living in boca raton
 
 
 

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About the areas
The site has the state divided up into 19 major areas and 80 plus sub-areas. We chosethese areas as they are the ones most referred to in guides about Florida andalso because most people are familiar with them as the names evoke something.Additionally on each area dropdown there is information relevant to florida realestate and relocating to florida. We have provided lists of Florida Real Estateagents-Mortgage brokers and more.

 

Florida Area Information

Florida Arts and Culture

Florida is largely known for sunshine, theme parks and oranges. But one of the best kept secrets of the peninsula is its diverse culture and world-class museums. From the Keys up into the panhandle and every county in between, Florida has some of the most beautiful and unique museums in the United States. And its culture is more diverse than one would think. After all, it is the destination of hundreds of thousands of tourists and ten of thousands of Americans relocate to the Sunshine State each year.

Florida Culture

In an afternoon's drive, visitors and residents can go from the beach side subtropics to rustic rural locations. In the panhandle, its charming southern living, straight out of a magazine. In central Florida, fun awaits for visitors and residents of all kinds--with theme parks providing entertainment day and night. At the bottom of the peninsula, a beach-bum's lifestyle awaits. And surfing, fishing, boating, scuba diving and sunbathing are available over 2,000 miles of coastline. Greek sponge docks, Cuban communities, dairy and fruit farms, southern charm and tropical lifestyles and much more can all be found here.

Florida Arts

The arts are alive and well in the Sunshine State. Award winning Broadway shows can be found in many metropolitan areas and museums which have to be seen to believe. Ringling, The Holocaust, National Museum of Naval Aviation, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Salvador Dali, St. Augustine Lighthouse, Pirate and Treasure, Flagler Museum and  the South Florida Science Museum are just a few on a list of many.

Florida Festivals

But Florida's arts and culture certainly don't end there. The Gasparilla Pirate Festival winds its way through the streets of Tampa every year. There's the Art Deco Weekend Festival in Miami, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Sunfest in West Palm Beach, the Pensacola Beach Air Show, the infamous Biketoberfest in Daytona Beach, the Space and Air Show at the Kennedy Space Center and Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival in Orlando right at Walt Disney World.There's no shortage of art and culture in Florida. From the Fine Arts Museum in Saint Petersburg to the island breezes of Key West to the Space Coast to the oldest city in the United States in St. Augustine, there's something for everyone and it's here year-round.

Link to county Art agencies http://www.florida-arts.org/resources/FloridaLocalArtsAgencies.htm
Link to all Florida Art museums http://www.florida-arts.org/resources/museumsartcentersgalleries.htm
Link to Florida dance organizations http://www.florida-arts.org/resources/FloridaDanceOrganizations.htm
Link to Florida music organizations (symphonies, community orchestras, etc)
http://www.florida-arts.org/resources/FloridasMusicOrganizations.htm
Link to Florida Theatre venues (playhouse etc) http://www.florida-arts.org/resources/FloridaTheatres.htm
Links to Florida state organizations and associations
http://www.florida-arts.org/resources/StateOrganizations.htm

In conclusion:
If you love the arts and want Cultural opportunities, Florida definitely has a place for you.
So, if you’re creative or possibly want to pursue another career or lifestyle…this could be just the place for you.



 

Cost of Living

Florida is among the most populous states in America. Each year, tens of thousands relocate to the Sunshine State peninsula. Not only for the sun, sand and surf but for its cost friendly living. In comparison to other heavily populated states, Florida is among the least expensive. Florida is a tax friendly state for individuals and businesses both. The cost of groceries and utilities is relatively smaller across the state than in the northeast of the country and west coast.

Utility Costs in Florida

Say goodbye to heating oil, snow plows and other expensive must haves residents in the northeast must incur every year. There are months during the year when air conditioning and heating aren't even necessary. Those who live in the Keys and southern tip of the peninsula best know this. A tropical sea breeze winds between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.  Along Florida's coast lines, the night air is crisp with warm mornings and balmy afternoons. Here, there is no winter maintenance. No shoveling snow or warming up the car twenty minutes before driving.

Taxes in Florida

Many businesses relocate their headquarters or their entire operation to the Sunshine State--and for good reason. Corporate taxes are low and Florida boasts a business friendly environment. That goodwill is also afforded to private residents. Homestead exemptions are the norm in the state and there is no income tax. Unlike the northeastern and west coast of the country, there are no county and city income taxes. Property taxes are low when also compared to the west coast and northeast.

Living Expenses

Food and clothing top out at country wide average prices. On the medium to low price point, food and clothing aren't outrageously expensive. And forget about paying confiscatory rates to have your own parking space. In the majority of township across the peninsula, parking spaces aren't rented or sold.  Garage parking is somewhat of a novelty in the Sunshine State. Crowded subways, white knuckle taxi rides are nowhere to be found. All in all, the state of Florida is a cost friendly place to live. Low taxes, tax exemptions, inexpensive living expenses make the peninsula one of the best places to live in the United States.

2010-2011 stats Source C2ER formerly accra-col index and http://www.bestplaces.net/

Boca Raton-136.0
Cape Coral-Ft Myers-98.0
Ft Lauderdale-120.0
Destin-123.0
Jacksonville metro-94.0
Big Pine Key fl-137.0
Key Largo-141.0
Key West-177.00
Marathon fl-137.0
Miami metro-115.0
Melbourne-95.0
Naples Fl-184.0
Orlando metro-105
Palm Bay-84.56
Palm Coast-Flagler-97.0
Panama City-93.0
Pensacola metro-93.0
Sarasota-97.0
Tampa 95.0
St Pete-Clearwater-95.6
Vero-Beach Indian River-115.0
West Palm Beach metro-106.0
(Population Weighted-State Average=100
See national comparisons
Cost of living (100 = nationwide average)

* New York, NY -159.0
* Long Beach, CA -141.0
* Palo Alto, CA -241.0
* Boston, MA -154.0
* Malibu, CA -250.0
* San Francisco, -185.0
* Chicago, IL -116.0
* Dallas Tx -94.0
* Atlanta Ga -105.0

 

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Health

Florida health care is one of the finest in the country. Because the Sunshine State is home to such a diverse age and demographic population, top flight health care is a must. From children to retirees, college students and middle-age career people, Florida boasts some of the best hospitals and insurance plans in the United States. Florida even has satellite Canadian health care facilities for our neighbors of the Great White North. From sports injuries to routine check ups to prenatal care to eclectic surgery, the peninsula has a wide range of health care options.

Florida Hospitals

Be it south Florida or the panhandle or anywhere in between. Some of the most prestigious healthcare facilities are scattered all across the Sunshine State. Nationally recognized and ranked facilities have award winning departments in: oncology, neurology and neurosurgery, gynecology, gastroenterology, cardiology  and heart surgery, pulmonology,  pediatrics and orthopedics.The list of outstanding hospitals is long. Regardless if you are visiting or living in south Florida, along the Gulf coast or up  into the panhandle: Shands at the University of Florida, University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Tampa General Hospital, Miami Children's Hospital, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, All Children's Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston and Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.

Florida Health Care Plans

Florida also has great health care plans available. Among the best are: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Humana Medical Plan, Unitedhealthcare, Aetna Health, Wellcare of Florida, United Healthcare of Florida, Avmed, Careplus Health Plans, Coventry Health Care of Florida and Health Options.

Florida Medical Research and Education

It's not only the hospitals in the state which provide cutting edge technology. There are a number of universities in the Sunshine State which are among the nation's leaders in both medical research and health care education. These include but are not limited to: The University of Florida in Gainesville, the University of Miami, Florida State in Tallahassee, University of Central Florida in Orlando and the University of South Florida in Tampa.Visitors and residents alike can rest assured some of the best treatment options and health care insurance plans in the United States are right in the state of Florida

Some serious information:
Based on a recent survey by The Winter Park Health Foundation

  • The majority of Florida voters (63%) rank health care as one of the top three most important functions of state government. Twenty eight percent said it was "the most important function."
  • When asked specifically about Medicaid, 82% of Florida voters feel it is important for Florida state government to provide health care coverage to uninsured children and uninsured low-income working adults, with 58% feeling it is "very important."
  • When advised that Florida's Medicaid insurance program accounts for one quarter of the state budget and knowing that will increase due to population growth among those who qualify, 73% of Florida voters still feel that the state of Florida has a "responsibility to assist in providing health coverage for uninsured children and uninsured working low-income families."
  • The survey focused on issues such as voter concern about cost and accessibility of health care and insurance coverage; levels of support available for low-income and needy disabled, the elderly, children and working families without health care coverage; levels of concern about the cost of Medicaid to the state of Florida, and the roles of federal, state and local government.
    The conclusion is unmistakable. Floridians care about Health care and demand the best.

As with Education, due to its rapid population growth Florida has had to adjust for new and existing residents. The results are a success story.

  • There are over 275 hospitals located throughout the state.
  • There are 47 VA hospitals and Clinics
  • There are over 2000 assisted living facilities
  • There are over 2300 Health care clinics

To see all facilities in the state of Florida by city go to http://facilitylocator.floridahealthstat.com/
For a general list see www.myflorida.com or go to the specific areas link on this site and see the Specific Health information page.
Another excelent resource for Hospital location can be found at www.hospitallink.com

Due to the influx of new people and the attraction of the area (Doctors like nice weather too) Florida is on top of breaking technologies in Specialized care.


 

Schools

FLORIDA’S INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCTION-flarrenThe state of Florida has one of the most diverse and sophisticated institutions of higher learning. There are 28 community colleges across the peninsula and 12 universities--the newest being Florida Polytechnic. Each offers several areas of learning. What's more, in-state tuition rates are below the national average. Many of the universities in the state have advanced research programs in medical technologies and life sciences, financial services, agritechnology, interactive and digital media,  information technology,  nanotechnology and microelectronics, sustainable energy and photonics and optics and modeling, simulation and training.  

Beast Florida Online Schools

Community Colleges

Florida's community colleges are above-par, offering some unique opportunities for earning an associate's or bachelor’s degree. In most cases, these bachelor’s degrees are offered through partnerships with the state universities or an accredited private college or university. The course work may be offered through traditional classroom instruction at the community college or through distance learning options such as online courses (more information can be found at: www.distancelearn.org). In addition to these partnerships, several community colleges offer their own bachelor’s degrees in selected program areas for which there is a high need for employees--especially in the fields of teaching, nursing, and information technology. More information is available through the Community College Bachelor’s Degree Programs online at: http://www.fldoe.org/cc/students/bach_degree.asp.

State Universities

Florida has twelve state universities: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida State University in Tallahassee, University of Central Florida in Orlando, University of North Florida in Jacksonville, University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida International University in Miami, New College of Florida in Sarasota, University of Florida in Gainesville, University of South Florida in Tampa and the newly formed Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland.   Such diversity allows prospective students to pursue an education in teaching, nursing, medicine, architecture, engineering, fire sciences, linguistics, information technology, jurisprudence, geology, marine biology, business and scores of other disciplines.

Graduate Studies

Universities around the state offer graduate level coursework. For students in-state or transferring from out of state, graduate courses are available in a variety of pursuits. What's more, because the state is among the world's leaders in innovation, many internships, graduate work and co-op work opportunities are available. Florida is one state which leads the way in higher education. Its universities are not only home to top-notch education, but national sports titles.

  • As it stands today (2005) Florida is one of the leading states in both private and public education.
  • Regardless of your needs, be it for your children (public or private) higher education, adult education or trade/medical/law schools, there is a learning facility here for you.
    For stats on Florida education and accountability go to
    http://www.fldoe.org/arm/default.asp
    A few quick facts about our higher education facilities.
  • Florida has 28 community colleges.
  • Florida has 16 State universities.
  • Florida has 120 plus private colleges and universities.
  • Florida has 18 adult and community education locations.
  • Florida has 18 health care schools.
  • Florida has 13 Legal and criminal justice schools.
  • Florida has 22 technical schools
  • Florida has 19 business schools with over 56 locations.
  • Florida has 10 Law schools
  • Florida has 5 Art schools
  • Florida has 2 (among the best in the country) Culinary schools
  • Florida has 4 computer schools
  • Florida has 70 Aviation schools
  • Florida has 13 higher education facilities.
    In addition, the Community college system in Florida is one of the best in the world. Basically it has been set up so that wherever you reside, there’s a college within commuting distance.

Link to Florida state universities
http://www.flbog.org/univ_info/univlist.asp

Link to public and private law schools
http://www.flbog.org/univ_info/lawschools.asp

Link to independent colleges and universities
http://www.flbog.org/univ_info/icuflist.asp

Link to all Florida public schools by county
http://www.fldoe.org/schoolmap/flash/schoolmap_text.asp
In conclusion, regardless of where you live, Florida has education opportunities for you. Be it public or private, pre school or higher learning, including adult education.

 

Weather

The weather is Florida’s biggest asset next to the sand and surf. In short we have milder winter weather than anywhere else in the 48 states…think about that next time you look at your heating bill!
Also we have almost zero air pollution. (Winds from the Oceans disperse the air pollutants) You can see the stars at night.
Acid rain has not affected us like the rest of the country.
The temperature drop from day to night is on average never over 25°---compare that with Minnesota, which can vary as much as an 84°.
Some statistics:

  • Average max temps in the Florida Panhandle range from 80° to a low of 56°
  • Average max temps in Central Fl range from 84° to a low of 60°
  • Average max temps in Southern Fl, range from 86° to a low of 66°
  • With the exception of Hawaii, no other state extends further into the tropics than Florida. Key West for example is on the same 24° 30N, that Tampico Mexico and Sao Paulo Brazil are. This makes the angle of the sun higher or more perpendicular hence more warm weather.

To see average January temperatures across the United States go to http://www.mapsofworld.com/usa/thematic-maps/usa-temprature-january.html
Compare where you live or want to live in Florida. For more specific info, look at the area you are interested in and go to the weather page.
So what about the rainy season and humidity?
We are a tropical climate, so our rainy season comes in the summer. Generally it will rain hard for a half hour then subside. It does get humid then. Although not as bad as you’d think. Our water breezes really help cool us off.

Hurricanes
And, finally, hurricanes…..we have to talk about this, and you, our reader, have to think about it.  Florida lies in the tropics, or more exactly, pretty close to the tropics.  Much of the American Southeast is at risk for hurricanes, from Texas to the Carolina coasts, year in, year out.  But in the popular imagination, Florida is the bullseye.
 So what’s the reality, and what is the relevance?  The reality is, yes, it’s true; we are in the bull’s eye.  And the relevance?  A zillion people continue to relocate to Florida.  Why? Because, perhaps like you, they feel (rightly) that the percentages favor them, that they are not likely to encounter a hurricane.  Really.  In the grand scheme of things, not many hurricanes make landfall in Florida.  So their confidence is reasonable.

Anyway, before hurricanes do threaten Florida, there is plenty of warning; and except for people who live directly on the beaches (dangerous), you can prepare and defend pretty successfully in almost all cases.  When the Authorities say you must evacuate (chiefly from the beaches and adjacent areas), you should.  If you live in the Keys, that’s always critical, at an earlier stage, say, than the rest of Florida’s east or west or north coasts, because you’re very close to the action no matter where you live in the Keys.  So there’s less time for error.

I experienced a Category 3 major hurricane in the Keys.  In the future I would evacuate.  Every hurricane season in the Keys, you worry (Jimmy Buffet even wrote a song about sitting around waiting for hurricanes that never materialized).  The first serious  hurricane in fifty years was Georges in 1998 (my experience).  But there have been lots of worries, lots of close calls, and like this year (2005) a fair number of combinations of tropical storm force winds, higher tides with some flooding, and salt-blown browning of the vegetation.  So the reality is, you live in the Keys, you worry about it.

The other part of Florida that seems uniquely vulnerable, especially in the aftermath of recent northern Gulf of Mexico history, is Florida’s Panhandle.  It’s important to put this in perspective.  Yes,  Pensacola and its wider area have tended over the past 30 years to be hit more frequently than the rest of Florida by major hurricanes, but in the 30-40 years prior to that, the situation was exactly reversed: Pensacola was less frequently hit than peninsular Florida. Or to put it a different way, the Panhandle area of Florida has been “hit” by just 6 storms Category 3 or higher since 1940, while peninsular Florida suffered 10 such storms during that same period.
The dangers can be largely counted on fingers.  Hurricane Donna hit southwest Florida in 1960, Hurricane Charlie I about the same area in 2004. 
Hurricane Andrew hit Miami-Homestead in 1992, but you have to go back to the 1920’s for anything comparable.

I moved to Melbourne Florida (central east coast) partly because the area NEVER got hurricanes (and in fact the whole northeast and central Florida coast is in a geographical bight that in fact does not get hit, but Melbourne is on the cusp, a bit south).   My first year (2004) living there, the Central East Coast got two of them.  So much for expectations.  Still, the likelihood of that happening again remains very low.  Moreover, if you lived inland just a few miles that summer of 2004, because of the buffer of the long barrier island and the wide ICW/Indian River Lagoon, the net effects of the hurricanes were pretty mild. 

In any case, the likelihood per the historical record of that happening again remains very low. The reality is that the weather on both Florida’s east and west coast is great, and you really don’t have to worry yourself through hurricane season, like folks perhaps do in some other parts of Florida (the Keys, the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico).
Bottom line?  I would be remiss if I did not tell you that hurricanes are a potential fact of life.   But what I’ve outlined above underscores the reality that the very occasional occurrence is the exception, absolutely not the summertime rule.

More about Hurricanes and Observations..
If you live on the coast you stand the greatest chance of having one affect you. Some areas of Florida have gone fifty years plus without one but you never know.

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is buy a home that was built after Andrew-August 92 that was built to stricter building codes. Have window protection and a backup generator and make sure your insurance is up to date. If they ask you to leave, do it!

Realize-If you live in an older home that was not built up to the stricter building codes (After Hurricane Andrew-August 1992) or you live in a mobile home you stand the best chance of having major structural damage.

Living on the beach in a mobile home is asking for it. Although, you may never have a problem, you’re still definitely taking your chances. Barrier islands and open-water Ocean or Gulf front are the most prone to damage.
Having lived in California, I prefer the threat of a hurricane however as opposed to an earthquake. At least you have a warning.

*Living in a waterfront home typically means that you will pay a higher Insurance premium. The insurance is higher due to flood and wind concerns.
Part of this is also because the pricing on these homes is higher so there is more value to insure against.
*Despite four hurricanes in 2004, the number of Florida visitors rose 7% to an all-time high of 79.8 million last year and is on target to hit 80 million this year.

Having said all this, I can’t imagine living elsewhere. It is really great to wake up and it’s sunny out.
We spend over half our lives indoors…so when you do go outside, wouldn’t it be nice if it was warm and sunny?

 

 

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