There’s a reason that Florida is a popular destination for holidays. It’s sunny and warm (it’s called the Sunshine State for a reason!) and is home to theme parks and gorgeous beaches. It’s also a popular location for people thinking of relocating from Chicago for a variety of reasons that range from the nicer weather to the lack of a state income tax.
If you’re considering moving from Chicago to Florida, it’s a good idea to learn ahead of time what you should expect from the relocation process.
Find a Local Florida Financial Advisor
Taxes are different in Florida than in Chicago. For example, the state of Florida doesn’t charge an income tax, so you would only have to pay federal income taxes. There are also differences in the cost of living, so your salary may go farther in Florida than in the Chicago area. You’ll want a local financial advisor who can help you to navigate these changes and who can help you to determine how best to manage your finances.
How Is the Cost of Living Different Between Chicago and Florida?
The cost of living in Florida is lower than in Chicago. Houses cost less and rent is lower. On top of that, there’s no state income tax. This means you may have financial choices to make. Do you want to purchase a larger home than what you had in Chicago or would you prefer to invest that money to boost your retirement savings or a child’s college fund?
Where to Live in Central Florida
Central Florida is a popular location to live in Florida. It has easy access to both the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts, it’s home to theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, and its central location is ideal for getting around to other parts of the state. Whether you’re moving because you’ve secured a new job in the Orlando area or whether you’re continuing to work remotely at your Chicago job from Orlando, the city is an excellent choice.
In addition to Orlando, there are other cities within the Central Florida region that share similar benefits and are excellent places to live if you have a family.
Orlando is the biggest city in the Central Florida area. It’s where most business in the central region of the state happens and while it’s not directly on the coast, it’s not far from the beaches for which Florida is so well-known. It’s also home to theme parks and plenty of family-friendly activities. You don’t have to live downtown, either, to take advantage of everything that Orlando has to offer. There’s a commuter rail service called the SunRail that can help you get into central Orlando quickly from the suburbs.
Winter Park, Florida
Winter Park is a suburb of Orlando and is known for its proximity to Lake Osceola and its abundance of green outdoor spaces. Many choose to live here and commute to work in Orlando.
Tampa is less than a two-hour drive from Orlando. Located in Central Florida, this city is right on the Gulf of Mexico, which means direct access to the beach. It’s also not far from everything that Orlando has to offer, including its theme parks.
Melbourne is also in Central Florida but is located across the state from Tampa on the Atlantic coast. It also has proximity to Orlando as well as its own beaches. It’s also a part of Florida’s Space Coast so it’s also close to Kennedy Space Center.
Just east of Orlando and north of Melbourne, Titusville is also on Florida’s Space Coast. It’s got access to beaches and Kennedy Space Center and isn’t far from Orlando’s bustle and theme parks.
Renting vs. Buying a Home in Central Florida
One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when you relocate is where to live. Once you’ve chosen your city, you’ll have to determine whether you want to rent or buy. Fortunately for Chicago residents, both the prices of homes and rental prices are less expensive in the Central Florida area than they are in Chicago. Either choice can therefore save you money when you relocate to Florida.
Additionally, you may want to consider renting to start out, and then, once you know you’re in the right area and are more established, you can purchase a home.
The Costs of Renting in Central Florida
Rent prices in Orlando are, on average, 31% lower than those in Chicago. A two-bedroom apartment in Chicago might cost $2,754 per month while by contrast, that same size apartment in Orlando would cost only $1,604 per month.
Why Rent in Central Florida?
Renting can be a good option if you don’t want to be the one responsible for the upkeep of your home. This can be a good option in Florida, where hurricanes can result in damage to buildings, trees, and more. Your landlord would be the one responsible for any repairs that were needed, although you would still need insurance (including flood insurance) to cover your belongings.
The Costs of Buying a Home in Central Florida
Housing prices are also less expensive in Orlando than they are in Chicago. On average, a home in Chicago costs $556,350, while an Orlando home of the same size costs $413,025. It’s a good idea to talk to your financial advisor in Orlando before making any purchasing decisions. This is because you’ll need to decide whether you want to purchase a bigger home or invest the money that you would save by purchasing a house of the same size that you had in Chicago.
Insurance is important anywhere but in Florida, it’s especially so because of hurricanes. You’ll want to make sure that you’re covered for both hurricanes and floods for all insurance that you purchase, be it for your home, belongings, or your vehicle. Many standard insurance policies don’t cover flood damage, even if they do cover hurricane damage.
Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance
Homeowner’s insurance covers your property and your belongings while renter’s insurance covers your belongings. If you’re renting, your landlord will need insurance for the building and the property. Make sure that your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers hurricanes and floods. You may need to take out separate hurricane and/or flood insurance policies.
Not all standard policies core damage from hurricanes. Check your policy thoroughly to make sure that hurricane damage is covered. Even if it is, you may still need separate flood insurance.
Flood damage typically isn’t covered under standard policies. You’ll most likely need a separate flood insurance policy for your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. For your automobile insurance, you’ll need to make sure that you have comprehensive insurance or a separate flood insurance policy, as standard policies don’t usually include flood damage coverage.
Setting Up Utilities in Florida
Setting up utilities is also something you’ll need to do in your new home in Florida. The following are links to some resources that can help you to get set up with utilities such as gas, electricity, trash and recycling, TV, and the Internet.
Changing Your Address
You’ll also need to update your address and get a Florida driver’s license, among other things. These resources can help you to get started on the process of becoming an official Florida resident.
School information: https://www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/
Tax information: https://www.stateofflorida.com/taxes/
Becoming a legal Florida resident: https://www.stateofflorida.com/residency/
General information for relocating to Florida: https://www.stateofflorida.com/moving-to-florida/
The Memes Are Real: Be Careful of Alligators
Florida is also home to a large number of alligators, which can get into people’s pools and other locations where they’re not expected. They generally live in swamps and lakes, but do venture outside of those areas and can be a danger, especially to small children and pets. It’s important to keep an eye on children and pets any time you’re near water, especially when you can’t clearly see to the bottom, but alligators have been known to occasionally attack even when nowhere near water.
To report a nuisance alligator, call this number: 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
If you currently live in Chicago, relocating to Florida can be a great way to save money on the costs of living. Moving, however, is a very involved process and there are many steps that you have to take in order to do it the right way. The above information can help you to make the process of moving to Florida a smoother and easier one. The best option, however, would be to speak with a financial advisor in Orlando before you even start the moving process so that you can make sure it’s the right financial decision for you.
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