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Merritt Island, Florida
Mellow Merritt Island is a Peninsula Community Near Sprawling Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Stunning Canaveral National Seashore and Oceanfront Beaches
About 55 miles east of Orlando, Merritt Island is part of Florida's "Space Coast" and is an unincorporated community on the southern end of a two pronged peninsula (once an island) of the same name. The northern part of the peninsula is home to the Kennedy Space Center and the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with its up to 12,000 feral hogs. To the northeast is the stunning Canaveral National Seashore.
For many years, this region was known for its grapefruit and oranges. When the Space Race began in the 1950s, NASA expanded into the area, and entire towns disappeared. Merritt Island, once known as Merritt City, remained. It is a mellow, unassuming residential place where boating is a big part of the lifestyle. There is no real downtown, but Merritt Square is a mall with national retailers and chain restaurants. The northern area of "town" has retailers, light industrial parks and planned communities with tract homes, most built in the 1970s and some along canals. The southern section has stunning custom homes on a strip of land so narrow that all residences sit on either the Banana River or on the Indian River and have a boat dock.
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Even though the space shuttle is no longer flying, the private company SpaceX is launching rockets from the Kenney Space Center, and tourists still come to visit. Wildlife, in addition to the wild pigs, is abundant, with dolphins, bobcats, alligators, manatees, sea turtles, bald eagles, ospreys and panthers all nearby.
The island is connected to the mainland via busy causeways, and residents often travel to neighboring Cocoa or Rockledge for services, dining and shopping. Cocoa Beach's six miles of sparkling oceanfront sands are about a mile to the east via the Martin Anderson Beachline Expressway or the West Cocoa Beach Causeway.
Population: 36,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 46%
Cost of Living: 14% above the national average
Median Home Price: $485,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 50s, 60s and 70s. On average, the area receives 52 inches of rain per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No, but Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa, four miles away, and Wuesthoff Medical Center Rockledge in Rockledge, three miles away, both accept Medicare patients.
At Least One Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa, four miles away, and Wuesthoff Medical Center Rockledge in Rockledge, three miles away, are both accredited.
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Conservative
College Educated: 32%
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: As in most areas along the eastern Florida coast, homeowners' insurance is expensive. Hurricanes are always a possibility. In fact, Irma caused wind damage in 2017. The population has declined slightly during the last decade.
Notes: The peninsula upon which the community sits belongs to no particular city. The county administers government services to Merritt Island residents. Home prices have increased 15% since last year.
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.
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