It was always our dream to live at the beach in Florida. When we moved to the Gulf Coast in 2017, every moment we spent at the beach seemed unreal. In the beginning we were so excited, "We get to live here!"
After 5 years of living in Florida and another coastal move, we've become familiar with the ups and downs of residing in the Sunshine State. Is it still great? Heck, yes! However, we've had some reality checks along the way. We'd like to share our Florida moving checklist with those of you considering a move to your favorite Florida beach (or near it). First let's look at the downside.
Living on a Florida Beach vs. Near It?
We live 6 miles from the ocean beach. That's about a 10-15 minute drive depending on what time of day (and year) it is. Do we wish we lived right on the beach? Sometimes, but we prefer to stick with a house that has less maintenance, costs and risks. Beach living is really expensive! Some of the added costs beach residents have include:
Does not having to pay any income tax in Florida make up for this? Unfortunately, no. Despite what you've heard, Florida is one of the most expensive states to live in (at time of publication 2022). You could choose a home a few blocks from the beach and walk over. This may help with SOME of the costs of coastal living. Although in some areas, like Siesta Key, Naples and Sanibel Island it may still be too pricey. For us, the best choice is a quick drive to the beach, away from flood and evacuation zones. We love being able to enjoy it and come back home whenever we please. The drive does take longer when winter vacationers (snowbirds) are in Florida from April to November...sometimes up to an hour! Not to mention the crowded restaurants and multiple cars going up and down the beach access roads.
Florida Weather and Salty Air
Florida has legendary humidity. When it rains in Florida, it really comes down. You can get several inches in an hour as well as hundreds of lightning strikes. During the summer rainy season, this can happen every afternoon. This excessive moisture can lead to mold in various places around and on your home. You will also need to have a vehicle capable of driving in such downpours. We all want the "Salt Life" right? Living right at the beach, however, the salty sea air can wreak havoc by covering your house windows with a salty film. Your vehicle will also meet the same fate. Be careful to choose a property with a garage. It will save you hours of washing your vehicle. Even so, you will likely have to wash it more frequently than before to prevent corrosion of metal parts. We wash our pickup truck after every beach visit.
Smelly Beach Sargassum and Red Tide
The shoreline is an ever-changing landscape. Most of the time it is beautiful...like paradise. However, both coasts of Florida suffer from natural problems at different times of the year. Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, Sebastian Inlet and the Palm Beach areas can get covered with Sargassum. This is excess seaweed which the Caribbean Sea delivers to the Gulf Stream. It eventually ends up on Central Florida beaches. Thankfully, this natural mess turns into much needed sand on the beach, but it sure smells bad while doing this.
Red Tide is also an unpleasant visitor, mostly affecting the Gulf beaches on the west coast. This is also a smelly event that can irritate the nose and throat. The toxins from red tide can cause symptoms in humans and pets if they are exposed to contaminated water or air from wave action. The effects of this toxic algae bloom are devastating to marine life and can kill fish. We have experienced this a few times and sadly had to leave the beach. Before you head out on a road trip to the beach, check the forecasts for red tide blooms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Beachfront Living and Evacuation Zones
We all know Florida has hurricanes. However, beachfront property comes with even more complications that just a possible "direct hit" to your home. Flooding and high winds make all coastal areas "evacuation zones". This means that storm surge could become a life-threatening event and you may have to leave your home during a major storm. You may have only a few minutes to prepare to leave. After you return, you may be faced with property damage to repair. This can happen anywhere in Florida, but coastal areas have more wind and water.
Is Living On The Beach Worth It? The Upside
This is for you to decide. Daytona Beach Shores area Realtor Ann Manning, who has transacted two million in sales this year, says that a Florida beach home is a good investment, especially if you plan to rent it out some of the time. It is also good for the soul: studies show that residents in coastal regions (not just beachfront real estate) enjoy better overall mental and physical health. We give this a two thumbs up! ALL homes come with expenses, pests, weather risks and maintenance. Walking on the beach, fresh air and sunshine just makes everything better! If we had the budget, we would probably live right on the beach. What could be better than rising up every morning and walking on the sand, or seeing the sunset each night? Weigh the pros and cons of coastal living before you buy. Try renting a home in Florida first to see if the area is to your liking. Then take the plunge...we'll see you in the waves!
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