Walt Disney World (FL)

Relocating To Florida: Part One – Weather and Finances

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Photo - DonkeyHotey via FlickrWe’re gearing up for another frigid Winter here in Minnesota. My nose would be longer than Pinocchio’s if I didn’t admit there were some days I thought to myself, “Man, it would be nice to just move and live at Disney World!”

Now, the odds of me living at Disney are very slim, but hypothetically, if I DID decide to move to the sunshine state, how would I go about this?

I did the research, and enlisted the help of two amazing women, who have gone through the relocation process, in an effort to make this series as informative as possible. I played the part of investigative reporter to interview Julia Mascardo (who relocated from Maryland) and Natalie Reinert (moved in December from New York City). Let’s see what these ladies had to say about relocating to Florida!


Vacationing in the Florida weather is one thing, but living in it year round is another. Read on as I discuss Florida’s weather conditions with Julia and Natalie.

Should the extreme Florida weather (hurricanes, high summer temps, rain) influence your decision to relocate?

Julia: I think as long as someone has had some experience with the weather in the summer down here (on vacation or whatever), they can handle the rest of the year with ease. In the summer, weather is a toss-up in terms of temperature between here and there: it is equally as hot in the DC area as it is in Florida, just without the benefit of the 4 PM thunderstorm that blasts out the heat and humidity.

Natalie: Some people struggle with the lack of seasons. I like our seasons: we have the rainy season and the dry season. But I do find that I forget what time of year it actually is. Like, it will be March and I pause and try to remember if it’s fall or spring. But that might be a personal thing.

Julia: Basically, if you’re a normal working person, you are indoors working during the heat of the day and usually the storm showers are done before the evening commute. The weather is a great thing to gripe about, but it doesn’t affect life down here the way that snow affects life up north. As my husband likes to say, no matter how hot it gets, you don’t have to shovel or plow heat!

Natalie: A lot of people are intimidated by hurricanes. I’m really more concerned with tornadoes than hurricanes. But a hurricane can be a big financial hit even if the storm doesn’t do much damage, because you have to stock up on groceries, fill the cars with gas, etc., with just a few day’s notice. In 2004 we had several hurricanes just a few weeks apart, and it was really expensive just in terms of buying canned goods, gas, putting cash in wallets, even evacuating in one case.

We do get an extreme variety of weather here, including wildfires, and new residents should study up on Florida’s ecology and understand (and learn to protect) our unique state.

Money Matters

No matter the age, finances play a huge role in planning your future move. If you will be retiring in Florida, you will be going from a steady income to none. Do you plan on getting a part time job or using your retirement savings? If you are still in the work force, you will need time to figure out the job situation.

Below are some websites to help you compare the cost of living in Florida versus your current city or town.

Sperlings Best Places



What are the financial benefits and disadvantages of living in Florida?

Julia: Groceries are cheaper, not only because of price (which is only about 5-10% cheaper), but because I’m not driving an hour round trip to go to a grocery store I like. Walking the quarter of a mile to Publix works for me in terms of price and health.

Natalie: Last night I did a dance in the middle of Target because I bought a box of Special K for $2.50, and in NYC it would be $5.79. End of discussion. Since we came from NYC, some of our bills went up (electricity) and some went down (groceries, drastically), but I think we might come out ahead. Although we relied on NYC public transit, our transportation costs were still pretty high, so if we keep it to one car for as long as we can, that will pretty much even out.

Julia: Fuel is about 10-15 cents per gallon cheaper, and the distances we drive are less. Less driving means less wear and tear on the cars. We do some travel on toll roads every now and then, but the tolls are a lot less than in Maryland. We save 10-40% on “basic living” bills (utilities, Internet/phone, mortgage/rent, etc.), and we no longer pay for pest control service (included) or a home security system until we get into our new home, so those bills are gone (at around $100/month, it adds up).

Natalie: Rent is less here in Florida, for a lot more space. We’ll continue to rent in order to avoid the upkeep on a house, which can be pretty steep in a place with such violent weather extremes.

Julia: Another benefit is that there’s no state income tax in Florida. It also means I don’t have to pay someone to do my state income tax! Sales tax is 0.5% higher in our county in FL (or 1% higher the next county over), but as we don’t go shopping like we used to, it’s not a major impact.

Natalie: Florida resident discounts are also a huge perk. There are a decent number of places in Florida that offer resident discounts, especially in the tourist zones. Whether it’s a cruise or theme park tickets, you stand to save so much money just by having a Florida address.

Julia: As for disadvantages, our insurance rates went up slightly. In general, it is just a trade off here and there. The biggest expense we found, if you aren’t prepared for it, is registering your car in the state. If you have purchased a car in the past six months, you will have to pay sales tax on the full price of the car when you arrive. Even without that, registering our cars was a pretty hefty price.

Also, the process to get a car registered here is a bit quirky. First, you have to have a Florida driver’s license. Then, you need to obtain car insurance in the state of Florida. After those two tasks are completed, then you can get your plates.

If you don’t make an appointment for the driver’s license and for the registration, each visit can take around three hours if you arrive when they open. After waiting to get a driver’s license, we learned that you absolutely must make a reservation unless you have days to spend at the tax collector’s office (which is where you go for a driver’s license).

These websites are great resources to help you obtain a Florida driver’s license and vehicle registration:

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Gather Go Get

How long did it take you or your spouse to find a job in FL?

Julia: As a freelance editor, my job moved with me, but my husband needed a local job. Going through IT contractor firms, he was able to secure a short-term contract within six weeks. However, he had already been laying the ground work by applying for jobs six months before we moved. Having a Florida address does open doors for employment, but you still have to really know your skills and do your research to find companies that can use your talents.

Natalie: Originally my husband transferred within his company, so we haven’t run up against this particular issue.

Julia: The job bit is probably the biggest challenge for most people. It’s very difficult to get a job down here without an address in Florida, but it is very difficult for most people to get an address in Florida without a job to move down for. If you’re in a professional career, having local recruiters can be a great way to get you an in. Heck, getting a job down here could be its own small book!

Did you consider working in a theme park?

Julia: My husband joked that if he couldn’t get an IT job, he’d just sell popcorn on Main Street, U.S.A. and be quite happy. In the end, his dream job was to work in IT for Disney. After a lot of perseverance while working a short-term contract elsewhere, he got an opportunity to become an IT contractor with Disney approximately seven months after we arrived.

Natalie: Since I worked for Walt Disney World before, that was a big part of moving back to the Orlando area for me. I’m very passionate about working for the Walt Disney Company in some capacity, and so I intend to do that again. Originally, I started as a front-line Cast Member, hired during one of the annual spring job fairs, and moved into management. Now I’m still exploring roles for the best fit for my current career path.

That’s all for Part One! What financial considers do you have when considering a big move? Share them in the comments. See you next time for Part Two where we’ll discuss the housing situation and the Disney distance!

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Angela Dahlgren

Angela is cohost of the TouringPlans Podcast and regular contributor to the TouringPlans YouTube channel. When she's not talking about the happiest place on earth, she spends her time entertaining her own little Minnie and Mickey Mouse. You can find her on twitter @AngelaDahlgren or via email - angela@touringplans.com

26 thoughts on “Relocating To Florida: Part One – Weather and Finances

  • As someone who moved from the midwest to south Florida a few months ago some things are definitely different for us. We live about 2.5 hours south of Orlando. I was given the opportunity to transfer with my job and jumped at it. You are correct getting a car registered is a big expensive hassle- I spent a few hours at the DMV today and still didn’t accomplish the mission. I did however get my drivers license and now will be looking to purchase Fl. resident annual pass 😉
    For me however, groceries are more expensive than what they were in Illinois (milk alone is $1 more per gallon) and gas is about 10 cents more per gallon. Insurance rates are about the same. The local sales tax rate here is lower and there is no sales tax on food. I appreciate the no state income tax. We are renting for now until our home sells and we can buy, rent here is considerably more than what our mortgage was for much less space.
    The costs really depend on where you come from. Overall we are happy to live here and enjoy being warm when the rest of the country is freezing!

    • Elizabeth,

      Thank you for sharing your own tips and info regarding a move to FL. As someone who is permanently settled in the Midwest, you provide an insight I could never give.

      I appreciate you providing this information for other readers contemplating the same move!


  • Do either of you have kids? We have been discussing making the move for a couple years now. We have 4 kids and 1 on the way. We rely on public schools for the kids education. Where we are from the public system is very good. I know if Florida it can be hit or miss depending on location. Just curious of your thoughts.

    • I worked in one of the area districts. It is true that the districts can be very hit or miss, and the same is true of the individual schools within the districts. It really depends on the area. The bigger problem is with funding. Almost all district have had to cut deeply for years now and still don’t have enough. As I said above, there were multiple years when I didn’t know if I’d have a job the next year until late in the spring. Florida teachers have been historically underpaid compared to the rest of the country. When you pair that with the new performance evaluation system that the state imposed (that still has numerous problems), moral is pretty low across the board. I would just keep this in mind and do lots of research before you go.

      • Thank you for helping me out with this question, Bluesabriel!


        I’m working on an answer for you. Look out for my next two articles where Julia and Natalie go a little more in-depth on this subject.

        I appreciate the comment!


    • Hi Mountain8778,

      My husband and I have a daughter (age 4), and part of the reason we left the DC area for Florida is because the schools in our area up north were one degree away from horrendous. The schools in Florida are incredibly hit or miss, and we did a lot of research on sites like GreatSchools and SchoolDigger before we moved. Overall, Seminole County has the best average of schools. While there are some better and worse, it is hard to find a bad school in Seminole County, although the area with the most buzz is Lake Mary. Orange County is a huge place, and so you’ve got exceptional schools and you’ve got miserable schools. What you’ll hear most often is people suggesting Winter Park, Dr. Phillips, and Windermere as the better areas and everything else going from okay to bad. Moving on to Osceola County, it can vary wildly. Celebration isn’t as awesome as it once was, but it still is good. When you get out towards areas like Poinciana, some of the schools decline in quality. Out towards Clermont, Lake County schools aren’t bad. The only area where I would avoid like the plague is Polk County. I have never heard anyone say anything positive about the schools down there, and their test scores show a certain….lack of quality.

      There are a variety of magnet school programs in the counties, and private schools are available as well. One nice benefit down here that we found is that voluntary Pre-K is free. If you end up that the public school in your area that offers it is full, you get a voucher to send your child to private school for that year. We had our daughter in private school up north, and it was a massive savings to move down here with that. So far, the quality of education has also been exceptional.

      There’s also a pretty decent online school (Virtual Public School) if you have the ability to work from home to keep an eye on your child, and there’s a large number of homeschooling groups out there.

      In the end, it all comes down to doing some research. Because schools are desirable, expect to pay a bit more for housing to get into a community with a better school system, too.

      • For various reasons, I didn’t want to go into much detail with my answer, but this is an excellent summary and pretty much nails it.

      • I am curious as to which county in MD.

    • We have a ten-year-old and school districts have always been a priority for us.

      But schools are hit-and-miss everywhere in the country, so it’s no different in Florida than anywhere else–you have to do your research and buy or rent into the very best school that you can.

      I went to school for much of my education in Brevard County (the county to the east of Orlando) and had good experiences. I was even able to do dual enrollment starting in my junior year of high school and left high school with a year’s worth of college credits. No complaints here.

      • I hope that answers your question, Mountain8778.

        I will put the answers above from Julia and Natalie in my next article to further help others who have the same question.

        Thanks for your help ladies!


      • Angela, those replies are perfect! Much thanks to all who contributed replies! This gives us a great starting point. Hope I didn’t steal anyone’s thunder on article topics.

  • This is interesting, considering I just moved to Texas after living in Central Florida for 10 years. I would caution that the humidity is vicious for much of the year. 90+ in Dallas feels like a dream compared to 85 in Orlando. My husband and I grew up in Michigan and the weather in Florida really wore us down. We never got used to it. It seemed like there were to types of transplants- those who thrived in the hot weather, and those who thought it would be nice but were ultimately miserable.

    Jobs can be tricky in Central Florida if you’re not in the service industry. Many of the counties surrounding Disney World are having a tough time economically. I work in education, and I was constantly unsure about whether or I not I would have a job from year to year. My husband is an engineer and his job was really hit by the economic slow down. He went a few years without a raise and their work load got so low that his job was nearly in jeopardy. He’s with the same company in Dallas and has more work than he can handle.

    Bottom line, definitely do your resource! I miss my annual passes, I miss the beaches, I miss MLB spring training like crazy, but we’re overall happier where we are now.

    • *two, not to. Dang it.

    • Bluesabriel,

      Thank you so much for the insight. It’s easy to glamorize a new life and career in a new location, but can be quite another to experience it. I appreciate you sharing your experience with all of us. It’s quite helpful to those contemplating a move to Florida!


  • I am another Minnesota native. I sold our home last year, waiting for my son to finish his 5th grade year at his current school and then we are heading to Celebration, FL! I work from home, so bringing the income with me. Our saving grace is keeping the cabin in northern MN where we plan to spend our summers on the lake. ALso doesn’t hurt that my parents are snowbirds to the beach at Clearwater.

    School was cancelled due to cold weather this week. I want to live a snowbird life and so lucky that we can start doing that now. Bring on the residence discount!

    • Jodi,

      You have me green like Mike Wazowski! Enjoy your summer getaway and the very best of luck on your future move!


  • This is such a great blog post! Being from the Midwest during the sub-zero blast we just had this week, it’s fun to think of moving to Disney World, lol. I’m looking forward to reading the next part. Would you consider doing another one about moving to Disneyland in California also?

    • Jenna,

      That’s a fantastic idea! I am definitely going to look into that. I suppose that would mean a future trip to Disneyland…for research purposes, of course. 😉

      Thanks for reading!


  • Great post. I’m looking forward to the next part. It’s fun to hear about the everyday aspects of moving to/living in other parts of the country.

    I’m another MN resident who sometimes wonders why I stay here – hearing about the reality of different areas is good. When I think of Florida, I think about the fact I might encounter a large reptile just wandering about and probably different insects, but I hadn’t thought of things like the high humidity causing more mold issues. Again, good to hear about the reality of the not-so-perfect things as well as the advantages.

    • I will take a ‘gator over the snow bank at the end of my driveway, icy sidewalks and NO humidity in this winter air. Another MN native here!

    • Jude,

      This time of year, I’m definitely wondering the same thing. Snow isn’t really all that special, is it? 😉

      I appreciate the comment!


      • No it is not! I am more than done with snow, or even the change of seasons, for that matter. I always say I could go live in Hawaii and never miss the snow. Same goes for living near wdw.

  • This could not have come at a better time! This week of cold in MN has made me consider this more and more.

    • I’m with you there, Steve!

      I’m a born and raised Minnesotan and I still can’t handle the weather at times. Thank goodness my next WDW trip is exactly one month away!

      Thanks for reading. 🙂


  • I’d love to move to Orlando! Thank you for fueling my fantasies. However, one brief point about the weather would be to consider how the change in environment may affect your health. I have a minor mold allergy that rarely bothers me when at home in SC or even when at the beach. After three vacation days in Orlando during the fall, I seriously considered holing up in my hotel room for the remainder of my vacation. I was no match for the rapid changes in weather and the rain. I know those considerations aren’t relevant to everyone, but for those living with allergies or other conditions the weather might affect, it may be worth talking to a doctor about a stronger prescription if considering a more permanent move.

    • Liz,

      I’m so glad you brought this up! I find that, depending on the time of year, my allergies act up as well. I just have to remember to use my allergy eye drops/allergy pill and i’m good to go!

      Thank you for the comment. It’s another great aspect to consider. 🙂



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