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Home | Florida | Above Average Costs | February 23, 2019

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Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Reader Requested Short Review of Port St. Lucie, Florida

Quiet Port St. Lucie (population 182,000) sits between the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon on the southeastern Florida coast. It started in the mid-1950s as a planned retirement development and for much of its history was just a sleepy suburb. It was "discovered" in the 1990s and became one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. Then the housing market bubble burst in 2007/2008, and Port St. Lucie's foreclosure rate became one of the highest in the country.

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These days Port St. Lucie's foreclosure rate meets the national average, and the city has grown by more than 200% since the dark days of the Great Recession. The median home price has increased with the growth and now stands at $210,000. The cost of living is 7% above the national average.

Forty three percent of residents are age 45 or better. Politics lean to the left, and the city has been recognized as the safest city of its size in Florida. Its crime rate is below the national average.

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Neighborhoods on the west side of I-95 are the ones that were booming before the housing bust. Gated communities and mixed-use developments are the norm here. This area includes PGA Village Verano and beautiful, 8,300-acre Tradition, an all-ages community with a town center and an emphasis on New Urbanism.

The east side of the city has established, non-gated neighborhoods with concrete block and modest Mediterranean style ranch ramblers. On the city's southern end, Sandpiper Bay Club Med attracts tourists from around the world.

Tradition's village center essentially serves as the city's downtown. It has shops and mostly national chain restaurants. Otherwise, strip malls, including Town Center at St. Lucie West, are scattered here and there. In general, Port St. Lucie is a little non-descript. It also sprawls, but a new bridge over the St. Lucie River is under construction and should help tie the city together, easing traffic congestion.

Public transportation is provided by Community Transit, which is a curb to curb, on demand service. Treasure Coast Connector has several fixed routes throughout the city.

This part of Florida is known for its golf, and the PGA Village has been recognized as one of the "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America" by Golf Digest. The PGA Learning Center draws golfers from across the nation. A dozen other golf courses are within a short drive. The city is also the spring training headquarters of Major League Baseball's New York Mets.

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Boating and fishing on the two rivers are favorite pastimes, and snook, redfish and tarpon are in particularly good supply (see drawbacks below). Residents also enjoy 21 miles of nearby beaches. Amenities are limited, but the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens sits along the St. Lucie River and has 20 acres of gardens and paths.

The Treasure Coast Symphony holds concerts at the Sunrise Theatre in nearby Fort Pierce. Fitness and dance classes are offered through the Port St. Lucie's parks and recreation department. Parks are plentiful.

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St. Lucie Medical Center, accredited by the Joint Commission, is a Primary Stroke Center and accepts Medicare patients. Tradition Medical Center opened is also accredited. The city has a VA outpatient clinic, too, but the nearest VA hospital is in West Palm Beach, 35 miles away.

This area has a humid subtropical climate, with a wet season and a dry season. Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 50s, 60s and 70s. On average, the area receives 57 inches of rain each year.

It is worth noting that some sections of the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon have experienced problems with algae blooms, which can be toxic, and with vibrio vulnificus bacteria, which can be very dangerous to people with weakened immune systems. The good news is that the city has opened a large water farm that will reduce algae blooms by keeping polluted water from reaching the river and lagoon.

Hurricanes are something to keep in mind, too. Up until 2004, this area had not been hit by a hurricane in nearly 50 years. Then it was struck by Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Damage was relatively minimal in each event, although Irma brought 15 inches of rain and 100 mph winds. Home insurance rates spiked after Frances and remain high today.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes   |   Is Florida Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes

The hurricane threat is real, but Port St. Lucie boasts plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, a mellow vibe and a low crime rate. It is a place to consider for retirement.

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Florida:

Named Pascua Florida by Juan Ponce De Leon, the Sunshine State did not enter the Union until March 3, 1845. Balmy mild winters began attracting snowbirds to the state in the late 19th century. Retirees continue to flock to the state. It's not hard to see why tourism has become the leading industry.

International trade and citrus are also major contributors to the state's economy. Eighty percent of the nation's oranges and grapefruits are grown here, and 40 percent of all U.S. exports to Latin America flow through Florida.

Florida's landscape includes uplands and coastal plains. It contains more than 11,000 miles of waterways and about 4,500 islands spread across 10 acres.

The state has 1,250 more golf courses than any other state in the Union. The 47 mile Pinellas Trail is the longest urban trail on the east coast. Orlando theme parks attract more visitors than any other theme parks in the U.S. The only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist is in National Everglades Park.

Florida, particularly the Keys and the Gulf Coast, were struck by Category 4 Hurricane Irma in early September, 2017. Towns will rebuild, perhaps this time with climate change in mind, making them safer and better equipped to handle major hurricanes going forward.

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Stats:

Population - 20,612,439 

Persons 65 years old and over - 20%

High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 87% 

Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 27% 

Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 24% 

White persons, not Hispanic - 58% 

Median household income - $47,525 

Median home value - $159,900 

Social Security taxed? No

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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