Americans Are Still Moving to Florida. They Might Regret It.

  • Florida was the fastest-growing state in 2022, per a Census Bureau report.
  • The state’s population has been steadily increasing for decades.
  • But some people who moved there have come to regret their decision.

A lot has changed in 2022, but one thing stayed the same: Americans kept moving to Florida in large numbers. Some of them, however, are likely to regret it.

From July 2021 to July 2022, Florida’s population grew to over 22 million people, according to new Census Bureau data. The 1.9% increase was the largest of any US state over this period, just exceeding Idaho and South Carolina — which saw their populations grow by 1.8% and 1.7%, respectively. 

“While Florida has often been among the largest-gaining states, this was the first time since 1957 that Florida has been the state with the largest percent increase in population,” Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau, said in a press release

Even as population growth has slowed in the US and turned negative in some states, Florida’s population has grown every year since 1946, increasing ninefold from a population of roughly 2 million that year. The Census Bureau has attributed some of the state’s early growth to the introduction of air-conditioning in the 1950s, during which time Florida’s population grew an average of 6% a year. In more recent years, as the growth in remote work has allowed many Americans to live wherever they want, warmer temperatures and the lack of an income tax are among the perks drawing millions to the state. 

The Census Bureau’s latest estimates show that a net total of about 320,000 Americans moved into Florida between 2021 and 2022, the largest number among the 49 states and Washington, DC.

But some that have moved to Florida will come to regret the decision — and may ultimately move out. Over the past year, Insider spoke with several people about why they decided to ditch the Sunshine State. 

Severe weather, low wages, and the loss of the ‘vacation feel’ have discouraged some newcomers

Fifty-one-year-old Kimberly Lovelace previously told Insider she left Florida only five months after moving there in May 2021 because of high housing costs and the stifling heat, among other factors. As of November, the median home value in Florida had risen 22% over the prior year, per Zillow data, compared to an 12% nationwide increase over the same period. 

“At first, it still felt like that vacation feel,” she said. “But as reality sinks in that you’re actually living there, that wears off. Living there is just such a completely different planet.”

The Miami real-estate agent Michael Bordenaro told Insider in 2021 that 40% to 50% of his clients who are new to the state move out within a few years. 

“So many people come for a week or two on vacation, and they think their life is going to be like that every day,” he said. A nearly 14,000-member Facebook group for people moving out of Florida has cited severe weather, low wages, crowded beaches, changing politics, and steep housing prices as reasons people left. 

Nicole Panesso lived in Florida her whole life until moving to Tennessee earlier this year, she previously told Insider, citing low wages and high expenses as reasons why. 

“There’s just no way for people living here to afford it — the salaries that they pay here don’t add up to the cost of rent,” she said. 

In May, CBS News called Florida the “least affordable” state in the country, and a 2019 Joblist study that compared wages to cost of living ranked Florida last out of all 50 states in terms of affordability. While Florida doesn’t have an income tax, many new homebuyers will face rising property-tax bills. 

For Greg May, Florida’s high temperatures were the main reason he left for North Carolina, he previously told Insider. 

“My mental health started declining from being stuck indoors almost 10 months out of the year,” he said.

This story was originally published in December 2022.

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