In sunny and vibrant Florida, a surprising trend is emerging - especially among retirees: many people are choosing to relocate due to the escalating cost of living. This shift is driven by several factors that are making it increasingly challenging for retirees and working people alike to maintain their lifestyle in the Sunshine State. Here's a closer look at the seven key expenses that are influencing this trend:

Rising Housing Costs

It's pretty wild what's happening in Florida's housing market. Redfin's data shows that home values have shot up by a whopping 80% in just five years. Even with mortgage rates climbing, people are still buying – home sales went up by 5% in September 2023 compared to the year before. This boom isn't just about more people wanting to live in sunny Florida; it's also a sign of how expensive it's getting, especially in popular spots.

What's really eye-opening is how these high prices are affecting everyone – from retirees dreaming of a beachside home to first-time buyers just trying to get a foot in the door. And it's not just about buying; renting is getting pricier too. With so many folks moving to Florida for the great weather and tax benefits, it looks like these steep prices are here to stay.

Elevated Healthcare Expenses

Let's talk about healthcare in Florida, especially for retirees. It's getting pretty pricey, to be honest. Whether it's specialized treatments, those daily meds, or long-term care, the costs are going up. And yeah, Medicare helps, but there's still a lot coming out of pocket.

For anyone living on a retirement budget, these rising healthcare expenses can really take a bite out of your savings. It's super important to factor this in if you're planning to retire in Florida – those sunny beaches are great, but you've got to keep an eye on those medical bills too.

Utility Bills

So, dealing with Florida's heat and humidity? That's a whole thing. You're going to need air conditioning, like, all the time, and let me tell you, it cranks up your electricity bill, especially during those steamy summer months.

And it's not just the AC – water and sewer costs in a lot of Florida cities are higher than what most folks are used to paying elsewhere in the country. We have hot and humid weather almost all year, so those electricity bills to run the AC year-round are a lot more expensive than you may be used to if you live in other parts of the country. It all adds up, so when you're budgeting for life in Florida, don't forget to pencil in a bit extra for those utility bills.

Grocery Prices

Florida being a peninsula does have its quirks, especially when it comes to getting goods down here. This means that trucking in all the essentials like your fruits, veggies, dairy, and meats can cost a bit more. And guess what? These extra costs are showing up on our grocery bills.

According to Wink News, as of June 2023, food prices at home had gone up by 5.8% compared to the previous year. That's a pretty significant jump, and it's hitting everyone's wallets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that grocery prices had risen by 4% since May 2022.

What does this mean for retirees or anyone on a budget? Well, it's time to get a bit more creative with the shopping list.

Those days of carefree grocery shopping are taking a bit of a hit. It's all about finding those deals, maybe clipping a few coupons, and definitely keeping an eye on what's going up in price. Florida's sunny, sure, but those grocery bills might need some shade!

Insurance Premiums

Florida's no stranger to hurricanes and floods, and this has a huge impact on insurance premiums. We're not just talking a small hike here; we're talking big numbers. NerdWallet reports that the average cost of homeowners insurance in the Sunshine State is around $2,385 per year. That might not sound too bad until you realize it's 31% more than the national average.

And in South Florida (Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami Dade County) that number is closer to $6,000 for a median sized single family house. Due to inflation and the ongoing insurance crisis in the state, we're seeing insurance increases of 30% or more for many people. 

So, what does this mean for retirees or anyone owning a home in Florida? Well, it's a tough pill to swallow. Insurance premiums are soaring, and for many, this means either digging deeper into their pockets or skimping on coverage, which is never a good idea when you're in a hurricane hotspot. It's a real challenge, and it's making comprehensive coverage a luxury for some, rather than a standard part of homeownership.

In short, if you're in Florida, brace yourself for these insurance costs. It's essential to shop around, understand your policy, and maybe even consider ways to mitigate risk to your property to keep those premiums as manageable as possible.

Condo Fees and Assessments

If you're thinking about getting a condo in Florida as a cheaper alternative, be prepared for a shock. There's this new state law kicking in at the end of 2024 that's already causing a stir.

It's all about condo boards needing to stash away some cash for big repairs on buildings over three stories high. Sounds sensible, right? But because many of these buildings hadn't been collecting for this in the past, this is leading to some hefty assessment fees that are making quite a few condo owners think about selling up before these fees hit.

These new mandates are pushing condo assessment fees way up, and it's enough to make some owners want to bail. In some buildings, maintenance fees for 2024 could jump by a whopping 50% between the special assessments and increased insurance costs.

Condo life is becoming very challenging for everyone, especially if you're on a budget or planning for retirement. Owning a condo in Florida might still be a dream, but it's definitely worth doing your homework on these fees and assessments to avoid any nasty surprises down the line.

Transportation Costs

Public transportation in Florida can be a bit hit or miss or even non-existent, so having your own wheels is pretty much a must. But, this isn't just about the convenience of cruising down to the beach whenever you feel like it. There's a price tag attached, and it's not a small one. points out that Florida is one of the top states for expensive car ownership, with costs hitting around $25,565 over five years. Florida' is known for having insurance rates that are above the national average. It's like the sunshine tax but for your car.

And don't forget the other costs like licensing, registration, and taxes. NerdWallet says the average car owner will cough up about $762 in 2023 for these essentials.

So, what's the bottom line? Owning a car in Florida in 2023 means you're looking at a significant financial commitment. It's not just about the initial purchase; it's the insurance, the maintenance, the fuel, and all those little extras that add up. If you're planning to drive around the Sunshine State, make sure your budget is ready for the ride.

Entertainment and Leisure Activities

Having fun in Florida in 2023 might cost you a bit more than you'd expect. When it comes to theme parks, Florida is like the major leagues, but those ticket prices? They're hitting home runs too, and not in the way your wallet would like.

Take Disney World, for instance. WDW Magazine reports that in 2023, ticket prices start at $109 per person and can go up to $189. And that's before the 6.5% sales tax and any extra add-ons.

Then there's Universal Orlando. According to ClickOrlando, they've bumped up their prices too, with a 1-Day, 1-Park ticket now starting from $119, plus tax.

And during peak holiday times? Expect those prices to soar even higher.

But Florida's got a ton of other leisure activities, from beach clubs to golf courses. However, just like the theme parks, these aren't immune to price hikes. Membership fees for golf clubs and costs for other recreational activities are creeping up. Dining out, catching a show, or just enjoying a day out in tourist-heavy areas – it's all going to cost a bit more.

So, what's the game plan for fun in Florida? Well, it's all about budgeting smartly and maybe looking for those off-peak deals or lesser-known spots that won't break the bank. Florida's still a blast, but in 2023, it's worth keeping an eye on those leisure and entertainment expenses to make sure your fun times don't turn into financial headaches.

The Bright Side Of Living In Florida

Despite the rising costs, it's important to remember the many perks that continue to draw people to Florida. One of the biggest advantages is Florida's no state income tax policy, which can mean significant savings, especially for retirees.

The state's diverse and vibrant communities offer a rich cultural experience, with a mix of cuisines, arts, and festivals to enjoy. For outdoor enthusiasts, Florida is a paradise year-round, boasting beautiful beaches, lush national parks, and a plethora of outdoor activities from fishing to golfing. The state's climate is perfect for those who prefer sunny days and mild winters.

Additionally, Florida's real estate market, while currently experiencing a surge, still presents investment opportunities, especially in emerging neighborhoods. These factors, combined with the state's ongoing development and improvement in infrastructure, ensure that Florida remains an attractive destination for many.


In summary, while Florida continues to shine with its sunny beaches and attractive lifestyle, the financial climate in 2023 is showing a different kind of heat. From skyrocketing housing and healthcare costs to rising expenses in utilities, groceries, insurance, and even leisure activities, living in the Sunshine State is becoming a pricier affair.

Whether you're dreaming of retiring by the beach, owning a condo, or just enjoying the Floridian lifestyle, it's crucial to factor in these escalating costs. Smart budgeting, thorough research, and a keen eye for deals are more important than ever. Remember, Florida still offers a world of opportunities and experiences, but like any good investment, it pays to understand the full picture before diving in.

Posted by Andy Mandel on
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