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How to pick where to retire in Florida?

Florida is a mecca for retirees but it is a big state, so how do you know which area is best for you?

I am not an expert on real estate but I can share my thoughts on why I am happy living in the area we chose.


As a retiree, I did not need to move for a job so a big consideration was family. My kids have not quite “settled down” yet so moving near them wasn’t in the cards, but my sister and her family lives in Florida and my visits to her house and the area of Bradenton have always been great.

Up until 2019 when she passed, my mom also enjoyed living in a gated community near my sister. We experienced golf, the resort style pool and clubhouse lifestyle while visiting her. She especially loved this area as the beautiful Gulf of Mexico beaches of Anna Maria Island are only a short drive away and she attended weekly church services by the beach during those winter months when she was a snowbird.

Word of mouth or having a chance to visit the areas before moving is an important first step.


I love the beach and can’t imagine living too far away from one. Florida has many!

My days of laying out in the sun are over, but I found new adventures with horses, boating and shelling. I love to take visitors to lunch and the beach for a long walk or to watch the sunset. The white sand is so soft and the turquoise water so clear it always brings joy to my heart to live near a beach.

While I still love the ocean, I must say that I have grown to prefer the Gulf for swimming. It is usually very calm and clean. The shells are pretty and dolphins visit frequently. I find that the times I have been to the ocean side, the riptides can be dangerous and I’ve witnessed jellyfish or man-o-war sightings. Ouch!

Anna Maria Island sunset


Florida has quite a few but near me there are actually three within easy driving distance. The airports are clean and the Sarasota airport so convenient that it makes traveling less of hassle in a time when masks and long lines for security can make traveling less joyful.

Unfortunately, mass transit such as trains and busses isn’t really something that Florida has embraced so renting a car to visit is your best bet.


Something to consider when moving to Florida, is crowds and traffic. If you do plan to work or basically leave your home, it is good to know that during the high season, January – March, the roads are very crowded and it will take twice as long to get to the same place it did during the summer.

In addition, Florida drivers are not very good. It seems no one here uses signals and if they used to in another state, they soon adapt to the culture. Cars weave in and out of traffic quickly and bare-headed motorcyclists often come up beside you at the lights.

In addition to silver alerts,  used to locate missing persons suffering from an irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties, an unfortunate amount of accidents add to the traffic issues in Florida.


It’s not Broadway, but Sarasota has a well-respected performing arts center. The larger cities will have theaters with different musical artists, shows and of course sporting events.

Because there is a demand for it, many smaller neighborhoods even have their own theaters and shows. The array of dining establishments continues to grow and become more diverse as the population grows. It is a hot topic of conversation here to discuss the best dining experiences and listening to live music is popular as well.


Not too long ago, Florida had all the great bargains but not so much anymore.

We live in one neighborhood of the Lakewood Ranch development which started about 20 years ago. Since then, 22+ different neighborhoods have been created, many with their own golf courses and community centers. Depending on the amenities offered, an HOA fee is determined each month which can get pretty steep.

Similar smaller communities are all over the state as well as the biggest one called “The Villages.” While new homes are being built all the time, in the past year complaints about materials not being available due to supply shortages from the pandemic are common. We bought an 8 year old home and feel happy to be in a used house in an established neighborhood.


It is hot and humid in Florida, but it is also Sunny, Sunny, Sunny!

All the studies I’ve read on happiness stress the importance of getting outside for vitamin D, get light on your face especially in the shorter days of winter, and exercise. Without snow and rain and freezing temperatures, you are more likely to get outside for a little longer each day.

The good weather leads to trying new outdoor sports like tennis, golf and pickleball. I see couples walking and biking every day and you would think you needed at least one dog to live in this neighborhood as dog walking is probably the most popular activity to do in this lovely weather.

If it’s too hot, find a pool to hop into or stay inside your air conditioned home.


If you are not purchasing in a gated community, it is important to check out the neighborhoods. You may see a cute house online, only to visit and discover it’s not in the best area and the crime rate is high. Realtors can not usually tell you much about the neighborhoods, so visiting a place at different times of the day before you buy is a good idea.


I have heard from more than a few people that I’ve met that they wish they had bought in a community that had… This is important. Think about what type of lifestyle you plan to have in Florida and plan accordingly. Do you want to golf? Do you want a clubhouse that has planned neighborhood activities? Do you want fitness classes or is a gym enough for exercise? Is there a neighborhood pool or do you plan to have one in your home?

Florida has homes with all or no amenities. You can have a house, a townhome or a condo. Consider these things before you buy.


Whether you plan to buy next year or just think about it, it’s never too early to check out the model homes.

Our neighborhood was so popular, that Lakewood Ranch is building a new neighborhood just like it – but you get to build a new house and some people really like to do that. It was hard enough for me to make all the decisions on my kitchen renovation, I can’t imagine what it’s like to plan a house. But I will tell you, that I love to check out the new home designs and decor in these homes.

Check it out!

Kitchen in house number one
Kitchen in house number one
Private pool with golf course view
“car wash” shower: walk in one way, out the other

Resort community pool

Hope you enjoyed these fun photos from Florida – I bet this post put some thoughts in the heads of my chilly friends up north. C’mon down. You will love it!!

To get a copy of my Memoir – Click here:


At the age of 51 I unexpectedly became a widow. For the first 6 months after my husband died, I was in shock and numb. I journaled and with the help of friends, family and therapists was able to get back to living my old life, even if it is now very different. Before I was married, I had spent a semester in England and backpacked around Europe. My husband and I moved from New York to California for 8 years and started a family. Travelling took a back seat to raising a family and going to work everyday. Since the loss of my husband I have visited a lot of places with family and friends and took a solo trip to Thailand. I am enjoying sharing my stories and adventures as well as some of my insights to how I am traveling the path of being a widow. I hope to share my stories and adventures as well as some thoughts on being a middle aged widow. While I have some great experiences traveling to Thailand and cruising to Central America, some of my adventures involve a trip to see a Broadway show in nearby Manhattan and a shopping trip at Bed, Bath and Beyond. If I can inspire anyone to go out and continue to live a good life that would be my greatest accomplishment.

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9 Responses

  1. We moved here in 2017. We chose the Tampa area due to its central location and less devastating hurricanes and storms.

  2. pedmar10 says:

    Long long ago Florida is retirement heaven for many, even the snowbirds lol!! It seems to be the melting pot of the USA!!

  3. Boy, you’re not kidding about the drivers. My wife now no longer wants to get behind the wheel because of all the bad drivers. We went to the Van Wezel a few years ago for a performance (Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo) and really enjoyed it. We still get their catalog in the mail. – Marty

  4. runawaywidow says:

    It’s so true. Every time I’m out driving I’m still surprised. It’s crazy!

  1. January 5, 2023

    […] January 5, 2023 How to pick where to retire in Florida? How to pick where to retire in […]

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