I vacationed to Florida with my family almost every year as a kid, and I had so many special memories here that I knew some day I would call it home. While the transition hasn’t been all dolphins and sunsets (throw in some hurricanes, bugs and missing my family)….there are so many things I do love about living here that have made our move much easier. Living where other people vacation means there is no shortage of things to do all year long; most within a short drive.
Year Round Outdoor Living
There is something about being able to head to the beach for a sunset stroll in December, or sitting outside at a waterfront restaurant on a warm January day, or swimming with manatees in February that is hard to compete with. Even when the stifling heat and humidity is doing its thang in the summer, there are so many ways to cool off in the water that it’s almost not terrible! Tampa has an amazing riverwalk along the Hillsborough River that connects parks, restaurants, museums, hotels and other attractions along it’s more than 2 miles of paved walkway.
Do I really need to say more? Florida is home to some of the best beaches in the country. The gulf coast with warm, calmer waters and white sandy beaches cannot be topped in my book. Siesta Key is our family’s favorite beach, but you don’t have to travel far to find a great one anywhere in Florida. Did you know that you are never more than 60 miles from a body of salt water when you are in Florida? Have you ever heard that song, Saltwater Gospel? Sitting with my toes in the sand and listening to the ocean does wonders for my soul and melts the daily stress away.
We are a family of roller coaster enthusiasts, and we are big Harry Potter and Disney fans. We love being less than 2 hours from the action in Orlando at the big theme parks. As Florida residents, we also get special resident pricing on annual passes, special ticket offers and even discounted hotel rates if we want to make a weekend out of our visit. Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay is also a great park with great animal exhibits, some great coasters and conveniently located right in Tampa.
The Variety of Wildlife
Florida is home to such a wide variety of wildlife. There are gators of course…which I still might be irrationally afraid of even though I’ve yet to encounter one other than seeing them minding their own business sunning by the water…..but I love the marine life. Manatees might be my spirit animal, and let’s not forget about the dolphins, rays, starfish, I love them all. Watching the birds on the beach or the hawks and herons in the conservation areas are all incredible. I’ve been able to swim with the manatees (seriously – add it to your bucket list right now). Dolphin cruises are always a fun way to see them out in the bay, but you can oftentimes catch a group of them playing from the beach while you soak up the sun.
They don’t call it “Champa Bay” for no reason! Residents (and visitors) here have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Lightning to cheer for. Not to mention all of the spring training that takes place here. The New York Yankees train in Tampa, but you can also catch the Orioles, Pirates, Phillies and Blue Jays close by as well, just to name a few!
Low Taxes and No State Income Tax
Florida isn’t just popular among retirees because of its sunny weather and year-round golfing. There is no state income tax in Florida, which also makes retirement income exempt from state taxation. If you have a primary residence in Florida, you are also entitled to Homestead Exemptions of up to $50,000 and annual growth in assessed values and related property tax increases are also limited.
Fun Festivals & Events
Some of our favorites are the Strawberry Festival and the Manatee Festival; Florida is also home to plenty of food and arts festivals, boat parades and let us not leave out the famous Gasparilla Pirate Festival – where pirates “invade” the city and there are parades and beads; basically a Pirate Mardi Gras!
A Great Food Scene
Fresh seafood abounds throughout Florida; but you can find a variety of iconic dishes in the Sunshine State! From fried gator to key lime pie; oranges and kumquats to pub subs. Florida lays claim to being the home of the Cuban sandwich as well.
This one could possibly be grouped with the beaches; but Florida sunsets can be so breathtaking that they deserve their own category. Maybe it’s the expansive ocean views or the water vapor in the air or cloud positioning…but whatever the reason or the science behind them… they are simply stunning and the perfect way to end a day.
Floridians get the benefit of living where everyone else comes for vacation. Even if you aren’t living in the middle of a tourist heavy town, mini vacations, staycations or day trips are all options for those of us living here. Our list of things to explore keeps growing! We have yet to catch a rocket launch, have a list of adorable beach towns to leisurely stroll through, natural springs to kayak through, state and national parks to explore.
I'm Jenn and I love helping buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals and find the perfect HOME for their unique situations. I also work hard to make sure my clients are educated about the process, their options and responsibilities so they can make well informed decisions before, during and after buying their home!
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