Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Retire in Fort Walton Beach, Florida?
Overview: On Florida's Emerald Coast, which stretches about 100 miles from the Alabama border to Panama City, Fort Walton Beach (FWB) is a fishing and beach resort town surrounded by Eglin Air Force Base, the Choctawhatchee Bay, and the barrier islands of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa. Pensacola is about 40 minutes away.
The city is known for its relaxed ambiance and powdery, white beaches. The recently renovated downtown is packed with restaurants and boutiques. Its Heritage Park and Cultural Center includes the Indian Temple Mound Museum and a collection of prehistoric ceramics that is one of the best in Florida. Fort Walton Landing has a boardwalk, boat ramps, and a stage for summer concerts. Other city parks have waterfront views and fishing piers. The city's Emerald Coast Science Center has interactive exhibits and educational programs for all ages. Fort Walton Beach manages two public golf courses and an active senior center. Center activities range from billiards and china painting to Tai Chi and Wii.
Okaloosa Island is across the bridge from the city. Fishing adventures begin here. The island's Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has gators, stingrays, and dolphin splash encounters.
Population: 22,000 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 39%
Cost of Living: Meets the national average
Median Home Price: $185,000
Climate: This area has a humid subtropical climate, meaning two seasons a year. Summers and early fall are hot and humid, and late fall and winter are less humid and cooler. On average, FWB receives 65 inches of rain per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No. The nearest accredited hospital is in Niceville, about 12 miles away.
Public Transit: Yes, provided by Okaloosa County Transit
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Very conservative
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: Hurricanes are always a possiblility. Hurricane Michael brushed the city in 2018 but caused little damage.
Notes: The city is popular with military families and Spring Breakers. Overall, people seem to like Fort Walton Beach.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
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 golf courses, more 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.
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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