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Belleair Bluffs, Florida
Compact and Coastal, Belleair Bluffs is a Gateway to Beautiful Gulf Coast Beaches
The Gulf Coast town of Belleair Bluffs rests on one of Florida's highest coastlines (46 feet above sea level) and is one of four communities in this spot with Belleair in its name. Belleair Bluffs is the most affordable of the four.
Belleair Bluffs started out in 1963 and today sits on just a quarter square mile of land. It is compact, hemmed in by other towns and the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Residences, which include single family homes and a lot of apartments and condos, are close together with parks interspersed throughout neighborhoods. There are two main drags, Bay Drive and Indian Rocks Road, and they are home to 200 or so commercial and professional buildings. The town is a gateway to Gulf beaches as Bay Drive crosses the ICW and carries traffic to the town of Belleair Beach, which not only has beautiful white strips of sand but 11 public parks. Belleair Bluff's Belleair Causeway Boat Ramp has a fishing pier, courtesy docks, and boat launching lanes. Locals also have access to adjacent Largo's recreation and cultural facilities.
The Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve (near the southern end of the barrier island across from Belleair Bluffs) has a boardwalk that crosses mangrove swamps and open water. Sand Key Park has a beach, sea turtle nesting area, and is home to an artificial reef program. Clearwater Beach, often called the nation's most beautiful beach, is just 15 minutes away.
Population: 2,400 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 50%
Cost of Living: 12% below the national average
Median Home Price: $350,000
Climate: Summer and early fall are hot and humid. Late fall and winter are less humid and cooler. On average, the area receives 53 inches of rain per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No, but Largo Medical Center, next door in Largo, accepts Medicare patients.
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Largo Medical Center, next door in Largo, is accredited.
Public Transit: Yes, but it primarily runs up and down the two main roads.
Crime Rate: Well below the national average
Public Library: No. Most residents use Largo's library.
Political Leanings: Liberal
College Educated: 39%
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: The area is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms and suffered some flood and wind damage during Hurricane Irma in 2017. Hurricane Ian in 2022 also brought some flooding and wind damage.
Notes: The town has a nice reputation but also some unique rules, such as allowing each residence only two garage sales a year, requiring that RVs and boats be kept out of sight and making it mandatory that all house numbers be three inches tall. Belleair Bluffs also requires a permit for all remodeling, plumbing and electrical jobs. The population has grown 8% in the last decade, and home prices have declined 10% since last year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
Sticking out into Hurricane Alley, Florida was a land no nation seemed to want. Ruled successively by Spain, France, England, and the Confederate States of America, the state had a backwater reputation. Other than St. Augustine and Pensacola, there were few cities. The area was rural and populated by frontier farmers.
In the late-1800s, changes came when railroads began chugging down both coasts. Industrialist Henry Flagler's Florida Easy Coast Railway even made it all the way to Key West. The Great Florida Land Boom, the build-up to World War II, and the space industry also helped turn Florida into one of the nation's most populous states. In 1900, there were about 500,000 residents. Today, there are more than 20 million, almost 351 people per square mile.
Why do people keep coming? Tourism marketing is one reason. Annually, millions visit Orlando's theme parks and the state's 663 miles of white sand beaches. Taxes generated by the billion dollar vacation industry allow Florida to prosper without a personal income tax. Budget-sensitive retirees have flocked to its cities and shorelines.
If you can ignore the hurricanes, the state's climate is relatively mild. Only five other states are sunnier. Florida's system of state universities and community colleges is sizable, and its big cities are meccas for culture and the arts. Sarasota is a good example. Its Ringling Museum Complex contains internationally known art museum, a circus museum, an historic theater, and a 66-acre garden. Museums near Orlando range from a Zora Neale Hurston gallery to a Madame Tussauds.
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