Florida vs. Arizona for Retirement? Why the Sunshine State Got Our Vote

Is it better to retire in Florida or Arizona?
  • When you think retirement, Arizona and Florida likely come to mind. The sunny locales have long been popular with retirees.
  • A recent GOBankingRates study found that in the ultimate showdown between the two states, Florida was the best option for retirement.
  • Smart Money Squad member and creator of Make Smarter Decisions, Vicki Cook, shares why she is also banking on the Sunshine State.

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States, but we’ve decided to move for retirement. The reason? We’re done with snow and cold. After spending more than 50 frigid winters in Western New York, we’ll be walking on white sand beaches instead of shoveling sidewalks this year.

There are plenty of retirees enjoying sun-filled days in Arizona, but we’re moving to the Sunshine State instead. Although both are great options, GOBankingRates recently reviewed advantages for retirees in both places and also ranked Florida ahead.

Read More: Is It Possible to Retire on $1,000 a Month?

Family First, Friends a Close Second

As “sandwich generation” retirees (meaning, we’re sandwiched between our elderly parents and college-age children) fleeing the north, Arizona never made our list of warm-weather states to consider. Our parents and kids are in New York and Florida, respectively, so snowbirding between the two states makes the most sense. When our kids settle down, we’ll sell our house up north and make Sarasota our permanent residence.

Making friends in a new state and getting involved will take some effort, but we know the importance of being active and engaged in our community as we age. Since Florida has more retirees and over 250 more retirement communities than Arizona, we’ll have no excuse for not meeting people and getting involved wherever we choose to go.

More on Settling Down: 50 Cheapest Places to Retire

Spending on What Matters Most

We’ll have more free time and chances to spend more money in retirement, and we carefully considered that too. Arizona and Florida are both tax-friendly states that don’t tax Social Security benefits, but Florida also has no income tax. If you’re approaching retirement and thinking about relocating, make sure you consider that in your math.

Even though Arizona’s housing is slightly more affordable, we bought an inexpensive Florida condo at the end of the Great Recession. With our snowbird housing costs under 10 percent of our retirement income, we’ll spend more on experiences than on a big house and all of the related expenses.

Florida offers unlimited options to spend on travel and fun. We’ll fill many of our days doing frugal activities near home, like biking, tennis, walking to the library and enjoying picnics at the beach.

It’s True: 60% of the Best Beaches Are in This State

Traveling around the state of Florida is certainly easy to do. In just a short road trip, we can visit national and state parks, along with plenty of amusement parks. We can have lunch on the Gulf Coast and dinner on the Atlantic if we choose. If we dig deeper into our budget and really want to travel, there are also plenty of airports and a few cruise terminals a short drive away.

Choose What Is Best for You

Whether you stay in your family home, downsize to a smaller one or move to another state — choose what is best for you. Skipping cold winters and living a happy and healthy retirement near our family and friends is what matters most to us. The Sunshine State got our vote but we’re excited to visit Arizona one day, too.

Click through to read more about how much you need to have saved for retirement in your state.

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