11 Reasons You Don’t Want to Retire in Florida

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Retirement in Florida? It’s not all sunshine and daisies. (Or, as the case may be, orange blossoms.)

Sure, there are lots of good reasons to move there, as we document in “10 Lesser-Known Reasons To Retire in Florida.” Many people do, after all.

But there are plenty of equally good reasons not to. Sure, no place is perfect. And as an ex-Floridian — or, I like to say, Florida survivor — it’s fair to wonder whether I have an axe to grind.

But following are several indisputable issues with life in the Sunshine State that I or people I personally know have often complained about. Each may be a reason you don’t want to retire in Florida.

1. Hurricanes

Hurricane Irma hits Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Andrew. Katrina. Irma. Ian.

Those aren’t nuisance neighbors — they’re some of the worst hurricanes to hit the state in the past few decades. But there have been plenty more. And as anyone who lived in Florida during the 2004 hurricane season could tell you, five major storms in six weeks is a real possibility.

So is being without power for weeks during the height of summer, with temperatures above 90 degrees even at night. So is being stranded without access to groceries because the roads have become rivers hiding downed power lines. (Even before storms, grocery stores aren’t always adequately stocked as bad weather approaches.)

Florida’s hurricane season runs from June to November each year. Some gruff Floridians will say it’s no big deal, but the common challenges of staying safe and well-stocked while protecting your property and possibly evacuating only become more obnoxious with age.

2. Home insurance

Worried woman doing taxes
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You know what else blows about hurricanes? Even when you don’t get hit, you’re going to pay for it. Floridians pay more than four times the national average for home insurance, according to the News-Press (Fort Myers and Cape Coral).

Between 2022 and 2023, Florida home insurance premiums soared 68% on average. Several major insurers have abandoned the state altogether, no longer offering new homeowners policies, as we reported in “5 Insurers That Are Leaving Florida — or Already Have.”

3. Flood insurance

Tampa, Florida flood
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Some Floridians are deciding to stop carrying homeowners insurance because of the skyrocketing cost. That may not be wise, but it’s an option if your mortgage lender allows it.

Flood insurance is another story, though, depending on where you live. If you live in a high-risk flood zone, it’s mandatory. Policies average about $760 per year, although it varies from county to county and could be nearly $2,500 in some areas.

You can learn more about finding and reading flood maps from the City of Key West.

4. Termites

Tented house being treated for termites
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Growing up, my neighborhood sometimes looked like a circus had come to town — houses were occasionally covered entirely by brightly colored tarps, resembling nothing so much as a big-top tent.

These tarps, I learned, were covering houses being fumigated for pests. How bad does it have to be that you have to gas your entire home, I wondered? Well, it turns out Florida has more species of termite than anywhere else in the mainland U.S. with 20 established varieties. Some aren’t considered pests, but several are invasive species.

5. Roaches — and palmetto bugs

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Less damaging to your property, but more damaging to your psyche, are the flying roaches. Yep: Palmetto bugs and smokybrown cockroaches, among many other non-flying varieties, are a pretty common sight.

They’re fast, multiply quickly, are annoyingly resilient — did you know they can survive decapitation and 10 times the lethal dose of radiation for humans, according to the University of Florida? — and they carry odors and disease.

6. Sharks

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Yes, the risk of being randomly bitten by a shark is way overblown. But it’s a simple fact that more shark bites happen in Florida than in any other state, including California and Hawaii, according to the University of Florida. Of all the shark bites in the U.S. for 2023, 44% happened in Florida.

7. Lightning strikes

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Florida may be the Sunshine State, but it’s also the lightning capital of the U.S. — hence the Tampa Bay Lightning national hockey team.

On average, 10 people die each year from lightning strikes in the state. But if it makes you feel better, tell yourself that statistics show people under 40 are the most vulnerable.

8. Lack of seasons

Woman sweltering in the heat
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The old joke in Florida is that it only has two seasons: wet and dry.

Except it’s not a joke, really. Wet season typically runs from late May to late October. Dry season is November to April. The subtropical climate means the average temperature is close to 60 degrees even in January.

In the wet season, the humidity is oppressive. Opening a door or window is often all you need to break into a sweat — and because air conditioning is necessary and ubiquitous, that means frequently experiencing cold sweat. Yuck.

9. Florida Man

Angry Florida man pushing on a palm tree
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Florida is well-known for news stories about bizarre, sometimes criminal, behavior. It became a running internet joke in 2013, with all kinds of outrageous or silly behavior attributed to a generic “Florida Man.” But it’s not just one crazy person running around: It’s a lot of them, and, despite the name, there are just as many Florida Women.

While things may not be as crazy as the jokes make it seem, retirees may not want to deal with the reputation or the very real risk of living around such shenanigans.

The stereotype has been caricatured in various media, including video games. The social media site Reddit has a forum for Florida Man headlines that’s followed by more than 700,000 people. Here are some of the wildest ones from 2023:

  • Florida Woman tries to bring 4-foot “emotional support snake” on plane
  • Florida Man’s joyride in stolen ambulance ends at sheriff’s office: CCSO
  • Shirtless Florida Man found climbing tree “like Tarzan” after police chase
  • Wanted Florida Woman found hiding inside couch: deputies
  • Florida Man hides in chest, uses whiteboard to evade deputies: PCSO

10. Skin cancer

Man holding a bottle of sunscreen
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Many people go to Florida because of the sun; bright, warm weather for most of the year sounds great. (By the way: the Western U.S. gets way more sunlight overall than Florida does. Florida just shines in the winter.) But the flip side of that is an increasing risk of skin cancer.

Florida has among the highest incidence rates for melanoma. Sunscreen is crucial even on cloudy days.

11. It’s getting crowded

Crowded beach in Miami Beach, Florida
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Florida has one of the fastest-growing populations in the country by percentage increase, even though it’s already the third-most populous state. While South Carolina just edged it out in 2023, it was the fastest-growing in 2022.

That boom is increasingly reflected in housing prices, although the silver lining is that the state is becoming more capable of weathering a recession.

It also means bigger crowds and longer lines everywhere: at the DMV, the beach, the gas station, the drive-thru, Disney World.

Not to mention the traffic. One of the reasons Florida’s I-95 is among “8 of the Most Dangerous Roads in America,” I firmly believe, is impatience and road rage over crawling through a traffic jam in the summer heat.

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