Moving to a new place was on the minds of a lot of Americans in 2022. Google searches last year for “How to move to a new state” and “How to move to a new city” – which indicates people want to move away from where they currently live – show that the state that has the most searches for these topics is also the state many reports indicate is the most popular state to move to from elsewhere: Florida.
The Sunshine State tops the list for both those search topics, and Texas, California and New York also are high on both lists. Other states where people searched for advice on how to move away include New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Washington, North Carolina and Illinois.
Why do People Want to Leave Florida?
Florida is among the most popular states for Americans to relocate to, mostly due to good weather and a plethora of attractions and things to do. Reports indicate that the very things that attract new residents – and millions of visitors each year – are the reasons people want to leave.
Despite lovely weather and sunny beaches, there are some serious reasons people are looking to move leave Florida, including its high cost of living, lack of high-paying jobs, hurricane threats, high humidity, and dangerous wildlife. Increasing traffic and congestion due to the high tourist numbers is also cited as a reason to move away.
High Cost of Living, Low-paying Jobs
While consumers across the nation are paying more for everything than they were a year ago, reports indicate Florida’s grocery prices are the highest in the nation, 5.6% higher than the national average. Housing also is expensive, 1% higher than the average nationwide in 2021.
Rents continued to increase in 2022, and recent hurricanes have destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of residential buildings, decreasing housing supply and driving up prices. Add to this the dearth of high-paying jobs – the majority of jobs in Florida are in the service industry, typically not paying much more than minimum wage – and many workers are finding it difficult to earn enough to survive there.
Dangerous Weather and Wildlife
Before development, most of the state was swampland and the ground is below sea level in many places. Flooding is a threat along both coasts as well as many inland areas, and nowhere in the state is safe from being inundated by heavy rains or hurricanes. This threat adds to the cost of living, with flood insurance being expensive or unavailable.
Two hurricane strikes in 2022 – the first time the state has been hit twice in one year since 2005 – could end up being the most costly hurricane season in history. The Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state-backed insurance company, estimates that the 2022 hurricane season will cost roughly $3.8 billion.
Many find it surprising to imagine anyplace in the U.S. where wildlife is a concerning threat, but Florida is the home of native and invasive species that can be bothersome, and in some cases deadly. Indigenous alligators and invasive boa constructors – imported for the pet trade and released or escaped into the wild and now breeding uncontrollably – inhabit the southern section of the state in massive numbers, and can be found nearly statewide. In 2021, 21 alligator bite incidents were reported, nine of which involved an unprovoked alligator. In 2022, three people were killed. The Florida Conservation Commission reported there were 442 unprovoked alligator bites in Florida from 1948 to 2021, averaging six per year, and 26 deaths.
Another potentially dangerous problem is mosquitos, which love humidity and breed in even the smallest pools of standing water – in plates under potted plants, old car tires, anywhere a small amount of water is available. Despite strenuous efforts by state and local agencies, mosquitos remain ubiquitous throughout Florida, breeding in the state’s numerous swamps, ponds, lakes and in the Everglades. Although aquatic species feeding on mosquito larva helps decrease the numbers of adult insects, these pests cannot be eradicated and some species carry diseases that can be life-threatening, including West Nile virus disease, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis and Zika virus. Symptoms of these illnesses can range from mild to very severe and there’s no effective way to prevent exposure.
Not deadly but quite bothersome is the issue of cockroaches. These insects love the high humidity and living in houses is their preference; reports from pest abatement districts indicate this problem continues to grow.
Florida’s Population Continues to Grow
Although more people in Florida are looking at relocating than any other state, people continue to move to the Sunshine State in record numbers. Reports indicate that southwest Florida has had the highest influx, with more than 20,000 new residents moving in over the past four years. These new residents cite lifestyle, climate, access to health care, and being close to family as the top reasons they choose to move to Florida. There’s no reason to believe the population of Florida will not keep growing well into the next decade.
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