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The Sunshine State’s beaches and warm climate are a powerful draw. Florida is attracting new residents in droves — it was the number one state that people moved to in 2022, according to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). And it’s no wonder: Three Florida cities appear on Bankrate’s rankings of the best places to live in America, and the state also tops our list of best states for retirement.
For a long time, the state had a reputation of being relatively budget-friendly, but whether that still holds true today is up for debate. Florida’s overall cost of living is just about equal to the national average, according to data from RentCafe, but its most famous draw, Miami, is notoriously expensive when compared to other Southeastern U.S. hubs. For example, Bankrate’s cost of living calculator shows that life in Miami is currently 18.7 percent more expensive than in Atlanta, and 23.2 percent more expensive than Charlotte.
What is the cost of living in Florida?
Housing is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to overall cost of living — but it’s not the only piece. There’s also what you’ll need to pay for daily essentials like food and transportation. According to MIT’s living wage calculator, a single adult with no children would need to earn a minimum of $36,848 to make ends meet here. Here are some key costs to consider if you’re thinking of moving to Florida:
According to Rent.com’s May 2023 Rent Report, the median rent in Orlando is $2,153, in Tampa it’s $2,255 and in Miami it’s a budget-busting $3,066. All are notably higher than the national median rent of $1,967.
On the buyer side, the median home price in the state as of April 2023 was $410,000, according to Florida Realtors — also notably higher than the nationwide median, which is $388,800. Monthly interest and principal payments on a median-priced $410,000 home, assuming a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed mortgage at 6.5 percent interest, would come to $2,073. That amount does not include property taxes or homeowners insurance premiums (see below).
Utility, transportation and grocery costs
Overall, utility costs in Florida are just 1 percent higher than the national average, according to RentCafe — but in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, they’re more than 20 percent higher.
Transportation and food costs — two more key components of inflation — are also important to consider. In much of the state, a car is all but required to get around. Gas prices in the state are pretty much on par with the national average, per AAA. MIT’s data puts annual transportation costs in the state at $5,477 for one adult. For a family of four, that cost ticks up to $14,484.
Much has been made about food prices increasing along with inflation. According to MIT’s data, food costs in Florida run about $3,926 per year for one adult. For a family of four, it’s $11,564.
The state of Florida has no income tax for individuals, according to the Tax Foundation. It does, however, charge a 6 percent sales tax, one of the higher rates in the country. Local governments can impose additional sales taxes of up to 2 percent — Miami-Dade County charges an additional 1 percent, for example, while Duval County, where Jacksonville is, charges 1.5 percent. The average combined total for the state is 7.02 percent.
Property tax rates in Florida average about 0.91 percent of a property’s value, putting it right near the national median — it ranks 26th out of the 50 states in property taxes. Rates can vary widely based on where in the state your home is located. Monroe County, at the state’s southernmost tip, levies the highest per capita property taxes, according to Florida TaxWatch, while Union County, close to the northern border, had the lowest.
Florida’s job market
Florida offers a robust job market. The state’s largest employer is the Publix supermarket chain, which is headquartered in Lakeland, followed by — no surprise — Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. (Grocery chains and amusement parks loom large in Florida’s employment scene, as Winn-Dixie and Universal Orlando also rank among the state’s top employers.)
The state’s unemployment rate as of April 2023 was just 2.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s almost a full percentage point lower than the national unemployment rate of 3.4 percent.
This strong job market is despite massive population gains in the state. According to the NAR study, Florida leads the country in net-migration gains, meaning it had more residents moving in than moving out. Its annual population increase was 1.9 percent, making it the fastest-growing state of 2022.
Next steps: Moving to Florida
Before relocating anywhere, it’s a good idea to visit and explore different areas. Whether you can afford the cost of living in Florida will depend on housing costs, daily expenses, job opportunities, healthcare options and more, which can vary significantly from place to place. Bankrate’s cost of living calculator can help you determine the differences from one Florida city to another.
If you’re looking to buy a house in Florida, and particularly in Miami, be sure to work with an experienced local real estate agent. An agent who knows the intricacies of the local market can make all the difference on your house hunt. Ask friends and family in the area for referrals, and if you see a “for sale” or “sold” sign in a neighborhood you’re interested in, reach out to those agents as well.
- The home insurance market in Florida is in crisis. Since 2017, many insurance carriers have left the state, gone insolvent or tightened their underwriting restrictions, making it difficult for homeowners to find coverage. Many of the companies that remain have chosen not to renew existing policies, leaving owners in the lurch.
- Fraudulent roofing claims are mostly to blame, and the devastating effects of Hurricane Ian in September 2022 complicated the issue further. According to a report from the governor’s office, Florida accounts for 79 percent of the country’s home insurance lawsuits.
- New insurance-reform laws went into effect in 2022 to try to stabilize the situation, but it may be some time before these laws produce meaningful results, and homeowners could see premiums that exceed several thousand dollars a year. Before you buy a Florida home, consult closely with your real estate agent, and possibly a local attorney, to determine whether the property will be insurable at a cost you can afford.
Though the state has long had a reputation for being an inexpensive place to live, housing costs are high. Rents and sale prices are both well above national averages. However, the overall cost of living in the state is about on par with the national average. Miami and cities on either coast tend to be more expensive than areas in the north and center of the state.
The median sale price for a single-family home in the state as of April 2023 is $410,000, according to Florida Realtors — and in the Miami area it’s a much higher $585,000. By comparison, the nationwide median sale price is $388,800.