From Big City Excitement to Beach Town Charm:
Florida’s West Coast
Offers It All by Janice Pratt
As the sun slowly sinks below the horizon, a once clear blue sky fills with breathtaking hues of crimson, orange and gold. Watching such dazzling sunsets perched on
a sandy white beach is just one of the many reasons retirees
choose Florida’s West Coast as their retirement destination.
With real estate prices having returned to pre-market bubble
levels and an abundant supply of homes for sale, savvy shoppers looking for outstanding value in a desirable location have
focused their attention on cities along Florida’s West Coast
such as Tampa, Sarasota, Bradenton and Naples.
For decades, tourists have flocked to these cities to enjoy
their recreational amenities, such as miles of white sand
beaches, lush green golf courses and countless boating and
fishing adventures. After spending their days enjoying the
sunshine, visitors have enjoyed varied dining choices ranging
from beachfront casual to five-star formal. Ensuring that no
one returns home empty handed, the region offers outstanding
shopping venues from outlet malls to exclusive couture bou-
tiques. With such varied and high quality lifestyle offerings,
it’s no surprise so many tourists ultimately select the West
Coast of Florida to retire.
Aside from their lifestyle preferences, of primary concern
for retirees determining where to retire are the issues of taxes
and living costs. In these areas, the West Coast of Florida is
as attractive as its climate. As one of only seven states in
the country with no state income tax, Florida has long been
attractive to retirees.
While property taxes are often the topic of lively political
debate, an examination of the property tax rates of Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and Lee Counties shows them squarely
in the mid range of all U.S. counties. In fact, Hillsborough,
Manatee and Sarasota Counties are below the national average,
while Lee County is only slightly above. Florida offers homestead exemptions of up to $50,000 for homeowners age 65
and older, along with annual limits of three percent or less on
incremental increases of a homestead property’s assessed value.