Moving to Florida
For those who want to avoid cold, wet snow and who like a mix of rural farmland and horse pastures, bustling cities, and a living, breathing nightlife, Florida is a great state to make home.
The cost of living in Florida can vary widely depending on the area you choose to move to, as does the style of living and major attractions. It is also a hub of international trade, mostly through South and Latin America, and it manages to remain one of the top destinations in the world for travelers.
If you’re moving to Florida, avoid scheduling the move in the high summer months. June through August have average temperatures in the 90s with record highs reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add in the notoriously high summer humidity, and it can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous for activities like moving.
If you must move during high summer, choose early morning or late evening hours to do most of the work—but don’t expect it to be cool as it will likely still be hot, muggy and maybe even mosquito-filled.
When moving to a coastal region, you may have more flexibility as the breezes coming in from the water can cut through the oppressive heat and offer some relief.
Either way, make sure you schedule time for breaks and increase your water intake.
The best time to plan on moving to FL is November through May; however, these months do offer an obstacle of their own in the form of extra-busy roads and stores due to temporary residents and short-term visitors who flee to Florida in order to escape freezing cold temperatures in other states.
When moving to the more urban areas, such as Miami, Orlando or Tampa, stay aware of rush hour traffic cycles. Traffic is almost always heavy in these areas, but it can be close to unmoving between 8 AM and 9 AM and again from 4 PM to 6 PM.
When moving to Florida, remember to change your address online with USPS so that your mail is forwarded to your new home on time.
Cities and Metro Areas
Florida residents generally mark the state in five parts: North, Central and South Florida playing the major demarcation, with the East and West coast following as a further delineation.
Residents of Central Florida include those in Orlando, Ocala, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Melbourne and Daytona Beach. North Florida stretches from Gainesville to Pensacola and South Florida includes locations south of Sarasota and Fort Pierce.
Cost of Living
While it’s not one of the 10 most expensive states, Florida has a higher cost of living than the average for the country. According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income in Florida was $47,212 in 2014, slightly lower than the US average of about $53,000.
The median home value in Florida is currently over $192,000 which exceeds the national median home value by about $4,000.
Highways and Public Transport
Florida streets in many urban areas are generally easy to navigate, even for newcomers, as they revolve around numbered street names that increase and decrease based on the direction you are traveling in.
For example, in St. Petersburg, street and avenue numbers descend as you head south and east and ascend as you head north and west.
The more urban areas of the state also have public transportation systems that can be relied on daily; however, they may not offer the most comfortable travel option during summer months, when waiting outside on a possibly un-shaded bench can be extremely uncomfortable.
If you’re moving to FL, get to know the major roadways. The important interstates running up and down the state are I-75 (toward the west) and I-95 on the east. Right around the Everglades, I-75 crosses over to the east side of the state.
This is affectionately referred to as Alligator Alley and makes for a very uneventful drive, despite its exciting name. I-4 cuts across the state in central Florida and I-10 moves from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.
The climate throughout the state of Florida is as disparate as the activities found from one town to the next. South Florida has an equatorial climate while the rest of the state is temperate and warm.
Rain occurs frequently, in short bursts, on many summer afternoons statewide. This may not seem like much, but because the downpours can be sudden and heavy—leaving little time for the water to be absorbed into the ground—many areas will experience heavy flooding, making driving conditions dangerous to impossible.
Moving to Florida means that you’ll find the winters to be occasionally cold with a couple of freeze warnings scaring citrus farmers each year. Because of the high humidity, cold days often feel warmer than the official weather forecast states.
Hurricanes are a big concern for those moving to Florida as well as for current residents. Hurricane season generally extends from June 1st to November 30th. Most residents have hurricane preparedness kits that contain non-perishable foods, water, flashlights, a radio, pet food, extra medications, a first aid kit and lanterns. They prepare their homes by bringing in lawn furniture, toys and potted plants and using either hurricane shutters, built-in systems or plywood to cover their windows.
Florida has many different public and private schools for K-12 students. Many areas have Montessori schools, which focus on developing problem solving, time management, creativity and other skills in a group learning environment. Some communities also have magnet schools and there is a state-wide virtual school program that can assist students who are homeschooled.
Students in grades 3 through 11 are given a special assessment test, called the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) to assure accountability in the state’s education program and to create a basis for assessing improvement needs by educational facility.
If you are moving to Florida, consider these top-ranked Florida elementary schools according to SchoolDigger.com:
- Pine View School in Osprey
- Jacksonville Beach in Jacksonville Beach
- Freedom 7 Elementary School of International Studies in Cocoa Beach
- Dr. NH Jones Elementary School in Ocala
- Robert L. Stevenson Elementary in Merritt Island
And the top-ranked Florida high schools according to SchoolDigger.com:
- Pine View School in Osprey
- A.D. Henderson University School & Fau High in Boca Raton
- Westshore Junior/Senior High School in Melbourne
- Mast Academy in Key Biscayne
- Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach
Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, is also one of its university towns. Information about local curbside recycling and trash programs, permits for garage sales and other permitted activities can be found at the local city hall, many of which have a strong and interactive online presence.
Driver’s license changes should be made soon after moving to the state and can be done at your town’s local Department of Motor Vehicles. You can find the locations in your county here. When registering your car after moving to Florida, remember that insurance is state-required and you should bring proof that you have it when you register.
To become a registered voter in Florida, you must have a valid Florida driver’s license. You can apply for a card here.
Taxes for the state include a sales tax that varies by county, a use tax for certain purchases made online and outside the state, and property taxes. You can find complete information about state taxes here.