Florida Retirement Once Again an Attractive Option for Seniors
Between 2007 and 2009, the economic crisis in America resulted in widespread foreclosures. But certain regions were hit worse than others. For this reason, on February 19, 2010, President Obama unveiled a program known as the Hardest Hit Fund, which would provide substantial financial resources from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in order to promote new jobs and economic growth in those areas. According to the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), the five states most severely impacted by foreclosures during the housing bubble were Arizona, California, Michigan, Florida and Nevada.
Seniors were one of the most negatively impacted groups in the country. In Florida, many seniors purchased homes at overinflated prices in the early 2000s, hoping to cash-in and sell in their late 60s or 70s. For many, the plan was to live in their homes for 10 to 15 years, sell for a substantial gain, and use the cash to buy smaller retirement homes or condos and live off of the remainder of the profits. This plan did not work out. Since prices deflated, many seniors found themselves saddled with enormous mortgages well into their 80s. For some, the housing crash meant giving up their lifelong dream of retiring in Florida and instead moving back north to stay with their children.
Florida’s Housing Market Rebounds
Following the end of the housing bubble in 2009, the Tampa-St. Petersburg region of Florida has emerged as one of the 5 fastest growing retirement destinations in the country. The state as a whole has seen a 138% annual growth rate for those 55 and older. Some sources say as many as 55,000 seniors retire in Florida each year. Other sources put the number closer to 80,000. There is some difficulty in measuring these numbers, because some studies consider seasonal residents as being part of the migration of retiring seniors, while others do not consider them in the calculation of permanent relocations.
Snowbirds Return to the Sunshine State
If you drove up and down Interstate 75 around 2008, you would have found the highway somewhat bare. There were almost no oversized recreational vehicles, fewer boats, and far fewer northern license plates, even in December. Floridians were happy to see the population reduced, but it came at a price. With less revenue from seasonal residents, there was less money in the budget for schools, emergency services, and road maintenance. Many municipalities had to raise property taxes to make up the difference. Northern seniors were often forced to sell their brand new RVs in order to save their homes. Thus, tourism in Florida suffered.
There is good news though. The snowbirds are back. Approximately 800,000 snowbirds came to Florida for the winter season in 2006. They came fleeing snowstorms, rising utility costs, and the misery of yet another dark and frigid winter of sleet and ice. And while the recession greatly reduced this number for a short time, studies suggest that the upcoming winter of 2015-2016 will see well over 1.2 million snowbirds.
The Villages is Seeing Unprecedented Growth
The Villages is one of the 20 fastest growing cities in America, with an estimated 5.4% increase in population in just the past year alone. With little over 44,000 residents, it shows no signs of slowing down, as more retirees choose to call Florida home. For those who choose to retire in Florida, it means leaving behind friends, work colleagues, and trusted professionals, like attorneys and accountants. One of the first things retirees may wish to do upon arriving in Florida is connect with a skilled elder law attorney to ensure their existing estate plans are in order and determine if their retirement could use any additional considerations. The attorneys at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group represent seniors throughout The Villages and can help prevent unforeseen problems in your retirement. Brief consults are always complimentary.