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Retiring in Florida Versus South Carolina
When retirees are looking for a place to spend their golden years, many turn to one of the southern states. Warmer climates not only allow for milder temperatures but also provide those who now have more time on their hands the opportunity to engage in outdoor activities year-round.
In fact, studies have shown that – when ranked with other popular retirement states, Florida and South Carolina are the two most chosen places to retire.
Currently, approximately 39% of retirees choose Florida as their decided retirement spot, and 37% choose South Carolina.
Clearly, both states hold a ton of appeal. Which can end up making a decision like this one even more challenging if you are in the enviable position of knowing you want to retire to one of them but just can’t quite decide which is going to be better for you.
Let’s take a deeper dive, then, and discover some of the finer points of both Florida and South Carolina that will give you a reason to believe one is going to suit your retirement needs over the other.
1. Your Retirement Budget
For most of us, we have been spending a good portion of our adult life setting aside some money in preparation for the day that we will no longer have an income stream or at least a limited one.
Most Americans will qualify to receive social security benefits when they retire, and those benefits will depend on how long they worked and how much they worked during their younger years.
Still, most of us will find that social security alone won’t fully cover our costs in our retirement years. Because of this, we will need to have a nest egg to help make up the difference.
Currently, it’s estimated that the average American retiring at 65 needs to count on having around $1 million in retirement assets in order to retire comfortably. This number factors in living expenses, health care costs, and taxes in your retirement.
Obviously, this won’t be the same for everyone, but it’s a good place to start when trying to compare the cost of living in Florida versus South Carolina.
In Florida, it’s estimated that a person who is retiring at 65 and plans to live to 85 (the average life expectancy for most), will need around $1.2 million in retirement dollars. This is clearly a bit higher than the national average.
On the other hand, an individual who is hoping for the same number of years in retirement can settle in South Carolina for approximately $967,000, assuming all the same factors are at play. This means that retirement in South Carolina is a bit below the recommended $1 million for most retirees.
Where you decide to live in Florida or in South Carolina will also play a role in your retirement budget. But knowing that – on average – Florida is going to cost you a bit more to live comfortably will help you decide which of these two ideal states may be better for you, especially if you are trying to live on a tighter budget.
2. Your Tax Needs
This may seem like a small difference, but it can be a big one for many retirees.
No one I know likes paying taxes, and all of us appreciate it when our local, state or federal government gives us a break on them.
Most people probably wouldn’t move to a state just because of tax reasons, but it is definitely a perk in the already-popular state of Florida when you start thinking of retirement.
Florida does not have a state income tax, which is a huge perk for people living in the Sunshine State, especially retirees.
No income tax means that any money you are receiving – whether it be from a pension, continued part-time job, retirement fund, or social security – won’t be taxed by the state.
You will still have to pay federal taxes (like all of us!), but the state won’t ask you for anything in addition to that.
If you decide to make South Carolina your retirement home, you will, unfortunately, pay a state income tax on your money, though how much will depend on what your income tax bracket is at the time of your retirement.
Both states have modest property taxes as well as sales taxes, making them a more affordable place to live than other states where these tend to be higher.
But, if you want to avoid paying a state income tax in your retirement years, Florida would be a better place for you to consider living than South Carolina.
3. Your Health Care Needs
One of the biggest concerns for those who are over 65 and are considering a move in retirement will be what type of health care options are available in the state and city they are choosing as their next home.
It makes sense that as we age and our bodies change, our priorities do too.
A younger person may not worry about whether or not their new city or state has ample primary care facilities, a diabetes clinic, or a well-staffed emergency room.
But these kinds of needs become much more prevalent in our later years, even for retirees who have led an active and healthy life up until now.
Florida is known for having many state-of-the-art health care facilities across its many varied cities and towns.
From large cities like Miami, to smaller ones like Clearwater, excellent primary care and specialty centers can be found across the region and many health care providers are focused on the needs of an aging population, which is important in a state like Florida.
Health care in South Carolina is a bit more challenging. Yes, there are plenty of large facilities, excellent hospitals, and specialty groups that can provide for the majority of your healthcare needs, but the option can be a bit more limited, especially in the more rural parts of the state.
Retirees who want to retire to a large city in South Carolina like Columbia, they will have no trouble finding quality health services.
But, if you have your eye on a more remote town, having a vast array of medical options may be more limited.
Either state will be able to meet most people’s medical needs. But, if you have specific needs or complicated medical history, Florida may end up being the better option for you to choose for your retirement years.
4. Your Population Preferences
Another factor in determining whether you’d prefer to retire to Florida versus South Carolina will be contingent on what sort of population you wish to be surrounded by, and how close you want to live to other people.
According to recent studies, the current population of Florida is over 21 million people. Compare that to South Carolina’s population of just over 5 million people, and you can see why deciding how populated you want your state to be may be an important factor to consider when you are looking for your forever retirement home.
Though the population of South Carolina is growing (particularly amongst those over 65 years old) it can’t keep pace with Florida. Long before South Carolina started being increasingly considered for retirement living, Florida was already well-established amongst older Americans looking for sand and sun in their later years.
That’s not to say there won’t be certain communities in both states that will be more or less populated than others. But it’s worth exploring this fact when you are deciding between the two states.
Some retirees long for large communities of people in order to socialize, travel, and engage in all types of activities.
Still, others like the idea of a bit more solitude and less congestion, pollution, and the other headaches that come with living in a popular area.
Do your research before you decide to move and find out what the population is in the area you are considering. But know that for every four people that reside in Florida, there is only one in South Carolina.
This fact might tip the scales for you in one direction or the other.
5. Your Preferred Climate and Weather
Okay, so this one is pretty tough to differentiate, but it’s still an important factor to bring up when you are considering both Florida and South Carolina for retirement, especially if you are planning to live in either place year-round.
Both Florida and South Carolina boast year-round sunshine with summers that can be quite hot and winters that are mild. A big part of the popularity of both states is the idea of being able to spend time outside for most of the year and never again having to buy a snow shovel!
Having said that, there are a few (minor) differences in the weather in each of these states.
Yes, South Carolina can be unpleasant in the summer. But Florida – hands down – can be unbearable, depending on how far south you live.
Florida is also more swampy than South Carolina and if you are not a fan of insects and other creepy-crawlies, South Carolina may be a bit less populated by these annoying pests. It’s not just populated with fewer people than Florida, but bugs too.