Each region of Florida has it's own unique charms.
Before deciding on a community, you should really spend some time thinking about which part of Florida you might like best.
I like to think of the decision process as: Location —> Community —> Home
Here are links to a few of the popular Florida retirement regions:
Central Florida – There are a lot of retirement communities to choose from in Central Florida. Some prominent cities include Orlando, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, Winter Park, Kissimmee, The Villages, Leesburg, Ocala, Gainesville, and Lakeland.
The West Coast – Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton, and Sarasota are the biggest populations centers in this region of the state. This area is also very popular with residents and retirees from the Midwest who are able to shoot right down I-75 to get here.
Southwest Florida – Southwest Florida which includes Naples, Marco Island, and Fort Myers, is extremely popular due to its proximity to the tranquil Gulf of Mexico and relaxing beaches. Most retirement communities in Southwest Florida are very upscale.
North Florida – Jacksonville and other parts of North Florida have a wide array of retirement communities from which to choose. Living in Jacksonville and the Northeast part of Florida gives you a chance to be away from the hustle and bustle of South Florida, while enjoying a slightly milder climate, though the city of Jacksonville itself it pretty busy.
The East Coast – This region includes Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Port Orange, New Smyrna, Titusville, Melbourne, and Cocoa Beach. This popular retirement community destination is growing rapidly not only because of Northerners retiring there, but also because of people moving up from South Florida.
South Florida – Southeast Florida has been one of the nation’s all-time most sought after retirement community locations. The most popular destinations include Port St. Lucie, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach.
Panhandle/Northwest Florida – This region includes popular retirement destinations like Destin, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, and is quickly becoming even more popular with the development of Latitude Margaritaville Watersound.
For Additional Reading…
Florida Trend is one of my favorite sources for information about Florida.
As the leading business publication in the state (they also report on politics and government) they are always cranking out useful data on the latest Florida trends and statistics.
You might not think a business publication would lend itself to helping you figure out where to retire in Florida, but think again!
The information they compile each year on Florida's 8 diverse regions should be of particular interest to you.
When you visit the regional section of their site, you are presented with an interactive map of Florida's 8 regions. Simply clicking on any of those regions will take you to an in-depth report on that particular region.
The individual reports include information on what industries are most important in that region, an overview of the types of people that live in that region, in-depth information on the economics of that area, information on quality of life, and more.
Simply taking the time to peruse some of this information should give you a good handle on what makes the various parts of Florida “tick”, which is all very good information to have when you're trying to figure out where in Florida you want to retire.