Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Port St. Lucie is a Low Key Coastal City with Safe Neighborhoods, a World Class Golf Resort and Abundant Water Recreation
Peaceful Port St. Lucie (population 218,000) 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.
Even within the last decade, Port St. Lucie has grown 30%. 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 with a crime rate below both the state and national averages. Twenty percent of locals hold a four year college degree. The cost of living meets the national average.
The median home price is $400,000, reflecting a 0% increase since a year ago. Neighborhoods on the west side of I-95 are full of planned communities and mixed-use developments. This area includes PGA Village Verano and beautiful, 8,300-acre Tradition, a 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 the new Crosstown Parkway Bridge has help tie the city together and eased 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.
Boating and fishing on the two rivers are favorite pastimes, and snook, redfish and tarpon are in particularly good supply. Jensen Beach is about 10 miles to the east and boasts beautiful oceanfront beaches, as do North and South Hutchinson Islands, a couple of barrier islands about 12 miles away.
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. Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens sits along the St. Lucie River and has 20 acres of gardens and paths.
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. 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, by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Damage was relatively minor in each event, although Wilma was a direct hit and Irma brought 15 inches of rain and 100 mph winds. Home insurance rates spiked after Frances and remain high today.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Florida Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
The hurricane threat is real, but Port St. Lucie boasts somewhat reasonable housing costs for a safe, coastal city and has plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities and an easygoing vibe. It is a place to consider for retirement.
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.
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