Florida is an inviting state for retirees, offering a mild climate, a myriad of outdoor activities and appealing tax benefits. It is no surprise Florida is a top retirement destination for seniors.

Florida Retirement

Peninsular Florida is the southeastern most state in the U.S., with the Atlantic on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Nicknamed the “Sunshine State,” it has hundreds of miles of beaches. Attractions in Florida include Miami Beach, Palm Beach, St. Augustine (founded in 1565, thus the oldest permanent city in the U.S.), Daytona Beach, and Fort Lauderdale on the East Coast; Sarasota, Tampa, and St. Petersburg on the West Coast; and Key West off the southern tip of Florida. The Orlando area is Florida’s most popular tourist destination. Florida’s mild climate makes it ideal for retirees who enjoy golfing, tennis, and water activities.

Florida Climate

A mild, sunny climate is one of Florida’s most important natural resources, making it a major tourist center and a retirement home for millions. The climate of the north and central parts of Florida is humid subtropical while South has a tropical savanna climate. Average annual temperatures in Florida range from 65° to 70°F (18° to 21°C) in the north, and from 74° to 77°F (23° to 25°C) in the southern peninsula and on the Keys.

Taxes in Florida

For decades, Florida has had one of the lowest tax burdens in the country, according to the independent research organization Tax Foundation, the strength of Florida’s low tax burden comes from its lack of an income tax, Florida also does not assess an estate tax, or an inheritance tax. No portion of what is willed to an individual goes to the state. Floridians no longer need to pay taxes to the state on intangible goods, such as investments. The state charges a 6% tax rate on the sale or rental of goods, with some exceptions such as groceries and medicine. Additionally, counties are able to levy local taxes on top of the state amount, and most do—the highest amount added to the sales tax was 1.5%, bringing the total sales tax to 7.5%. Though the state government does not collect any property taxes, local governments receive much of their funding through these taxes. These rates are assessed at the local level and can vary by county, and they are based on the value of the property. Property taxes in Florida are some of the highest in the country, although there are several exemptions to try to lighten the load on some Floridians.1

Senior Housing in Florida

Deciding where to live is one of the most important and complex decisions facing retirees, today’s seniors have many housing options. Planning ahead for the later stages of retirement can help you and your loved ones avoid difficult, and often costly, situations in the future.

For seniors age 55+ who want a residence that allows them to be independent and active today but are equipped to provide for their future healthcare needs, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are a good option.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Florida

CCRCs are sometimes referred to as Full Service Retirement Communities, Life Plan Communities. They are the only type of retirement community that offer residents access to a full continuum of care; which usually includes independent living, assisted living and/or skilled nursing care options. Florida Statutes define “continuing care” as furnishing shelter and either nursing care or personal services upon payment of an entrance fee pursuant to a contract.

CCRCs are generally offer various accommodations including cottages, townhomes, and apartments and include common activity areas such as a restaurant-like dining room, activity and craft rooms, a library, an assisted living facility, and a nursing home. Other amenities often include, golf courses, convenience stores, swimming pools, gardens, walking trails, a fitness center, beauty/barber shops, banking services and guest accommodations.

CCRC Regulation in Florida

CCRCs are regulated through various state divisions such as insurance, financial services, aging or elder services, or social services1. The mandatory requirements and degree of oversight varies drastically among the 38 states that regulate CCRCs.

In Florida, OIR and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) regulate CCRCs jointly. AHCA regulates the health care quality of a CCRC while OIR regulates a CCRC’s financial solvency, the residency contracts, and the disclosures made to prospective residents. OIR also works in conjunction with the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS). DFS processes resident complaints not related to the quality of health care and also oversees mediation and arbitration between residents and CCRCs

Requirements Of CCRCs in Florida

There are entrance requirements for most CCRCs in Florida; they vary by location but may include some or all of the following:

  • Minimum age requirements as allowed by the Housing for Older Persons Act. 1
  • Medical reviews. Providers will often request medical records, talk with a prospective resident’s primary care physician, or request a health exam. The specific type of contract offered by the community will determine the degree of emphasis placed on this requirement.
  • Medicare and possibly a Medicare supplement policy, or a similar private-pay plan
  • Will, healthcare power of attorney, and durable power of attorney
  • Entry fee to cover the housing unit’s cost and other services and amenities, including contractually provided access to health care. The entry fee may also help keep monthly services fees lower than they might be at a comparable rental community.
  • Assets and savings equal to a multiple of the entry fee. A typical range is between 2-4 times the entry fee, but this can vary.
  • Monthly income equal to a multiple of the monthly service fee. The range is usually similar to that required for assets and savings.

Entry Fees For Florida Life Plan Communities

In order to qualify as a CCRC under Florida statutes, CCRCs, also known as Life Plan Communities, must require an entry fee. The purpose of an entry fees is three-fold. First and foremost, it secures a resident’s contractual and priority access to a continuum of care. Additionally, the money received from entry fees is also used to help pay down, or limit, the amount of debt required for development, expansion, or long-term capital projects, which keep the community attractive and competitive in the marketplace. Finally, many CCRCs- particularly non-profit providers- offer a financial assistance or endowment fund to help ensure that if a resident runs out of money due to a longer than average stay in the healthcare facility, or some other unforeseen circumstance, they will not be forced to leave the community. Some portion of the entry fee may go towards this endowment fund.

Is a Florida CCRC Right For You?

If you or your loved one feel a CCRC might be a good fit, My LifeSite will equip you with the information you need. From questions to ask when visiting a Life Plan Community to detailed financial information, our independent reports and decision genie tool provide you with detailed information on top-rated CCRCs and Life Plan communities in Florida. My LifeSite has everything you need to make an informed decision including retirement community pricing, important contract details, healthcare aspects, and more.

1 http://www.stateofflorida.com/taxes.aspx