Come on Down: A Moving Guide to the Sunshine State
Each day, one-thousand people move to the Sunshine State. Considering we have 1,200 miles of sandy beaches
and annual temperatures that average 80-82 degrees
(53-68 during our three days of winter), it’s no wonder people flock here.
I was one of those people. I moved down to Orlando in 2001. What little relocation research I did was done online—using a dial-up connection. Needless to say, it wasn’t as easy back then to navigate the web. Luckily for you, it’s no longer 2001; most of us have access to more information than we know what to do with. With the wealth of info online, it can be a daunting task navigating through so many resources.
Before my move, it would have been nice to have had a relocation guide: someone to give me the ins-and-outs of moving to another state. However—you guessed it—I’ve done the research for you and can offer up what I’ve found to be the best online sources to answer any questions you have about Florida and all it has to offer:
I moved to Florida without a job lined up. What can I say, I’m a bit of a rebel, but hopefully you’re more responsible than I. Employ Florida
are great resources for a statewide job search. Their websites give you the option to search for opportunities across the state or narrow your search to specific cities or zip codes. They both have a mobile app, so you can conveniently take your search on-the-go.
Whether you’re moving here with a job lined up or not, you’re going to want to find the perfect neighborhood. One of my favorite resources for finding comprehensive information on specific communities is Niche
. Niche allows you to search places based on the type of area you are looking for (city, suburbs, towns) or based on what is most important to you (best for families, safest, most diverse, politics, cost of living…they even have a coffee shop filter). Niche is clean and simply in its design with a rating system that’s incredibly easy to understand, like Yelp for neighborhoods.
If you have children, you’ll want comprehensive information on the schools in the area. Although Niche has ratings and reviews on schools, it’s a good idea to start with the Florida Department of Education
for specific information on academics, teaching practices, state policy, budgets, and accountability. You should also check out GreatSchools
. GreatSchools gives you information on important factors such as extracurricular activities and school culture. They have profiles on over 14,700 public, private, and public charter schools.
You may think it strange to include golf on my list, but the Sunshine State has over 1,200 golf courses, more than any other state. Many retirees who relocate to Florida are avid golfers, and with golf being such a large part of Florida culture, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to include some resources. Here’s a link to Gulf Digest’s top 75 public courses in Florida
. If you already know where you’re moving and you want to take a look at all the courses available in the area, visit Florida Golf.
Their site not only gives specific information on each course, but they also give you access to ratings & reviews, tee times, articles, and events.
At this point, you have a job (or prospects), you’ve found your neighborhood, your kids are getting into a great school, and you’ve already applied for membership at the golf club; we should probably find you a home. There are plenty of real estate websites you can check out, but I recommend realtor.com
, Home Clicks Realty
, and Brite Homes Florida
Realtor.com will give you a look at the market across the state, But If you’re coming to the central Florida area, check out Home Clicks Realty
. They offer a concierge-style service and their agents aren’t commission-driven. Home Clicks operates out of Orlando, but will soon be expanding across the state, so it doesn’t hurt to talk to an agent, even if you won’t be coming to my neck of the woods.
Grabbing help from your friends and paying them with pizza and beer works when you’re moving across town, but an out of state move might require the help of professionals. Check out this moving-cost calculator
to estimate your moving costs. If professionals are too costly, the online moving calculator also gives you links to truck rentals
After You’ve Arrived:
The good news is Florida is one of seven states without a state income tax
(thank you tourism). In fact, it’s written in the state constitution. We also don’t tax food, prescription drugs, and non-prescription drugs, making Florida one of the most tax-friendly states, especially for those of you with higher incomes (which is why we have so many celebrities living down here—on their own island
, of course). For a comprehensive look at Florida taxes, visit the Florida Department of Revenue website
And while you’re looking through government websites, you might as well head over to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website
because you’re going to need to get yourself a Florida driver’s license. The website can give you information on where to go
and what you need to bring
. If you have a teenager (my heart goes out to you) they can download the Florida Driver’s Handbook
and practice test
from the site.
I think I’ve given you enough to get started—oh, one more thing—if you’re going to be moving down here from June through November, you should know that’s hurricane season. Don’t worry; I’ve been through 4 hurricanes and lived to tell about it. You simply need to be smart and listen to the experts. Head over to the National Hurricane Center’s website
to track storms and get educational resources, and if they tell you to evacuate, do it. You don’t want to be that person on the news who didn’t listen and is stranded on the roof waiting for an air rescue while sharks and alligators swim by.
When you get here, stop by Home Clicks Realty
and say hello. We’d love to meet you and be the first to welcome you to the Sunshine State.