We are a multiethnic couple with cats who live in Miami but we would like to move farther north in Florida for at least part of the year, (sort of reverse snowbirds!). We have a few weird preferences in that my husband is an astronomer and therefore we would like to be near an observatory, as well as an airport, botanical gardens, good libraries and the beach, if possible.
My husband is musical so musical venues would be nice but not necessary.
We have four cats so it 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 indoor at night but do go outdoors during the day when we are home. We would love to be near a university town as we both work in academia.
We would not be able to purchase another house outright until we ultimately sold our paid-off Miami home but in the meantime we are interested in a short-term rental during the part of the year we head north.
We have close to $1.4 million in retirement funds, mostly in 403b accounts. We would like to start the reverse snowbird venture in a few years. We live a pretty frugal lifestyle, no expensive hobbies or desire for extensive travel, but we do like to be close to an airport so we can visit relatives and they can visit us. We have no debt besides one car payment that would be paid off by the time we retired.
Multi-ethnicity comes into play because there are areas in Florida where we have heard it is not pleasant to live if you are Hispanic, as I am. Here in Miami that is not an issue, of course, but I don’t want to start dealing with that in my old age. I am of Puerto Rican and Peruvian descent but I have lived in the continental U.S. most of my life.
My husband is from Indiana and hates the cold!
Thanks for your attention and help,
Beatriz and Jim
Looking for ideas on the best place for you to retire? Email: HelpMeRetire@marketwatch.com
Dear Beatriz and Jim,
Congratulations on paying off your home and having a nice $1.4 million retirement nest egg. That’s a big achievement. It’s also great that you’re thinking ahead and can visit potential destinations in all seasons to make sure you have the right feel – I understand why a cultural fit would be important. It’s smart to rent before you buy and commit to a spot.
Since you mentioned an observatory first among your preferences, let’s start there.
There are six observatories located in Florida: Branson, Cocoa, Gainesville, Orlando, Punta Gorda and Sunrise. Let’s cross off Punta Gorda and Sunrise, because they are somewhat close to where you currently live.
From the rest of the list, here are some highlights.
Cocoa would give you an observatory, the beach, access to Eastern Florida State College and a choice of botanical gardens. You’re also within 45 minutes of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and 30 minutes to 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 laid-back vibe of a beach town, as well as the tech buzz of the Kennedy Space Center.
Cocoa’s population is about 19,400. The ethnic breakdown is 47% white, 31% Black and 9.3% Hispanic. The average home price in Cocoa is $298,443, up 4.6% in the last year, according to Zillow. Since you may be renting initially, the average rent is $1,582, according to RentCafe.
Gainesville, meanwhile, 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 big university town, Gainesville meets your other preferences for botanical gardens, good libraries, and even music venues.
Although you are landlocked, there are five great beaches starting at about 90 minus 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 toward African-Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.”
Still, the proximity to a major university may give you a healthy mix of political views and ethnicities.
The population of Gainesville is about 140,400. The ethnic mix is 56% white, 21% Black and 12.3% Hispanic. The average Gainesville home value is $288,260, up 6.9% over the past year, according to Zillow. The average rent in Gainesville is $1,662, according to RentCafe.
Readers, where should Beatriz and Jim retire? Leave suggestions in the comments.
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