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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Retire in Gulfport, Florida?

Overview:   Sitting on the shores of the Boca Ciega Bay, this casual west central Florida town started out in the late-1880s and had three names before settling on Gulfport. It is just east of St. Petersburg and is known for its Old Florida waterfront district and artsy, bohemian vibe.

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Neighborhoods are laid out along grids. Inland homes are mostly modest concrete block style while canal-front homes are generally gorgeous and have a boat slip. There are also bayfront condominium buildings. Beach Boulevard, which ends at the water, is lined with one story buildings that house colorful restaurants, quirky shops and fun bookstores. Shore Boulevard parallels the narrow beach and is peppered with parking areas, apartments, green spaces, modest homes and palm trees. The marina has a seawall, wet slips, and fueling stations, and Williams Pier is popular with anglers and bird watchers. Tuesday is Fresh Market day, and art walks happen on the first Friday and third Saturday of each month.

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Gulfport operates a theater and a senior center, and the local library is building a reading garden and supports a writing group. The pastel green Gulfport Casino Ballroom sits next to the water and offers anything from Argentine tango to Salsa five nights per week. Clam Bayou Nature Park has boardwalks, trails, observation decks, docks, and a kayak launch, and Chase Park is the home of the historical society's museum. Wood Ibis Park has a lake and a butterfly park.

Population:  12,500 (city proper)

Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better:  54%

Cost of Living:   5% below the national average

Median Home Price: $160,000

Climate:  This area has a humid subtropical climate, meaning two seasons a year.  Summer and early fall are hot and humid.  Late fall and winter are less humid and cooler.  

At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients?  No, but St. Petersburg has several hospitals that accept Medicare patients.

At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission?    No, but St. Petersburg has several accredited hospitals.

Public Transit:  Yes

Crime Rate:   Below the national average

Public Library:   Yes

Political Leanings:  Liberal

Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement?   Yes

Cons:   Hurricanes are always a possibility.

Notes:   Some neighborhoods are not in great shape. Gulfport has grown by 5% within the last decade or two.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot?   Yes

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Florida:

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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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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