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  • Writer's picturePhil Kennedy

This Is Why People Retire to Florida

Golf carts lined the red-bricked path from end to end, and they boasted expired license plates from nearly every state. Upon entering the upscale club building, one found a sea of gray-haired men and women listening to a slightly younger lady with a microphone. "This month's raffle is going to benefit..." I immediately tuned out.

Last week, my family visited our uncles in a retirement community located in Lake Wales, Florida. It is a growing town, and anyone who understands economics can easily see why. Even during this housing boom, one can still purchase a two-bedroom-two-bath home in this 55+ community for around $200k. As recently as a couple of years ago, the figure was only $115k!

The HOA/CDD fee is $225 a month, and it includes access to all the amenities except the challenging 36-hole golf course. That perk will cost you $5k a year, which is pretty affordable compared to most golf club memberships. A security detail protects this gated community 24/7, and they are readily available if one has any concerns. Here's a breakdown of the basic annual expenses one can expect, assuming they are debt-free:

HOA $200

CDD $2,500

Trash $600

Water $1,200

Electricity $1,200

Internet/Phone $1,200

Taxes $2,500

Landscaping $1,360

Car Insurance $1,100

Homeowners $1,000

Cell Phone $800

TOTAL $13,660

LegoLand of Florida is nearby, so children have something to do while they're visiting grandma and grandpa for a week or two. Of course, Orlando is only an hour's drive to the north, so one can take advantage of everything from Disney World to Gatorland. One could see remnants of COVID precautions (plexiglass here and there), but most folks seemed ready for things to get back to normal. I didn't see a single mask amongst residents, and people dined in the community restaurant without concern. While California and New York double down on regulations, Florida is opening up and going gangbusters.

Honestly, there is only one negative thing I can say about our entire trip. Florida water tastes funny. One can ordinarily avoid this problem by ordering bottled water, but it may still prove to be an issue unexpectedly. For example, my wife and I ordered a shrimp cocktail, and we both looked at one another after our first bite. We couldn't put our finger on it, but it just didn't taste right. Our waitress politely informed us that it was because the chef had boiled the shrimp in the local water. Other than this little experience, I can't think of a single bad thing to mention.

Throughout human history, man has fled oppression for opportunity. Florida continues to be a laboratory of free-market capitalism with affordable housing, low taxes, and abundant attractions. Tax Foundation has yet to publish the results for the migration of personal incomes from 2010 - 2020, but I suspect Florida will still hold the #1 spot when the results are finally revealed.

I became a money coach so I could help people retire with dignity. If you would like to learn how to control your finances, consider joining my upcoming FPU class. We'll work together to create a plan and give hope to your financial future. You can also speak with me to see if I'm the right coach for you!


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