However, during the recent pandemic, with a combination of the rise in remote work and the desire to escape the confines of one’s home, areas in the Sun Belt, from the Southwest to the South, experienced a sudden (and continued!) population boost. Florida has proven to be one of the top destinations for individuals of all ages looking for change in scenery.
But there’s much more to Florida’s current population boom than pandemic escapism. From a growing job market and affordable living to burgeoning nightlife scenes and ample outdoor activities, individuals under 55, from Gen Z to Millennials, are finding much to be attracted to. In this post, we’ll explore the many reasons more and more people—especially younger individuals—are calling Florida home.
Who is Moving to Florida?
A long-time mecca for retirees, new transplants to Florida are increasingly arriving not as a reprieve from their working years, but as a step on their career path. In fact, about 30% of new residents cited the reason for their move as “fresh opportunity provided by job transfers or new employment,” according to a recent survey. The same survey found that more than a third of new residents had heads of household younger than 55. Let’s take a closer look at the growing demographics of the individuals increasingly calling Florida home.
Gen Z and Millennials Starting their Careers
An affordable cost of living, burgeoning social scene, and gorgeous weather are some of the top reasons why Gen Z-ers and younger millennials are flocking to Florida cities like Tampa and their surrounding areas. In fact, nearly half of top destinations for millennials are in the Sunbelt.
An affordable cost of living—in part due to the fact that the Sunshine State doesn’t collect income tax—doesn’t just draw individuals on a tight budget. Florida was the most popular landing place for young high earners last year. An abundance of business opportunities coupled with tax advantages makes this tropical paradise hard to resist.
Employees and Job Seekers of All Backgrounds
With major employers from Amazon to FedEx rapidly building their infrastructure in Florida—especially Central Florida—the job market is exceptionally strong. Attracting individuals from warehouse employees to logistics experts, the growth of these companies has created a ripple effect, boosting economies across the state.
But people aren’t just arriving in Florida for the job opportunities in state—many are taking their jobs with them. With warm weather year round, wonderful recreational opportunities, and substantially lower housing costs than cities like New York or San Francisco, remote workers are relocating to Florida in droves—sometimes to the chagrin of retired populations.
Families with Children
Lastly, Florida has become an enticing destination for families. In fact, 35% of recent arrivals were households of 3 or more, indicating the popularity of our state as a destination for individuals with kids still at home, in addition to empty nesters. Why are people choosing to raise their children in our state? Cost of living and low taxes are important draws for young families.
Reasons to Move to Florida
Looking for reasons to take the plunge and head south to the Sunshine State? Here are some of the top reasons that individuals across generations choose to call Florida home.
As we mentioned above, Florida has no individual income tax, making it especially attractive to high earners. Additionally, homeowners can enjoy lower-than-average property taxes, which can feel especially compelling if moving from higher-taxed regions up the coast like New York and New Jersey. Lastly, for individual families building their wealth, the lack of inheritance tax can be an important factor.
Reasonable Cost of Living
Though our state’s cost of living in general is normal compared to other US States, this is in part due to certain high-cost cities, like Orlando and Miami, whose prices drag up the average. Many regions of Florida are in fact much lower. While Miami comes in at 20% higher than the national average, Ocala is 8% lower than the national average.
However, cost of living can also vary greatly by lifestyle choices. As we explain in our post, What is the Cost of Moving to Florida from out of State?, when determining how your cost of living will be affected by a move to Florida, you’ll need to include property taxes, HOA fees, settlement costs and fees, and other expenses.
Summertime Living—Year Round
Climate is a huge draw for many moving to Florida. With year-round warm weather paired with ample opportunities for outdoor living and activities, Florida is the perfect state for summer lovers. When you live in Florida, you can enjoy trips to the beach, hiking, boating, grilling, and lounging by the pool all year long.
To take full advantage of summertime living in Central Florida, many opt for waterfront homes, homes with pools, and even homes with outdoor kitchens. And options for these living opportunities still abound:
- Marion County Real Estate: Waterfront Homes and Pool Homes
- Alachua County Real Estate: Waterfront Homes and Pool Homes
- Citrus County Real Estate: Waterfront Homes and Pool Homes
Affordable and Desirable Real Estate
In many parts of Florida, you’ll still find a wide range of real estate choices at price points to meet your budget. Whether you’re looking for a sprawling Southern manor in Marion, Alachua, or Citrus counties, a low-maintenance condo, an investment property, or a waterfront landing pad, Central Florida is a great place to break into the real estate market. As property expenses tend to be lower, you may be surprised at what you can afford—especially if you’re moving from areas of the country where inflation has caused real estate prices to skyrocket.
However, it’s important for Florida first time homebuyers to keep in mind that not all costs of homeownership in our state are lower. Those gorgeous coastlines also bring in tropical storms, which means that insurance is a must for all homeowners. Unfortunately, it also means that homeowners insurance premiums are significantly higher than in landlocked states.
Growing Jobs Market
How fast is Florida’s job growth? In July of 2023, the governor’s office announced that the private sector job growth rate was five times the national average. The largest portion of these jobs was found in health and education. Not only are these job markets growing, major players like the University of Florida are making significant contributions to the well-being of their communities.
But what about remote workers who bring their own jobs? Florida can also be exceptionally worker-friendly for individuals employed by companies out of state due to its lack of state income tax. In many situations, you can save quite a bit of money in state taxes when you choose to work remotely in Florida.
Many young individuals arrive in Florida to take advantage of educational opportunities at our world class universities—and then decide to stay. The U.S. News and World Report lists Florida as the top state in the country for education, citing its system of state universities and community colleges.
Not only do our great schools bring in top job recruits, as we mentioned above, they elevate the communities that surround them, making cities like Gainesville even better places to live. Looking to raise a family in Florida? Explore options for primary education in desirable locations like Marion County.
Activities and Entertainment for All Lifestyles
It would be an oversight to discuss the benefits of Florida living without mentioning the abundance of recreational opportunities that Florida is best known for—from theme parks and entertainment to water sports and outdoor adventures.
As the top-visited state in the country, most Americans know at least some of the top attractions and experiences found in the state. Top activities and points of interest include:
- Theme parks in Orlando (Disney World and Universal Studios) and Tampa (Busch Gardens)
- Pristine Gulf and Atlantic Coast Beaches
- Nightlife in big cities including Tampa, Miami, and Gainesville
- Outdoor activities like golfing, horseback riding, and bicycling
- Watersports and activities including boating, fishing, and swimming
- Nature exploration and appreciation including hiking, kayaking, birding, and dolphin and manatee viewing
The Horse Capital of the World
Horseback riding isn’t just a pastime in Central Florida. In Marion County—known as the Horse Capital of the World—it’s a way of life. Home to the World Equestrian Center, horse breeding and raising is a primary part of the local economy, and in some parts, horse farms are more common than single family homes. Whether you’re a rider, breeder, or just enjoy the bucolic charm of living amongst fields and pastures, Ocala is an equestrian destination.
Affordable Options for First Time Homebuyers
While home prices are increasing across the country and many younger Americans feel like owning a home is out of reach, there are still affordable opportunities to own homes throughout Florida.
When working with an experienced agent, you can strategically enter hotter markets, like those in Alachua County, even as a first time buyer with limited funds, by utilizing affordable loan products and searching the right neighborhoods. However, many areas of Central Florida, like Citrus County, offer access to the best of Florida living, at a lower price point, ideal for younger buyers.
With plenty of homes for sale in Inverness, Crystal River, Homosassa, and throughout Citrus County under $150,000 and $250,000, there is no shortage of starter homes to choose from. If you have more cash to spare, you’ll be surprised at how far your dollar can go, with an assortment of luxury and waterfront homes under $400,000. And Citrus County is only one to two hours from major cities like Tampa and Orlando.
For more advice for buying your first home in Florida, check out our Guide for First-Time Homebuyers.
Start Your Florida Home Search Today
Thinking of making the move to Florida? There are so many reasons to make your home in the Sunshine State and Showcase Properties of Central Florida is here to help. With realtors in Ocala, Gainesville, and beyond, we understand local markets and can help you effectively navigate them and find a home that meets your needs, whether you’re looking for a luxury home or a starter home.
Our large selection of homes for sale in Marion, Alachua, and Citrus counties features listings for every lifestyle and budget, including condos, pool homes, homes with acreage, waterfront homes, equestrian properties, and new construction. We can even help you find land to build your dream home from the ground up!
To begin your search for the right home for you, contact a Showcase realtor today or browse homes for sale.