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Reader Requested Short Review of Flagler Beach, Florida
Primarily tucked along a narrow barrier island between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach on the northeastern Florida coast, Flagler Beach (population 5,000) started out as a sleepy fishing village. Today, it has a funky, mellow vibe and is often overlooked by tourists and vacationers as they head to Daytona and points farther south.
The cost of living is 9% above the national average, and the median home price is $308,000. The crime rate is below the national average. Residents lean to the right politically, and 63% of them are age 45 or better. Thirty five percent have at least a four year college degree. Flagler Beach has grown by 2% within the last decade or two. Racial diversity is minimal.
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) flows along most of the west side of town. On the east side, six miles of pretty beaches await. Toward the north, some houses have views of both the ICW and the Atlantic Ocean. Boating, fishing and all kinds of other water recreation are a way of life here. The actual beach itself is usually quiet, and parts of it welcome dogs and their humans.
From December through March, Right Whales migrate to Flagler Beach, and mother whales and their calves are seen playing as close as a quarter mile from the shoreline. From April to September, three species of sea turtles nest on the beach. This town is also a great spot for birdwatchers, with 200 bird species, including osprey and great blue heron, making their home here.
With primarily mom and pop restaurants and retailers, Flagler Beach exudes an Old Florida small town ambiance. It is well-kept and clean. Thanks to a moratorium, tall buildings are few, and most structures come in pastel blues, oranges and greens. Businesses that line scenic route A1A, which runs along the east side of town, are just a few steps from the beach.
Not a lot goes on in Flagler Beach. Nightlife is minimal, although "happy hours" sometimes attract a boisterous surfing crowd. There are a few art galleries and a history museum. The Flagler Farmers' Market is open Saturday and Sunday year-round. First Fridays bring residents together for band concerts, chili cook-offs, holiday festivals and other fun activities. The Flagler Auditorium, 10 miles away in Palm Coast, hosts a wide variety of professional performances, everything from an evening with Elvis to the State Ballet Theatre of Russia.
Flagler Beach is walkable, which is good because it has no fixed route, public transportation system. Flagler County Public Transportation is, however, a pre-scheduled, demand-response van system that offers rides to non-emergency medical appointments, nutrition centers and "quality of life" venues (wheelchair assistance available). It operates Monday through Saturday.
The Flagler Beach Public Library sits next to a park and has 25,000 books, including large print books. Wifi is available for laptop users, and there are two public access computers with Internet access.
The popular George Wickline Senior Center is managed by Flagler County and provides hot congregate noon meals Monday through Friday. It also has a lending library, a computer center, a pool table, guest speakers and a variety of educational and recreational programs.
Florida Hospital Flagler is not actually in Flagler Beach but is just 10 miles away in Palm Coast. It has 99 beds and is accredited by the Joint Commission. Medicare patients are accepted.
Summers bring temperatures in the 80s and 90s, and winters primarily bring temperatures in the 50s and 60s. On average, the area receives 50 inches of rain each year. On the comfort index, a combination of temperature and humidity, Flagler Beach ranks well below the national average The tornado risk is 40% above the national average, and hurricanes and flooding are always a possibility. In fact, 2016's Hurricane Matthew wiped out parts of Highway A1A (although few homes or businesses were damaged).
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Florida Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
Flagler Beach has a lot going for it, from clean, quiet beaches to an easy lifestyle with Old Florida charm. It should be considered as a retirement spot.
Sticking out into Hurricane Alley, Florida was a land no nation seemed to want. Ruled successively by Spain, France, England, and the Confederate States of America, the state had a backwater reputation. Other than St. Augustine and Pensacola, there were few cities. The area was rural and populated by frontier farmers.
In the late-1800s, changes came when railroads began chugging down both coasts. Industrialist Henry Flagler's Florida Easy Coast Railway even made it all the way to Key West. The Great Florida Land Boom, the build-up to World War II, and the space industry also helped turn Florida into one of the nation's most populous states. In 1900, there were about 500,000 residents. Today, there are more than 20 million, almost 351 people per square mile.
Why do people keep coming? Tourism marketing is one reason. Annually, millions visit Orlando's theme parks and the state's 663 miles of white sand beaches. Taxes generated by the billion dollar vacation industry allow Florida to prosper without a personal income tax. Budget-sensitive retirees have flocked to its cities and shorelines.
If you can ignore the hurricanes, the state's climate is relatively mild. Only five other states are sunnier. Florida's system of state universities and community colleges is sizable, and its big cities are meccas for culture and the arts. Sarasota is a good example. Its Ringling Museum Complex contains internationally known art museum, a circus museum, an historic theater, and a 66-acre garden. Museums near Orlando range from a Zora Neale Hurston gallery to a Madame Tussauds.
Population - 20,612,439
Persons 65 years old and over - 20%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 87%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 27%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 24%
White persons, not Hispanic - 58%
Median household income - $47,525
Median home value - $159,900
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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