Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Mexico Beach, Florida
On the Florida Panhandle, Little Mexico Beach Boasts Miles of Sugar White Oceanfront Sand Kissed by Mesmerizing Turquoise Waters
Little Mexico Beach sits alone along the Florida Panhandle, 25 miles to the southeast of Panama City. It is a very relaxed place, known as "Mayberry on the Water." It is also rebuilding, coming back to life after Hurricane Michael brought nearly complete destruction in 2018.
The repair of businesses and homes is still visible, with wire building materials stocked behind wire fences along the main road and construction zone cones on residential streets. Building height restrictions remain in place, though, as tall hotels and towering condominiums are still not allowed. The beach, five miles of often empty sugar white sand caressed by turquoise waters, is clean and has been renourished.
The pier is back in business. The mom and pop beachwear shops, delis, oyster bars, cafes, bike rental shops and grocery stores are all here. Events such as the Art and Wine Festival and the Blast on the Bay Songwriters' Festival are operating as usual. Fishing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving and swimming remain a way of life.
Colorful new homes atop stilts in neighborhoods with sandy streets, no sidewalks and an unfinished feeling. Residences along U.S. 98 have incredible ocean views.
Before Michael, Mexico Beach did not have a traffic stop light. Town leaders have no plans to add one now.
Population: 1,000 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 66%
Cost of Living: 20% above the national average
Median Home Price: $525,000
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: Yes
Political Leanings: Conservative
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: Future hurricanes are possible.
Notes: Mexico Beach is fairly quiet even during tourist season. 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. The population dipped in 2018 and 2019 but is returning to pre-Michael levels. Home prices have increased 3% since a year ago.
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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