2 Boomers From Chicago Say Some Cheaper Prices, Better Weather

2 Boomers From Chicago Say Some Cheaper Prices, Better Weather

Daniel Mehalek with his wife and dog in Bonita Springs.
Daniel Mehalek

  • Two boomers who moved to Florida to retire said the state met its retirement goals.
  • One boomer told BI he was determined to retire after a hurricane destroyed his home in Florida.
  • Between 2021 and 2022, approximately 739,000 people moved to Florida.

For many retirees, Florida is the ideal state. The Sunshine State doesn’t tax retirement incomes, has hundreds of miles of beaches and offers a slower pace of life in many places.

It led to an estimated 739,000 people moving to Florida between 2021 and 2022. Shows census data. They came mostly from New York, California, New Jersey and Georgia — but two boomers told Business Insider they’ve bought retirement homes in the state and plan to move from Illinois.

The move from Illinois to Florida, in particular, was one of the largest US migration patterns between 2021 and 2022. About 35,300 people moved during that time, with about 14,100 moving from Florida to Illinois.

Business Insider previously reported Almost 24% of those moving to Florida are boomers, and 5.8% are members of the Silent Generation, born before 1946. About half of the people moving to Florida are homeowners, the median home price is $503,000, and about half are married.

However, many older Americans living in Florida are retiring elsewhere. Some retirees This was previously reported by Business Insider The state’s high cost of living, natural disasters, politics and an influx of wealthy carriers have squeezed them out.

In 2021-2022, about 490,000 people left Florida for states including Georgia, Texas and North Carolina.

Two longtime Chicago residents with homes in Florida told BI that they enjoyed their time on Florida’s west coast, though it wasn’t entirely comfortable.

Daniel Mehalek, 61

Daniel Mehalek, 61, has lived in Chicago his entire life. He has worked in sales for Fortune 500 companies in the technology and pharmaceutical sectors.

For 17 years, he and his family have lived in a dream home in Burr Ridge, Chicago, which he hopes to rent out as he nears retirement. While he expected the home to appreciate in value, he said it lost more than $300,000 due to factors such as school ratings and large companies leaving.

He and his wife wanted to retire in California, but after looking for property and seeing changes in the state’s politics, they said they lost interest.

They looked at Florida as a retirement option, and after several visits, settled in Bonita Springs.A city north of Naples – where the weather would be more pleasant year-round than further north. They originally bought their future home as an investment property in March 2020 because they weren’t sure when they would move. Mehalek is still a few years away from retirement, after which he plans to move to Florida full time.

“We thought that one of the things we do with our neighbors when we retire is go to the beach and watch the sunset,” Mehalek said, noting that was a factor in choosing the state’s west coast over the Atlantic. . “At some point we knew we couldn’t surf anymore, so we wanted to have a quiet, comfortable and safe area.”

In Burr Ridge, where Mehalek still lives part-time for work, he pays more than $20,000 a year in property taxes. He saw major companies leave the Chicago area, including Boeing, Citadel and Caterpillar. Some of his friends have also recently moved from Chicago to Florida and other states.

“I bought Florida property on purpose because I’m moving as soon as I know I’m retired, and a lot of it is for tax purposes,” Mehalek said. “We’ll always bounce back and forth, but Florida will be our home.”

“The choice couldn’t have been clearer than leaving Illinois,” he said, adding that the move to Florida was not without challenges. His $850,000 home in Florida, built in 1964, was destroyed in a hurricane in September 2022, although many of his belongings were still in Chicago.

He estimates the lot is currently worth $1.5 million to $2 million, and he plans to remodel his home by spring 2025. She travels there often, staying with friends or booking a vacation rental through VRBO.

Per diem costs are generally cheaper in Bonita Springs than in Chicago, he said. He said his taxes in Chicago were slightly higher, and his house in Florida was worth two or three times as much. Costs like groceries are roughly equivalent, and gas is slightly cheaper in his part of Florida.

He noted that Florida is freer than Illinois, especially how people seemed happier on Florida beaches during the first few years of the pandemic.

Compared to Chicago, he pays more for flood, homeowner and auto insurance in Florida, though that’s offset by more than $15,000 in taxes in Illinois that he won’t have to pay when he moves.

He acknowledges that prices are going up for some longtime residents in his area, many of whom bought first-time homes in the $200,000s. Wealthy movers have driven up price increases, and many can’t afford or can’t afford to rebuild their homes to comply with building codes that require homes to be built 70 feet above sea level.

“A lot of people can’t afford it because it would be almost impossible to restore a house for at least $1.5 million,” he said. “If you were lucky enough to be covered by insurance, you’d probably only make $300,000.”

Ron, 66

Ron, 66, who asked that his name be used for privacy reasons, lived most of his life in the west suburbs of Chicago and made frequent trips to Wisconsin, playing hockey and enjoying snowy winters.

Throughout his career selling medical devices, he and his wife vacationed in Florida, driving on both coasts and stopping in towns and cities that suited their retirement goals. He considered Florida for its lack of state income tax, favorable weather and comparable cost of living.

He and his wife decided on Sarasota because it had “a small-town feel with a lot of big-city amenities,” Ron said, adding that the area remains politically diverse. They purchased a condominium for $250,000 in 2008 as a vacation home and investment property.

He knew he didn’t want to retire in Illinois, where property taxes are “pretty exorbitant,” he said. Illinois property taxes are 2.27%, the second highest in the nation behind New Jersey, while Florida’s is only 0.89%. Meanwhile, state income taxes in Illinois are 4.95%.

“I actually wish I had moved sooner and worked in Florida for more years because I could have kept more of my earnings instead of being taxed in Illinois,” Ron said.

He and his wife worked remotely for a year in Sarasota, and after she officially retired last year, they sold their Illinois home for about $400,000 and moved to Florida full time. He said that the people he met were more compassionate and he appreciated their approach.

“Florida has high humidity and hot temperatures in the summer, but it’s always sunny for the most part, and that makes a big difference in my personality,” Ron said. “It’s a healthier lifestyle for me than Illinois because there are more days to be outside, to walk, bike and kayak.”

Their 1,200-square-foot condo is much smaller than their 3,300-square-foot Illinois home, which he estimates is worth about $500,000. Ron said the layoff was worth it to improve his lifestyle.

“Insurance is an issue right now, but I still feel it’s a better situation than being in Illinois and paying property and state taxes,” Ron said.

Compared to where he lives in Illinois, he said the overall cost of living in the Sarasota area is cheaper, despite higher insurance costs. Although he could not compare 2024 prices between the two states, he said that before the pandemic, food and gas costs were 10 to 15% cheaper in Florida than in the Chicago area.

Still, he noted that inflation affects his area more than most of the country — the Tampa Bay area for a few months in 2023 the highest inflation rates in the country.

“Our real estate has doubled in price, but if I sell it, where will I go?” Ron said. “People talk about their travels, but Sarasota has a lot to offer, so my personal feeling is that I’d like to stay here.”

Have you recently moved to a new state? Contact this reporter [email protected].

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