Readers often ask me some variation of “what part of Florida has the lowest risk of hurricanes”.
My answer is usually “anywhere in the middle of the state” which would include popular retirement places like any of the cities in the Orlando area, Clermont, The Villages, Leesburg, and Ocala.
Now, thanks to the Wall Street Journal and Climate Alpha, a company that uses AI to build forecasting models based on data from FEMA related to past events, predictions of future weather, and other factors, we have a more scientific answer.
Florida's Most Hurricane Resilient City
The two companies partnered on a recent report to identify which Florida town is the most hurricane resilient.
When looking at hurricane, flooding and strong wind data, their research identified Ocala to be at less risk from coastal flooding than other parts of the state, making it a popular option for storm-weary home buyers.
This makes sense because Ocala is a pretty good distance from either coast. It's about 45 miles from the west coast and about 75 miles from the east coast.
Two other Florida cities, Lake City and Tallahassee, were mentioned in the article, which you can read if you have a Wall Street Journal subscription here.
But of the three places, Ocala is the best choice for retirement because there are so many 55+ options there. In fact, the WSJ article shared the stories of a few retirees choosing to move there not just because of the lower risk of storms, but also the lower insurance rates that come along with it.
Again, I think the other inland options I mentioned would be fine choices too, this particular report just found Ocala to be the best option.
Popular Ocala 55+ Communities
If you'd like to start exploring this area, here are some great communities to start with:
At On Top of the World Communities, active adults will find all they dream about and so much more. Located in beautiful Ocala Florida, On Top of the World residents can enjoy any schedule that suits their tastes – from activity-packed to unhurried.
Amenities include 54 holes of golf on three courses, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a 14-acre R/C flying field, bocce, racquetball and basketball courts, fitness center, health club and spa, restaurants, cultural venues, and much more. Residents can also participate in over 175 clubs, leagues, hobbies, and lifelong learning opportunities.
There are around 20 different floor plans available with prices ranging to suit every budget starting in the $200k's.
Ocala Preserve is a resort-style community with sections that are designated 55+. The ~17,000-square-foot clubhouse offers incredible amenities and unique social spaces for connection, relaxation, and fitness. There's a restaurant and bar, resort and lap pools, a spa, pickleball, and sports courts, and more. Ocala Preserve is also home to homeowner-led clubs, live events, and plenty more going on to keep residents happy and engaged.
Shea Homes and DR Horton are both building single-family homes and villas ranging in size from about 1,300 sq. ft. to around 2,800 sq. ft. of living area, with starting prices from the $200k's.
Del Webb Stone Creek is a gated, 55+ active adult community located in the horse capital of the world, Ocala, FL. The community has an 18-hole championship golf course, restaurant, resort-style pools, fitness center, spa, multiple game courts, a full-time lifestyle director and more. Home prices start in the $200k's.
As I mentioned towards the beginning of this article, I really think you're good in any of the inland areas I mentioned. In fact, when we used to have our condo in Daytona, we used to make the trek inland to Orlando whenever a big storm threatened.
That said, the newer communities closer to the coasts are built to withstand hurricane winds and the neighborhoods have been designed to prevent the effects of flooding. Whenever you see images of hurricane damage on TV, it's usually older homes and communities built before more stringent construction standards went into effect.
But if you want the ultimate peace of mind during hurricane season and lower insurance rates, set your sights on inland locations like Ocala.