Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Charming Fernandina Beach sits on Idyllic Amelia Island, a Barrier Island Known for its High-End Resort Hotels, Golf Courses and Miles of Sugar Soft Beaches
Just 20 miles outside of Jacksonville in northeastern Florida, Fernandina Beach sits on idyllic Amelia Island, a barrier island known for its high-end resort hotels, golf courses and miles of sugar soft beaches. The flags of eight separate nations have flown here since the mid-16th century.
The charming downtown has one and two story historic buildings that house boutiques, bookstores, art galleries and fun eateries. A Saturday morning farmers' market sells fresh produce, grass-fed meats, dairy products and more. Ancient oaks with dripping with moss line neighborhood streets, and tourist-oriented, horse drawn carriages meander about town. Homes range from modest ranch ramblers to exquisite, glass-enclosed Mediterranean estates. There are numerous planned developments, including beautiful Amelia Park, which features New Urbanism design. Most shopping is of the specialty kind, but there are some big box stores and a Publix.
Fort Clinch, a base of Union operations during the Civil War, stages reenactments. The Amelia Community Theatre mounts plays and musical revues throughout the year, and the Eight Flags Shrimp Festival brings out crowds each May. The Golf Club at North Hampton is an Arnold Palmer signature course and has been named the seventh best course in Florida. The town's west end has a marina and boat ramps. Beach parks are on the east side.
Population: 13,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 58%
Cost of Living: 34% above the national average
Median Home Price: $598,000
Climate: Fernandina Beach has a hot, humid climate. Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s with frequent rainstorms. Winter temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. On average, the area receives 51 inches of rain per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: The county's Council on Aging has a van transportation system with service to medical appointments and more.
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Very conservative
College Educated: 40%
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: Fernandina Beach has two paper mills, the Rayonier Advanced Materials Mill and the WestRock Mill, one on either side of town. Some newcomers say that the mills emit an unpleasant turpentine odor; long time residents say the odors are minimal.
Notes: Small town, "good ole boy" politics are known to occur. While the mills are a little smelly, they employ a lot of locals and support the Fernandina Beach area tax base. Home prices have increased 14% since last year, and the population has grown 10% during the last decade.
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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