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Florida Property Buyers’ Guide

Nestled in the southeast of the United States, Florida is the ‘Sunshine State’ with a lot to offer. Its beaches, resorts, affordable housing and vibrant community draw in plenty of tourists and expats to enjoy the beauty and relaxation that Florida has to offer. This American state is a haven filled with outstanding golf, yachting, sea fishing, kayaking, shopping and eating, which makes it the perfect place to retire or emigrate whether as a couple, family or working-age adults.

Florida has many amazing areas to explore, meaning you have a wide variety of welcoming neighbourhoods to choose from. From the arty towns of Sarasota to historic cities like Augustine or even the party cities like Miami, Florida has something for everyone. With some of the most affordable beachside properties and a simple buying process, you’ll find yourself drinking mimosas in your new apartment in no time.

Here’s our guide to buying property in Florida.

What will you find in Florida?

As the southeasternmost point of the US, Florida has some of the best weather in the whole country. You can take a day trip to The Bahamas, or even a short flight to Cuba and The Cayman Islands. But there is still plenty to explore in the state itself, besides the obvious destinations of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, Florida has plenty more for you to discover beneath the surface.

Florida is home to the Salvador Dali Museum, Everglades National Park, Ocala National Forest and the Olympic Theatre. The Everglades National Park is one of the country’s most celebrated natural areas, brimming with wildlife and vast, tranquil sights; it's a stark contrast to America’s more rugged national parks. Perhaps the best place to see alligators in the wild, the Everglades National Park sits at the south of the state and offers tours and treks to see manatees, crocodiles, a variety of birds and even panthers.

Florida is also home to some of the most iconic beaches in the world, it’s sandy shores are perfect for both a quiet beachside cocktail or a day out with the family. You can visit South Beach, Clearwater Beach or even Caladesi Island State Park, a 3.5 mile-long island with vast stretches of white sand and cerulean waters. Whatever you’re seeking, Florida has such variety you’ll never be stuck for things to do.

Entertainment

You would be mistaken for thinking Florida’s main attractions are only for the kids, however, Florida has a varied and vibrant tourist culture to suit everyone. Here are some of the top attractions:

  • Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center, located on Florida’s space coast is an exciting, fascinating and educational attraction where you have the chance to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis, meet an astronaut and learn about missions from space.

  • Daytona 500 International Speedway

If you’re a fan of racing, the Daytona International Speedway is home to one of the most important races in the NASCAR Cup Series. If you can’t make the race in February, you can take a tour of the track year-round.

  • Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 40 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas is home to the impressive Fort Jefferson, built by the US Government in the 1800s. You can spend the day at the fort, exploring the reef islands, snorkelling and tanning at the beach.

  • Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Take a glimpse into the livelihoods of the inventor Thomas Edison and the founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford. Meander through the palm-lined grounds and learn more about Edison’s famous botanical experiments.

Weather

While Florida is known for its sunshine, it does experience varied weather. The dry season from November to April is a great time for some winter sun, with temperatures typically between 15°C and 20°C. During the wet season, storms can be unpredictable, but keeping an eye on weather forecasts will keep you prepared for any extreme weather.

Local & international travel information

Florida is a big place and you must adhere to the laws and customs of the state, and any other state you visit in the US. Healthcare is expensive in the States, but a comprehensive insurance plan with worldwide coverage will provide you with excellent service and benefits to keep you safe while living or visiting Florida. In Florida, you must carry an ID and remember that the legal drinking age is 21. Your country's embassy and consulate can support you while you’re in Florida if you need assistance such as sourcing travel documents.

Florida’s culture

Florida has cultural footprints scattered across the entire state. With Greeks, Spaniards, Cubans and Native Americans leaving their impact on towns and cities, there’s plenty of brant communities here. The culture seeps out of every street and Florida is full of delightful restaurants and, as a peninsula, it offers amazing seafood and the mixture of cultures will give you something new to try every day.

Where to buy properties

Miami

It comes as no surprise that Miami is still one of the most sought after places to buy property in Florida. You’ll find everything from Art Deco condos to brand new luxury apartments. There are family-friendly neighbourhoods in the historic districts of southwest Miami and you can enjoy a sense of community, designer shopping and long stretches of beaches. Real estate in Miami has seen consistent and impressive gains over the years with one of the strongest economies in the US driven by tourism.

St. Petersburg

Popular among expats, St. Petersburg is a city on Florida’s gulf coast, part of the Tampa Bay area. It’s known for its sunny weather, perfect for golfing, boating, fishing and beach-going. It has affordable homes with a thriving job market and is Florida’s first green city.

Orlando

Brimming with exciting theme parks, Orlando’s rich culture and heritage can occasionally be overlooked. Orlando has the perfect balance of city life and outdoor recreation combined with a casual neighbourhood feel that will make you feel at home straight away.

Notable mentions include other cities on the gulf coast such as Naples, Tampa and Sarasota all soaked in sunshine, great shopping, restaurants and golf courses. Tallahassee is also perfect for families with great schools and safe communities.

Types of properties

Florida has a wide variety of properties available. From beautiful houses with large gardens to high-rise apartments with sea views, each area of Florida has something unique to offer. There are plenty of luxury condos within resort communities that provide unbeatable amenities such as swimming pools, game rooms, cafés and restaurants and these properties can be rented to tourists when you aren’t there yourself. Florida’s affordable housing market means you get more for your money, it offers plenty of large estates and investment opportunities with spacious bedrooms and private pools.

Typical prices

You’ll be able to find a great 2-bed condo in Miami for $150,000 whereas a luxury 2-bed apartment with a shared pool and a sea view can be found for $230,000 in St. Petersburg.

On the other end of the scale, a 5-bed 6-bath lakeside property with a pool in Orlando will go for around $3 million. However, you can still find great sized 1, 2 and 3-bed properties in nice neighbourhoods of Orlando for $150,000-$300,000. The median price for a home in Orlando is $230,000 whereas it’s $308,000 in Miami.

Retiring in Florida

Widely known as one of the best places in the US to retire, Florida has wonderful retirement communities scattered across the state. They offer an excellent array of recreation facilities, clubs, parks, trails, shopping and dining to help you enjoy your retirement in the sun.

Families, couples and expats

Whether you’re looking for a holiday home for your young family or you’re thinking of emigrating as a couple, every part of Florida will provide you with something you will love. Miami, Jacksonville and Tallahassee have some of the best schools in Florida, and Orlando will keep your children or grandchildren endlessly entertained. You’ll also find big expat communities in Tampa, Sarasota and Orlando.

What you need to know

Consider why you want to move abroad, what the property will be used for, your preferred location and what amenities you would like.

Throughout the buying process there are a few things to consider:

  • Closing costs - These can be quite high and are payable once you have put down a deposit. Budget around 5% of the property value for them.
  • Real estate tax - It’s commonly called escrow and is assessed annually.
  • Sales and use tax, tourist development tax - Both are payable in Florida and depend on which county you are in.
  • Insurance - As well as building and contents insurance you may want to consider liability insurance if you plan to rent your property out.

OfferPal - An easy-to-use real estate search engine

Thinking of making the move to Florida? Use OfferPal to find the best properties across the state. Ranging from studio apartments to luxury houses, we work with leading real estate agencies and developers in 12 countries. Visit our website to find your dream home abroad.

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