowy sidewalks and driveways. The warm, sunny weather definitely contributes to a pleasant quality of life. It is also one reason many active adult communities in Florida have amenities like outdoor pools, golf courses, and/or tennis and pickleball courts.

In the north and central areas of the state, the climate is classified as humid subtropical with temperatures averaging 65° to 70°F. In the southern parts of the Florida peninsula and the Keys, it is a tropical savanna climate with average annual temps of 74° to 77°F. Of course, these are just averages, and in the summertime, retirement living in Florida can get oppressively hot and humid with real-feel temperatures sometimes soaring into the triple digits.

The other flip side of this warmth is the threat of severe weather that accompanies it. In addition to deadly and destructive hurricanes, Florida also commonly has severe thunderstorms and flooding, as well as the occasional tornado. These weather threats are among the reasons that many property and casualty insurance carriers have abandoned the state and homeowners’ premiums have skyrocketed.

>> Related: After the Storm: Rethinking a Florida Retirement?

Senior living options for retirement in Florida

Data shows that Florida remains the number one retirement destination in the nation, attracting nearly 12% of all relocating retirees. In addition to the desirable weather, many are drawn to the state’s affordable cost of living and lack of income tax, which can result in significant savings for retirees in Florida (as well as other Floridians).

Florida also boasts a wide array of senior living options. For instance, there are literally hundreds of active adult communities and other independent living 55+ communities. You’ve probably heard of some of the larger options like Sun City Center or The Villages, which, with around 80,000 residents, is one of the largest retirement communities in the world, according to the latest Census data.

Depending on the community, residents of active adult communities may own their home while others  are retirement community rentals. There are a growing number of rental active adult communities, which are in many ways nicer versions of what has previously been considered senior apartments in Florida.

The services and amenities of 55+ communities also vary, with some having resort-like facilities like clubhouses, golf courses, and restaurants; others’ amenities may be a bit more modest such as a community pool. Most will include exterior maintenance as part of their monthly homeowners’ fees, however.

But one very important point to understand is that in many cases, these active adult communities lack onsite care services. For residents in these communities who end up needing care, they can either arrange for in-home care (a paid home care provider, or unpaid care, provided by loved ones), or they can relocate temporarily or permanently to an:

  • Assisted living community: According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, there are over 3,000 licensed assisted living communities in Florida.
  • Skilled nursing facility (also called a nursing home): There are nearly 700 licensed nursing homes in Florida, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

More on this topic later…

Based on myLifeSite research, Florida also has over 100 continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs or life plan communities), which provide residents with a full continuum of care services, if needed. CCRC residents have access to a variety of services and amenities to make their retirement years carefree and enjoyable. However, should a CCRC resident eventually need assisted living services or skilled nursing care, it is often available on-site for residents on a priority basis.

>> Related: Exactly What is an Active Adult Community, Anyway?

Factoring in access to care services

Many retirees in Florida are living their best life and don’t want to think about a time when they may need care services. But the reality is that 3 out of 5 people will need some level of long-term care services at some point as they age, according to recent projections. For this reason, it’s important to consider what access to care services might look like as you plan your retirement in Florida.

The 2023 Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) State Scorecard Report from AARP ranks states’ performance across LTSS based on five dimensions:

  • Affordability and access
  • Choice of setting and provider
  • Quality of life and quality of care
  • Support for family caregivers
  • Effective transitions

(You can read more about the numerous indicators that fall under each of these five dimensions to tabulate a state’s score.)

Based on these criteria, Florida’s overall ranking is 43rd in the nation for long-term services and supports. Of particular note, Florida ranked 44th for affordability and access and 50th for support for family caregivers. You can learn more about why Florida ranks so low, but this ranking is concerning given that 21.3% of the state’s population is 65 and older, according to 2020 Census data. That’s over 4.6 million people who may be vying for limited LTSS resources.

>> Related: Inflection Point: Our Nation’s Ever-Growing Long-Term Care Crisis

An informed decision about retirement in Florida

Many people are drawn to spending their retirement in Florida. The allure of warm, sunny weather paired with lower taxes and cost of living is understandable. But it is important to consider other factors that play into overall affordability and access to care services, if needed.

If you want to learn more about retirement living in Florida, you can view our free Retiring in Florida guide. To search for Florida retirement communities, visit our free online retirement community search tool.

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