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Retire in Mexico Beach, Florida?
Overview: Rural, idyllic Mexico Beach sits along the Florida panhandle and is 25 miles to the southeast of Panama City. It is a very relaxed place, known as "Mayberry on the Water," and it does not even have a traffic stop light.
The sand along this stretch of Florida is sugar white and caressed by turquoise waters. The five mile strip of beach that snuggles Mexico Beach is no exception. It is clean, often nearly empty, and thanks to building height restrictions, has no tall hotels in sight. Amenities are few, but the town does have a dozen or so beachwear stores and gift shops, another dozen locally-owned delis, oyster bars and cafes, some bike rental shops and a couple of grocery stores. Many residents, many of whom are retired, spend their days fishing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving and swimming. Events include the Art and Wine Festival and the Blast on the Bay Songwriters' Festival.
Sandy neighborhood streets radiate toward the water from US Route 98, which runs along the coast. Neighborhoods have an unfinished feeling with a mix of ranch ramblers, low rise condominiums and tall, colorful homes with double decker balconies.
Population: 1,200 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 66%
Cost of Living: 3% above the national average
Median Home Price: $210,000
Climate: This area has a humid subtropical climate, meaning two seasons a year. Summers and early fall are hot and humid, while late fall and winter are less humid and cooler.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No, but Sacred Heart Hospital is 11 miles away in Port St. Joe and accepts Medicare patients.
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Sacred Heart Hospital is 11 miles away in Port St. Joe and is accredited.
Public Transit: No
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: No
Political Leanings: Conservative
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: The area is susceptible to hurricanes.
Notes: Mexico Beach is fairly quiet even during tourist season. The town has grown by nearly 20% within the last decade or two. Spring Breakers come in March but not in the numbers seen in other beach towns. The beach has "squeaky" sand, comprised of evenly sized quartz crystals.
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.
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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