We are a multi-ethnic couple with cats who live in Miami, but would like to move further north to Florida for at least part of the year (sort of backwards snowbirds!). We have some strange preferences because my husband is an astronomer and therefore we would like to be close to an observatory, as well as an airport, botanical gardens, good libraries and the beach if possible.
My husband is a musician so music venues would be nice but not necessary.
We have four cats so would have to be pet friendly. Many retirement communities restrict you to one or two indoor animals and that would be impossible for us. Our cats are indoors at night but go outdoors during the day when we are home. We would love to be close to a college town as we both work in academia.
We couldn’t buy another house outright until we finally sold our house paid off in Miami, but in the meantime we’re interested in a short-term rental for the part of the year we’re heading north.
We have about $1.4 million in retirement funds, mostly in 403b accounts. We would like to start the reverse winter bird adventure in a few years. We live a fairly frugal lifestyle, with no expensive hobbies or desire to travel a lot, but we like to be close to an airport so we can visit our relatives and they can visit us. We don’t have any debt other than a car payment that would be paid for when we retire.
Multi-ethnicity comes into play because there are areas in Florida where we’ve heard that it’s not nice to live if you’re Hispanic, like I am. Here in Miami that’s not a problem, of course, but I don’t want to start dealing with it in my old age. I am of Puerto Rican and Peruvian descent, but have lived in the continental United States for most of my life.
My husband is from Indiana and he hates the cold!
Thank you for your attention and help,
Beatrice and Jamie
Are you looking for ideas on the best place to retire? Email: [email protected]
Dear Beatriz and Jaime,
Congratulations on paying off your house and having a nice retirement savings fund of $1.4 million. That is a great achievement. It’s also great that you’re thinking ahead and can visit potential destinations in all seasons to make sure you get the right feeling. I understand why a cultural adjustment would be important. It’s smart to rent before you buy and commit to a place.
Since you mentioned an observatory first in your preferences, let’s start there.
There are six observatories located in Florida: Branson, Cocoa, Gainesville, Orlando, Punta Gorda, and Sunrise. Let’s cross Punta Gorda and Sunrise, because they are a bit close to where you currently live.
From the rest of the list, here are some highlights.
Cocoa would give him an observatory, the beach, access to Eastern Florida State College, and a selection of botanical gardens. It is also 45 minutes from the University of Central Florida in Orlando and 30 minutes from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. Orlando has a major international airport, along with all the music venues a city can offer and another observatory.
Cocoa offers you the relaxed atmosphere of a seaside town, as well as the technological buzz of the Kennedy Space Center.
The population of Cocoa is approximately 19,400. The ethnic breakdown is 47% white, 31% black, and 9.3% Hispanic. The median home price in Cocoa is $298,443, up 4.6% in the past year, according to Zillow. Since you may be renting initially, the median rent is $1,582, according to RentCafe.
Meanwhile, Gainesville gives you an observatory and puts you close to Bronson, home of another observatory, just 25 minutes away. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida. As a great college town, Gainesville meets your other preferences for botanical gardens, good libraries, and even music venues.
Although it is landlocked, there are five great beaches starting about 90 min away with Crescent Beach. Gainesville has a regional airport.
Of course, Florida is a red state and the NAACP and other civil rights groups have issued travel advisories against it amid recent laws and policies championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers that are “openly hostile to African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people.”
Still, proximity to a major university can give you a healthy mix of political views and ethnicities.
Gainesville’s population is approximately 140,400. The ethnic mix is 56% white, 21% black, and 12.3% Hispanic. Median home value in Gainesville is $288,260, up 6.9% from last year, according to Zillow. Median rent in Gainesville is $1,662, according to RentCafe.
Use the MarketWatch “Where Should I Retire” tool to learn about other places that may meet your needs in Florida, or check out more columns to see areas other retirees are considering.
Readers, where should Beatriz and Jim retire? Leave suggestions in the comments.
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