White Oaks operates nationally, with our headquarters in Minneapolis, and our second office in Sarasota, Florida. I am a born and bred Minnesotan, but I craved living in a warmer climate. Given the chance, I jumped at the opportunity to work in our Florida office. We have lots of clients who are “Florida-curious” for themselves, or their children, so I wanted share my experience. It has been 18 months now since I moved my family to Sarasota. Aside from the obvious (and positive!) difference in weather, there are many other differences to explore. My primary focus was to make sure we moved to an area with a solid school district for my boys to attend. After settling in, I discovered more differences that would have been helpful to know upfront.
1. The weather tops it all.
Sunny and warm: most of the time. It’s a positive change to one’s overall disposition…No more vitamin D deficiency for myself or my family members! It is the season to plant and grow all year long. I currently have two banana plants, one orange tree and an avocado tree growing in my backyard.
2. No state income tax.
Florida is one of seven states that have no personal income tax. This can be a great way to save money, even in retirement.
3. Average state sales tax.
When it comes to state sales tax, Florida’s is 6%, and Minnesota’s is 6.875%. When you add in local and/or county taxes, both states seem to be fairly close on average. For reference and comparison, you can use the sales tax handbook.
4. Homestead Exemption.
If you own a property in FL and make it your permanent residence, you may be eligible to receive a homestead exemption that would decrease your property tax value by as much as $50,000. For more information, visit the Florida Department of Revenue.
5. Considerations when purchasing a home.
Insurance: regardless of where you live in Florida, it’s a good idea to get flood insurance when you purchase a home. Rates will vary depending on whether you are in a high-risk zone or not. Another insurance to highly consider is sinkhole insurance. I do not personally have sinkhole insurance, but natural causes of sinkholes can be due to heavy rain and tropical storms.
Services: termites and bugs…yikes! Yes, we are closer to the equator, and there are a lot more bugs to keep away from your home. I would highly recommend paying for these services. Most homes have pools, so pool cleaning services may be another expense to consider.
Association fees: Florida has many neighborhoods that are considered community associations. Some are gated and some are not, but residential association fees are another expense to consider.
6. Locals receive discounts.
With the many theme parks, aquariums, resorts, museums, hotels, etc., Florida residence receive discounts. Some are offered throughout the year, and others will offer the discounts when the tourism season slows down.
With a 20-minute drive to Siesta Key or 15 minutes to Lido Key, you can be on a vacation away from home. The beaches are amazing along the Gulf coast with beautiful blue-green waters.
8. Sports, Halloween and Christmas lights.
You don’t have to be a fan of a Florida sports team down here. Snowbirds can cheer on their home teams during the snowbird season. The sports culture in Florida is energetic, to say the least. In my neighborhood, Halloween is somewhat reminiscent of the MN State Fair parking scene. Everyone comes into the neighborhood, packing the cars in on lawns just to trick or treat in the neighborhood. Many houses have elaborate set ups for the kids and adults to enjoy. Also, Christmas lights are another elaborate display to see in Florida. Tours and lines of cars move through the neighborhoods to view the spectacular displays.
Unlike people, cars really do have a hard time adjusting to the Florida heat. When we moved, we drove my car down. If I had it to do over again, I would have sold my car in Minnesota and bought a car in Florida. My car did not adjust well to the climate, and I continued to experience issue after issue.
Finding a good doctor, and one that is covered by your health insurance plan, can be challenging at first. I would recommend going into it with a perspective of shopping around for the first couple of years until you find who you like. There is a vast amount of healthcare facilities; you will eventually find the good ones.
Hurricane season is taken very seriously by Florida residents. I live about 8 to 9 miles from the coastline. This puts my mind at ease, somewhat, as the category level of a hurricane drops by one to two by the time it would reach my neighborhood. It is really the aftermath that one needs to prepare for; i.e. no power or running water, etc.
Above all else, the weather truly does top it all and makes many of the other adjustments more tolerable! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact White Oaks.