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‘Take your vacation goggles off’: American’s who moved to Florida as part of the country’s mass migration to the Sunshine State claims it is ‘falsely promoted’ and lists the reasons why you should reconsider

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The shimmer and shine of the Sunshine State appears to be wearing off with American’s who had moved to Florida during the country’s mass migration in the pandemic now leaving in vast numbers after realizing the state is not all it is cracked up to be.

With an average of 250 days of sunshine each year, it’s easy to see why the allure of Florida is strong, especially to those from norther climes where the cold and clouds rule – but after a couple of years living in the south, many are looking for reasons to get out. 

And it doesn’t take long to list any number of arguments as to why those who are still fresh to Florida have had enough.

Everything from extreme heat and hurricanes to native wildlife such as crocodiles and alligators – not to mention the rising cost of living, all adds up to make the Sunshine State something of a turnoff. 

Florida had a population boom during the pandemic with more than 700,000 people moving there in 2022. 

Florida appears to be is losing its shine as disillusioned newcomers find the state less idyllic than they had expected, despite plentiful sunshine and tax breaks

Florida appears to be is losing its shine as disillusioned newcomers find the state less idyllic than they had expected, despite plentiful sunshine and tax breaks

The weather can be a huge draw for Florida, but the heat can be relentless with 250 days of sunshine on average each year

The weather can be a huge draw for Florida, but the heat can be relentless with 250 days of sunshine on average each year 

The weather can also be brutal with hurricanes a common occurrence and ever-present risk. Pictured, an American flag is seen amidst the wreckage of a home after a hurricane in Horseshoe Beach, Florida last August

The weather can also be brutal with hurricanes a common occurrence and ever-present risk. Pictured, an American flag is seen amidst the wreckage of a home after a hurricane in Horseshoe Beach, Florida last August

The state with the biggest number of transplants was New York with 90,000 leaving the Empire State for Florida in 2022, according to census data. 

Census Bureau data also reveals Florida was still the second-fastest-growing state as recently as July 2023, but there may soon be a sharp decline in such numbers with more people making a u-turn in their U-Haul trucks.

But while hundreds of thousands became Florida residents in 2022 lured by the promise of stunning weather, no income tax and lower costs overall, almost 500,000 left the same year.

Some of those who departed blame soaring insurance costs, a hostile political environment, worsening traffic and extreme weather.

When it comes to the cost of living, consumer prices in South Florida were up almost 5 percent year on year compared with 3.2 percent across the country.

Only a few years ago, Florida’s housing market was at bargain basement prices but now it is quite the opposite with with prices up 60 percent since 2020.

The average house price is $388,500, according to Zillow. This is only slightly above the median U.S. home price which is around $384,000.

Florida also has some unique and threatening wildlife. Pictured, an alligator is seen last week in Palm Harbor, Florida

Florida also has some unique and threatening wildlife. Pictured, an alligator is seen last week in Palm Harbor, Florida

The allure of Florida's once cheap housing market has now faded, with prices skyrocketing and insurance premiums jumping due to weather-related risks

The allure of Florida’s once cheap housing market has now faded, with prices skyrocketing and insurance premiums jumping due to weather-related risks

When it comes to the cost of living, consumer prices in South Florida were up almost 5 percent year on year compared with 3.2 percent across the country

When it comes to the cost of living, consumer prices in South Florida were up almost 5 percent year on year compared with 3.2 percent across the country

But when it comes to getting insurance to have a roof over your head, home insurance soared 42 percent in 2023 to around $6,000 per annum, with the state’s wild weather events to blame, following a series of hurricanes and the flooding that followed.

As for car insurance, getting covered in Florida is a massive 50 percent higher than the national average. 

Work wise, things are nothing to write back to your old home about with the median salary in Florida among the lowest in the country.

The state has an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent – well below the national average of 3.9 percent, but the wages are among the lowest too. 

Floridas politics are also something of a turnoff with the state flip-flopping between Democrats and Republicans several times since 1992 when it voted for George H. W. Bush. 

The state turned blue and voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 before flipping red for both of George W Bush’s terms. 

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 saw the state turn Blue once again until Trump came to power in 2016. Trump managed to cling onto Florida in 2020 despite losing the election overall.

The state has now introduced some strongly conservative policies thanks to its divisive Governor Ron DeSantis, including a six-week ban on abortion, bans on transgender care for minors, state interventions in how race, slavery and sexuality are taught in schools, and a crackdown on undocumented immigrants.  

One New York transplant to Florida was Louis Rotkowitz, pictured, who spent two years in Florida before moving north again and settling in North Carolina

One New York transplant to Florida was Louis Rotkowitz, pictured, who spent two years in Florida before moving north again and settling in North Carolina

After getting a job as a primary care physician, Rotkowitz, pictured left, he quickly fell out of love with the area as it would take him more than an hour each way to commute to work

After getting a job as a primary care physician, Rotkowitz, pictured left, he quickly fell out of love with the area as it would take him more than an hour each way to commute to work

Rotkowitz was also uncomfortable about a new 2023 law that allows people to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Pictured, a gun store in Delray Beach, Florida

Rotkowitz was also uncomfortable about a new 2023 law that allows people to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Pictured, a gun store in Delray Beach, Florida

One New York transplant was Louis Rotkowitz who spent two years in Florida before moving north again and settling in North Carolina. 

‘Like every good New Yorker, this is where you want to go. It’s a complete fallacy.’

Rotkowitz was looking for a more genteel lifestyle but he found he was unable to fit in. 

After getting a job as a primary care physician while his wife set about teaching, he quickly fell out of love with the area as it would take him more than an hour each way to commute to and from work. 

Then cost of his homeowners association fees doubled – essentially ending any Floridian dream he might have had.

‘I had a good salary, but we were barely making ends meet. We had zero quality of life,’ Rotkowitz said. 

Rotkowitz was also uncomfortable about a new 2023 law that allows people to carry a concealed weapon without a license.

‘Everyone is walking around with guns there,’ he said. ‘I consider myself a conservative guy, but if you want to carry a gun you should be licensed, there should be some sort of process.’ 

The state has now introduced some strongly conservative policies thanks to its divisive Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, including a six-week ban on abortion

The state has now introduced some strongly conservative policies thanks to its divisive Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, including a six-week ban on abortion

There are still plenty of Trump supporters hanging around in the state which can be off putting

There are still plenty of Trump supporters hanging around in the state which can be off putting 

Supporters of Donald Trump, often hang out close to his Mar-A-Lago residence to catch a glimpse of their hero

Supporters of Donald Trump, often hang out close to his Mar-A-Lago residence to catch a glimpse of their hero

Barb Carter is one of those who decided her move to Orlando, Florida from Kansas was not for her. 

It wasn’t just an armadillo infestation in her home that caused $9,000 in damages or the devastation wrought by hurricane Ian that followed blowing the roof of her house, nor the stress that came as she tried to find a doctor to remove a tumor from her liver – but a combination of all three.

Carter sold her home at a $40,000 loss and left behind her own grandchildren and children she had specifically moved to be closer to.

‘Many people ask, ‘Why would you move back to Kansas?’ I tell them all the same thing — you’ve got to take your vacation goggles off,’ Carter told NBC News. 

‘For me, it was very falsely promoted. Once living there, I thought, you know, this isn’t all you guys have cracked this up to be, at all.’

Carter’s rent was supposed to be $580 a month but upon arriving in the state she was told it would in fact be $750 before in jumped to $875.

Carter, who describes herself as a ‘middle of the road’ Republican, also says that state of politics in the state meant it was all too easy to offend someone.

‘You cannot engage in a conversation there without politics coming up, it is just crazy. We’re retired, we’re supposed to be in our fun time of life,’ Carter explained.

‘I learned quickly, just keep your mouth shut, because I saw people in my own community break up their friendships over it. I don’t like losing friends, and especially over politics.’ 

Now back in Kansas she is paying just $520 for a cottage-like apartment which she estimates would have cost her at least $1,500 in Orlando. 

‘People call me the modern-day Dorothy. There’s no place like home’ she joked.

The Tampa Bay area is one of the Florida cities that have gained the most new workers

The Tampa Bay area is one of the Florida cities that have gained the most new workers

Sarasota, Florida tops the list of Florida cities gaining new members into the workforce

Sarasota, Florida tops the list of Florida cities gaining new members into the workforce

'You've got to take your vacation goggles off', one former Florida resident suggests. Pictured,  tranquil scene of a resident in a hammock looking at the growing skyline of Saint Petersburg, Florida, one of America's fastest-growing states

‘You’ve got to take your vacation goggles off’, one former Florida resident suggests. Pictured,  tranquil scene of a resident in a hammock looking at the growing skyline of Saint Petersburg, Florida, one of America’s fastest-growing states

The intensity of politics was also one reason why Donna Smith, 61, decided to pick up stick and move to Pennsylvania.

‘It breaks my heart, it really does, because Florida was really a pretty great place when I first moved there,’ Smith said.

‘When I first moved to Florida, it was a live-and-let-live sort of beach feel. You met people from all over, everybody was relaxed. That’s just gone now, and it’s shocking. It’s just gone. 

‘Instead, it’s just a constant stressful atmosphere. I feel as though it could ignite at any point, and I’m not a fearmonger. It’s just the atmosphere, the feeling there,’ Smith explained.

‘When you walk in a room, you overhear conversations all the time where people are saying ‘Trump is the best’ or ‘I went to that last rally,’ and they’re telling total strangers while you’re just waiting for your car or something. It’s just everywhere.’

It’s a similar view shared by Jodi Cummings of Connecticut who moved to Florida in 2021. 

‘It wasn’t the utopia on any level that I thought it would be,’ Cummings told NBC. ‘I thought Florida would be an easier lifestyle, I thought the pace would be a little bit quieter, I thought it would be warmer. I didn’t expect it to be literally 100 degrees at night. It was incredibly difficult to make friends, and it was expensive, very expensive.’

Despite there being no income tax in the state, Cummings says the high costs of car insurance, rent and food essentially cancelled out any savings. 

After half a year of dealing with incessant traffic and heat, she moved back north.

‘I had been so disenchanted with Florida so quickly. There was this feeling of confusion and guilt about wanting to leave, of moving there then realizing this is not anything like I thought it would be.’



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