Boca Raton, Florida, located in Palm Beach County, is often portrayed as a paradise with its idyllic beaches, upscale neighborhoods, and a bustling economy. However, no place is perfect. Below are the top 10 reasons you may want to think twice before making Boca Raton your new home.

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1. High Cost of Living

The cost of living in Boca Raton is about 30% higher than the national average. While the area offers many luxury amenities and services, these come with a steep price tag. High grocery bills, elevated healthcare costs, and pricey dining options can strain budgets, especially for those without a substantial income or financial cushion.

As of September 2023, the lowest priced single family home in Boca Raton was $470,000. Based on average real estate taxes and insurance costs currently in South Florida, that would bring your monthly payment if you put down just 10% to around $4,250 with a 7.25% interest rate. Obviously interest rates can change all the time, but for many people that kind of payment for a modest home is not attainable.

2. Heavy Traffic

Boca Raton's popularity, particularly as a destination for winter "snowbirds," often leads to heavy traffic, particularly during rush hours. The I-95 corridor, one of the main arteries of the city, is notoriously congested. This could lead to a significant amount of stress and wasted time for daily commuters.

They are currently widening & revamping the I-95 express lanes which is expected to make traffic a little more manageable, especially at rush hour, but getting from Boca Raton to Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach at the wrong time of day can be a nightmare. Especially if there was an accident on the highway!

Luckily, the new Brightline station in downtown Boca Raton is expected to relieve some of that traffic for those that are looking to travel directly from downtown Boca Raton to downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.

3. Seasonal Crowds

During the winter months, Boca Raton becomes a hub for tourists and seasonal residents. While this seasonal influx can be great for the local economy, it also means that you'll be dealing with overcrowded beaches, limited restaurant reservations, and congested shopping centers, which can detract from the quality of life for year-round residents.

Since the pandemic, the "snowbirds" aren't all seasonal visitors anymore. Many have made the full time move to South Florida and Boca Raton for a variety of reasons. Traffic is noticably worse with the increased population of South Florida. And with over 1,000 people a day moving to the State, it's not expected to get significantly better.

4. Risk of Natural Disasters

Boca Raton is in a region that is susceptible to hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding. Residents need to invest in high-quality disaster insurance, which adds another layer of costs to living in the area. Homeowners must have an evacuation plan ready and take into account the inconvenience of preparing for annual hurricane seasons.

Even though Boca Raton hasn't had a direct hit from a hurricane in a very long time, if you're not used to having to prepare for a storm it can be a lot to get used to. Native Floridians don't tend to panic unless it's a category 3 or higher storm, but making sure you have hurricane impact windows or some sort of hurricane shutters to protect your property is very important. This can also save you money on insurance costs.

5. High Cost of Insurance

Aside from the standard home insurance, many residents find themselves needing additional policies for flooding and hurricane damage, both of which can be quite costly. The high insurance premiums, combined with high property values, add another layer of expense to owning a home in Boca Raton.

There are a variety of reasons insurance is expensive in South Florida (not just Boca Raton). You might be shocked to see the average bill for a single family house is roughly 1% of the home's value, give or take. Many other parts of the state have significantly cheaper insurance rates.

We have higher levels of fraud in South Florida, and there are very few carriers willing to write policies in the state, especially in the tri-county area of Miami Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County. Because of the lack of competition for policies, we get higher prices.

The Governor & State Legislature recently passed a series of laws to hopefully bring down the cost of insurance, but so far we still have the highest insurance prices in the nation.

6. Intense Heat and Humidity

Florida is known for its tropical climate, but the intense heat and humidity during the summer months can be challenging for some people. Not only does this kind of weather require constant air conditioning, resulting in higher utility bills, but it can also have health implications for those not used to such extreme conditions.

7. Exclusive Communities

Many of Boca Raton's residential areas are gated, exclusive communities. While these communities often offer excellent amenities like golf courses, private beaches, and elaborate fitness centers, they can also feel isolating. It can limit your social interactions and give a feeling of being cut off from the broader community.

It also makes it hard to get a feel for which neighborhoods you might want to live in because the homes are hard to access. If you're making a move to Boca Raton, working with a great real estate agent can help you find the right neighborhood for you and your family.

8. Expensive Real Estate

The real estate market in Boca Raton is competitive and expensive. Median home prices are much higher than the national average, which could be a significant hurdle for first-time homebuyers or those looking for affordable options. You may find yourself needing to compromise on space or amenities if you're operating on a limited budget.

Make sure you're not looking at Country Clubs with the high fees, or 55+ communities in Boca, unless that's the kind of home you're looking for. Unfortunately the big portal websites don't make that search as easy as they should, but if you're here, feel free to check out our website where you can exclude things like Country Clubs and 55+ Active Adult communities.

9. Competitive Job Market

Though the area has many opportunities in industries like healthcare, technology, and education, it's important to note that Boca Raton's job market is competitive. Landing a well-paying, stable job may require higher qualifications, multiple rounds of interviews, and substantial networking, which can be daunting for newcomers.

10. Limited Public Transport

Boca Raton's public transport options are somewhat limited. A car is virtually a must-have for getting around conveniently. This necessity adds an extra layer of expense to your daily life, considering the cost of car insurance, fuel, and maintenance.

11. High Property Taxes

In addition to the already expensive real estate prices and insurance costs, Boca Raton homeowners must also contend with high property taxes. Florida might not have state income tax, but the property taxes can offset any savings you might expect from that, making it an important consideration for potential buyers.

If you're buying a property in Boca Raton, expect the property taxes to be around 1.7% of the purchase price after you file for your homestead exemption. You will likely see a big jump in your taxes the year after you purchase, but if you have Homestead they will remain very stable after the initial jump. Legally they cannot increase more than 3% per year if it is your homestead property (among other Homestead benefits).

Each of these points could be a blog post on their own, but together they give a well-rounded view of life in Boca Raton. Despite these challenges, many residents find that the area's positive aspects outweigh the negatives. Nevertheless, it's essential to weigh these factors carefully before making your move to this part of South Florida.

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Posted by Andy Mandel on
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