In 2022, Florida’s population grew to more than 22 million, and the annual increase of 1.9% was the largest of any U.S. state, according to recent data by the Census Bureau. The state’s popularity has been growing for decades, but the trend picked up pace during the pandemic and does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.
The Sunshine State is particularly attractive for New Yorkers struggling with rising living costs, severe weather, and high taxes in their home state. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles statistics show that last year, 64,577 people renewed their driver’s licenses from New York in Florida, up from 61,728 in 2021.
With this trend continuing to move upward, the team at BestBrokers decided to analyze the main reasons behind the migration to Florida. We surveyed 1223 people from the Facebook group “Moving from NY/NJ to FL” in order to find out why so many New Yorkers are moving to sunny Florida.
We asked respondents to give their main reasons for relocating, offering them 7 response options. They had to rank the answers in descending order, from the most to the least important ones.
343 respondents or 28.1%
For years, Florida has been known for having lower taxes than most states. It is among the few that do not tax income, and roughly 28 percent of people in our survey placed “lower taxes” as their main motivation for swapping New York for the Sunshine State.
In a recent state tax revenue comparison by the Federation of Tax Administrators, Florida ranked 49th in terms of tax collections per capita and 47th in terms of tax collections as a percentage of average personal income. With a population of around 22 million – higher than that of New York (19 million), Florida collected a total state tax revenue of $49.3 billion in 2021, or $2,264 per capita.
In comparison, the State of New York generated $93.76 billion in tax revenue, or $4,427 per capita. California, the most populous state with 39 million residents, collected $248.18 billion in taxes, a staggering $6,325 per capita. The greatest tax revenue per capita of all states was generated by the District of Columbia – $13,410, followed by Vermont with $6,356 in tax revenue per capita.
Lower Cost of Living
308 respondents or 25.2%
The lower cost of living was also cited as one of the most important reasons for relocating from New York to Florida. While in the past, Florida may indeed have been one of the least expensive states to live in, this is not what recent figures show. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the costs for housing, groceries, and utilities in Florida were higher than the U.S. average in 2022.
Its Cost of Living Index was 102.8, equal to that of Virginia and Utah, and slightly lower than that of Nevada (103.2). The index for New York was 134.5, while Hawaii had the highest cost of living of all states with an index of 184. It seems that Florida is no longer such an affordable place to live. Past perceptions remain, however, and the rising costs might prove an unpleasant surprise for many Florida migrants.
Better Job and Career Opportunities
185 respondents or 15.1%
Many people relocate to another state because they find a better job, and for many New Yorkers, Florida simply offers better job and career opportunities. This was the third most important reason chosen by survey respondents. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for November 2022, Florida saw the largest increase in job openings from October to November 2022, when 85,000 jobs were added. Significant growth was also seen in Illinois (+37,000) and Wisconsin (+35,000). On the other hand, the largest declines occurred in Texas (-76,000), Virginia (-64,000), and New York (-62,000).
132 respondents or 10.8%
Nearly 11 percent of respondents said they are moving to Florida for their retirement, and this is hardly a surprising response. Over the years, the state has earned a reputation for being the perfect location for retirees. The year-round warm weather and endless beaches are certainly part of its appeal, but being tax-friendly is also a huge motivation. The lack of income tax means that there are no taxes on Social Security benefits, which are considered income. It also means there are no taxes on retirement income, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs. Moreover, there are no inheritance or estate taxes, while the so-called Homestead exemption allows Florida residents to lower all their taxes.
Florida also has many active adult communities for people aged 55 or older, which offer maintenance services and resort-like amenities, including swimming pools, fitness centers and golf courses. Other senior communities also exist, so retirees can choose to own or rent a single-family home, an apartment, a condo or a townhouse. People can join clubs and volunteer groups, being part of the community while socializing with their peers.
The Relaxed, Holiday Atmosphere
126 respondents or 10.3%
Florida is a popular tourist destination, and for roughly 10% of survey respondents, its holiday atmosphere is the main reason for relocating. There are hundreds of beaches, restaurants, museums, and tons of things to do around the state. Disney World iso here, along with many other theme parks, as well as the Kennedy Space Center and Universal Studios. For those who prefer island life, the Florida Keys are a must-visit destination. However, native Floridians warn that this holiday feel will, at some point, wear off, and depending on where you live, the relaxed atmosphere might simply be non-existent. In fact, cities and popular tourist spots are very busy and loud.
66 respondents or 5.4%
The warm weather was chosen by 66 respondents in the survey, and for the most part, Florida has truly beautiful weather all year round. While most people love the sun and the high temperatures, Summers are hot and humid, with a lot of rain. So, before moving to the state, people, especially those from northern, colder regions, should take the heat and the humidity into account. For some, it is unbearable – for others, there is air conditioning. Another factor to consider is the fact that Florida has hurricanes, and that a huge part of it is in the evacuation zone.
More Accessible Schools and Colleges
63 respondents or 5.1%
For roughly 5.1 percent of respondents, an important reason for leaving New York for Florida is the fact that the Sunshine State has a lot of A-level private schools, which are generally more affordable than those in New York. In addition, there are great colleges and universities. By 2021, Florida had been ranked the nation’s number one state for higher education for five consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report. The University of Central Florida and the Florida International University are also among the top 100 public universities in the U.S.
The team at BestBrokers used data from Missouri Economic Research and Information Center for the Cost of Living Index, as well as tax revenue figures from the Federation of Tax Administrators for the total state tax revenue collected by each state. Statistics for the average 2022 personal income was extracted from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis website. We also gathered data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.