What’s incentivizing the migration to Florida? According to Florida real estate agent Bonnie Heatzig, affordability, jobs and educational choice are just some of the reasons people are making the move.

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The New York Post recently published an article by Steve Cuozzo titled Listen up, New York — Florida sucks, and you’ll all be back in five years.

As a Florida real estate agent who frequently represents clients from New York, as well as clients across the US and internationally, I can say with great confidence, Mr. Cuozzo, if you’re waiting for the return of New Yorkers, you will be left standing alone waiting at your state’s border. The proof is in the data.

The New York Post published a follow-up piece that cites data stating that 61,728 New York residents swapped their driver’s license for a Florida license in 2021, and if the current migration trend continues, that statistic is expected to be even greater in 2022.

In the first four months of this year alone, 55 percent more New Yorkers moved to Florida compared to the first four months of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. This equates to 21,546 people, up 12 percent from last year.  

Looking at Palm Beach County, where I conduct a large majority of my real estate transactions, data shows that we welcomed the largest number of New Yorkers so far this year, with nearly 3,000 newcomers. This mass migration has also spilled over to neighboring Broward and Miami-Dade counties, each with almost 2,000 New Yorkers apiece.

And it’s not just New Yorkers. The data show that New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California are also experiencing an exodus of their residents as they look to escape burdensome tax-ridden states to live and bask in the South Florida lifestyle.  And, most notably, there is no significant data showing that newcomers have had a change of heart since moving to Florida.

Based on this objective data, we can see Floridians, new arrivals included, are clearly not willing to give up their primary residence in the Sunshine State.  In fact, those that migrate are usually the impetus for their friends and family to follow them. And so, the migration multiplies. 

But, it’s not just Floridians enjoying newcomers to its state. States like Texas gained over 12,700 residents overall in 2021 according to USPS. Other southern states like North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee are experiencing a surge of new residents.

While the initial surge may have been burdensome government policies that made ex-residents of New York, Michigan and California, for example, feel unduly restricted, even with the loosening of those policies in those states in recent months, the number counter is still spinning with newcomers looking for a way out of restrictive states every day. And the large majority of them are here to stay.

What’s incentivizing the migration to Florida, specifically? Young and old, South Florida has blossomed into a hotbed of multinational and national corporations as well as small businesses, creating financial opportunities, career opportunities with major firms who have availed themselves of tax incentives for businesses.

And even though many companies such as Apple, Capital One and The New York Times are reining in their employees back to the Empire State calling for the return to an in-office work presence, the large majority of these new migrants to Florida are refusing to return and instead are turning to these new employment opportunities in the Sunshine State.

It is this incredible talent that is sustaining these businesses for the long haul. We are witnessing Florida’s metamorphosis from a vacation hot spot into a place where people can enjoy sophisticated careers while enjoying a one-of-a-kind lifestyle that promotes health, well-being and the warmth of the sun and ocean breezes every day.

And, one notable silver lining is that as the Florida population has grown, diversity has opened doors to even more varied and fabulously popular cultural experiences and culinary delights.  

For all of these reasons, many from around the country are accelerating their plans to make Florida their new home and those that have made the move are growing familial roots here, making it their permanent home, with no regrets.

Job relocation and remote work

Multinational and national finance companies and corporations across many industries have relocated to Florida and given their employees the ultimatum (if remote work is not an option) – move to Florida with us or lose your job. Many people decided to keep their job.

An added benefit: Some also got to keep their salaries from New York. That money goes a lot further in Florida which means buyers can afford a larger home. Plus, Florida doesn’t have state income tax, so residents get to keep more of their hard-earned money.

Goldman Sachs, The Walt Disney Company, and several hedge funds such as Citadel are just some prime examples of companies who are now calling Florida home to their headquarters, have a large presence in Florida, or plan to soon.

Job flexibility with remote work has also made it possible for many New Yorkers to select where they want to live, and they are choosing Florida.

Newer construction and larger, more modern homes

Although the cost of housing in Florida has gone up, it is the people who have called themselves Floridians for a long time who are really struggling with the rise. For New Yorkers, Florida housing is a bargain. It is still more affordable than what you can find up North or out West in California. There is a better price per square foot. 

In Florida, it is also easier to find a new/er construction home, or homes that have modern features and require minimal to no renovations. For people moving from Manhattan, a Florida home and property will seem quite spacious. People moving from the NYC suburbs like Long Island and Westchester will have to adjust to a smaller lot size and yard and being closer to neighbors.

The other adjustment for many will be HOA fees and country club communities. However, some HOA dues are very reasonable and typically include landscaping and cable. Some even include internet. In this way, homeowners may be able to consider the HOA fee a wash or even cost-savings.

Improved education system

In generations past, the Florida K-12 public school system was lagging far behind New York, which deterred some New Yorkers with school-age children from moving to Florida. That is no longer the case.

Florida has invested in improving public education, and due to the increase in population, the state is currently constructing new schools to be able to accommodate the influx of children to the area, which will reduce the student-to-teacher ratio.

Florida is no longer only a place to retire and snowbird. It is a place for people of all ages and a great place to raise a family. 

Florida has a lot more school options than most places in New York. In many New York communities, children can only go to the public school they are zoned to attend based on their residential address. In Florida, there is school choice, so parents can petition or apply to send their child to a school they prefer within the county they reside in.

Florida also has more charter schools and magnet schools that may specialize in something a child excels in, such as performing arts.

For families who like virtual school and remote learning, Florida has a completely free virtual school system as well, so you do not have to pay for homeschooling.

Planning ahead to higher education, parents can invest in Florida Pre-Paid to lock in today’s rate to attend a Florida state public university, which will prove to be a major savings down the line, as tuition is always rising.

Add in Florida’s Bright Future Scholarship program which rewards students based on academic and standardized test performance with scholarship money or free tuition to attend a public university in Florida, you have multiple reasons why New Yorkers are full swing in the Florida lifestyle. 

Other states are seeing the populations grow, but nothing compares to the population flight from New York to Florida.  Florida is a place where everyone enjoys the beaches and sunshine year round, but Florida has proved to offer so much more and the secret is out.

Bonnie Heatzig, The Luxury Real Estate Authority, is the Executive Director of Luxury Sales at Douglas Elliman in Florida. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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