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Retire in Merritt Island, Florida?
Overview: Merritt Island, about 55 miles east of Orlando, is part of the "Space Coast" and is an unincorporated community located on the southern end of a peninsula (once an island) of the same name. The northern part of the peninsula is home to the Kennedy Space Center, the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and 12,000 feral pigs. To the east is the stunning Canaveral National Seashore.
For many years, this region was known for its grapefruit and oranges. When the Space Race began in the 1950s, NASA expanded into the area, and entire towns disappeared. Merritt Island, once known as Merritt City, remained. It is a mellow, unassuming residential place where boating is a big part of the lifestyle. There is no real downtown, but Merritt Square is a mall with national retailers and chain restaurants. The northern area of "town" has retailers, light industrial parks and planned communities with tract homes, most built in the 1970s and some along canals. Merritt Island Village is a low key 55+ community on the water. The southern section has stunning custom homes on a strip of land so narrow that all residences sit on either the Banana River or on the Indian River and have a boat dock.
Even though the space shuttle is no longer flying, the private company SpaceX is launching rockets from the Kenney Space Center, and tourists still come to visit. And wildlife, in addition to the wild pigs, is abundant, with dolphins, bobcats, alligators, manatees, sea turtles, bald eagles, ospreys and panthers all nearby. The county administers government services to Merritt Island residents. The island is connected to the mainland via busy causeways, and residents often travel to neighboring Cocoa or Rockledge for services, dining and shopping.
Population: 35,000 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 46%
Cost of Living: 8% above the national average
Median Home Price: $235,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 50s, 60s and 70s. On average, the area receives 52 inches of rain per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No, but Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa, four miles away, and Wuesthoff Medical Center Rockledge in Rockledge, three miles away, both accept Medicare patients.
At Least One Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa, four miles away, and Wuesthoff Medical Center Rockledge in Rockledge, three miles away, are both accredited.
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Conservative
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: As in most areas along the eastern Florida coast, homeowners' insurance is expensive. Hurricanes are always a possibility.
Notes: Merrit Island has grown by 6% within the last decade or two. The peninsula upon which the community sits belongs to no particular city.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
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