Why Are People Moving to Florida?

Why are people moving to Florida? It’s not your imagination. Florida is enjoying a surge of transplants. According to a report from WPTV in West Palm Beach, New York is the #1 state sending people south, followed by New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, and California. Data was obtained from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles which examines the residency of new Florida driver’s license applicants.

1. Schools Were Open

When polled about their reasons for relocating to Florida during the Covid-19 pandemic, working parents cited Florida’s open schools. Having schools closed prevented many workers from doing their jobs well remotely, or, being able to go to work at all. As documented by the Federal Reserve, the pandemic induced a “she-cession,” where working moms had to quit the labor force when child care centers and/or schools closed.

2. No State Income Tax

The top 5 states for transplants all have a state income tax. For residents of Manhattan and urban areas of Illinois and California, there may also be city and county income tax. Florida’s constitution forbids a state income tax, an attractive lure to those accustomed to paying a high price for urban living.

3. More Space for Less

Florida’s cost of living, especially outside of the Miami – Ft. Lauderdale – West Palm Beach area of South Florida, is quite low. There are entire retirement communities built from former orange groves and cow pastures in the middle of the state, with plenty more land yet to be developed. For working-age people, suburban living in the Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville markets means having an affordable 2000 – 3000 square feet, a decent sized yard, maybe a pool, and a peaceful neighborhood.

Apartment List notes: “The COVID pandemic has sparked a rebound in residential migration: survey data suggest that 16 percent of American workers moved between April 2020 and April 2021, up from 14 percent in 2019 and the first increase in migration in over a decade… One of the major drivers in this trend is remote work, which expanded greatly in response to COVID and will remain prevalent even after the pandemic wanes. No longer tethered to a physical job site, remote workers were 53 percent more likely to move this past year than on-site workers.”

4. More Outdoor Time

One silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic is that it drove more of us outside. Florida outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round, whether it’s a jog in the park, a round of golf, or boating to an offshore island. Although summers are sweltering, relief can be found at the beach and in the water.

No End in Sight

Early retirement, remote work, and outdoor enthusiasm are expected to stay and grow with the shift in priorities and values brought on by the covid-19 pandemic. All of these bode well for Florida homeowners looking to sell, and not so well for those looking to buy. As in the rest of the country, Florida’s home inventory grew slowly over the past decade. It will take time to catch up with increased demand.

Got a special Florida story? Leave us a comment below.

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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