Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Retire in Gainesville, Florida?
Overview: Gainesville is in north central Florida and is the home of the University of Florida (53,000 students), Santa Fe College and City College. In recent years, Gainesville has landed on several "best places to live" lists, and it has a youthful energy.
The city has a history of boom and bust and has experienced racial unrest, secessionist fever and college activism. Over the years, urban renewal, some of it upscale, has paved over many of Gainesville's landmark buildings. Still, some old jewels remain. Built in 1926, the Seagle Building remains downtown's tallest structure, and the Hippodrome Theatre is a stop for major musicals. Thanks to the college crowd, the city has an active rock/alternative music scene, but residents also enjoy a chamber orchestra, a civic chorus, a ballet company, community theaters and numerous art galleries. There are two large, annual art fairs and a teaching zoo. The University of Florida's School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance have public performances. The Theatre Strike Force is Florida's premier improv troupe.
The city maintains seven recreation centers and three swimming pools. The boardwalk system at Devil's Millhopper descends 120 feet into a miniature rain forest, and the substantial Payne Prairie State Park south of Gainesville has an observation tower and trails for hiking and biking. University of Florida athletics are nearly a religion, with Gator football games particularly rowdy. Homes come in all shapes and sizes, from modest ranch ramblers to lovingly restored Queen Annes.
Population: 132,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 30%
Cost of Living: 10% below the national average
Median Home Price: $195,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 50s, 60s and 70s. On average, the area receives 52 inches of rain per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Liberal
College Educated: 43%
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: The University of Florida is one of the top-rated party schools in the country. The city's poverty rate is above the national average. Much of this, but not all, is attributed to the large student population. Urban sprawl is an issue, and homelessness is a problem. Gainesville is also segregated.
Notes: Most students live east of I-75 (the west side of town is nicer than the east side). The city has grown by 4% within the last decade.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes. Gainesville is definitely a college town with some lively student neighborhoods, but non-students seem to enjoy the city.
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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