The Sunshine State has long ranked among America’s favourite retirement destinations. A new report reveals five great places to retire in Florida for affordability and best healthcare access. Sarasota and neighbouring districts dominate the listing.
Kiplinger, a major provider of personal financial advice in the US, regularly publishes listings of the best places to retire in the US. Their latest list takes a look at Florida, a hugely popular state for retirees, and pin points five of the best locations.
Why retire in Florida
Kiplinger lists the main reasons why so many retirees are attracted to the Sunshine State. Top of the criteria is the weather. The listing points out that Florida enjoys a pleasant year-round climate with warm temperatures even in the winter. On the coolest days, the temperature averages around a very pleasant 21 degrees (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and rarely drops below 10 degrees (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
Another crucial factor in many Americans’ decision to retire in Florida is the state’s taxes, or rather, lack of them. Florida ranks as one of the most tax-friendly states in the country. It levies no state income tax, for example.
In addition, permanent residents are eligible for the homestead exemption. This reduces the taxable value of properties by US$25,000 for individuals and by US$50,000 for married couples, resulting in a significant saving on property tax.
Florida’s stunning scenery – Kiplinger cites the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico coast as an example – as well as the myriad amenities (golf, walking, fishing, shops and restaurants) are further deciders when it comes to thinking about retirement.
Sarasota best for retirement
Sarasota, on the Gulf of Mexico coast in the southeast of the state, takes the top position in the Kiplinger list of the best places to retire in Florida. The report points out that “life in this small city moves a bit more slowly than in St Petersburg and Tampa, but Sarasota offers plenty of amenities”.
In terms of affordability, Sarasota scores 108.1, slightly above the national average (100). Retirees to Sarasota also have the benefit of top public healthcare since the town is home to the Sarasota Memorial Health Care system, one of the largest in the state.
Property in Sarasota offers excellent value. According to Kiplinger, the median price for a single-family home in the area stands at US$275,000, just ahead of the US average of US$265,500. The latest statistics for Sarasota property show that single-family home prices went up by 8.2% in the year to July, 1.1% more than they did in Florida as a whole.
Kiplinger emphasises the differences between property prices in Sarasota. “Homes a few miles inland tend to be newer and more affordable than homes on the waterfront,” says the report. This includes homes in nearby Englewood, just outside Sarasota itself.
Sarasota best for wellbeing
As well as taking the prize for the best place to retire in Florida, Sarasota also features as one of the best communities for wellbeing in the US. The latest Gallup-Healthways report places the metro area of North Port- Sarasota-Bradenton in sixth position out of a total 189 communities in the US.
Sarasota takes top place in the country for financial ranking and sits in fourth for social rank. The overall score for the town was 65.2, marginally below the top scoring Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island whose total was 66.3.
Other top Florida retirement destinations
Also on the list of Kiplinger’s great places to retire in Florida is Gainesville in central Florida. As well as home to the University of Florida, Gainesville offers excellent healthcare facilities since it was founded as a healthcare resort.
Naples, just south of Sarasota, ranks in third place for Kiplinger. This town in southeast Florida also features regularly as one of the best places in the US for wellbeing. St Petersburg and Punta Gorda complete the listing.